Category Archives: AV for class

Characterization of Momotaro: Makings of a powerful documentary and effective propaganda cartoon.

Classical folk lore representation of the image of Momotaro and his followers.

The classical folk lore hero, Momotaro, is employed as a tool by the directors of Minatmata and Momotaro’s Sea Eagle to help the greater Japanese public relate to the national anxieties taking place in each film. By employing the popular image, unfamiliar and traditionally uncomfortable situation are made familiar and with new perspective. The story of Momotaro is as common to the Japanese public as the fairytale of Snow White is to American youth. Momotaro is a brave, selfless and noble child sent from the heavens. He sacrifices his peaceful life with his parents in order to defeat the ogres terrifying Japan. Both directors Seo and Tsuchimoto call upon this hero imagery in their respective films.

In Momotaro Sea Eagle, director Mitsuyo Seo uses the imagery of Momotaro as a propaganda instrument. During the time of the filming, WWII was raging and the bombing of Pearl Harbor has just taken place. Mitsuyo Seo chooses to represents Momotaro as a brave and strong commander, allowing any Japanese the ability to relate to the military.

Momotaro in a Japanese navel outfit directing his follows to attack Demon Island.

In the image above, we see Momotaro in a modern Navel outfit with the Japanese national symbol worn across his head. He is directing his troops to carry out a bombing raid on Demon Island. Mitsuyo Seo employs this use of Momotaro to successfully relate viewers to the war and their own national duty; a situation that should be new and terrifying is replaced with common and familiar themes of Japanese folk lore. Momotaro is seen as a high power, one who demands respect and obedience. He has a duty to lead his subordinates into war and defeat the enemy for the greater good. Viewers of this film relate themselves to the dog, monkey, and pheasant and are overwhelmed with their own calling to take up arms and fight for the righteous Momotaro without questioning the reasons for the war.

Noriaki Tsuchimoto also calls upon the popular image of Momotaro in the film Minamata: The Victims and their World. The film centers on the townspeople of Minamata’s quest to shed national notoriety and receive compensation for the spreading of pollutants by the Chisso Corporation. The image of Momotaro is drawn upon less directly but still just as powerfully.

Protestors from Minamata addressing the public on their way to the Chisso shareholders meeting.

In the image above, we see the people of Minamata demonstrating in the streets of Tokyo wearing traditional pilgrim clothing. What is truly powerful are the words this woman speaks, “We have arrived in the land where the blue and red ogres dwell.” This makes direct reference to Momotaro’s journey to Ogre Island. Tsuchimoto identifies the entire town of Minamata as the hero with a duty to travel to a distant land representing their cause. Thus the protesters are viewed within the image of Momotaro, and this allows the common viewer to identify with their cause to defeat evil just like Momotaro.

In each film, a pressing national threat has emerged that is strange and unfamiliar to the public. The image of Momotaro is employed by both directors in order for the common viewer to understand and sympathize with the statements being made. In effect, viewers have no choice but to assume the nobleness of the characters displayed as Momotaro and the evilness of the enemy, thus making for a powerful documentary and effective propaganda cartoon.



Menu of the first state dinner in Tokyo, 1871

The Meiji emperor went through a lot of re-training in order to become a modern monarch. One key ritual of statecraft was the banquet dinner. Here is the menu for one of the first state dinner parties, a banquet that took place in 1871 at the Tsukiji Hotel, aka the Yedo Hotel. Until 1890, this resto had the  reputation for the best “western” food in the capitol.

Potage [soup]

Puree de crevettes à la Bisque


Bouchées saumon à la Genevoise

Hors d’oeuvre [appetizers, starters]

Bouchées à la Béchamel

Entrées [first course]

Roast-beef au madère

Tendrons de chevreuil à la Poivrade

Canetons de volaille au Sûpreme

Légumes [veggies]

Petits pois à l’Anglaise

Celéri au Jus

Rotis [meat course]

Pâté de gibier Truffé

Gallantine en belle vue

Gigon de mouton Rôti

Chapous truffé


Pudding à la Diplomate

Macédoine de fruit[s] au kirsch

Nougat monté

Dessert[s] assorti[s]

Source: Katarzyna J. Cwiertka, Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity, pp. 13-14.

The cooking show revolution, 1976

Here is a 1976 excerpt from season 1 of The Muppet Show, in which the Swedish chef makes donuts. He’s riffing on the success of Julia Child, whose TV show began in 1963, and whose book de-mystifying French cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking [note: NOT cuisine], was written in collaboration with 2 French women, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, and appeared in 2 volumes in 1961 and 1970.

1985 NYT review of Taillevent

This review by Patricia Wells appeared the same year Tampopo came out…

But what on earth does one do to get to the top and, more important, what’s the secret to staying there?

Well, first of all, you don’t even allow yourself to admit that you’re the best. And if you’re Jean-Claude Vrinat, the modest, steady, 48-year-old owner of Taillevent, you take a deep, hopeful breath each morning and tell yourself and your staff, ”We can do better.'” …

Most diners are aware that Taillevent’s food and service is special, but few are conscious of what makes it so. Who would know that the exceptional chocolates, made in the upstairs pastry workshop, are prepared fresh each day, a mark of quality that even the finest Paris chocolate shops can’t match? Or who would imagine that, nestled back in a special cupboard in the vaulted wine cellars beneath the streets rests a collection of handmade cigars that are turned each day so they remain at their peak?

If the silverware has a certain shine, it’s because each day the flatware is washed in a special, binlike machine filled with tiny metal pellets that tumble-clean and polish the silver at the same time. Then it is hand- rubbed and dried, and touched only with two fingers, by the edges, so that fingerprints never mar the shine.

The kitchen equipment gets the same fastidious treatment. Each of the dozens of copper pots is retinned four or five times each year, so as not to taint the stocks and fine sauces that are painstakingly strained through a fine mesh sieve before serving.

Taillevent’s reputation for generosity has not been developed by accident. The restaurant remains one of France’s least expensive grand restaurants – one can expect to spend $30 to $40 a person, not including wine – with one of the finest cellars in the world. All this is due to the fact that since 1946, every centime has been reinvested in the cellar or in renovation of the grand 18th-century townhouse, now known as Taillevent, at 15 Rue Lamennais.

”To begin Taillevent today, one would have to be a philanthropist,” says Mr. Vrinat.

How does the young “kaban-mochi” (briefcase-carrying flunky) deploy and interpret the image of Taillevent in Tampopo? Does he do “justice” to its philosophy?

The invention of “foodies,” 1981

The 1984 book that popularized the term "foodie"

British journalist Paul Barr reflects in 1987 on his co-invention of the term. This excerpt is from The Guardian and was published in 1987.

What started as a term of mockery shifted ground, as writers found that “foodie” had a certain utility, describing people who, because of age, sex, income and social class, simply did not fit into the category “gourmet”, which we insisted had become “a rude word”.

It separated out those who ate their lamb overcooked and grey from those whose choice of cheese was goats; it dismissed those who did not care what they ate so long as the wine was served at the correct temperature; and it applied to shopping as well as to eating, to domestic cooks and eaters as well as to those who worked in, profited from or ate in restaurants; to foodstuffs, to brands, to reading matter; and above all, to women as well as to men.

The moment the issue hit the news stands we knew that the word “foodie” was a cocktail stick applied to a raw nerve, and that a book should follow. Ann and I had already observed and collected the half-dozen foodie types that opened the book – such as “the squalor scholar foodie,” who frequents the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery but fillets fish with the nail scissors, and “the whole-foodier than thou” foodies, who have a totally organic marriage.

This next paragraph is especially relevant to Tampopo and the tensions between “democracy” and “distinction” that it explores…

Of course we were taking the piss – but it was new in 1984, when the book was first published. And if generations of yesterday’s yuppies, barrow boy rough traders, slippery spread-betters, hedge-fund trimmers and adventure capitalists learned from The Official Foodie Handbook not to order rocket salad with their sashimi – well, who’s complaining?

Epigraph to My Year of Meats

PPT from class Thursday, April 5


?s to think of as you read My Year of Meats:
• What sorts of textual systems are at work? For example, what sorts of “text” are there–poems, faxes, diary entries…and how are they related?
• How do characters–especially Jane–see themselves as parts of systems? Does anything remind you of Schlosser in her tone?
• How is meat or “meat” involved in systems?
• What communications and media systems are at work?

Ensuring the Future of Food (YouTube video from class)

OED definition of “etiology”

Initial research on Minamata disease was conducted on cats.

aetiology | etiology, n.

Forms:α. 15 aetiologe, 15–16 aetiologie, 15–17 aitiologie, 16 aitiology, 16 etiologie, 16– aetiology, 16– etiology.β. 15–16 aetiologia.

Etymology:  < classical Latin aetiologia   inquiry into, or explanation of, causes, in post-classical Latin also in medical context (1602 or earlier) < ancient Greek αἰτιολογία   < αἰτία   responsibility, guilt, blame, accusation, cause, reason ( < αἴτιος   culpable, responsible < an unattested noun (compare ἔξαιτος   choice, excellent) < the stem of αἴνυσθαι   to take hold of, seize ( < the same Indo-European base as Tocharian B ai-   to give) + -τος  , suffix forming adjectives) + -λογία  -logy comb. form. Compare Middle French aitiologie  , French étiologie  , †aetiologie   (1550 in an apparently isolated attestation, and subsequently from 1694, in medical context; 1611 in philosophical context), Spanish etiología   (1580), Italian eziologia   (1631 as †etiologia  ; earliest in medical context)…. (Show Less)

 1. The assignment of a cause; the provision of a reason for something; (also) the cause assigned, the reason given for something.

a1555    J. Bradford Two Notable Serm. (1574) sig. Bvij,   He addeth this ætiologie or cause, saying: For the kingdom of heauen is at hand.
1581    T. Rogers tr. N. Hemmingsen Faith of Church Militant iii. iv. 463   ‘The Lord Wil Give Grace and Glorie, and no Good Thing Will He Deprive them of, Which Walke Innocentlie.’ This is an Aetiologe [L. aetiologia]. For it rendreth the reason whie Dauid doth choose to bee the most abiect in the house of the Lorde‥rather than to enioie euen the greatest pleasure and delightes in the tabernacles of ye vngodlie.
1634    Bp. J. Hall Residue Contempl. in Wks. II. 161   And consider with me the Topography, the Artiology [read Aitiology], the Chronography of this miracle.
1656    T. Blount Glossographia,   Etiology, a rendring of a cause, a shewing of reason.
1717    E. Halley in Philos. Trans. 1714–16 (Royal Soc.) 29 406   The Etiology of a matter so uncommon, never before seen by my self.
1771    P. Woulfe in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 61 115   Ætiology of the Operation.
1810    Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, & Agric. 2nd ser. 17 370   It is not, however, very easy to give a plausible etiology of the method of refining mentioned by Agatharchides.
1893    Jrnl. Hellenic Stud. 13 254   We are told by Pliny‥that it was at Corinth that gold was first mixed with the bronze, though his story of its invention‥has a distinct savour of aetiology.
1935    Baltimore Sun 8 Jan. 10/7   He‥said that his old father had frequently used this quaint expression to indicate that the weather was inclement, cold and windy. I then asked him what his notion was as to the etiology of this bit of folklore.
2008    S. Niditch Judges 210   The tale of the women of Shiloh may well be an etiology for customs involving marriage.
Source: Oxford English Dictionary

One-foot film movement

Records of the Battle of Okinawa—from the Collection of the One-foot Film Movement (unedited version)

- USA / 1945 / Silent film / Color, B&W / 16mm / 120 min

Source: Okinawa Historical Film Society


A portion of the vast quantity of unedited raw footage collected from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration by the One-foot Film Movement, an organization of Okinawan locals who purchased Battle of Okinawa footage shot by the U.S. military. They produced films from their own perspective to convey the truth of the war to the next generation. Fifty-six hours of 16mm film was collected, amounting to 313 reels, or 120,405 feet. Various aspects of the Battle of Okinawa clash and become entangled, remaining without temporal connection or links in meaning.

From YIDFF catalog 2003.