Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yo! Sushi Ouji!

A couple of people have been telling me how silly the film 'Sushi Ouji' is. "Don't tell me you like it because it's Koichi" is one of the most common expression I ever receive whenever I said that I love that movie. Okay, maybe Koichi did add some icing on the cake but this film is definitely not as shallow as you think. Besides the plot and story, every movie has a language behind it. Try watching with a thinking cap on and you'll understand the 'secret' behind the discourse of the movie.

Sushi Ouji (drama) is about Maizu Tsukasa who has been called Sushi Oji since the age of 10 due to his heavenly sushi making skills. However, an unfortunate event happend which caused him to develop the Fish Eye Phobia. Once he had an eye contact with the fish eye, he'll have this flow of super power flowing into him and he'll yell out "Omae nanka nigite yaru!" (I will crush you!) and start throwing punches at people. With such a phobia, how can he continue to make sushi?

A year later(2008), Sushi Ouji is back with a movie sequel. This is the description printed behind the 'Sushi Ouji- New York e Iku' (Sushi Price takes off to New York) DVD box

"After completing his quirky sojourn through Japan as sushi-making, fist-fighting journeyman, Sushi Ouji, Maizu Tsukasa takes his training to the next level in New York where he gets the chance to learn from sushi master Goro. However, a ruthless competitor drives them out of business with backhanded tactics. To save the restaurant, Tsukasa must face his rival in a sushi showdown in the Big Apple"

Ever wonder why the sequel took place in America?

In the end of the series, there was a preview that Maizu Tsukasa will take off to 'the land of rice'. When we talk about rice, most people will think about Asia? It's an Asian value to eat rice!. However, there is a reason why the director chose America as one of the sets of the movie. In Japanese, America is often written as アメリカ. However, the Japanese kanji, 米国(beikoku) which literally means 'rice country' also refers to the USA. Although the paddy field scenes were actually filmed in Japan, the American- Rice setting plays an important role to the movie as it acts as the back story.
Furthermore, Maizu Tsukasa has this catch phrase ,"Omae nanka nigite yaru!" Nigite Yaru... N Y.. the abbreviation for New York is NY. Another reason I can think of is Maizu's partner Kawahara Taro played by Nakamaru Yuichi was 'crushed' in the show. I think the director really enjoys playing with word puns. Maizu Tsukasa, when writing in Kanji is 米寿 司. However, it can be pronounced as Kome sushi (rice sushi)

Anyway, the message that I receive from this movie is how has globalization with a touch of postmodernism has affected the art of sushi making. Back then, from the rice, the soy sauce, the green tea, the flesh of the fish and even the temperature of the sushi maker's palm was taken into account in sushi making. Today, the sushi -go-round conveyor belt has encourage the usage of machines to replace the human touch in preparing the rice.

Furthermore, fusion sushi have been taking over the traditional sushi. Not sure about Japan, but that is what happening in Malaysia right now. Hmm..Maizu had a cultural shock when he saw the 'rainbow roll', thinking that it's a cake. So I guess western sushi is not so popular there?

Globalize sushi = sushi loosing it's identity? Good or not? I don't know. I actually enjoy the Western sushi more than the conventional sushi. Am craving for some Ropongi Beef Maki right now! As much as the show is telling us about traditional sushi making, it has a hint of Western influence in it. In one of the battle scene, Goro, the sushi master said "Sushi Must Go On!" I know it's probably a word pun from Koichi's stage play's catch phrase "Show must go on". But that line originates from western stage plays. And the theme song 'No More' sounds very Backstreet Boys-ish. Don't you think? Hmmmm...

I'm not very sure whether this entry qualifies for this month's Jblog Matsuri's 'Secret Japan' theme or not. Anyway, click here for more info about the Matsuri. Feel free to check out Gakuranman's Secret Japan too.


  1. caughtredhandedMay 2, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    I think sushi is pretty much ubiquitous these days and definitely no longer the preserve of the Japanese, but I think that's a good thing: it means I can taste at least an approximation of sushi when I'm not in Japan!

  2. I did not eat much sushi to tell the tales but as I can see a lots of varieties have sprung up outside of Japan. I think it's innovative to come up new style of sushi rather than succumb to the conventional style.