Iron Chef is a Japanese cooking competition where guest chefs battle one of the three Iron Chefs in a timed cooking battle which is built around one specific ingredient. The series premiered on October 10, 1993 and ended on September 24, 1999. Iron Chef is regularly broadcasted on SBS.The host of the show is the flamboyant Takeshi Kaga. The Japanese version of Iron Chef has a back story, which is recounted at the beginning of every episode.
- A title card, with a quote from famed French food author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first appears: “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” Then, it is said that Kaga “realized his dream in a form never seen before” and specially constructed a cooking arena called “Kitchen Stadium” in his castle. There, visiting chefs from “around the world” would compete against his Gourmet Academy, led by his three (later four) Iron Chefs.
Chairman Kaga himself is a showpiece, always dressed in outlandish examples of men’s formal attire. This brings me to my first point. The costume details in the Japanese Iron Chef is something I have never witnessed or experienced before. For a typical cooking show, the hosts are often dressed conservatively. However, the Japanese have dramatic costuming which can be seen as crazy for people who have never experienced it before. Comparing this to italian cooking shows which I watched growing up, they are more similar to Australian shows costume-wise. So, watching this show was a shock to me.
Moving onto the actual ingredients which Iron Chef uses, they were crazy and nothing that I had experienced before. Ingredients like whale and river eel are common on the Japanese version, something that I never plan to eat in my whole life. But these foods are common and not unusual for people from the Japanese culture, which is the same concept for Australian cooking shows. We tend to use basic proteins like chicken, beef and pork and incorporate vegetables which are considered unusual. This is the basis of each challenge.
Iron chef has a lack of dramatisation through music, and utilises the ambient sounds well. This makes the show more enjoyable because the dramatic sound effects constantly playing over in the show can be annoying over time. I really enjoyed how you could hear what the chefs were doing, particularly when they were cutting things and you could actually hear it without some obnoxious squelching sound interrupting it. This is a major difference to the Australian and American shows. The sound effects are used to build unnecessary drama and create tense moments when they aren’t even needed.
Overall, Iron Chef has provided a large comparison to western television shows, which showcases the rare aspects which we aren’t commonly exposed to. For example, the crazy key ingredients are something i’ve never thought about eating, yet this is a common practice in the Japanese culture. The costumes are outlandish in the show, as well as the unrelated backstory, and is an interesting way to provide something interesting. However, this is considered to be something ‘normal’ and sometimes traditional. The differences between the shows and from what i’m used to is vast, however i’m excited to continue exploring the Japanese culture, whether it be through television, food or music.
So, I’ve decided that I love cooking and eating too much, and have decided to pursue the two in a video series for my independent project. Here, I watch the Japanese show Iron Chef, and compare it to Australian and American cooking shows. Enjoy!
After learning about what autoethnography is in this subject, something clicked in my head. I’ve already learnt about autoethnographic studies! I studied society and culture in year 11 and 12, and came across the concept when it came to learning about India. For those of you who don’t know what autoethnography is, this is for you:
“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno).” (Ellis et al., 2010).
The great thing about this research is that is not a boring statistical analysis or searching through piles of information for any kind of data. This research creates a personal connection between the researcher and the case, and allows the researcher to immerse themselves into the context of what they are studying. In my opinion, this is way more informative and interesting than a standard observation. This excites me because i have visited countries like Thailand before, but at the end of the year I’ll be visiting Vietnam. I am so intrigued with different asian cultures, and get really involved in seeing what their day to day lives consist of, and how they are different to me.
While reading through the piece, I realised that I have mentally doing enthographic studies of different people I have encountered in my life. I went to school and befriended a few Vietnamese girls, and learnt a lot about their culture and traditions which was interesting for a girl with a european background. I visited their houses and saw what they made for dinner which was always something interesting in comparison to the pasta dish I would inevitably have. On the bus home from school, my friend Maria would always have a different Vietnamese candy for us all to try, and ultimately luring me in more! I have also experienced Thailand, and the people there and how they live their lives. Being a country that isn’t filled with wealth and luxury, it was amazing to see their attitudes towards life, despite the lack of basic things that I would struggle without. Both of these experiences showed me the different traditions, customs and made me want to indulge and find out more. Although at the time I didn’t realise, but now I understand that I was conducting small ethnographic studies.
Overall, I am really excited to explore asian cultures in my digital artifact and immerse myself into the culture but can’t decide which culture I’d like to look into first! Hopefully I will be able to decide within the next week.
Growing up in a family of traditional Italian’s has always been interesting. I have grown up with grandparents who listen to their italian radio while cooking and doing housework, watching RAI Italia of an afternoon with them and trying to translate the The Bold and the Beautiful as a small child. All of these scenarios have shaped me to be the person I am today. However, I realise that I’ve never really been exposed to any sort of asian culture, besides some cartoons while growing up, and in more recent years with the rise of KPOP and JPOP.
So to cut to the chase, Gojira was an experience. Chris played us the original Godzilla film, which was made in 1953. Then, we were asked to live tweet our reactions. The very first thing I noticed…
The sound effects of Godzilla were really weird and unnerving. It wasn’t a sound you would typically hear in a film today. Again, my experience from watching films from this era would typically showcase amazing sound effects which are realistic.
The lead female, Emiko wears ‘1950’s American housewife’ in style clothing as she plays the stereotypical ‘damsel in distress’. Literally every scene she is in, she is either screaming, wailing or loudly crying. Emiko is constantly seeking the comfort and protection from her male counterparts, whether that be Ogata or Serizawa, Emiko seems hopeless. I guess this was a common theme in movies of the time.
Although I laughed at the time while watching, its interesting how realistic this movie is. It shows the emotions and distress that the people were feeling to have this giant lizard attacking everyone. If you’re ever told not to panic, that is when people actually start to panic. So, its really just a true reaction that humans have.
Back to Emiko, but she looked so happy while she was crying? I really didn’t know what to make of this, other than that it could be bad acting? Because I am so used to seeing perfectly executed acting and emotional scenes in modern day film, its interesting to see what these scenes are like from this movie. It’s a great contrast to what i am used to seeing.
Although this movie made me think “WTF” a lot, mainly at the model houses and the giant lizard himself (who was actually a MAN IN A SUIT?!?), it had a lot of underlying history which was explored in an interesting way. As someone who studied History in school, Gojira was an excellent way to explore the effects that the World War had on Japan. One line in the film solidified the intentions of the film, to inform people of the effects that the war had on the Japanese: “If we keep conducting nuclear tests, another Godzilla may appear somewhere in the world.” This line emphasised fears of nuclear energy and weapon testing.
Gojira in today’s film landscape can be seen as a laugh, however, at the time it was a movie based on fear and horror. It is an interesting concept and way to go about expressing the fears, but also very effective. Overall, what a great film. It has moments where you laugh, and a few when you think about how awful it would have been.
I recommend that everyone take the 98 mins to watch it, you will not regret it!