This is a episode commentary. It is intended for someone who has seen this episode, and will contain episode spoilers.

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 14 Commentary

Pirate Island!!

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

So, Geum-young is spared the punishment for her actions which would have come up in the palace by instead facing death after failing the Pot dish for the pirate leader’s daughter.

Fight after fight, Jeong-ho and Suro continue to show their amazing training, and in Suro’s case, strength as well. When Janggeum said not to drop the weapons, I could imagine Yeonsaeng thinking, “Speak for yourself!” After all, she can’t swim.

Janggeum had to feel helpless to only be able to watch Jeong-ho fall into the ocean. He’s saved her so many times, and there wasn’t a thing she could do for him. Knowing Jeong-ho, he won’t need to be saved, though. If he’s not the one whose shadow is seen on the island a couple of times, then I don’t know whose shadow that is. If it is Jeong-ho, then he either lost his hat, or is wearing it at his back.

The moment Yeoni collapsed, it became obvious the direction the episode would take, with Geum-young’s failure, then Janggeum’s success. Or at least here’s hoping for a success. She talked about making the dish to move the hearts of the pirates, which suggested for a moment she’d make more than a single serving (and she at least has enough abalones to do so), but a single serving looks to be all she’s making. She was able to get Jisung to eat by learning about him. Will she learn something about Yeoni as well, something which will convince her to take a sip? Also, as Granny Pot said, the dish isn’t a miracle cure in one serving. It could require more than that for one to get better. Yeoni may only need a kickstart to get her eating again, however, so perhaps a single serving will be enough.

Both Geum-young and Janggeum speak with confidence in the Pot dish. Janggeum also has the stubborn boldness seen back when she confronted the assassins and protected the young king. The pirate leader may just admire that spirit a little, something not seen in Geum-young. Geum-young was arrogant, cocky even. Janggeum is determined. The threat of death leaves Geum-young uncertain, afraid. For Janggeum, it’s part of her bargaining.

As much as I want to like Yeong-ro, she has disappointed me once again. Would she really, truly leave Miss Han, Janggeum, and Yeonsaeng behind with the pirates, given the chance, the choice? Or is she just trying to cause trouble with her rival?

I’m eager to see if Mongmong actually makes progress chewing through the cage bars. Dongi finally reveals the truth about the ring to Suro, but when Jeong-ho makes his return, what will he be confronted with by these two? Will they be quiet and suspicious around him, or will they question him on how he came about the ring? It’s too soon yet to let him know it’s Janggeum’s ring, and that Janggeum and Dongi are the kids who saved the young king, right?

There came a time in this episode where I really wish I knew Korean. I suppose I could look at the Korean subtitles, type them out, then run them through an online translator and see what it gives me back. The line of dialogue is when Suro ponders just who Jeong-ho is, and Dongi says, in the English subtitles, “he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Certainly Koreans don’t use this exact same phrase (although it’s possible for it to have originated from Korea), but more certainly it wasn’t used back when this series takes place. I figure a similar, older Korean saying was said, and the translators picked an English saying with a close meaning. It would be no different than a Japanese animation with the line “even a monkey falls from a tree” being dubbed as “everybody makes mistakes”; similar (although not exact) meaning. It’s the “not exact” part which makes me want to know what the Korean line means. Just not enough want to transcribe the Korean (which I can only “read” [not understand] bits and pieces of to type out easily).

As expected, Geum-young did not taste the dish before serving it. Was she that confident, that certain of its power? She of all people should know not to serve a meal you yourself are not sure of the taste of.

Confronted with Janggeum’s kind heart, Geum-young can only wallow in self-pity and self-hate. She must feel bad for what she’s done, and expects Janggeum to treat her horribly for it. When Janggeum instead acts as a close friend, Geum-young’s bitterness is confronted by Janggeum’s sweetness, something Geum-young cannot handle at the moment. She’ll come around, but Janggeum will have to give her time.

Walking the plank from one ship to the other has to be a real eye opener for Geum-young—no pun intended as she’s blindfolded here. She may feel she’s getting the just punishment for her actions, for stealing Janggeum’s ingredients, for stealing the recipe, and for failing at making the Pot dish.

The end of this episode leaves me wanting to watch the next episode right away, which is difficult not to do. I can wait, but it won’t be easy. I believe that helps make for a strong series which is meant to be a long journey (as opposed to random episodes following a sequence). What happens next? Does Geum-young fall? Does she make it across? If she falls, will Jeong-ho save her again, right before giving the pirates another lesson in who’s boss? Or, Jeong-ho could never return, and Geum-young could be the second victim to thinning out the cast, so King Jeonjong and Changi have more screen time, as well as the baby ostrich. But that’s not going to happen.

I decided to look into the Japanese dub of Janggeum’s Dream, so I could get an idea of the quality of a Japanese dub. At the time of this writing, seven Janggeum’s Dream DVDs have been released in Japanese, under the title 少女チャングムの夢 (Young Girl Janggeum’s Dream).

The Japanese DVDs go for ¥3,990 each, and at 100 minutes per DVD, one can gather there are about four episodes per DVD. The Korean release is spread over six DVDs (not counting two supplemental DVDs), putting four episodes on four DVDs and five episodes on two DVDs. The Japanese first DVD is ¥2,940 with 45 minutes, so that would be two episodes. Two episodes on one DVD and four episodes on each of six DVDs gives a perfect 26 episodes.

I know anime can be expensive in Japan. Princess Tutu can set someone back over US$350, whereas the American release with dub and in a box set is well under US$100. I was able to acquire the entire Korean series of Janggeum’s Dream for under US$100, not counting shipping costs. I don’t see where the Japanese release comes in at ¥26,880. A quick Google search for “¥26,880 in USD” tells me, “¥ 26 880 = 230.60352 U.S. dollars”, which is over three and a half times the cost for the Korean release.

The Japanese release values episodes at about $10 each. This actually isn’t too bad, especially when a series such as Ojamajo Doremi Naisho goes for $50 for a roughly 22 minute episode (with 13 episodes in all).

I think I’ll wait for a box set, but I don’t know how common those are in Japan, nor do I know what their price range is compared to individual DVD releases. Actually, these prices are not unlike individual DVD releases in the United States, a place where Princess Tutu DVDs with five episodes sell for US$30.00 (US$6.00 per episodes), but they’re still a bit up there. When the entire box set for Princess Tutu is US$50.00, though, one can’t help but wonder if Japan releases box sets at ¥6000.

The feedback for Janggeum’s Dream is sparse. The first DVD has two reviews. The first is a five star review telling how the show is good quality, has skilled dubbing (something I’d like to hear myself), and mentions the price point being high, but worth it.

The second review is a one star review. It first attacks the show as being a “distasteful” cooking animation. If I’m reading the review correctly, the reviewer did not care for the progression and style of the storytelling, and comments on Japanese animation being far superior. Overall, it seems like a rather trollish review to me, but maybe that’s just the language barrier getting in the way.

Volume two also has two feedback, by two other people from the first. A four star review tells the basics of the series, and compliments the series. A one star review seems to find no fault in the characters (if I’m reading it correctly), but doesn’t find satisfaction in the Korean history of it, perhaps because it’s not an accurate portrayal of history. But, hey, it’s a cartoon, so what does this person expect?

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