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

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 21 Commentary

Temple Food

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

Janggeum’s true learning is just beginning. Her time on Jeju Island was nothing compared to the material before her. None of the students in Eun’s class will learn what Janggeum has the opportunity to experience, or at least not at the level she will taking part in it first hand.

One has to wonder why Kim Yu invited Janggeum along, even if he didn’t expect her to take him up on the offer. He probably sees their tagging along as babysitting duty for him, and he doesn’t need anyone getting in the way of his studies. Nonetheless, his leaving the girls at the temple did two things for Janggeum and Yeonsaeng: first, it taught them about letting the natural flavor of the foods take part in the dish, and second, it taught them that there is still much they have yet to learn. Janggeum is happy to be out of the palace and learning more. Her dream was never to cook for the king, it was to cook food which will make people happy. Today she’s learned a little bit more about what happiness in eating is.

The eating habits of the monks and the soldiers (Suro and Dongi) should be a big enough contrast to get Janggeum thinking more about the person eating the meal. Back when she made a dish for Jisung, she learned that presentation based on the individual receiving the meal can make all the difference. Now she’s learning that the meal itself must be custom to the individual eating it. While Suro and Dongi will eat anything with a decent or better flavor, the monks have religious reasons to watch what they eat.

Why would Jeong-ho want Janggeum to be safe? Sure, he still has to return her ring to her, but it’s not as if she’s in any danger. And if Janggeum’s going to think about the great things Jeong-ho’s doing for her, hopefully she remembers the effort Suro’s put in, too.

When Janggeum and Yeonsaeng first try the temple food, their faces show their reactions to the bitterness. Yu notices this, so he must have known they would learn things if they stayed at the temple. The question is: will the girls and their guards be able to catch up with Yu, and learn alongside him at his destination? Otherwise, they’ll be travelling with nowhere to go.

Wearing his hair down, Suro looks quite different. He looks as if he could be an enemy. His hair’s a bit too long to wear up like older men do, but he may also feel he’s a bit too old to wear it braided. It’s not too often one is seen with their hair down, a recent one being, of course, Yu. Yu does seem the type to march to the beat of his own drum.

Another thing Janggeum will have to learn is how to control her spending. Meat can’t be that cheap for her to buy a serving for four, then not even use it, can it be? And the amount of vegetables she bought seems excessive. It’s unfortunate she never was able to cook a meal with the ingredients provided, as it would have made for a good test. She could have learned in what ways the items helps ones body, although that might be knowledge she already has.

I think I may have mentioned backgrounds before, but it’s worth saying again: the painted backgrounds used in Janggeum’s Dream are some of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, backgrounds I’ve ever seen in an animation. The colors, the level of detail, it gives a look of realism without trying too hard to look realistic. Going for realistic would be too jarring against the animated characters, but the blend of colors and softness of the artwork makes for perfect realism, the feel that the characters and backdrops all go together in perfect harmony.

There isn’t much to say about the bonus material this time around. It’s the same artworks seeing on the “Pictoral Collection” cards which come with each of the two DVD sets.

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