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

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 29 Commentary

Occurrence at the Agricultural Festival

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

Something I noticed continually this episode is that the quality of background artwork has plummeted, and character animation appears lower quality as well. To see the sad state of the background artwork is a real let down, because series one had some of the most beautiful backgrounds I’ve seen in an animation. This was comparable with the best of Studio Ghibli here.

Noticing the artwork more than before must be a side-effect of having no idea whatsoever what’s being said. I catch names and the four words I know here and there, and that’s it. I have to wonder if this is having a negative impact on my view of the show, or if series two really has dropped in quality of the characters and story as well. I’m holding off on judging the story until I figure out at least a little of what’s going on, as I wait to see what the overall story will be for this series. Characters are easier to see, such as when Janggeum took a flying leap in the last episode.

The first showing of characters is when Yeong-ro is sick. While I don’t know why the decision was made to have her sit this episode out, it shows Eunbee’s concern for her friend, as well as the concerned look on Geum-yeong’s face. The kind-hearted (if not short-tempered) Yeon-saeng is also genuinely worried for Yeong-ro’s health. At least, that’s what I got out of it. For all I know, she could have been saying, “Gosh, I hope she left me something in her will. You know, just in case.” And she could very well have said that in the same tone as her actual dialogue at this part, too.

I have no idea why Lady Han gets mad at her assistant, Nain, nor why she gives the apprentice court ladies a stern speech. Being left in the dark is not fun, especially when you’re trying to redeem an addition to a series you liked very much. I want this series to be worth existing, but if I don’t know why the characters are acting the way they are, I can’t use that as evidence for this second series. I just have to make sure I don’t accidentally use it against.

The best I can gather is Lady Han was not happy with the quality of the water. Perhaps the apprentices were responsible for this water, and they let it get dirty?

The conference between Court Granny and the other upper court ladies is…also a mystery to me. Court Granny mentions Jungjong, so perhaps she’s talking about Jungjong and the upcoming Agriculture Festival. This leads a a scene of Lady Choe talking with her older brother, Pansul. Pansul is later seen with someone who looks to be Yun Hwan, and Yun Hwan may be the guy Lady Choe talked with in her room in a prior episode. This is me getting ahead of myself, however.

Until now, I hadn’t noticed the height difference between Janggeum and Geum-yeong. I know Geum-yeong is a year older than Janggeum, but the height difference never stood out to me before. This must be an effect of not having subtitles to read.

It’s good to see the two girls as friends. Janggeum offering a piece of the dish she’s preparing for Geum-yeong to taste is a very “awww” moment if ever I saw one. Add her cheerful smile following after, and it’s a good feeling, a happy aura around her. Too bad Auntie Choe has to come in and ruin the mood, telling Geum-yeong…I really have no idea. Whatever it is, Geum-yeong is not happy to hear it. Even after standing up for herself and resigning as a mum level apprentice court lady at the end of the first series, an action of selfishness so she could compete against Janggeum, Geum-yeong still cannot escape her aunt.

I love how King Jungjong arrives on a palanquin, then goes out and starts off the Agricultural Festival by plowing the ground. The latter looked as if he was showing, “Check me out, I may be a king, but I’m also a man just like the rest of you.” He looks rather displeased to be behind the plow, though. Maybe he was wondering why he couldn’t do this from his palanquin?

While Jungjong plowed the ground, Chang-I simply shrugged it off, saying, “My father plows 20 fields before breakfast”…maybe. Or maybe not. But I imagine she was making some offhanded remark about how it was a big to-do about a common task. Not understanding a word she says, though, she could have been talking about how she’d rather be taste-testing the foods at the event.

Lady Choe had to have told Geum-yeong about a job for her, but why would she have been unhappy about this? She makes a fine gelatin from the berries, and is able to serve directly to the young king and (I assume visiting from elsewhere) young queen. That’s getting ahead again, though. There’s more happening at the festival to comment on.

It’s nice to know you can count on a delightful festival in Chosen headed by King Jungjong himself, speaking to the people from his heart…reading a pre-prepared statement. With all due respect, Jungjong, I hope that that’s an exact text read at the start of each Agricultural Festival, and not a speech about how great farmers are doing this year.

Jungjong does look quite perturbed to be behind that bull as is pulls the plow along. Maybe he has a thing against royalty following big animals? Or maybe he’s having trouble with the smell. You’d think someone would have washed down the bull before putting it in front of the king of Chosen. Seriously.

Thanks to Yeon-saeng’s “deer in headlines” syndrome, the short-haired hero Yun Hwan makes his triumphant appearance. With his quick reflexes, jumping Yeonsaeng out of the charging bull’s away, and then back-flipping and landing on the bull and calming it down, I can just hear Suro saying “Geez, what a show-off, what a poser. He thinks he’s so cool.”

The whole “saving Yeonsaeng’s life” thing puts her into a “he saved my life, my hero, blush blush” hero worship mode. It’s subtle, but I’m sure it’ll get worse later. Suro sees Yun Hwan as having eyes for Janggeum, but I imagine he’s there to cause trouble for her. While Geum-yeong later smiles upon seeing Jeong-ho, Yun Hwan barely even acknowledges Janggeum when she stops him while delivering vegetables. No, he’s not a competitor for you to worry over, Suro. If anything, he should be treated as an enemy. He’s working for Pansul and Lady Choe, and they’re plotting something bad. Very very bad. …or they might be. I really don’t know what Lady Choe and Pansul talked about by the tree earlier in the episode.

While Suro may be looking at the new guy as a show off, after the guy behind Jungjong tells the king the man’s name, Jeong-ho says in a low voice to himself, “Yun Hwan.” Does he see a potential equal in ability? Jeong-ho already told Suro “you’re better than me with a sword”, something Suro obviously doesn’t believe without proof. Could Yun Hwan’s appearance spark something inside of Jeong-ho, leading to increased training? Will this impact Suro in some way? And will Yun Hwan decide to try making advances at Janggeum, as a way of getting closer to his target? This would rile Suro, give Jeong-ho something to think about, and cause difficulty for Yeonsaeng to be around Janggeum if it happens. If this series is anything like the first, though, things will never happen in the way I expect them to.

Putting the flower buds in the gelatin is cute. I like that. I’m not sure I would want to be served something like that, though. I’d be made to feel uncomfortable. “Do I eat the flower, or do I eat around the flower? Do I eat the gelatin touching the flower? How close to the flower can I eat?” Maybe Geum-yeong should add a “how to eat this meal” to all of her dishes, not just certain ones.

Are Janggeum, Chang-I, and Yeonsaeng the only three working on preparing that huge pot for the festival goers? I realize there are other items being made, such as rice, but it seems like a large lot of cooking for only three to manage to fill. I do have trust in Yeonsaeng’s slicing, dicing, and chopping speed and ability, however.

Initially, I thought Nain was going to put out the fire before the meal was done cooking, but now I wonder if she was watering it down a little make it stretch out a little more. Whatever the reason, it displeased Janggeum as a cook. Lady Han met the confrontation between the two with a stern tone. I realize she toned it down, but it still felt out of character to being so strict. After the water was poured, and Lady Han could see how bad Janggeum felt, she did redeem herself by being compassionate, and somehow managed to get Janggeum to realize adding the water was the right thing to do. It had to be done so the people could get the food faster. Who cares if it’s a little watered down? The people waiting are all old people and hungry kids. Younger adults and well-fed kids were specifically not invited. That is what Lady Han told Janggeum, right? What? Do I have part of it wrong?

Even though I don’t know what was being said, I get the feeling Lady Han explained things, then Janggeum understood. This is a huge contrast from when Janggeum was assigned to help cook meals for the soldiers, and Jisung refused to eat the meals she put her heart into. At that time, Lady Han used kind words and put a question to Janggeum. Janggeum realized the answer on her own. Maybe that happened this time, too. It’s hard to tell when I have no idea what the characters are saying.

Walking behind a plow-dragging bull is one thing, but the societal class structure must not be tainted otherwise. Watch closely as royalty sits under a tent, waiting for their food to be brought to them. Outside, the peasants stand waiting in a long line under the sun until they reach the pot.

Poor Nain to have to take on the words of the unpleased two she served lunch to. I can just hear the guy in red now: “Hey, why is this food so watered down?” Actually, my guess would be related to the small size of the portion. Either way, when King Jungjong didn’t complain, it was a different story altogether.

Yeonsaeng is adorable serving lunch to Hwan. Too bad he has no interest in anything other than sitting around posing. She does use a word I understand (“thank you”), so I gather she thanked him for the whole “saving her life” thing earlier. Even not knowing what the other girls said, I have to feel bad for Yeonsaeng. Running off crying says enough about what happened. The other girls probably told her, “He’s not interested in you. You don’t have a chance with him.” Even if Suro, Janggeum, and Lady Han have had their “out of character” moments, and Geum-yeong has a different feel due to being more friendly and happy, Yeonsaeng continues to be consistent. Chang-I as well.

I may never know the significance of the different flowers in Queen Jang Gyeong Wang Hu (for lack of knowing how the name parses down to the shorted name possible) and King Jungjong’s gelatins. Likewise, I won’t have any idea what Court Granny said at the next meeting which resulted in a happy look on Lady Han’s face and a look on Lady Choe’s face which says “That Lady Han, she must be so proud.”

The man with the neat see-through black hat may be the queen’s father, and thus his red-haired wife the red-haired queen’s mother. With Lady Choe’s words passing to Pansul, then passing to this Pointy See-Through Hat Guy, they may be the same words passing on to Jang Gyeong Wang Hu. (Seriously, can I call her Jang Gyeong, or should I call her Wang Hu?) She has an obvious reaction when she realizes the girl standing before her is Janggeum, and both Lady Han and Janggeum notice this. She was quite pleased with the meal until Janggeum told her name. Now poor Janggeum gets to wonder what this person of royalty has against her.

The next episode preview shows shaved ice and a possible fallout between Janggeum and Yeonsaeng. Hopefully it’s an argument that lasts more than four seconds. I’d like to see how Yeonsaeng handles something like this. Will her temper explode, or will she fall to tears? And if she can’t go to Janggeum, then to whom? Dani? Chang-I? …Yun Hwan?

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