Hey all, it’s me, the mysteriously-absent Mysterious Girlfriend X episodic blogger! But no, I do apologize: I’ve been busy with real-life things and am recovering from a slight case of writer’s block! Anyway, I’ll keep this part short; this week’s (these weeks’?) post is on pigs in all shapes and forms! Yeah, really! Check it out after the break:
The first part of this post comes from straight from animekritik, who was musing about the strange imagery at the beginning of episode 8, of eight pigs spinning around, with Chinese characters (outdated in Japanese) for 1-8 on them.
As far as I can tell, this is a reference to Journey of the West. Zhu Bajie, or Cho Hakkai in the Japanese, is one of the three disciples of Xuanzang. Part pig, his name is written with the characters for “pig” and “the Eight Precepts.” The latter is a Buddhist code of ethics based around abstinence, perhaps most relevantly here from sexual activity. Eight pigs for eight precepts!
Actually, Zhu Bajie’s name is written with the character for “boar,” a catch-all term for hogs, but nonetheless different from the modern Japanese character for domesticated pigs. Wild boars are characterized as hotheaded and courageous to the point of foolishness. A fitting description of Akira in episode 8?
On a final boar-related note, boar meat is referred to as botan, or “peony,” after the flower, harkening back to the Edo period, when Buddhists would eat boar meat while almost adhering to vegetarianism (not really). In hanakotoba, or the language of flowers, peonies represent wealth and nobility, but also shyness. Incidentally, the camellia (tsubaki) represents both modesty and ideal love.
Going back to the spinning pigs, I think there’s a visual double meaning to the scene as well: if you watch the very beginning of the fade-in, the pig’s legs, for that first brief second, resembles erect nipples on female breasts. Stay classy, Hoods Entertainment!
Of course, this isn’t the first place you’ve seen pigs in Mysterious Girlfriend X: they’ve made quite frequent appearances in the form of none other than bacon. In fact, Ayuko seems to live off of the stuff.
Bacon came to Japan after the end of the Edo period, and was regarded as food for foreigners and elites until after World War II. Today, it’s a common food product, although I dare say that in general, Oka’s bacon-packed lunches are not reflective of a general Japanese diet in regards to bacon consumption.
Curiously enough, bacon is a bit different in Japan than in some other Western countries. In the United States, while bacon is usually cured, it is sold as raw (uncooked) meat, and must be thoroughly cooked before consumption (trichinosis is no joke, folks!). In Japan, however, bacon is usually smoked through and precooked, resulting in a product closer to ham that is edible right out of the package (although apparently it tastes like limp cardboard). And because it’s precooked, the Japanese usually prepare it with a much lighter cooking method, a far cry from the American method of frying bacon to a beautiful, burnt crisp.
That’s it from me this week! Tune in next time for another “kind of” mysterious post!