Wow, we’re finally at our 20th entry for Lost in Translation! I’m pretty sure I could’ve gone much higher, much quicker; but yeah, at least we’re finally getting somewhere. This week, we’ll look into something that’s pretty close to my heart from both a nostalgic and gastronomic perspective. And yup, food and Card Captor Sakura pretty much go hand-in-hand, so sit back as we look into this little tidbit from Episode 2 of Card Captor Sakura Clear Card!
I guess I need not mention that when the topic of food comes up in Card Captor Sakura, discussions of the things Kero says isn’t too far away. Indeed, it’s actually funny hearing Kero speak now that I understand Japanese. I first watched Card Captor when I was in high school (yes, I’m that old), and back then it didn’t occur to me that he’d sport a very thick Kansai accent. And as is with any Japanese person hailing from the self-proclaimed gastronomic capital of the land of the rising sun, discussions on Okonomiyaki aren’t too far away, either.
Unless you’ve never heard of it before, Okonomiyaki are basically “savory pancakes” made of an egg-batter mixed with all sorts of ingredients. The name お好み焼き (okonomiyaki) actually literally means “(fried) the way you like it“, and thus contains ingredients that range from rustic vegetables and fresh water shrimps to lavish cuts of meat and deep ocean squid. There are some arguments as to which prefecture in the Kansai (western) region of Japan does it best, but it’s a fact that whenever talk of Okonomiyaki is tossed around, you’re pretty much talking about the land of two-man comedic tropes and everything nandeyanen!
But going back to the topic, I first learned about Okonomiyaki from reading the original Card Captor Sakura mangas where Kero is depicted to have a particular affection towards Okonomiyaki from Hiroshima. More specifically for a variant credited to this region called “Modan Yaki” (モダン焼き):
Indeed, it’s a wonderfully nostalgic moment for me to see Kero crave for Modan Yaki. Translated as “Modern Yaki” in the official English manga translation by TokyoPop, the name supposedly derives from a contraction of 盛りだくさん (mori dakusan), meaning “to pile up [a lot]”. Indeed, modan yaki, as well as many of the variants to be found in Hiroshiman Okonomiyaki, tends to look like everything is piled up in one massive heap. But many Hiroshimans will agree that the defining feature of their style of Okonomiyaki is the inclusion of Yakisoba (fried noodles) placed on top of the savory pancake and drizzled with generous amounts of Okonomiyaki sauce. Here, you can actually see the noodles beneath a thick slosh of sauce and mayonnaise drizzle:
But the craziness doesn’t stop there. If you’ve ever been to Hiroshima, you’d do yourself a favor to check out their Okonomiyaki city and all of the crazy offerings they have. But if you’re a really hardcore Okonomiyaki and anime fan, why not take a trip over to the Seto inland sea area and check out Hoboro Okonomiyaki in Takehara. And if this name sounds familiar, then you probably already know of Horobo-san from the anime Tamayura. The Okonomiyaki named after her is quite a beast in its own right, and contains all sorts of ingredients like roasted pork-belly and friggin’ mashed potatoes (picture taken by me when I visited Horobo’s in 2016).
Random fact: apparently Modan Yaki supposedly was first served in Kobe in the 1950’s, which is much further East from Hiroshima and just a couple kilometers West of Osaka. So despite all this competition between Osaka and Hiroshima regarding who the king of Okonomiyaki is, looks like Kobe had their hands in the game well in advance. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they’re more focused on producing really, really tasty beef. But that’s a story for another post.
And there you have it! It’s interesting to watch Card Captor Sakura Clear Card and be greeted by such an innocent little reference to the original, which by the way is already 20 years old at this point! And if you’re craving for Okonomiyaki at this point, well that makes two of us. Have any of you guys seen something out there in animeland that you think may have been lost in translation? Do share in the comments below! Until next time, ciao!