By Emily Mullen
“I aim to broaden peoples’ perspectives in a time that so desperately needs it”
TikToker Sylvia Wakana’s short-form videos aim to show viewers how to recreate those mouth-watering looking dishes from animated films at home. Based between Los Angeles and Toyko the food blogger recreates some of the most famous dishes from anime, for her ever-growing audience base. From the Spirited Away Soot Sprite rice balls to The Breakfast from Howl’s Moving Castle Wakana has recreated feast after feast from animated films.
Wakana mainly focuses on recreating food from Studio Ghibli, one of the world’s most influential animation studios. The emphasis on food in the studio’s films is evident, so unlike the typical drama-fueled western films. Studio Ghibli has been known to slow down scenes, to accommodate the preparation, cooking, and sharing of food. These are not just time-wasting scenes either, they are oftentimes key scenes in characters’ narratives and story arcs, carrying a lot of weight to them.
The food itself is depicted in a glorified manner, appearing at its ultimate best in anime. Each food item, be it a cup of tea, is potently green, steaming hot, everything looks delicious, the rashers are crispy, the soft pudding looks like pillows, the bowls of ramen distributed with just the right amount of toppings. So it’s understandable that the likes of Wakana are doing their level best to recreate it.
“Food and eating is so closely associated with family and emotion. It’s a really important part of the actual storytelling and scene-setting,” said Dave Jesteadt, the president of animation company GKIDS to seriouseats.com. “Is it made with love and care because it’s an intimate family scene and this is something that shows how close the family is, or is it something that shows how fantastic the setting is?” he added.
Growing up half Japanese half-American, Wakana grew up acutely aware of Studio Ghibli’s influence on Japanese food and culture. Wakana told i-D that she has been watching the films for as long as she can remember, “they’re such iconic films and have become ingrained in Japanese culture, so I feel like they are a part of me, too,” she said.
Seeing all the delicious-looking food in Studio Ghibli films growing up, Wakana said she “always wished I could eat it.” Wakana decided to recreate it herself, and her TikTok was born. Her soothing videos show you how to make the food, narrated in her ASMR-worthy voice, with light music in the background. Her content doesn’t just recreate Studio Ghibli, but also other anime food, as well as celebrating culinary excellence of Japan. Wakana also recreates recipes from popular anime like Jujutsu Kaisen and Food Wars. Alongside her recipes, Wakana shares life hacks like how to use chopsticks correctly, the correct pronunciation of Japanese food products, and illuminating videos on what the real point of the second spout in the bottles of soy sauce is for.
Touching on how important it is to bridge the cataclysmic gap forming between cultures at the moment Wakana’s website reads “I want to use these experiences to facilitate community and understanding across cultures and the easiest way for me to this is thorough food”. “By sharing recipes, some traditional and some more fusion, along with showcasing old traditions, current pop-culture, and the food scene in LA & Tokyo, I aim to broaden people’s perspectives in a time that so desperately needs it,” she adds.
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