I fucking LOVE pickles. I probably inherited it from my father, who always seems to have at least a bulk sized jar of whole pickles in his fridge. I currently have six jars of both store bought and homemade pickles in my fridge door and am thinking about getting a jar of pickled garlic. When I was a kid, long before I knew what a pickle back shot was, I would fill a shot glass with pickle juice and slug it back. A whole row of my community garden plot is set aside to grow cucumbers for pickle canning and soon I’ll have more cucumbers than I can pickle. The year I got married, I canned so many pickles that as an extra wedding favor I gave jars of pickles to the two tables where our immediate families were seated at and our wedding party… and I still had jars left over. My husband and I have this little thing we do when eating out where he pretends something caught his attention and I steal a pickle off his plate.
When I was a pre-teen anime weeb, I began topping bowls of rice with pickles like Kirin does in the anime movie “Ranma ½: Big Trouble in Nekonron China”. Over 20 years later, I still eat rice and pickles because I find it to be delicious (homemade pickles are the best). Last night, I made rice and pickles as a side dish for my dinner and I kind of wondered if this thing I saw in a 90’s anime movie had a real world inspiration.
I ended up learning some anime secrets involving pickles.
For some background, Kirin in the Ranma ½ film is the leader/prince of a group of martial artists called The Seven Lucky Gods, which are based on the seven gods of fortune in Japanese mythology. Kirin and his group adhere to a strict diet that consists of only rice and pickled vegetables. At the beginning of the movie, they find Akane is, by sheer coincidence, in possession of the other half of the Scroll of Luck, a Nekonron treasure Happosai had stolen decades ago and later used to pay a restaurant tab. At the end of the movie, it is revealed this “ultimate technique” is actually a ritualized pickle recipe for a wedding ceremony.
While Googling “pickles on rice”, one of the top search results was for an article on tsukemono, traditional Japanese pickles. One type of tsukemono listed on the article is called “fukujinzuke”. This is actually insightful because according to Shampoo’s translation of the scroll in the English dub, the scroll contains the Seven Lucky God’s ultimate technique on how to make “too-too delicious fukujin pickles”. Additionally, these pickles were referenced at the beginning of the film while the Tendo family (minus Akane) and Genma are eating a lunch of curry rice and Soun asks, “Hey, save some of those fukujin pickles for me, would you?”—fukujinzuke are often used as a relish to curry rice.
Many recipes for fukujinzuke call for salting the vegetables or soaking them in salt water before marinating them in a soy sauce based marinade. This process is described by Shampoo as she translates the recipe from the scroll: “First, groom wash vegetable. Then bride pickle vegetable with salt. Then happy couple pour soy sauce on vegetable.”
Furthermore, a post credit scene shows Ranma and the gang being sent a photo from Kirin and Lychee’s wedding and a vat of the fukujin pickles they made together. While the pickles they are eating aren’t shown in great detail and are animated as lumps in a bowl, they do have the same brownish hue fukujinzuke have due to being soaked in soy sauce.
Conclusion: the recipe on the Seven Lucky God’s treasured scroll was for fukujinzuke.
But wait! There’s more!
Perhaps the most mind blowing thing that relates to this anime is the tsukemono article’s description of fukujinzuke:
Fukujinzuke literally translates to “lucky god pickles,” which is a reference to a Japanese myth about the seven gods of fortune.
Basically, a group named the Seven Lucky Gods that diets on pickles were searching for the other half of a scroll containing the recipe for Seven Lucky Gods pickles.
How the Hell did it take me over 20 years to realize this??