Get Jiro! |
by Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose, Langdon Floss (Vertigo, 2012)
After reading this book, I carefully researched the exact, correct way to eat sushi. I don't want any slip-ups that could result in a sushi chef decapitating me as a result of poor dining etiquette.
In a futuristic Los Angeles dystopia, where all forms of entertainment have failed or been destroyed, food is the last form of theater left in its place. Chefs are the new ruling power, and being a food groupie is the highest social aspiration. Extravagant food experiences are pitted against hardcore local food lovers, as independent operators suffer under the domination of rival chefs whose cooking philosophies are diametrically opposite.
Genius of a chef Jiro, whose ability to wield a knife is literally a double-edged proposition, ends the life of a rude diner in the first few pages of Get Jiro!, chef Anthony Bourdain's first foray into the world of graphic novels. Owner of a small sushi shop that sits between a porn store and a taco cart, supernaturally calm Jiro serves up sushi that's artistic in its perfection. It's only fair to expect perfect manners in return. So when a group of foodies wander in and behave in an atrocious manner, eating with chopsticks (sushi is finger food), mixing the rice in wasabi-soaked soy sauce (never do that!) and speaking to the chef while he is preparing the food (big no-no), Jiro's knife gets busy separating an obnoxious head from a pair of shoulders. Unfortunately, the guy Jiro kills is a food procurer with serious underground connections.
This brings Jiro to the attention of competing chieftains and gangs, whose brutality leaves any of Jiro's temper tantrums in a very pale shade. They want to stop this independent operator from being too creative with his freedom. Jiro neatly plays both sides against the other as enemy contenders try and shut him down by any means necessary.
The set-up is interesting but after the first third of the book, the story never develops beyond a sort of generic mob-style plot. It is enjoyable in terms of the detailed artwork and the inside foodie jokes. The concept of warring food tribes is absurd enough to make for fairly decent satire, but the subtler material is overwhelmed by the graphic violence, which is dynamic but way over-the-top. Additionally, Jiro is hard to empathize with due to a lack of background and character development. Get Jiro! is great in its snarky attitude toward corporate America but ultimately the lack of real depth and the disjointed plot makes the story feel thin, like a missed opportunity.
18 July 2015
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