Did you know that I am a fan of Akira Kurosawa films? I am. What bear wouldn’t be? Some of my best fishing techniques I learned from watching his samurai films. True story. Did you know that I am also a huge fan of sushi? I know bears are supposed to catch their fish and eat them, but then what? A bear can only eat so much fresh fish with nothing else before a bear gets bored of fish and then you find bored bears hunting down your food. Your food by the way, is not that good, but when bored a bear will eat anything. Thus I suggest to any bear that I meet that they try sushi, which is fresh fish and other stuff in tiny bite size morsels. Sure a bear has to eat a lot of sushi, but an order of sushi will keep a bear out of the trash…ick.
What does my love of samurai films and sushi have to do with reading? Once again I was hungry and in the mood for a samurai film. Unfortunately, Red Box does not service bears, not even after I shook the box vigorously and I didn’t feel like going down to the local watering hole. I did have a copy of Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain nearby, so in an effort to distract myself I started reading.
A quick summary, Get Jiro! is about a sushi chef working in a futuristic version of Los Angeles, where food and foodie culture has become dominant. There are two primary groups, one espousing the virtues of French style cooking and one espousing the virtues of all natural cooking. These two groups are hostile to each other, but at the start of the graphic novel not in an open war. Jiro, has a sushi bar on the outside of their territories where he makes classic Edo style sushi. He does not compromise on his sushi, going so far to decapitate a patron that puts wasabi into the soy (a big faux pas) and the police are okay with the decapitation. Eventually Jiro gets drawn into the conflict between the two groups with suitably violent results.
If you have seen Sanjuro, Yojimbo, A Man with No Name or Last Man Standing then you are very familiar with the pacing, plot and action that will be found in Get Jiro! This is not a bad thing, given the food centric theme throughout the graphic novel, having a foot planted in the familiar will allow many people who might have been turned off by the food centric theme to read the entire graphic novel. Food plays an important role in the story, food establishes the identities of everyone; the French style dress like you expect chefs to dress and the all natural group dress like hippies and so on. The familiar also works the other way, if you are a fan of food, that will carry you through the unfamiliar territory of the story, if you were not familiar with the classic story.
While the story is familiar, and the action predictable (only if you are familiar with the source material), Get Jiro! is fun afternoon’s read. The artwork is good and tells much of the story. The dialog is good, not great, but appropriate for the story and true to the source material. Should you happen to be a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s writing, you may be let down, most of his snark and wit are not present. I recommend Get Jiro! for anyone looking for a light afternoon’s read or for a different version of a classic story.