And yet another fun find, recommended to me by my local comic book store (go and find your very own, if you haven’t already done so); trust me on this (and trust them on their recommendations) . . .
If you are familiar with any of Tony Bourdain’s work, this is exactly as you’d expect a graphic novel by Bourdain to be. If you’re unfamiliar, Anthony Bourdain is a chef/writer/tv personality who was one of the first to expose the real world of the chef’s kitchen and all of the background, behind-the-scenes gritty activity that happens in top commercial restaurants around the world. He expected to get hacked and sliced by those in the restaurant industry for telling it like it is–the drugs, the hours, the real people who cook and prepare your food–instead, the world fell in love with his honesty and candor and apologetically true stories.
Get Jiro takes place in an alternate Los Angeles where chefs rule the world. Among other things, they dictate the politics, laws, and borders of the city. Jiro is a Japanese sushi chef, newly arrived from Japan and skilled with the blade. Dip your sashimi in soy sauce or ask for a California roll? WHACK, off with your head. Jiro’s antics are quickly noticed by the top two competing chefs in the city, heads of their own mafias, and each competes to win him over to their side. Chef Bob delights in the luxury of eating and of saluting the classics. Chef Rose is vegetarian, vegan, locally sourced, granola. With these two characters, Bourdain mercilessly pokes fun at the two extremes of cooking, as he often does in his TV shows, and paints each chef as ultimately hypocritical.
Yes, we the reader can delight in the triumph of one who wants things done with integrity and honor and refuses to bow down to what others pressure him to do. We root for Jiro, not only because he is the hero of the graphic novel, but because he stands for the individual making a choice, eating being the most basic of the functions we can call our own.
If there’s any disappointment in this book, it’s the abruptness of it all. What is Jiro’s backstory and how did chefs come to claim power? We don’t get nearly enough time with him to figure out his motivations, to learn the story behind his tattoos, and find out how an esteemed chef from Japan came to be in LA. Bourdain, please give us more and more!