Saturday, 19 September 2015

Get Jiro! Review (Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose)

Set in a bizarre futuristic Los Angeles, food is the only surviving culture - arts, sports, everything has gone! Chefs are the new power and LA is ruled over by two chef warlords: Bob, a French chef, and Rose, an organic farmer, whose sides are bitterly at war with one another. 

Then a mysterious chef called Jiro opens a small sushi joint on the outskirts of the city and quickly proves he is as skilled at filleting people as he is the fish he serves. And in making himself a useful commodity to Bob and Rose, he’s pursued by both to join their sides: Get Jiro! Except Jiro has other plans...

I really liked this comic when it came out a few years ago but re-reading it today, it’s somehow even better than I remembered! Get Jiro! is easily one of Vertigo’s best releases of the last few years. World-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain and co-writer Joel Rose produce a fun, entertaining, fast-moving and engaging comic with outstanding artwork from Langdon Foss. The supporting team is a who’s who of the best in the field: Jose Villarrubia and Dave Stewart on colours and Todd Klein lettering. Quality throughout! 

The tone is set in the opening pages as Jiro decapitates a boorish customer who doesn’t know the etiquette for eating sushi (fish side down, no soy sauce/wasabi - sushi is as much about the rice as it is the fish) and the police look on, nodding that this was the right thing to happen! It’s a very violent comic but in a Hong Kong action movie kind of way where it’s so over the top you can’t take it seriously and it’s also kinda funny too. 

I like that it’s a concentrated story and that Bourdain/Rose don’t try to do too much and over-egg the book. We don’t know much about Jiro besides he has an elaborate gang tattoo and plenty of money, as well as being an efficient killer and skilled sushi chef, hinting at a dark past, but that’s all we see. It’s all we need to know about his character. Instead the book is about Jiro overturning the LA scene, taking down Bob and Rose and democratising good food so everyone can eat well if they choose, not just forced to eat cheap and foul fast food.

I’m definitely a foodie fan so seeing so many delicious dishes lovingly rendered by Foss was wonderful. But everything is drawn beautifully with a high level of detail reminiscent of a Geof Darrow comic. Coupled with Villarrubia/Stewart’s colours and you have a stunning visual feast in your hands! 

Love love loved Get Jiro! Superbly drawn and written, I couldn’t put it down and wanted more as soon as I’d finished - the mark of a quality book. Thankfully a sequel is due out in a month so I won’t have to wait long for seconds! The extreme focus on food and violence is a wacky combination but, like great fusion cuisine, unexpectedly works so well. Get Jiro! is a delightful and brilliant comic, the literary equivalent of a Michelin three star restaurant - don’t miss it!

Get Jiro!

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