Get Jiro! Blood and Sushi

Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose, writers; Alé Garza, artist; José Villarrubia, colorist

Vertigo Comics, 2015

In the first Get Jiro! story Jiro was a sushi chef in a futuristic, dystopian Los Angeles. This prequel tells the story of how Jiro became a chef, and why he moved from Japan to Los Angeles. The colorful Tokyo underground depicted here is closer to reality, but it looks almost as fantastical as the Los Angeles shown in the original. Jiro was the heir apparent of a Yakuza gang leader. In secret he works as an apprentice to a sushi chef, the only thing he wants to be. His girlfriend is a Japanese/Italian woman who loves Italian food and runs an Italian restaurant. So there's lots of secrets in Jiro's secret life, most of them revolving around food. 

But the story is much more about gang life and family dynamics than food this time. Jiro's half-brother Ichigo is a real piece of work: a strutting, self-important punk prone to violence. His competition with Jiro for his father's favor leads him to hurt or kill almost everyone in Jiro's personal life outside of the gang, culminating in murdering their father. At first he blames it on a rival gang, then turns the blame on Jiro instead. But the act of breaking the sushi chef's fingers comes back to haunt him as he is about to finish off Jiro in a final fight.

So Jiro's departure to the United States is understandable, if a bit abrupt. The story is certainly enough to explain any intimations about Jiro's shadowy past in the first book. New artist Alé Garza's work is similar enough to original artist Langdon Foss not to set off any alarms while reading it. I'll have to try to get my hands on a copy to compare. A fun read overall, if maybe not quite the equal of the original.

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