I sat on the first volume of Get Jiro! for a long time. So long that a sequel/prequel has been released. That said, I finished the first volume and dived right into Get Jiro! Blood & Sushi, which is a prequel to the 2013 series about a former Yakuza turned sushi chef living in a dystopian L.A. where food is quite literally life. Being a prequel it meant that we weren’t going to see Jiro take on new pompous chefs and foodies. Instead we’re given his origin story. Now, I don’t feel that this story was entirely needed. I get that after the first story there were probably a lot of people interested in Jiro’s backstory, but frankly the first volume worked without you having any of that knowledge. I don’t feel the first volume was perfect, but something about doing an origin story now kind of cheapens the work done in Get Jiro! Like a percentage of the readers weren’t happy because they didn’t know where Jiro got his start which is just their lack of imagination at play.
The story is unfortunately straight forward. We see Jiro and his half-brother being the face of their father’s Yakuza gang. They roll in and wipe out most of another gang and take the leader back to their father. From there we see Jiro learning how to make sushi in secret. This gets sped up when his own brother breaks the fingers of his teacher thrusting Jiro into the lead role. Otherwise it’s safe to assume that he’d still be washing rice. There’s a love story, betrayal and typical brother vs. brother trying to take over the family business type stuff. That’s the really sad part is that if you’ve ever read a story in which a father must pick between two sons to run shit, then you’ve already read this story.
I actually enjoyed it for a while and thought that it would actually go down a different path seeing how the first volume wasn’t following an exact formula, but it unfortunately did. The problem was always the fact that it was a prequel. The story needed to lead to Jiro going to America and the events of the first volume. Even that felt rushed. Jiro is a sushi chef for all of a month before everything happens and he leaves for L.A., yet the first volume would have you believe that he was a master for quite some time. It’s why prequels suck and honestly the story didn’t need to end with him going to L.A. If they were smart they would have teased him going somewhere else and set up another story.
The love story is forced and how each character acts towards the end of the story wasn’t very believable. It kind of invalidates the relationship that was shoehorned into the story. The step-brother starts off as an annoying character you love to hate and quickly becomes a character you just hate. There’s no repercussions to his actions. I don’t even count the ending as a repercussion because he’s so completely out of control throughout the entire story. His every action becomes obvious rather than shocking which was the intended purpose.
The artwork is great. I like Alé Garza and José Villarrubia’s style, coloring and design for the world. It’s a very different style from the first volume, but honestly if I hadn’t read them back to back I probably wouldn’t even have thought to compare them. As it stands Garza provides some incredible action pages and some delicious looking food. It is a story about food after all so the food needs to look appetizing. Overall it’s a great look and really elevates the mediocre story.
If you were a fan of the first volume and had to know Jiro’s backstory, then you’ll love this volume a lot more than I did. If like me, you just liked and enjoyed the first volume, then you’ll probably feel about the same with this prequel. Hopefully the next volume will dive into Jiro’s future which would be far more interesting and we can just let his past be just that.
Get Jiro! Blood & Sushi Writers: Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose Artist: Alé Garza Colorist: José Villarrubia Publisher: Vertigo Comics Price: $22.99 Release Date: 10/27/15 Format: Trade Paperback; Print/Digital