Set in not-too-distant-future Tokyo, it’s the origin story of the sword-wielding superstar sushi chef Jiro. There’s yakuza, sushi, Italian food, and lots and lots of blood. We got a chance to chat with Bourdain about the new graphic novel (on shelves today), as well as his upcoming cookbook and food sins he thinks should be punishable by death.
Why did you opt to follow up Get Jiro! with a prequel?
I was interested in finding out how this unlikely character came to be. I didn’t want to go farther into the future—I’d said everything I wanted to say there. Initially, the whole project was wishful fulfillment. I once watched my friend Naomichi Yasuda as he watched two customers mix wasabi into the dish of soy sauce without ever having tasted his fantastic sushi one day. And I saw his unhappiness. In a measured voice, he told them that was unnecessary, that the fish was properly seasoned. And I was well aware of the fact that he had been training in full contact karate for most of his life and that he could have easily cracked both of their skulls. And sitting there enjoying his sushi and understanding the amount of work and intent that he brings to his sushi, I thought, Wouldn’t it be awesome if he just cracked their skulls together and killed them? So I tried to imagine a world in which that would be acceptable behavior. It developed into this dystopian, satirical extension of foodie over-seriousness. With the new book, I wanted to go backwards and do a completely different thing. I’m a huge fan of Japanese gangster films and sword flicks and genre pictures of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. I saw an opportunity to essentially play in that backyard, so I did.
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It felt a lot more realistic. A lot more like a possible story as opposed to the original Get Jiro!
Slightly higher body count than Japan is used to, I think.