Book Review – Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi

  • Title: Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi
  • Authors: Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose
  • Artist: Alé Garza
  • Characters: Jiro, Ichigo
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: Vertigo Comics (DC Comic’s Mature Readers line)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/04/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi is the prequel to the Get Jiro series by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose. It does read like a prequel because it’s all set-up. That isn’t to say it’s bad – I’m intrigued, and I expect the story will be even more enjoyable once I get a chance to purchase and read volume 1.

The story is somewhat simple, though it is well-told. Jiro has one desire in life – and it’s not to go into the family business. Jiro wants nothing more than to become a sushi chef. To that end, he’s been mentoring with a top sushi chef for three years. Jiro’s girlfriend, who is half Japanese and half Italian and who owns an Italian restaurant, supports him in this. His father, on the other hand, is only concerned about the family business. And, unfortunately, the family business is the mob, namely Yakuza. Jiro’s brother, Ichigo, is really into the family business. Their father’s enforcer for years, he enjoys violence and killing. You’d think this would work out – Jiro could become a chef and Ichigo take over the business? Right? Yep, we all know mob stories never end happily. Jiro’s father discovers his secret sushi lessons, and brings him in for a meeting. He tells Jiro that not only as the eldest, but as a better and more stable businessman, he must take over the business when he, the father, is gone. But before Jiro can really process this – Ichigo gets wind of his father’s decision. Ichigo kills their father, frames his brother, and takes over the Yakuza business. Jiro boards a plane for Los Angeles.

Get Jiro is all about the art and less about the dialogue or even characterization. There are pages of frames with no dialogue at all. And the art is stark and dark. This book has a film noir look and feel, despite being set in Japan. And Bourdain’s dark underbelly of Japan is a fascinating place, though the story is familiar. Seriously, how many “boy doesn’t want to go into the family business and strikes out on his own” stories of some sort have you read? But the story also has a strong sense of set-up, which also gives it a sense of “it will improve, this is only the first chapter”. I fully intend to pick up the “next” volume (which was published first, this one was published second, and my local comics guy recommended reading starting with the prequel). Overall, it was a good read, and I’m eager to pick-up volume 1. Recommended for mature readers (violence, implied sexuality).

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Doll of Death

  • Title: The Doll of Death
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Marc Platt
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Jo Grant, Third Doctor
  • Cast: Katy Manning, Jane Goddard
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/10/2016

The Companion Chronicles is a Big Finish Audio Series that lets the company explore earlier eras of Doctor Who than the full audio plays do, which feature the living Doctors. The Doll of Death is read and performed by Katy Manning (Jo Grant). Although it starts in “modern” times with Jo attending an environmental conference with her activist husband Professor Jones, she’s sick in her hotel room – so she decides to “catch up with her blog”. The rest of the story is Jo telling the story, and because it’s Katy – she uses “funny voices” to play the various characters.

The story does feel very much like a typical Third Doctor Era story. The Doctor has a device, a blue shift detector that sets off an alarm. He and Jo investigate a mysterious break-in at a museum. At the museum – they meet a professor who accuses them of trying to steal his research and project (not to mention a mysterious tablet). There are mysterious blue doll-creatures, and backwards-running attack dogs. The dogs are described as “Labradors” though – not something I would ever think of as “vicious” or even used in a guarding or attack capability.

Anyway, once the Doctor and Jo’s investigation really kicks off – the story proves to be fascinating despite its very typical framing. The Doctor and Jo encounter a research from a parallel Earth that runs backwards to this one, what the Doctor calls “Reverse Causation” – events before their causes. The Doctor and Jo, but especially Jo, investigate and see the results first, then the causes – bit by bit. It’s Jo who finds the creepy “doll hospital” and it’s owner Mrs. Killebrew, who is “possessed” for lack of a better term by the Alternate Earth researcher. Throughout the story, the motivations of the researcher are in question – is she an honest academic who was trapped? Or does she have deeper and darker motivations – especially when it’s revealed that she is there to observe the Doctor?

I liked the way the backwards-story and forwards-story collided. And the story does make a lot of sense – one can follow it easily. My rating for this particular Companion Chronicle would be 3.5 though. I thought the story was just a little bit too typical. It’s always good for a Companion Chronicle to reflect it’s era – but this one just fell a bit flat. It’s also presented as “Jo telling us a story” – rather than it being about the companion giving us their own point-of-view on being a companion for the Doctor. This particular story was very much, just OK, but not great. I’m not totally disappointed – I’ve just heard better (Like “Find and Replace” also a Companion Chronicle or “The Wormery” which technically features Iris Wildthyme played by Katy from the main range.) I wouldn’t discourage anyone from picking it up – the dolls ARE creepy, the backwards story works, etc., but it was very much only, well, 3.5 stars.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order The Doll of Death on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!