30 Movies in 30 Days: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Had I seen it before: I’d seen the beginning as I attempted to watch this one earlier in the month, but fell asleep.

What IMDb says: A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.

Requirements fulfilled: 

– At least one documentary

Why I picked it: This one has been on my “list” since Charlisissocoollike recommended it in a video. That was probably at least five years ago. Better late than never?

What I liked about it: This one did a wonderful job of weaving together both the educational and emotional. Despite watching the food network almost constantly I know relatively little about sushi. It’s not something I ate growing up and have only recently opened my eyes to this particular cuisine.

That means I went into this documentary blissfully ignorant of how intricate sushi could be. I mean it’s raw food right? How hard can it be? But that’s what’s so fascinating about sushi. It’s simple but also complex. It might be rice and fish but how do you decide what kind of rice to buy or how to cook at it? How do you pick the fish? How thinly do you slice it? What temperature do you serve it at? How long does an octopus need to be massaged before you served it? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.

These are the kinds of things that our protagonist Jiro has dedicated his life to. Jiro is 85 years old and has been working since he was 10. Very few people can say they have spent 75 years at a trade, but yet Jiro is humble. There’s something so pure about him and the movie as a whole. He is not in this to make money or get famous or anything. He just wants to make really good sushi. And even after 75 years he still believes there is always something he could do to further refine his sushi. He is on a quest for perfection, yet never feels he’s achieved it.

It is this balance between learning something cool about a new topic and building an emotional connection to the people in the movie that makes documentaries so much fun. And Jiro Dreams of Sushi nails it. It makes me want to learn more about sushi and it makes me want to be more like Jiro.

What I didn’t like about it: I would’ve liked to have learned more about Jiro’s wife and whether or not she’s involved in his professional life. I’m sure there’s a good reason why she wasn’t mentioned (I’m not even sure she’s still alive, though her death is never mentioned). How did she feel about being with someone so dedicated to their career? If she died, how did Jiro feel about her death? It just seems like there’s a missing piece to the story and my nosy ass wants to know what it is.

Will I watch it again: Probably, but not for a little while.

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