The Fourth Dish in Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghost is Best Served Cold

7 May


By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

The final issue of Anthony Bourdain‘s Hungry Ghosts is coming this week, and this work sums up why the best is often left for last. Irene Koh illustrates The Snow Woman, perhaps the best-known spectre from Japanese supernatural lore and whose tale been retold many times in media. This artist’s visual style is very elegant and perfect. When considering she is better known for drawing the Legend of Korra graphic novel series, her character designs are the best! Yuki is beautiful. This lonely spirit will be haunting this unnamed boy for a while. This work takes a few ideas from the film, Chinese Ghost Story and reverses it. Thankfully, there is no greater force at work to challenge this supernatural romance.

The second tale, The Cow Head, Bourdain and co-writer Joel Rose examines famine from a difficult perspective. When an undisclosed village suffers from a drought and everyone is starving, the big question is just how far will these people go to keep on living? I often refer to one famous work, The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault, which puts on still life the fate of the survivors from the French naval frigate Méduse. In order to live for another day (for the chance of rescue), they ate anything and everything they could catch — including each other! For this Asian tale, when there was a chance of “rescue” from the situation, the villagers pounced on the Jikininki! His fate was sadly sealed and their sin gave birth to new evils. Both works are comparable for the colour palette used. The sordid artwork from Francesco Francavilla is set to various auburn tones by José Villarrubia. This rustic combination only adds to the terror like how John Carpenter’s The Fog was visually designed.

Sadly, this series is coming to an end. Only time will tell if Bourdain decides he has more tales to pen. The game is not over, and I am only being tickled given the diversity of talents involved in bringing to life this author’s vision. They range from somber to electric. The foreboding atmosphere hinges on how fast the yokai can manifest in each individual tale.

Normally, I am not one to repurchase works again. I love flipping through a physical copy than the electronic advance previews. This work is worth supporting again when the collected volume is offered come September. This edition will have new content by Bourdain. Instead of more stories, recipes—perhaps the final meal the party had before the Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai (100 Candles) game begun—are offered. In those tales where I had trouble figuring out which Japanese spirit this author is using, they will be identified. The question I have is how well will these entries hold a candle to the encyclopedic information found in Japandemonium Illustrated (Amazon link)ir?t=wiupgeatthmo 20&l=am2&o=1&a=0486800350?

One Response to “The Fourth Dish in Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghost is Best Served Cold”

  1. dimas 2022-04-29 at 6:30 am #

    Thank you for nice information.

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