Graphic Novel Review: Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts (Hungry Ghosts #1-4)

Berger Books
Published Oct. 2nd, 2018
128 Pages

On a dark, haunted night, a Russian Oligarch dares a circle of international chefs to play the samurai game of 100 Candles–where each storyteller tells a terrifying tale of ghosts, demons and unspeakable beings–and prays to survive the challenge.

Inspired by the Japanese Edo period game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, Hungry Ghosts reimagines the classic stories of yokai, yorei, and obake, all tainted with the common thread of food.- Goodreads

If you do not recall, I am a very big fan of Anthony Bourdain. This man meant a lot to me and it still hurts that he is gone.

I avoided this book, even though I purchased it and left it on my shelf above my desk so I can see it everyday, I avoided it because I have been distancing myself from Bourdain to not think about his passing. So this review will be tough for me not because I will be bias but because it makes me think of him.

Anyway, I have conflicting feelings about this graphic novel, so let me tell you what I loved about it. The artwork was fantastic. I love love love Japanese inspired art and this graphic novel honored this art style with its colors and very fluid movements. Each illustrator, Sebastian Cabrol, Vanesa Del Rey, Francesco Francavilla, Irene Koh, Leo Manco, Alberto Ponticelli, Paul Pope, and Mateus Santolouco as well as color by Jose Villarrubia, deserve the biggest hype and recognition for the work that they put into this graphic novel. There wasn’t just a passion for art within their works but there was a respect and a appreciation for Japanese art.

What conflicted me about this graphic novel was the story. There wasn’t anything memorable about it. Basically each person has to tell a scary story and look in the mirror to see if they are possessed. Because each story is dark and gets darker, the room is weighed down with evil, therefore opening the door to something slipping in.

Love the concept but the story was not evil nor even remotely scary. Graphic? Yes. Unexpected? At moments. But the stories itself were nothing really memorable. But there was something that really bothered me. All stories had to be related to food. There were two women story tellers and one story can be considered about food if you stretch it but the other story had nothing to do with food (at all).

So it made me wonder. . . why? Why did the women in the book have completely off stories compared to everyone else? Both of their stories touched upon men doing really dumb things. They felt forced compared to the other stories and that bothered me.

Beyond this very noticeable thing and the fact that other than the two women stories none of the other stories contained women, I felt that compared to the artwork the intensity was not there. Its weird to say that the art didn’t match the words but that is really the case. The art offers something sinister or even unexpected where as the story was left rather dry.

They were okay reads but nothing I would say you need to go out and purchase now, which is unfortunate, given my love for Mr. Bourdain.

Overall, this is something to read in between read or if you are stuck in a layover and you happen to see a copy.

2 Pickles

8 thoughts on “Graphic Novel Review: Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts (Hungry Ghosts #1-4)”

  1. It’s very sad when a book doesn’t live up to the expectations you have for it, especially when it’s from a person you admire. I’m curious about the art work but from what you said about it, I probably would not purchase it for myself. Great review!

    1. Yeah tbh I wouldn’t actually recommend anyone to buy it for the story. If someone purely wants it because of the art go for it. I would have loved a separate companion of just art because it is really beautiful.

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