The growing cost of tasty sushi
Everything that happens in Jiro, aside from the sushi-master's personal story, and a bit more, is covered in the first 10 minutes of Sushi, a crash course in the cuisine, delivered via interviews and footage of chefs' preparation, including talking to Iron Chef America contestant Tyson Cole. It's a truly interesting lesson, covering the origins of wasabi, the importance of steel and the variations found worldwide. There's a special focus on Tokyo's Tsukiji market, also seen in Jiro, the largest dealer of fish on the planet, where wholesalers evaluate and bid on the goods for further distribution. After a tutorial on the business, we get into the real story of this documentary, which deals with the impact of sushi's explosive popularity growth on fish populations.
Hopping from continent to continent, the film looks at how tuna shipping has changed since it was first implemented, as well as the many ways it's delivered to consumers, including an unusual sushi push-pop. As sushi is revealed to be becoming increasingly omnipresent, including rapid adoption in populous China, it becomes very clear that demand is likely to outstrip supply, and the film takes a dark turn, showing the fishing process in stark, disturbing detail. I've never been a fan of gruesome animal death videos, and though fish are far more alien than most animals, it's still disturbing to see how the sausage is made, so to speak. Considering how Republican lawmakers can deny things as clearly obvious as environmental chaos, it's impressive that the filmmakers can't find anyone with a financial stake in tuna to deny the existence of a looming crisis for the tuna, those who fish for it and those who enjoy eating it, not to mention possibly the entire ocean ecosystem.
The filmmakers thankfully don't just point out problems, but explore possible solutions, including the concept of sustainable sushi and the potential for farming tuna and spawning them in captivity, as well as the efforts of Greenpeace to encourage change. One of the more interesting things that occurs is an intertwining of the various subjects as their paths cross (probably not a coincidence) which leads to an on-screen discussion between the owner of a sustainable sushi restaurant and an Australian tuna rancher. Both come in with similar good intentions, but it's clear they aren't on the same wavelength, which is unlikely to help them in their efforts to prevent the bluefin tuna's extinction. However, this film is a much more effective argument thanks to the inclusion of many viewpoints.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is solid, though it's lacking in any kind of dynamic mixing, as is often the case when it comes to documentaries. Once in awhile, there's a scene that's a bit harsh, like the discussion scene, where the two voices are a tad tinny, but for the most part the dialogue and music are clear and clean.
Considering the film was made back in 2011, an update with this release, even in text form, would have been appreciated.
The Bottom Line