Pizzeria Kamikaze postulates an unusual afterlife. Those who’ve killed themselves wind up in a world that looks and behaves just like this one, only with even less purpose and even more boring. The only difference is that some of the inhabitants bear scars, based on their method of death.
Our narrator, Mordy, works at a pizza joint in this generic afterworld city. He goes to a bar to relax in the evenings, where he meets new friend Uzi. The two hang out, with nothing much happening, until Mordy finds out that the woman he was obsessed with in life also killed herself. The two set out to find her.
Their trip takes them through an Arab neighborhood before they meet the only person we see with a goal, a female hitchhiker who’s convinced her being there is a mistake and is attempting to find the people in charge. Uzi responds to her in a way that sums up their existence: “You haven’t been here long, I guess…. ’cause otherwise you’d have figured out by now that nobody here has a clue. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
Asaf Hanuka illustrates this story by Etgar Keret in black and white with a silver ink for shading and emphasis. The shimmery accents give the whole thing an air of unreality well-suited to the limbo setting. Hanuka’s semi-realistic style captures the expressions and attitudes of daily life well, keeping the many conversational scenes flowing.
Many of the characters killed themselves for self-indulgent reasons, and becoming dead didn’t improve their personalities any. Those with no purpose in life still find themselves bored, surrounded by the same people. Early on, the narrator meets Kurt, a rock star who never stops complaining and who thinks everything reminds him of one of his songs (and yes, he’s that one).
All of these people were hoping a drastic change would fix whatever they thought was wrong with their lives, but what they get is a place where nothing unexpected ever happens. If getting the opposite of what you hoped for is punishment, then maybe this is a kind of hell.
As with our world, people form connections the best they can because they can’t cope with being alone. Pizzeria Kamikaze is an intriguing exploration of modern ennui that provides more questions than answers.