Anime Review

Road To JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

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JoJo. Chances are you’ve heard of JoJo, whether it’d be through the memes or the comments section of certain songs on YouTube. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a manga series written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki and made its debut in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump on the first day of 1987. As I’m writing this, the series is still ongoing in the pages of Ultra Jump. It’s an anthology series surrounding the Joestar family and their descendants as they battle various supernatural threats with extraordinary abilities and a LOT of posing. The main character of each series has a name that can be abbreviated to JoJo, hence the title of the series. The story in the manga is split into eight parts as I’m typing this and so far, the first five parts have been adapted into anime. I’ve wanted to do a post talking about this series, but I decided to wait until the more recent part, Golden Wind, concluded so that I could look at this series properly. So let’s take a look at JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

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PART 1: PHANTOM BLOOD

It’s 1880 and in Liverpool, London, Jonathan Joestar lives with his father George in his estate. George adopts a young man named Dio Brando, who doesn’t get along with Jonathan as he hopes to inherit the Joestar estate for himself. He then wears a stone mask that turns him into a vampire and he sets out for world domination. It’s up to Jonathan and some new allies to stop Dio and his vampire army. Phantom Blood was the first of two parts of what makes up the first season of JoJo and runs for nine episodes. It’s considered to be the weakest of the JoJo series and while it’s still pretty good in my opinion, I can understand why because it’s not as interesting as the latter parts. Jonathan as a protagonist is a typical nice guy protagonist who gets shitted on a lot early in the series, not great, not bad, just okay. He uses an ability called Hamon (or the Ripple), which utilizes the same properties as sunlight, which is useful for killing vampires. Dio is the ultimate asshole villain who just enjoys bringing misery to people and this is amplified after he becomes a vampire. Oh, and he gave us this lovely meme as well.

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There’s other characters in the series who are named after famous music artists and bands. Hell, that applies to the entire series as a whole. Dio is named after the late Ronnie James Dio, Will. A Zeppeli is named after Led Zeppelin, Robert E.O. Speedwagon is, well, you can figure that one out. Phantom Blood ends with both Jonathan and Dio dying in their final battle with the former attempting to escape to America with his pregnant wife. Some people would say to skip this series, but those people are fools. After all, this is where it all starts, all because of a feud between two men.

PART 2: BATTLE TENDENCY

In 1938, Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar investigates the alleged death of Speedwagon when the Pillar Men have been revived. Joseph must now train himself in order to defeat the Pillar Men before they threaten the world. Battle Tendency makes up the second part of the first season at 17 episodes. Now I actually like this more than Phantom Blood. For one, it has a better protagonist in Joseph Joestar, who’s a cocky asshole who uses deception against his foes. He’s also more hilarious. This time around, instead of vampires, the main threat of the series is the Pillar Men, immortal beings with immense power who are linked to the Stone Mask. And they were inadvertently revived by Nazi scientists. Also, one of Joseph’s allies is a Nazi officer. Seriously. It’s one of the only times I can think of where a Nazi isn’t depicted in media as either plain buffoons or pure evil. Other allies include Caesar Zeppeli, the grandson of Will A. Zeppeli, and Lisa Lisa, who teaches Joseph how to use his Hamon powers and is revealed to be related to him later on in the series. One thing Battle Tendency did was up the scale from the previous arc, going from a brutal sibling rivalry to a worldwide adventure of epicness with all the bizarre shit that the title promises.

PART 3: STARDUST CRUSADERS

In 1987, Jotaro Kujo, alongside his grandfather Joseph Joestar and three other companions, take a trip from Japan to Egypt where they must defeat Dio in order to save Jotaro’s mother from dying. And now we’ve reached the most popular part of the JoJo series. When people think JoJo, Stardust Crusaders comes to mind. It was previously adapted into an OVA series from the 90s. It’s also where the series changes the most. We get a different art style and look and instead of Hamon being the primary source of power for our characters from now on, we get the Stand, which is a manifestation of its user and contains unique abilities. Stardust Crusaders plays off more as a road trip series where our heroes must travel to a certain location and deal with various Stand users with unique abilities. This leads to some creative battles where each enemy has a different ability that must be overcome by strategy. This keeps the action more interesting and would become a staple for the series. Jotaro as a protagonist is a stoic badass with a Stand called Star Platinum that punches the shit out of people and things.

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Also, this is supposed to be a 16 year old high schooler. Anime, ladies and gentlemen.

Joseph also gets a Stand called Hermit Purple. Joining them are Avdol and his Stand Magician’s Red, Kakyoin with Hierophant Green, and Polnareff with Silver Chariot. The final battle between Jotaro and Dio is awesome as the latter has a Stand called The World-oops, I mean ZA WARUDO!!, which can stop time for a few seconds. Out of all the story arcs, Stardust Crusaders is my favorite so far because it embodies all that makes JoJo great from the animation to the action to the weird shit that happens along the way.

PART 4: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE

In 1999, Josuke Higashikata teams up with Jotaro Kugo and other Stand users to find an arrow that gives people Stand abilities. Meanwhile, they must also stop a serial killer who’s also a Stand User and is threatening the Japanese town of Morioh. Each arc of JoJo has their own unique identity: where as Phantom Blood is a horror action story and Battle Tendency is a big Indiana Jones-esque adventure and Stardust Crusaders is a road trip, Diamond Is Unbreakable is more of a murder mystery. It also has a larger main cast of characters that get their own focused episodes. Josuke is a typical teenager who’s loyal to his friends and is willing to protect the people he cares about. He’s also prone to anger whenever someone talks about his hair, which…

His Stand Crazy Diamond can revert things back to their previous state, which means he can fix broken objects and heal wounds. Did I ever mentioned that he’s Joseph Joestar’s son, which means he’s Jotaro’s uncle, who’s older than him? The downside is that he can’t heal his own wounds. He’s friends with Koichi, a short classmate who has a Stand called Echoes that evolves through the series, and Okuyashu, a simple-minded fool who was initially an enemy at first and has a Stand called The Hand which can remove space. There’s also a manga artist called Rohan Kishibe who may or may not be an author self-insert character. The main antagonist of the series is introduced halfway through the series in Yoshikage Kira, a serial killer with a weird fetish for women’s hands. Seriously, he always keeps the hands of his female victims. His Stand is Killer Queen, which can turn anything it touches into a bomb. That Stand eventually takes a form called Bites The Dust, which can reset time by an hour whenever Kira wills it. Out of all of the JoJos, Diamond Is Unbreakable isn’t one of my favorites as the narrative lacks cohesion. Then again, that could be applied to the other JoJos, but it’s more obvious here. Still, like the rest, there is a lot to enjoy in Diamond Is Unbreakable. There’s even a live-action adaptation of the storyline. Chances are it’s not as good as the manga and anime.

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PART 5: GOLDEN WIND

In 2001 Italy, Giorno Giovanna, the son of Dio (technically, he’s Jonathan’s son since Dio attached his head to Jonathan, so that makes Giorno a Joestar), joins the Italian gang Passione in the hopes of becoming the boss and rid the organization of corruption. Fun fact: Araki was heavily inspired by Italian art while making JoJo, so for him to do an arc taking place in Italy makes way too much sense. Golden Wind (or Vento Aureo) is a gangster story with Stand users and more flamboyant fashion. One of the things that defines Giorno is his resolve. When he has a goal, he sets out to accomplish it, no matter what. His Stand Gold Experience can create and manipulate life, meaning he can create plants and animals out of anything. I wouldn’t even call him my favorite character. No, that goes to Bruno Bucciarati, the capo and leader of his own squad within Passione. He has a sense of nobility and determination that draws people to him. Giorno is kinda the same way, but it’s much stronger with Bucciarati, who seemed more like the main protagonist of the story with the amount of screen time he gets. His Stand Sticky Fingers can create zippers on anything. For the first half of the series, Giorno helps the crew do tasks for the boss of Passione, who no one has seen before. Then they decide to betray the boss when he attempts to kill his daughter, both are Stand users, and now, they’re on the run from hitmen with different Stand abilities. The boss, Diavolo, has a Stand called King Crimson, which continues the tradition of JoJo main antagonists having the ability to manipulate time as King Crimson can erase time up to 10 seconds. Overall, Golden Wind is one of my favorite story arcs from JoJo and one of my favorite anime series in recent times.

And that wraps up our look at JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The thing I like most about this series is how different each story arc is that keeps things fresh and interesting. None of the protagonists are carbon copies of the other in terms of personality. Plus, the series has one killer soundtrack. There’s not a lot of series like JoJo and that reason alone is why I think it’s worth watching for all anime fans. I can’t wait for the anime adaptation of Stone Ocean, Steel Ball Run, and JoJolion when they inevitably happen. Here’s how I would rank the story arcs so far in terms of anime adaptations.

  1. Stardust Crusaders
  2. Golden Wind
  3. Battle Tendency
  4. Diamond Is Unbreakable
  5. Phantom Blood

Next week is the One Punch Man review.

Peace!!

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