‘Strike a pose there’s nothing to it’, says the iconic words of Madonna, and they aren’t more relevant than today. Dear reader, let me take you on a trip, no, an adventure, a bizarre adventure into a world of buff men, superpowers and above all else, poses. Ladies and gentlemen, today on Otaku Review, we will delve into the world of 2012’s, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
The first thing you have to understand about Jojo’s is that it is not your regular Shounen romp. The genre has become somewhat stagnant over the last few years, usually focusing on some kid and his powerful friends taking down a large evil organisation with a big bad at the end. Jojo’s instead focuses on a multi generational family of flamboyant weirdoes, all with the same naming convention, who’s enemies range from sentient pieces of paper to almighty powerful gods. Oh and they are all really well dressed. This story has to start somewhere however, with the first Jojo, Jonathan Joestar.
Our story starts in 1880s England, where Jonathan Joestar lives happily in his manor alongside his father, until one day he is introduced to his new adoptive brother, Dio Brando. The two quickly butt heads, until their rivalry comes to a dramatic clash when Dio discovers the powers of Jonathan’s fathers most prized possession, an ancient stone mask. With a drop of his blood, Dio is transformed by the masks power, becoming an unholy vampire, weak against nothing but sunlight. With this new found power, Dio kills Jonathan’s father, vowing his hatred towards the family. Jonathan swears revenge on Dio, and with the help of the magical property known as ripple and some freaks with giant hats, he seeks Dio and his vampire army across the English countryside. This is only part one folks, it gets way weirder.
Part one, or more commonly known, Phantom Blood, is by far the worst part of Jojos, as its the most conventional. You could replace a lot of names and setting locales of Phantom Blood and it would pretty much look like any Fist of the North Star knockoff. While saying this, Phantom Blood is necessary, as it sets up a lot of characters and plot points that will become essential for the future of the franchise. This is a series that builds upon itself with each generation, and gets better because of what the previous generation’s achievements.
Pose the house down
Speaking of generations, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012) is actually split into two parts, Phantom Blood and my personal favourite part, Battle Tendency. If Phantom Blood was a fairly conventional vampire hunter story, Battle Tendency is a high energy 80s movie romp, complete with the best and most sassy Jojo, Joseph Joestar. Set in 1930s New York, Joseph Joestar is the grandson of Jonathan, a puckish rogue who somehow becomes involved in a battle against robot Nazi’s, French pretty boys and million year old stone gods. So much about part two just works, and while the scope is bigger, by placing a stupid sassy idiot like Joseph in the driving wheel, you get an off the wall power trip about two rivals taking down literal unstoppable gods with their fabulous poses. Battle Tendency is where it gets real gay y’all and its so good.
A big part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s appeal and success comes from its tone, as it is a style of Shounen storytelling that has somewhat disappeared in recent years, but David Production has struck gold with Jojo’s, becoming a phenomenon online. You usually don’t see stories about giant muscle bound goofs going around saving the world in anime today, its usually kids. While I can understand why people wouldn’t be totally up for the specific power trip Jojo’s is on paper, the sense of fashion, culture and style the show has is what really sucks you in. Writer and artist Hirohiko Araki uses his extensive knowledge of music, clothing and media to create stories and characters that are simultaneously Japanese and Western. These stories may come off as ‘bizarre’ at first, but there is a wealth of knowledge and reference of culture ingrained into Jojo’s, and it celebrates everything beloved about Western and Eastern storytelling. Oh and by the way that one to be continued meme that got big on vine was from Jojo’s.
It took me a while to find any Shounen anime I actually felt connected to growing up. I tried the big three, I tried Fairy Tail, hell I even tried Bobobo-bo bo-bobo, but one after another I eventually fell off. Jojo’s was different. Jojo’s bizarre Adventure thrusts its manly fist through the screen and refuses to let you lose interest, because almost every single frame of animation is filled to the brim with style, energy and personality. And while the comedy and action are wacky and over the top, the show always stays true to the science of its own universe, everything makes cohesive sense. No matter how stupid things get, there is tension, people die, and events actually feel like they matter, which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of Shounen out there.
There is nothing quite like Jojo’s in the anime market, as Hirohiko Araki has created a legacy of style and passion that stretches across an eight part manga to the covers of Vogue. I am so happy I live in the timeline where we have got a fully produced animated series of such a niche manga, and that it has exploded so much to receive four seasons, one of which is still ongoing.
Are you a fan of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure? Let us know in the comments below.