“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a show I first heard about from cultural osmosis via the Dio memes. Now that we’re in October and I’ve been reviewing horror related content I think JoJo’s applies as it cover the vampire mythology. I have only watched the first 2 parts but Part 1 is easily the strongest and worth checking out as the first part captures both the major strengths and some of the cons of the series. For those the pacing can be off and the villain plans aren’t well thought out.
The series was created by Hirohika Araki and produced by David Production.
Part 1 follows the story of Joseph Joestar and his rivalry with his toxic adopted brother Dio Brando.
The Animation – Hirohika Anaki has such a unique style that stands out in the animation. Like “Fist of the North Star,” we have large heroes but they are much more colorful than other animes of the same type. The show does a good job capturing that.
The World – The world is intriguing. We have a stone mask that creates vampires with the implication of a larger lore behind it. We have family dramas and honor codes that pull from our world and are taken from there. Like Castlevania you can see where history and fantasy meet.
The Characters – The characters are the strongest part of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” and it is really their arcs that keep the story going. They drive the drama and create the basis for the show.
Erina Pendleton – Erina is the love interest of Jonathan and stands against the awful crap she faces. She resists being kissed by Dio and doesn’t let the era sexism define her. She fights it and defines her own life. In the end she chooses Jonathan out of organic falling in love. This is powerful and she doesn’t fall into the damsel role.
Will Zeppeli – Will is Jonathan’s mentor after he believes he has defeated Dio, who became a vampire from the family mask. Zeppeli teaches him how to use the power of Hamon and is there with Jonathan until the end, giving him his power to defeat Dio. They have a fun relationship as Will is flamboyant and fun versus the serious, honor driven Jonathan.
Robert E. O. Speedwagon – Speedwagon starts out as a villain and becomes an ally after Jonathan spares his life. He is so inspired by the good in Jonathan he changes. He is a fun character who doesn’t help during battles but is good emotional support. Also takes his name inspiration from a great band.
Dio Brando – Dio Brando is the villain who SPOILERS again (lives beyond Part 1). I knew this already from the memes but you should know this now. Part 1 is a great arc so I hope him coming back isn’t messed up. In this he is the father of a drunk and crook who becomes the beloved adopted child only to have that all turn against him when Jonathan reveals the truth of how he is poisoning his adoptive father for the inheritance. Before this though, he learned the secret of the stone mask and uses it to become a vampire. He is powerful too and kills his adopted father and sets out for conquest. Dio and Zeppeli defeat him but he doesn’t die as his head survives. This ends in a confrontation after Erina and Jonathan marry, that ends in Jonathan’s death when he hold’s Dio’s head as the ship explodes.
Jonathan Joestar – Jonathan reminds me of what I like about Castlevania. Castlevania you have a medieval society fighting Dracula over generations. I knew that was Dio going in so establishing the original relationship is important. Jonathan’s arc is going from no confidence to confidence as he loses people along the way. He is the honorable and good and in the end he gives his life in forgiveness believing he defeated Dio. It is tragic as he loved his brother who abused him even as he sought to stop and destroy. This is the strength that carries this Part. It is Jonathan’s goodness that inspires goodness in others like Speedwagon to good. This was a real good arc.
Pacing – One of the biggest problems, that also exists in Part 2 is pacing. This series is fast but after goes very slow. This is fine but it took me a while to finish both parts and that started in Part 1. Dio is defeated initially in Part 1 but isn’t dead and it slows down. This is after his first defeat. So we are left waiting for action to happen, and that hurts the story.
Era Sexism – When Dio molests Erena it is against her will and the guilt is put on her. This is sexism both of the era and sadly current and I wish it would go away. She advocates for herself and still stands strong but I hate the echo of needing to be saved that does inspire Jonathan, even if he doesn’t say anything. She is strong but she is never part of the party.
Dio’s Final Plan – So Dio wants to conquer the world but after he is just a head he wants Jonathan’s body to conquer the world in the final of this part. So, after? What does that even mean? I get he wants dominance and to be a “God” but it is never explored deeper than that. This is where the “Castlevania” show does a better job with it’s villain than this show.
I thought this show was real good and worth checking out for folks into vampires and anime. I will not be rating Part 2 as high, so know that now. This narrative still lags but it is focused. The lag gets worse. So know that going forward if you plan to watch on. I’m about to start Part 3 and do plan to finish it, but know that Part 2 is much more flawed than this good introduction to the world.
Final Score: 8.5 / 10 The overall arc between Jonathan and Dio is strong but Dio’s final plan was very poorly executed and felt rushed.