A bizarre but promising return of JoJo-verse in this interesting Fall season.
|Celebratory twenty five years of serialization, the second longest running manga in Jump has finally been properly adapted this Fall. There were two previous occasions but if you really want to get into this franchise, I suggest starting from here because previous OVAs are more spoilerish. Once this ends, you can always switch to manga, which is pretty awesome (minus some of the horrible scans, called DUWANG). I hope you give this at least a three episode test even if this is not your thing.|
Low-down of JoJo-Verse
This has a deep background and I’m not talking about Fosh’s deep plots. The original source, manga has been serialized since 1987 (yep, waaaaaay before than One Piece, Naruto or even Bleach came around). Under Shounen Jump except for Kochikame, no other mangaka has the liberty to say that they have been serialized since forever as it’s the second longest running manga in Jump, which was transferred to Ultra Jump (their seinen version), in 2002. Props to Araki Hirohiko indeed (random fact: he looks in his goddamn 20s when he’s actually 52!).
For an introduction to the franchise, the main protagonist is always someone related to the Joestar family; the big hint is the inclusion of JoJo in title of course. Rather than looking at the number of volumes (107 and counting), it’s easier to say that till now there have been seven big arcs (eighth is ongoing) that comprise JoJo-verse. According to readers, the later arcs are much more interesting than Phantom Blood (the current adapted arc), but looking at the episode number (26) I have a feeling that studio has plans to animate two arcs of JoJo in the least.
Phantom Blood Premise
We are taken to the Britain of 1800s, complete with horse carriages and noblemen; not to mention crooks. George Joestar (Jonathan aka Jojo’s father), considers Dario Brando as his saviour when in truth; he was just looting the corpses of a stagecoach accident. For the same reason, he adopts Dario’s son Dio after Dario’s death but little does he know that the son has an even more evil mind than his father, going after the complete Joestar fortune. A pretty usual rag to riches tale here but the twist is the fact that Dio’s not doing it for the love of his saviour but to takeover them and the supernatural angle.
Main Cast Making Their Quids
Jonathan Joestar is literally too much of a goody-two-shoes. Of course, being the main character has his pitfalls of too much righteousness and too-good-to-be-true but what I liked about the transition from teenage to tween of Jojo is the fact that we see him getting hurt and smacked down by Dio repeatedly. I’m sure it can be horrid for any kid to be bullied by a better version of a son to his father, who has always doted after him. Nobody likes comparison and it’s the main cause of sibling rivalry because you always want to be better than the other. I liked how Jojo grew out of these shackles, stronger through the years and continued with his studies and specialties rather than whining about a bullying step-brother and his failed first love. He has a good heart, this guy. I noticed Kazuyuki Okitsu for the first time in Shiki, while he voiced Seishin the gentle priest. Jojo is definitely one of his first main roles, which would expand his profile. Till now, I’m happy with his performance as I couldn’t really imagine the gentle Seishin screaming at the top of his voice but damn, that DIIIIIIIIIOOOOOO was awesome.
Dio Brando is an awesome nemesis. From the moment he blazed through the screen, he has done nothing but posed like a proud peacock and spouted many lines of declarations, schemes and lies. Takehito Koyasu is ideal for such a role and he makes it work it so good. In the first episode I was shaking my head on his overly deep voice even in teen years but the dialogues made up for it. Dio is an ideal antagonist because on the outside, he’s the best there was. People admire him because he supposedly has poor roots but still turned out to be a very good fellow. Little do they know that he has always been scheming behind their backs to get one up against the Joestars. With episode two, we even find that he was the one behind his own father’s death. Sure, his father was a complete jerk but he didn’t have to get this extreme; though, it gleans more on his character being a sore loser and always running after money and fame.
- Toru Ohkawa, Seishin’s buddy Dr. Ozaki from Shiki narrates the story quite well.
- George Joestar (Masashi Sugawara) and Dario Brando (Tadashi Miyazawa) are the exact opposites of each other in values and beliefs. No wonder their spawns are a proof of their upbringing and teachings.
- Damsel in Distress, Erina is actually Saber (Ayako Kawasumi), from another life. She sounded too bright for my taste but suited the role just fine. An interesting fact is that the same role has been voiced by Nana Mizuki in previously released OVAs, while Aya Hikasawa for the video game.
- Speedwagon (Youji Ueda), the blondie noble crook sure left a mark with his speech in second episode. I have a feeling, this is not the last time we saw him.
Drama Oldschool style
Anybody who has even seen one episode knows that this is completely old school from character design to psychedelic colours and amazing poses by characters. People who have started watching anime in 2000s would have a problem getting used to the dark eyes, sculpted face and rippling muscles. I mean, my eyes were poking out in the rugby scene when Jojo kept on going like the giant hulk. Though, you will be missing out on a lot of fun if you are bothered with these effects because the underlying theme is very pop-culturally famous (the later arcs have quite fashionable clothes and musical references even). Overall, straight battles with Good vs Evil with a dash of supernatural; you really can’t go wrong with this.
For those, who are fond of oldschool with a dash of supernatural series like Hellsing Ultimate, Claymore, Trigun, Black Lagoon, etc., this is your ticket. Aaah, I have such fond memories of old comic books where sound effects were especially enhanced with callout of KAPOW, BRRRR, SSSS, KABLAM and what not. Just seeing them onscreen was enjoyable. Also, a note for subs, stay away from gg and get Commie or Nutbladder; they are minus British ninny-slang and I liked this more sans them.
The rivalry between Dio and Jojo is the main theme of Phantom Blood. Dio sure was on top most of the times but Jojo wouldn’t let him get the best of him either. The tears of betrayal for stealing his girl’s first kiss were pretty dramatic but the reactions were hilarious. Same goes for Dio crying after getting punched by Jojo; I mean SRSLY?! It was all worth it to see them in adult years with tables turned on Dio. You also have to give it to Jojo for suspecting Dio on his setup of medicine and not trusting him fully. Of course, the wounds of breaking up with his girl plus the death of his faithful dog must have sown the seeds of doubts. Going out of his way to visit the Ogre Street and fighting like a boss earned him lots of cool noble points too.
The Aztec Phantom mask we keep on focusing on seemed eerie from the get go, is going to be a catalyst to this rivalry. I’m not surprised of its powers of turning people to vampire but damn, Dio was pretty lucky for not getting sucked dry by his first experiment. I’m glad the blood sucking is not the old vampire way (Twilight still gives me bad heebeejeebees), but more through skin to vessel. Though, the concept is of a typical vampire with special strength, regain of youth but weak against sunlight. Looking at the preview, Dio is the next in line to keep Jojo’s hands full with lots of more future crazy fights.
Can you imagine, I’m liking this series more than K? When this was announced in the beginning, I wasn’t much interested (I remember a lot of people had the same reaction to Lupin III one season ago), but the first episode test happened and I was hooked from the get go. This is no way a masterpiece but the hook is there and this is a good bad. An overzealously, on-your-face, rainbow coloured and posed good. Why do I say that? Well, here’s some foundation reasoning:
David Production is a fairly new studio, having only seven major releases under their Production belt but all of them have been done very diligently, starting off from Ristorante Paradiso to their recent releases of Ben-To and InuxBoku SS. For me, their best was Level E because it was brilliantly adapted and a fun watch. What I was surprised about was Warner Brothers’ involvement. Yes, readers, the anime industry has been slowly filtered by the Hollywood honchos for some time now. Few examples: Unlimited Blade Works movie had a Universal Studios tag, Marvel has been pumping money into Madhouse for those goddamn comic remakes and recently WB has been getting neck deep with producing many names including Animatrix, Supernatural, Summer Wars, Appleseed, Halo Legends, Kamisama no Memochou, Gintama Benzakura-hen movie and recently with Arcana Famiglia, Accel World, Campione and Little Busters!. Conclusion is better production value for the viewers and hopefully, sure-shot BD releases later on minus darkbeam-kun.
The Staff is solid enough with strong and average names but then again, it’s more of a team effect of how this series would end up. Naokatsu Tsuda has directed InuxBoku SS before but he has been involved in many episode directions. Yasuko Kobayashi, the series composition, has previously done the same for Casshern Sins and script of Death Note. Hayato Matsuo is responsible for music with Hellsing Ultimate being his big turning point. Music is definitely a plus as both OP (for the first time, the CGI added to the manga panels coming alive), and ED are really entertaining, pumping you up for the series—same goes for BGM with old soap-oprahish dramatic sound effect. I especially like how they have added some really nice guitar rifts, matching with the ED music. One thing that I really liked is that the ED Single Roundabout is an actual 70s song from a progressive British band Yes, the opening track of their 1971 album Fragile.
This would have been another bromance-filled series (let me reassure you that bromance is completely platonic and has no BL vibes unless you are wearing some very delusionary yaoi goggles), but the supernatural factor sets it apart. Also, a perfect setting of battle manga adaptation with interesting oldschool fist-fights; don’t expect bankais but power-ups? Hell yeah. Whatever I’ve seen of the original material makes me attracted to the unique character design and very colourful spreads. The cast has dressing style and they take their time posing and delivering their dialogues; this is definitely going to be my guilty pleasure of this season.
It’s time for Dio to wear the abdominal mask. Though, sad part is George getting embroiled in the whole scuffle between the boys. I’m definitely looking forward to another fight between these two. I don’t know if I can cover this on weekly basis but I will get back to it whenever I have time. Also, I’d look forward to your comments on what you thought of Jojo, readers? Ja ne~