First Impression – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures

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.

Quick Mentions:

  • 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.

Epic Showdowns

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.

Preview

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~

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35 Responses to “First Impression – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures”

  1. skylion says:

    I am not at all familiar with the manga, other than my name and reputation. So this is a totally new development for me in my anime watching.

    I like the character design, it takes me back to the days when nearly every single character in any show looked like wonderfully upholstered living room set pieces….on steroids.

    Nothing is really new on the narrative front, either in plot or character, as it is built of good versus evil tropes from start to finish. But they are doing well on making those tropes their own. The supernatural element is kept unexplained, which is great for a first episode.

    I’ve been a fan of Yes for roughly 25 years, so hearing Roundabout is nothing new to me (I’ve seen the entire Yes Reunion group do a 25 minute version on a rotating stage, and I was close enough to want to attempt to pull the magicians cap off of Rick Wakeman’s head). But hearing it in anime? Wow, juxtaposition is such a small word. But it fit so well, and was a welcome surprise.

    I find that I enjoy GG’s version more than Commie or Nutbladder. To each his own I guess.

    This was a great, well informed piece, Kyo. Thank you so much.

    • Kyokai says:

      I am just glad that we have a reader old enough to tell us that he was THERE when such awesome things like Yes were happening including their reunion concert (man, that sounds exciting!). For me, the first time I heard this song was some random episode of Fringe. That was the reason that made me search the origin of this song at the end of JoJo.

      I think we will have fun while discussing this series as it runs its two cours. About gg, not being British, I just couldn’t gel well with the slang usage. Though, thanks you for the compliment! I thought, I wouldn’t get much comments as this series was not really hyped up at all but glad all the same.

      *hands over first comment cookie*

      • skylion says:

        Well, I was there for the re-union, and have an uncle old enough to have seen them on their first US tour. I would call myself a casual fan of the group, as a sane person can only take so much prog rock. Fringe. Ah, Walter. I somehow managed to miss the last season. I should really catch up.

        As per British slang, I loves me some Masterpiece Theater, and Dickens. I also am a huge fan of Doctor Who and UK TV in general. Like anime, there seems to be more variety, and by only doing 6 to 13 shows, they have to mind the budget and tell the stories in ways that matter…22 shows in the average US programme, the middle gets kinda boggy…anime can do that to of course. So we shall see where this one bogs down, if it does. I doubt the style will allow it to.

    • Highway says:

      Certainly not the worst segment of Roundabout to use, although picking 90 seconds out of it is always going to pretty much end up with that part.

      I didn’t watch the show, but I almost think it would have been better if it was set to actual animation, rather that that rather static background.

      As for prog Rock, I’m a much bigger Rush fan than Yes (they’re after Genesis also). I’ve seen both of those other bands twice, never bothered with Yes.

      • skylion says:

        Goodness, another Rush fan. What ever am I going to do with you all. A good friend of mine….my ex-wife…Colbert. I guess someone else is going to drag me to another show, or have me watch Live in Rio again. LOL. I kid. I never really saw them as prog. Just a good band that isn’t afraid to try anything new. I prefer most of the 90’s and new stuff as opposed to older. Favorite being The Pass. Probably why I don’t see them as prog.

        You should give the show a try.

        • Highway says:

          They’re definitely a different kind of ‘prog’ than Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, etc. And that may be why they still have a weird not-really-niche. I tend to prefer the stuff they did in the very late 70’s to mid-80’s, with some into the 90’s being good: Presto, Counterparts, not so much Hold Your Fire or Roll the Bones. But Signals, Grace Under Pressure, and Moving Pictures I’ll listen to all day. :)

          I won’t make you watch anything you’re not into. Besides I listen to more anime songs now than Rush.

          • skylion says:

            I was joking about the watching bit. And now you are in my mind, as I listen to anime and Japanese music more these days.

            • Highway says:

              Mine is in the service of trying to learn Japanese, plus anime songs (and a lot of other Japanese Rock) is so much better than current English music. I love that Power-Pop to Power-Rock genre, especially with female singers.

            • Kyokai says:

              An interesting discussion indeed gentlemen! Thank you for enlightening me.

              Highway, I’ve turned to Jpop/Kpop myself. Much better than most of western counterpart.

              Btw, Skylion, season 4 of Fringe was the best of the lot. You should definitely catch up. :3

  2. Hawthorne says:

    DIOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Thanks for the background info. Kyo! I’ve always wondered what this series was like, and I sure understood once it started. The craziness and exageration of it all is just so hilarious!

    I had no idea about the ED, I never would have guessed either. It sounded contemporary to me, which shows how much I know about music … nothing. XD Loving the music though!

    • Kyokai says:

      I was right there with you with no knowledge about this franchise except for it being serialized for some time. Researching on it though opened my eyes as I read some very interesting articles and saw the gorgeous punky art (which got better with later arcs).

      I’m glad you liked it and don’t beat yourself about music. I wouldn’t have caught on if I hadn’t heard it on Fringe! :3

  3. azeriraz says:

    I actually pains me to see how bad the scans are for many of the sagas. I do think that with the 26 episodes they should be able to animate Part 1 and 2 of the manga, which go really well.

    On an unrelated note, proof of how young Araki-sensei looks and some other awesome stuff: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2012-10-14/jojo-bizarre-adventure-creator-meets-clint-eastwood

    • Kyokai says:

      It’s a plague of being oldschool and I’m really looking forward to the future episodes myself.

      Thanks for sharing the link, proves my observation on how young he looks! ><

  4. BlackBriar says:

    All I’ve done concerning this show so far is read the review. Haven’t watched a single episode. Something’s seriously off. Though I’ve detected my favorite subject while reading and found out the seiyuu for one of my favorite characters (Seishin) is playing a part, I’m not feeling the slightest want to give it a shot. Which is weird because with most animes, I’d at least try one episode, especially when there’s anything hinting vampires.

    Now that I think about it, it was the same with Busou Shinki.

    • Highway says:

      Don’t start watching Busou Shinki. I don’t know why, but I did, and then watched a second episode…and now… aaaagh!

      Save yourself, BB!

      • BlackBriar says:

        Thanks for the heads up, Highway. Too bad you had to sacrifice about an hour of your time that you won’t get back watching those two episodes.

        It’s because this anime is based on a manga that’s more than 20 years old so the old style animation and story has me skeptical. The situation with this is a paradox because I’m still into old vampire movies like “Interview with the Vampire” and “Queen of the Damned” while loving modern ones like the “Underworld” series. I guess it’s because the first two I mentioned were right around my time since I was a kid at the time.

        I’ll try to give it a shot if there’s some strong persuasion.

        • Highway says:

          No, I think there’s much more of my time going to be sacrificed to small dolls doing cute things in various cosplay “armor”. I have no idea what the plot of Busou Shinki is going to be, but I keep watching it.

          I actually think what may have hooked me is the self-awareness that they have. When Ann suggests cooking a meal, and Ines gets the shakes remembering the tragedies of other Shinki getting deep-fried, sliced up, or otherwise injured, maimed, or destroyed, and the TV commentator saying “Shinki trying to cook is a disaster waiting to happen.” And then they do it anyway!

      • Kyokai says:

        BB, I think Highway is hinting on a point of no return with Busou Shinki because I think he’s addicted. :3

        About JoJo, I think it’s right up your alley. You like Hellsing Ultimate if I remember and the storyline is nothing new but still pretty entertaining. It even has some awesome gore and blood. Music is amazing and you can always drop it if you didn’t like the first two episodes.

        • BlackBriar says:

          Ah, Highway is a lost cause now. My prayers be with him. XD

          If the Boss Lady recommends it, that’s all the motivation needed.

  5. Joojoobees says:

    I just couldn’t take the cruelty on display in the first episode. Seeing Jojo and the girl repeatedly bullied put me in a bad mood, and I can’t imagine going through that each week. I have heard that it gets more light-hearted starting in arc 2, so I intend to follow your reviews, and check it out when the second arc begins.

    • Kyokai says:

      Aaah, you should definitely watch the second episode because JoJo gets back on Dio, so GOOOD. They also grow seven more years and the story takes a nice twisted turn of the supernatural. It’s definitely gorey but the posing and dramatic dialogues are keeping me hooked. :3

  6. Overcooled says:

    I’m completely new to this whole Jojo thing, so the background info was pretty useful. I like it so far though! It’s the same brand of over-the-top, zany hi-jinx that I usually enjoy…with extra manliness and violence to boot.

    I loved Koyasu Takehito as Dio SO MUCH. He played the role of a dastardly villain perfectly. As for Jojo, I didn’t even notice he was Seishin’s old seiyuu. Guess he’s got some range in his acting talents to go from depressed monk to “DIIIIOOOO!!!”

    • Kyokai says:

      Men on steroids. Yep! The dramatic poses make me laugh half of the time but just the whole oldschool of it, still keeps it fresh. Pats for david production.

      I couldn’t believe my eyes when I checked the credits for JoJo because even my seiyuu-trained ears couldn’t recognized him from the timid Seishin of Shiki. This guys needs to voice more roles to get his MANRINESS out (same goes for that Mikado-seiyuu who’s doing that angsty guy in Zetsuen). And Koyasu is always great; remember Sister from Arakawa? Man, those tags were always so fun! :3

  7. Zaphan says:

    I’ll watch this for a few more episodes to see if i really like it but so far its pretty good.

    Also when is the “First Impressions: Ixion Saga” post going to be up or if there will be one at all? I’ve watched the first 2 episodes and i must say that it’s pretty damn funny and has a lot of potential of being that hidden gem of the season. Please post about it so more people can find about this ball cracking comedy.

    • Kyokai says:

      I can say, it’s going to get interesting with time.

      About Ixion FI, let me see if I can find some volunteer for it. I’ve personally watched the first episode and found it interesting due to the massive seiyuu cast. Also, you don’t really find a trappy FukuJun these days.

  8. Yerocha says:

    I first read this part of the series a year ago, and I’ve been enjoying how it’s been handled so far. You don’t see this kind of old school animation very often, and I think David Production has done it very well. It will be interesting to see how some of the later material gets adapted, since it was always obvious that this series was never designed with an anime in mind.

    • Kyokai says:

      I haven’t watched the previous two adaptations as some people warned me of spoilers but I can guess that adaptation would not be easy. However, I’ve read that there have been light novel adaptations of arcs and by different authors so no idea, if some of that was used as a first draft of the script?

      Anyways, definitely enjoying this series and looking forward to more. ^^

  9. MikADo says:

    i was anticipating to read the manga series since there is so much parodies of jojo everywhere, but i guess this is a good place to start ;)
    so far its fun and i dont think i will drop this series

    • Kyokai says:

      Seems like it’s definitely a good place to start and don’t take anything seriously. Watch it for the entertainment value. :3

  10. Skyrae says:

    I really love the first picture you used in the article, the drawing of Dio and JoJo. May I know where is it from?

    I’ve known about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the game and the mangas but I’ve never played nor read them. Despite that, I was oddly interested in the anime when it was announced. Much to my delight, I absolutely enjoyed the first episode. Though quite fast-paced, I like how they portrayed the story. I especially love the fact that the animation was done in the old school style, and the sound effect callouts along with the poses xD

    However, I can’t deny I was pretty pissed seeing Dio torture JoJo to that extent..though at the same time I can’t bring myself to hate him despite him being such a bastard xD I guess it’s probably due to his intelligence..and how amazing he is as the antagonist. JoJo on the other hand, I was expecting him to be stronger in a way..I didn’t expect him to be beaten down by those kids when he tried protecting his girl the first time but at the end when JoJo pawned Dio I was really happy hahaha.

    Unexpectedly, the first episode pulled me in already and I will looking forward to each episode 8D

    • Kyokai says:

      I found the art at zerochan, but as you mentioned it again, I followed the breadcrumbs to the real artist at pixiv. I initially thought it as a part of actual manga spread but this was a surprise.

      I’m glad you are liking it as I got hooked from first episode and second just sealed the deal for me. Nobody likes to see the hero getting beaten but it was a good reality check for this overly dramatic series. I loved it how he gave the favour back (Dio even cried! xD), and the following PWNAGE in episode two. This rivalry is so interesting!

      Hope you keep on enjoying this series and thanks for dropping by! :3

  11. Hazou says:

    I watched the first episode being pretty damn confused. And even with the background information, the anime doesn’t make much of a point of what it is. And I don’t quite understand it to be honest, love the art style it’s what drew me to it. But I’m seriously flippin lost right now.

    • Kyokai says:

      Well, simply put, it’s a struggle between morally good (Jojo) and bad (Dio). Their rivalry is the central plot point but Supernatural addition of vampire and similar themes are there to spice things up.

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