In 1868, Dario Brando saves the life of an English nobleman, George Joestar. By taking in Dario's son Dio when the boy becomes fatherless, George hopes to repay the debt he owes to his savior. However Dio, unsatisfied with his station in life, aspires to seize the Joestar house for his own. Wielding an Aztec stone mask with supernatural properties, he sets out to destroy George and his son, Jonathan "JoJo" Joestar, and triggers a chain of events that will continue to echo through the years to come.
Half a century later, in New York City, Jonathan's grandson Joseph Joestar discovers the legacy his grandfather left for him. When an archeological dig unearths the truth behind the stone mask, he realizes that he is the only one who can defeat the Pillar Men, mystical beings of immeasurable power who inadvertently began everything.
Adapted from the first two arcs of Hirohiko Araki's outlandish manga series, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken follows the many thrilling expeditions of JoJo and his descendants. Whether it's facing off with the evil Dio, or combatting the sinister Pillar Men, there's always plenty of bizarre adventures in store.
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken was announced on July 5, 2012 at a press conference celebrating the 25th anniversary Hirohiko Araki's long-running series. The anime is a full adaptation of the first two parts in the series, Phantom Blood and Sentou Chuuryuu (Battle Tendency). While the animation was produced by David Production, the opening theme animations were produced by the studio Kamikaze Douga (神風動画).
Nearly every review of JoJo 2012 praises it as a MASTERPIECE, because it represents a triumphant return for the macho manly anime of the past. I have a slightly different perspective than most critics on MAL, so unsurprisingly my conclusion was a little different as well. If I was born between 1995 and 2000 and grew up during the "sparkling kawaii desu moe" era of anime where every male protagonist is a whiny pussy, I too would be inclined to give Jojo a 10/10 out of sheer novelty alone. However, I was born in the 1980s and I actually remember the GAR days of manly
anime. In the 1990s, you watched anime largely by going to the video store and renting whatever anime was available. Almost ALL of it was cheaply licensed, ultraviolent OVAs from the late 80s and early 90s. Were those anime better? Well believe it or not...no, not really. There were indeed some awesome anime like Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken), but for every Fist of the North Star there was absolute garbage like: Genocyber, Violence Jack, MD Geist, Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop, etc. Simply being macho didn't make an anime good by default back in the 1990s, and that shouldn't be any different today! I am going to look at Jojo from a fair and objective view rather then simply heap praise on it based on principle alone.
Story and Characters: 6/10
The 2012 JoJo anime adapts the first 2 arcs of the manga, so this is the JoJo series you should watch first sequentially! JoJo is about the Joestar family and their epic feats of badassery over the generations. The first generation of Joestar asskicking takes place in Victorian England with Jonathan Joestar, whom I will call Johnny JoJo. The dumbass father of Johnny JoJo decides to adopt the blatantly evil son of a man who "saved his life" when he had a carriage accident. Even though it is later revealed that papa Joestar knew that Brando was a dishonest man and wasn't actually trying to save him, he adopts Dio anyway and continuously believes Dio over his own son despite the fact that Dio may as well have "evil" tattooed on his forehead. Dio is a 1 dimensional bully who exists to make Johnny JoJo miserable, steal his father's affection, and ultimately try steal his inheritance. Dio will perform some act of over the top evil like brutally murder Johnny's dog, and papa Joestar will instantly believe Dio's side of the story, simply to frustrate the viewers. This is like that Spongebob episode where Spongebob adopts an evil lamprey as a pet and keeps blaming the obviously innocent Gary the snail whenever anything goes wrong. The difference is that JoJo isn't a comedy cartoon for small children. It is a Shonen demographic anime that actually expects us to take this seriously! Johnny JoJo discovers that Dio is attempting to poison his father and inherit the fortune, so he goes to find the poison shop where Dio has been purchasing his product. Johnny JoJo proves Dio is guilty, but Dio uses a mystical artifact Johnny has been studying to transform himself into a vampire and start wrecking shit. Dio kills papa Joestar and seemingly gets killed in turn by Johnny, but it turns out Dio survived and wants to create a vampire army to take over the world. Johnny takes some mystical martial arts training to unleash sunlight with punches (just go with it) and goes on a crusade to take out Dio. Unfortunately, that son of a bitch simply won't stay down and eventually Johnny must sacrifice his own life in manly fashion to save his wife and unborn child.
I'm going to come right out and say it, Dio is a SHIT excuse for a villain. There are many things that can make a great villain: complex motivations, based on a historical figure, or even being extremely evil in an interesting fashion that is fun and frightening to watch. Dio is a cliche bully archetype that gets turned into a vampire, then decides to take over the world because he wasn't already cliche enough. In a way, Dio does remind me of the villains from oldschool GAR anime like: the bullies in Genocyber that randomly decide to rape a homeless child, or the bully in Devilman who decides to butcher the class bunnies for no reason. However, those bullies were quickly and brutally dispatched because that kind of character isn't very interesting. They exist to piss off the audience and grant a cathartic revenge fantasy when they get killed. Dio just lingers on and on like a sulfurous fart that won't go away. Johnny JoJo is a gentlemen and a badass, but his character depth never goes beyond that. He doesn't have a strong internal struggle or ambiguous goals or anything that makes complex character. I know that isn't the point of JoJo, but a show aimed at older audiences should probably try to have SOME level of complexity unless the action is so awesome it doesn't matter. However, JoJo isn't a non-step action violence fest like Hellsing Ultimate. JoJo actually does take a LOT of time to focus on plot and characters, which is why it is disappointing that the plot isn't very good and the characters are paper thin archetypes.
After a decent but certainly not masterful arc 1, we get to see the adventures of Johnny JoJo's grandson: Joey JoJo. Joey JoJo must go to Mexico to fight against the evil vampires that created the mystical mask from part 1. He teams up with the grandson of one his grandfather's old allies along with a surprisingly friendly Nazi dude named Rudol Von Stroheim. I guess the writer of JoJo meant to use the name "Rudolph" because "Rudol" isn't even a real German name. Rudol's catchphrase is German (insert whatever) is the best! Characters with goofy catchphrases can work like Korbowitz in Berserk or Armstrong in FMA, but I wasn't really feeling this one. Honestly I just found myself wishing this guy would be replaced with Captain Germany the manly werewolf from Hellsing. This second arc does have some pretty awesome action scenes including Joey JoJo punching the vampire leader into Outer fucking SPACE! However, the plot and characters still come WAY short of being called a masterpiece or anything approaching a masterpiece.
The art and animation is heavily stylized and admittedly does a good job creating the look and feel of anime from yesteryear. There are lots of still-shots to recreate the look of cheap animation from the days where anime had extremely limited budgets. There are plenty of "action lines" that the old anime had in abundance especially pre-1990. I think my favorite part of JoJo might actually be the art because it really does recapture and recreate what anime used to look like and now no longer even resembles.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=381Di8Cw0-I A speech from the director of JoJo from 0:43 - 1:11
Does JoJo do a decent job capturing what old school anime used to look and feel like? Yeah, and that is why it isn't a bad show. Does being retro make it a masterpiece by default? Absolutely not. The story may not suffer from pointless "tournament arcs" like so many shonen anime, but the plot isn't honestly very good. Like the characters, the plot is very simplistic and doesn't exactly carry JoJo into the realms of truly great anime. The male characters are actually manly and don't resemble either Keitaro Urashima from Love Hina or Shinji Ikari from NGE, the 2 characters that basically convinced anime executives that Otaku identify more with Beta males and completely neutered anime. However, JoJo's mediocre action and old school animation doesn't quite make up for its simplistic and overall lackluster story and characters. At the end of the day, JoJo 2012 is a good anime, but is JUST a good anime. It doesn't nearly deserve the ratings it has received on MAL, or the praise it receives on 4chan. I WOULD recommend it to younger viewers who want to see what old anime was like, but I caution against the kind of blind praise that has already made this anime absurdly overrated.
This show is a roller coaster of testosterone and feelings. IT IS SO SUBLIME.
STORY - 11/10:
The show outlines the beginnings of the endless battle of the Joestars. Because of Dio and Jojo, all after them must finish their battle for them. Since this battle takes a long time. This show not only shows that the manliest of men pull fabulous poses, it also shows the struggles of loss of loved ones and companions. The many plot twists and surprises that await you within the sublime plot of this show really rub off on you in a right way. When Jonathan cries, you cry. When Joseph
hits a man with his bolas, you hit a man with your bolas. WHEN JONATHAN DOESN'T CRY BECAUSE HE IS SO MANLY, YOU CRY. YOU WILL NEVER BE AS MUCH OF A MAN AS JONATHAN IS. YOU WILL CRY AND LAUGH WHEN JONATHAN DOESN'T.
ART - 6/5:
Look at those bold borders along the characters and the sublime colors.
SOUND - 5/4:
The sublime music and sound effects make my ears bleed of pure ecstasy.
CHARACTER - ★★★★★★/★★★★★:
Everyone pulls a fabulous pose every episode and their names are inspired by rock and roll artists. Every name made me giggle with excitement.
ENJOYMENT - 15/13.7
There is so much testosterone and amazing battle scenes that keep me interested and make me question my manliness.
OVERALL - TWELVE JOJO'S OUT OF TWO
THIS SHOW IS THE DEFINITION OF TESTOSTERONE AND FABULOUSNESS. Do yourself a favor and watch this. Watch it again for your neighbor, and then watch it again for your neighbors best friends girlfriends mother.
This is my favorite series ever, and it finally got a real weekly anime adaptation after 25 years—the ‘94 and ‘00 OVAs and the Phantom Blood movie, which never saw DVD/home video release do not count—there is definitely some bias in this review. That said, there’s a reason I still didn’t give it a perfect score, and it’s because I’m still trying to keep a hint of objectivity in here.
Art - 8/10
I suppose I’ll start off with how it adapted the source material. Unlike the OVAs and Phantom Blood movie, there were no cuts in content, and it actually adapted parts 1 and 2 of
the manga: Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. The studio, David Production, did what I would consider a masterful job in terms of bringing out Araki Hirohiko’s style into the manga. He is an artist, and you can see his art evolve throughout the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise. DP hired multiple art directors and tried to incorporate the different faces and builds in body throughout the series. Also, because there is no such thing as “canon” colors for characters, DP, in an unexpected but very innovative manner, used their poor budget to their advantage—by changing color schemes and using colorful abstract backgrounds during monologues and still-frames. I’ll give the art by itself a 10/10, even though sometimes Jonathan and Joseph, the titular JoJos in this series, suffer from Gorilla Face Syndrome, since the BD/DVDs are doing a great job of fixing it.
On still-frames, this is one of TWO flaws I found throughout the whole series. DP was contracted by Warner Bros. and they were given a pretty weak budget to work with. As a result, some might say that there are lots of times where this show is more of a “live-manga” or stream of the manga. The “animated” SFX from the source material, plentiful still-frames, and lack of actual animation at times are what add to this idea. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like every episode is a slideshow; however, there are DEFINITELY times when it feels that way—I’m looking at you, episode 16. Honestly, I feel like DP made it up to us with some episodes that were battle-heavy, like episode 20 and most definitely the final 3 or so episodes. Especially the last one. For this I will have to give the animation itself a 7/10. The distinct art style and use of colors boost it up to an 8 for me.
Sound - 8/10
So-no Chi no Sa-da-me, JOOOOOOOOO~JO! There are two opening themes, JOJO~Sono Chi no Sadame~ by Hiroaki “TOMMY” Tominaga , and BLOODY STREAM by Coda. Both were tailored for their respective Part in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in both lyrics, atmosphere, and animation itself—we actually get some pretty good CG depicting events in Parts 1 and 2. They were extremely catchy, and I never skipped them. The ending theme was Roundabout by progressive rock band YES, which actually came out in the 70s—and influenced the original manga! and I applaud DP for that choice. The song’s lyrics fit extremely well and it is actually one of Araki Hirohiko’s favorite bands! Also, because it is an 8 minute song, they used different snippets, some soft, some more intense, depending on what kind of note the episode ended on. That was genius and definitely made the watching experience better. If it were up to the OP and ED alone I'd give the sound a 10/10
As for the actual soundtrack, because of the difference in atmosphere between Parts 1 and 2, or at least I assume it’s for that reason, DP hired two composers and gave us two soundtracks per part. Phantom Blood was mostly orchestral, very fitting with the late Victorian feel we get when we think of England in the 1880s. It fit extremely well and I applaud Matsuo Hayato for his beautiful soundtrack. Part 2, being much more dynamic and quite literally “all over the place”, has Iwasaki Taku, who worked with his friends Lotus Juice. The soundtrack he made has soft, orchestral pieces and, well, everything. He has rap/hip-hop, rock, metal, DUBSTEP, and even flutes and drums that bring a middle-eastern feel. Personally, I thought the dubstep was actually very good and tamer than most, and that it fit well the middle-eastern sounds he composed for with the Pillar Men, the main antagonists of Part 2. The sound direction, however, was not as amazing. Iwasaki Taku complained himself, over Twitter, that his songs were not being used correctly, and, after paying close attention to episodes 22 and 23, I can’t say I disagree. David Productions flubbed it when it came to transitioning the music and providing an appropriate atmosphere with the songs in those two episodes. For that reason, although the music itself was superb, I will have to give it an 8 total.
Story - 9/10
Story is pretty simple, to say the least. The original story came out in 1987, in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump. Phantom Blood can be pretty much summed up as Castlevania with Hokuto no Ken elements, which shouldn’t be seen as bad in any way. Araki Hirohiko wanted to make a solid base so that he could evolve his work throughout time, and I think he did a pretty good job, taking in the work of contemporaries around him. The first part is hot-blooded, fast-paced, and the definition of “camp”. Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando are probably the most one-dimensional characters you will ever find, but it is because they were so static, they polarized each other and made the fight between them so interesting. Dio Part 1's main antagonist, from the first episode, is depicted to us as the very definition of EVIL at the age of 12! Although the story is simple, the characters are definitely what make the sure. In Battle Tendency, the story takes a more adventurous route and we see our new JoJo, Joseph Joestar, go from New York, to Mexico, to Italy, to Sweden, and it’s amazing. The main antagonists of this part are a powerful trio of “Pillar Men” called Wham, ACDC, and Cars, responsible for the creation of the stone mask that set the events in Part 1. The continuity is great and you definitely feel time passing as you watch the series, characters like Speedwagon and Erina are shown old, and with every major timeskip you see differences in character design. Story, when it boils down to it, just has to be interesting. I was definitely interested in the stories for Parts 1 and 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. They were simple, straight, and to the point, which made it possible to expand more on the character dynamics, arguably the strongest part of this series. There were no long and obnoxious training arcs, the fights are NOT dragged out—probably the most common flaw in shonen battle series—and if there are cliches, they are exaggerated to their extremes. This series does not take itself that seriously, and when it does, you can bet that you’ll be on the edge of your seat. Story gets a 9/10 from me.
Character - 10/10
As for the characters. Araki sure knows how to get you attached to characters. And then rip them away from you. There are definitely deaths in this series and they are dramatic and will definitely tug at your heart. Also, the voice actors are passionate and work admirably together. Takehito Koyasu, with his smooth, deep voice will send chills down your spine whenever Dio is formulating a plot or mocking JoJo. Okitsu Kazuyuki may be a newbie, unlike the slew of veterans in the rest of the cast, but he makes Jonathan Joestar so damn LIKABLE with his passionate screams, calm reassurance, and definitely makes the heart of gold in this character shine brightly. Sugita Tomokazu, probably best known for his characteristic shonen gag voice as Gintoki (Gintama) and serious/apathetic voice as Kyon (Haruhi Suzumiya series), makes a perfect Joseph Joestar, because Joseph embodies the ideal shonen protagonist—smart, strong, funny, and extremely expressive. Basically, where the animation fell short, I believe that the voice actors definitely picked up the slack. Everyone has fun, because this is supposed to be a fun series. I love it. Characters get 5/5 from me. Both as they were written and how they were acted, you can definitely feel the chemistry between all the voices and that made it way more enjoyable.
Enjoyment - 10/10
Enjoyment. I keep on mentioning this when I score each aspect of the show for this review. Ultimately, when you watch an anime, or any show, movie, etc; you do so because you want to enjoy and be entertained. I can almost guarantee that if you go and watch this show with a blank slate and just a pure, unadulterated desire to be entertained, you will not come out disappointed. Just keep in mind that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series that is 25 years in the making, and this is but the beginning. It is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and this long-awaited anime adaption gives it the justice that it deserves. If you watch it, and enjoy it, like I said you probably will, then I implore to take up the manga. You can skip right to Part 3, the most popular arc in the franchise, but I recommend reading from the beginning, you’ll pick out some tiny things left out that couldn’t be conveyed through the anime, and you’ll see the evolution of Araki Hirohiko’s art throughout the ages.
But first, if you watch the anime, I recommend Muda Muda Muda Subs [MMM] subs or CommieSubs [Commie]. They are the most accurate subs and if you prefer a better script, go with MMM, if you want better typesetting and subtitled SFX, go with Commie. Personally, I used MMM because they are a group that got together solely for this series, released in a timely schedule with accurate subs, took advice/criticism well, and also have better encoding.
I hope that after this review some of you watch this show and develop the same love I have for it!
The keyword "Bizarre" in it's title is more then appropriate.
And considering the many details the show has it's difficult to find a point to start talking about it to explain everything, but I'm going to give an attempt.
The First thing to address is probably the story and the storytelling of JoJo.
where it basically does everything wrong in such a way that it becomes hysterical to watch and not to mention the big layer of 80's cheese that covers it all.
JoJo tells it's story through the worst way possible "exposition". and not just a little bit. The characters will explain literally EVERYTHING that is happening in
front of you, and it's not just done in your typical anime fashion. No, Every Character will explain things as if they are pooping out the biggest turd of their life that was been clogging their bowels for weeks. making it hysterical to hear them do so. Jojo's story itself is very simplistic in each arc. protagonist faces an evil that is bent on world domination. and that's about it. however This is the first series I've ever seen that has multiple shifting protagonists. without spoiling to much, I can say that each story arc headlines the offspring of the previous protagonist. which keeps the show very fresh, because of the shift in characters.
Moving on the the art and animation.
One of the things I absolutely loathe is talking during battle scene's.
(Looking at you Bleach!)
because it kills the pacing and tension of the combat. As I explained above Jojo likes to explain A LOT but they manage to keep the pace up despite lengthy dialogues and maintain intense visuals to keep you on your toes during the fights. The visuals are very clean, sharp, and use some very unique color pallets to address dire situations. suddenly placing characters in a complete green pallet against a dark/pink background.
The animation to be fair is very limited and makes use of clever tricks to make a "less is more" kind of effect. flashy backgrounds, shaky cam, etc. which works very well for shows like this to maintain the high detail of characters, yet it makes the fights less dynamic.
The Music is phenomenal, very catchy and colorful, which matches the overall feel for the show. and a lot of different styles come to play, jazz, rock, even dub step. And choosing Roundabout by Yes as a title track!? is to me a strange choice but it works.
To be fair the Characters in the show come across rather weak.
As I mentioned earlier, because of the shifting protagonists we're also time skipping every arc. which only allows 1 or 2 characters from the previous arc to reappear. this makes it very hard to latch on to a character because the time spent with them is so limited. and the expositional nature of the series also pushes you away from a character. we are not allowed to get under their skin and get a chance to feel like they feel. because they will address their emotions the moment they bother them.
This is probably why the protagonist of the sequel, (Stardust Crusaders) Jotaro is one of the most popular protagonists of this series. because he hardly talks at all, he's mysterious, silent, you don't know everything about him and that is what makes you curious about a character.
However, in overall the show was still an enjoyable ride, the combat scene's are every enjoyable and varied, the character designs are incredibly flamboyant and unique. it's all around 80's cheesy fun. that deserves a decent 7.
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