First story arc of JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken series.
Jonathan Joestar, a young wealthy son living in Victorian England, has his life destroyed by a recently orphaned Dio Brando, who was taken in by Jonathan's father. Dio, who plots to drive Jonathan to insanity and inherit the Joestar fortune, becomes an unstoppable vampire that Jonathan must fight.
A 17-volume kanzenban version dubbed as JoJonium was published in Japan from December 4, 2013, to March 4, 2015. This edition covered the first three parts of the Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken series and included new cover art which showed redesigns of the characters by Araki Hirohiko. JoJonium's first three volumes cover the first part.
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 1: Phantom Blood was published in English by VIZ Media as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood from February 24 to August 4, 2015. These were released in a hardback format featuring the JoJonium artwork and contents. It was also published in Italy by Star Comics from from November 1993 to May 1994.
A beat'em up video game based on the series developed by Namco Bandai Games Inc. was released in Japan on October 26, 2006.
As the starting point for one of the longest running manga series', JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood, while certainly not very flashy, provides a solid foundation on which Araki builds the rest of the JoJo saga.
The story of Phantom Blood is simple: save the world by killing the false childhood friend turned vampire. To accomplish this feat, Araki introduces "Hamon", a fighting technique based on breathing. Though an interesting concept, Hamon is not the most creative feature to be found even in shonen manga, especially compared with the wonderfully imaginative "Stands" introduced by the third JoJo series "Stardust Crusaders". Nevertheless, along with the
powerful fighting technique comes equally powerful foes derived from English history with the intention of putting an end to Jonathan Joestar's quest for revenge. This of courses makes for plenty of exciting action, but at the end of it all, the story is still highly generic. An emotional ending wraps up the five-volume series quite well, but it is only enough to carry quality of the overall story to a mere "fair" level -- not bad, but nothing to be amazed about.
Like the story, the characters of Phantom blood are also very simple. They are mostly distinctively black-and-white. The good guys are exceedingly noble and just, while the bad guys are overwhelmingly sinister and cruel. There are a lot of exaggerated emotions to be seen from the characters -- tears would be shed at the hero's act of benevolence, while the vile deeds of the villains would always be accompanied by exclamations of sheer horror. But because of how excessive it is, the reader would often passionately cheer for the heroes and boo for the bad guys, adding satisfaction to each of the heroes' victories. The simplistic characters of JoJo, while not outstanding, carry a hint a undeniable charm.
The art style of JoJo is definitely its selling point, though it may not appeal to everyone. The physical build of the characters is Phantom Blood's most obvious distinction: virtually every male character who makes an appearance dons the physique that would be the envy of bodybuilders. Araki loves to draw muscles, and a LOT of them, to point where he would draw muscles that do not exist in actual human anatomy. As a result, the men become hulking giants with clothes so tight that it makes make one wonder how they can manage to breath. However, the burly heroes and villains look great while fighting, and combined with Araki's bold style, the action is both gruesome and vivid. The tone of the panels are dark due to the heavy use of shading, which serves to build the dark atmosphere of most of Phantom Blood's settings. The details on the monsters make them so hideous that instances of their often brutal demise are greatly satisfying.
If you are looking for a simple beat-them-up shonen manga and do not mind the lack of creativity in the story and characters, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood is worth a look. It is not the best the JoJo saga has to offer, but its unique and dynamic art, accessible characters, and even the simple but generic plot still offer up plenty of thrills.
If I were to tell you that I though JoJo part 1 was the best in the series you would probably think I was some mediocre pretentious pseudo intellectual reviewer who has no idea what he is talking about , but it was ME! Speak The Weak!!!
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 deconstructs the shounen genre through its dynamic story line that bends clichés and tropes in order to craft a unique in a manner that only Hirohiko Araki (JoJo mangaka) could. The story focuses on a rich boy named Jonathan Joestar (JoJo) who lives with his father, George in England. One day Jojo's father
takes in an orphan named Dio Brando because Dio's father who passed away saved George's life! To Jojo's surprise Dio wants to ruin his privileged life and take the Joestar family fortune all for himself! What JoJo does that most shounen don't is portray a rich privileged character as a protagonist and the poor tragic character as a villain. Dio started from the bottom and when he got to the top he abused his newfound power to wreak havoc (not to mention act like a total badass)!
Unlike other shounen works JoJo part 1 also features a wide array of characters each with their own role in the series, no character in the Jojo series, part 1 in particular is forgettable. Who could ever forget famous lines like "Even Speedwagon is afraid!" and "It was me! Dio!!!" and even "WRYYYYY". Though its wit and general badassery Jojo part one offers a one of a kind experience that none of the other installments can even try to imitate. Jojo part 1 also incorporates a unique fighting system called hamon, I don't want to go too in depth about it though because I want to avoid spoilers so read it for yourself to find out.
The art in JoJo is perfect similar to the rest of it, it pays homage to the other classic shounen manga of its time such as Fist of the North Star while also maintain its own unique manly style, unlike the later parts which make use of a much more feminine and ugly style which is inspired by fashion magazines instead of classic works in the medium of manga.
The characters in JoJo are as I mentioned before unforgettable and extremely badass, there are no dense, intensive protagonists, no disgusting fan service, and no boring moe pandering. Only men in their most masculine state.
JoJo Part One is a masterpiece that defined the shounen genre and kick started a series that would go on for many years and attract a wide array of fans, sadly the work does not get as much praise as its deserves despite being one of the best works of literature in the shounen demographic.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has only recently experienced a big boom over in the English-speaking parts of the world, due to the recent anime adaptation taking off in a big way, and beforehand was merely a cult series with a small but devoted fanbase. However, in Japan, it has been huge for a very long time - it's tremendous influence spans to everything from Hunter X Hunter to Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, and it still stands as the 9th longest manga of all time, and still going. And through all this (well-deserved) attention and acclaim, it's pretty easy to forget that this, where it all began, really just
isn't very good.
The story begins in England, during the 1800s. It opens with a petty thief, Dario Brando, attempting to rob a fallen carriage and the dead nobles inside. However, it turns out that the noble in question survived - and thinks that Dario saved his life. Many years later, after Dario's death, he repays what he thinks he owes Dario by taking in his son, Dio Brando. Dio is incredibly embittered by his life in the slums and his abusive father... and upon meeting Jonathan "JoJo" Joestar, the son of the noble Dario supposedly saved, he begins to take it out on him and attempt to ruin Jonathan's life.
It's obvious that a premise like that couldn't possibly launch 107 volumes (and counting), so to say the least, the plot goes to very, VERY different places as it progresses. The strife between Jonathan and Dio doesn't last that long, relatively speaking, but it does feel pretty long at the time - it takes almost two volumes before the supernatural aspect takes over the plot. Much as I can appreciate that it doesn't baby the viewer by introducing the entire premise as fast as possible (as shonen series are oft to do), the beginning can be a real struggle to get through.
It isn't helped by how generally appalling the art is art first. By the end of this arc, it's passable, but at the very beginning, body proportions are appalling (the 12-year old Dio and Jonathan look like bodybuilders), the anatomy is ridiculous, lines are far too thick and cartoony-looking, and darker pages are very hard to follow due to how unclear and smudged-looking everything becomes. In this day and age Araki Hirohiko is one of the best artists in the business, but looking back on this you'd be hard-pressed to believe it.
While the slow start is definitely the biggest flaw with Phantom Blood, it's far from the only one. The rest of the series is littered with a number of small issues that collectively build up into something very problematic. Perhaps the most obvious is Jonathan Joestar himself. I haven't said much about him thus far in this review, and there's a very simple reason for that - there isn't much to say. The "JoJo" in the title is something of a legacy character, passing onto a new character every arc, and Jonathan is arguably the worst, and definitely the least interesting. He's little more than a generic noble and chivalrous shonen hero, complete with idiotic idealism. To make matters worse, every single fight in the series revolves around him. This is especially irritating, because his comrades, Will Zeppeli and Robert E.O. Speedwagon (I'm not making this up, that's actually his name) are actually interesting characters, and yet fail to be anything more than likeable because of how much Jonathan hogs the spotlight.
And now, I'll stop beating up on Phantom Blood, because for all it's faults there are still plenty of things it does right.
The first, and most obvious, is Dio Motherfucking Brando (expletive sorely needed). Don't get me wrong - he's not a deep character by any means. His utter nefariousness is given little reason, and his Freudian excuse does very little to explain his behaviour. He is completely, atrociously, unspeakably evil, and pretty one-dimensional for it. However, once he gains vampire powers, Dio becomes mind-bogglingly fun to watch. Perhaps the best thing about him is that unlike so many other shonen villains, Dio does not fuck around. Whether he's using his newfound superstrength to chase his Jonathan by digging his feet into the walls, or digging an entire, intact artery out of Jonathan's neck and playing with it just to let him known how easily he could kill him on the spot, Dio is unflinchingly brutal in the most disturbing, almost playful way.
And while Dio is the patron saint of this (for Phantom Blood at least), this is the key strength of Phantom Blood and one of the key strengths of JJBA as a whole - it does not pull a single punch. Looking at other shonen series after reading JJBA, it's remarkable how much the characters use their powers in utterly pedestrian and obvious ways. Let's face it - if you had anything that extraordinary, one of the first things you'd do is find out how many ways you can use it. And this is something Araki seems to truly understand - what with not only the enourmous variety of vampiric techniques that go above and beyond the generic bloodsucking bat-transforming fodder you'd usually see. Much as the setting owes itself to classic vampire horror, the vampires themselves are wholly original (Battle Tendency would later elaborate on why). Similarly, the Hamon technique (often translated as "Ripple") that the protagonists use is a wonderful slice of applied pseudoscience, effectively using breathing techniques to channel the energies of the sun, and playing around with a wonderful variety of ways to channel and conduct it.
Finally, the cherry on top is of course the naming conventions. By this point you'd have to be blind, dense, or just plain unfamiliar with rock music in it's entirety to have not noticed Araki's love for music. Almost every character is named after some sort of band or musician - JoJo himself is a reference to a certain Beatles song, Dio is named for the small man with the big voice himself, and hilariously, there is actually a character named Robert E.O. Speedwagon (as mentioned before). Then there's a pair of Hamon disciples named Dire and Straights, trained under master Ton Petti, a quartet of vampires named Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham... the list goes on. It's a colourful little addition that makes for a nice finishing touch.
So for all that... Phantom Blood is a heavily flawed manga. However, it has numerous redeeming features in of itself, and more importantly, it's the weakest arc by far - not to mention the shortest. Phantom Blood clocks in at a meagre 5 volumes, far less than most arcs. And as it is immediately followed by what is one of if not THE best of the arcs, any patience you're willing to exercise with Phantom Blood will soon be rewarded.
Final Words: Has plenty of issues but it's one hell of a worthy investment.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood may not be as engaging as what follows it, but with interesting art and a well-defined rivalry at its core, it still serves as a sufficiently strong opening chapter.
The story of Phantom Blood follows Jonathan Joestar and his sinister adopted brother Dio, and their rivalry. The story initially portrays Jonathan as being inferior to Dio, who actively works to undermine him, but gradually Jonathan not only catches up with Dio, but surpasses him. However, a wicked plan is brewing, which may impact far more than the Joestar family. One of the strongest points of the story is that little of
it, with the exception of a supernatural catalyst and the occasional henchman, is not a direct result of an action carried out by a main character. There are few coincidences, and the story progresses at a steady rate, providing sufficient build-up and pay-off. On the down side, this does in a sense feel like a prologue to the superior follow up, Battle Tendency, as you are left with many questions regarding the vampires and superhuman powers, and neither the aforementioned build-up or payoff are significantly large. However, this is good in some ways, because it leaves the viewer enough to get a general idea of the world without overloading them or biting off more than it can chew. The story, viewed alone, isn’t quite as fulfilling as it is alongside its contemporaries, but is still moderately entertaining.
The characters are what drive the story forward, and they do it effectively and with an abundance of style. Jonathan, our main protagonist, is a fairly straight-thinking, simple man, but one with heart and determination. Dio, his adopted brother, on the other hand is much more sinister, manipulative and insincere, and these two characters mirror each other excellently, each illustrating qualities that the other lacks. The portrayal of these characters from their adolescent years helps to establish their individual characteristics and dynamic, which only becomes more intense and consequential as the story continues. The supporting characters are also quite interesting, particularly Speedwagon and Zeppeli, and the villains are sufficiently challenging and visually appealing to serve their purpose.
Jonathan’s father, however, is not depicted in a way that makes him seem wise or endearing, which is problematic given that the manga seems to be asking the audience to become emotionally invested in him outside of his role as a father. Also, though Jonathan’s honourable attitude juxtaposes Dio quite well, it does lead to him being a slightly dry and predictable character, outside of battle scenes. Dio is the most enthralling character, stealing the audience’s attention whenever he appears, and is perhaps Phantom Blood’s greatest achievement. He’s not Johan (Monster) or Griffith (Berserk), but he oozes malice and charm.
The art for Phantom Blood is distinct, high quality and memorable, with every male character being built like a house. The visual highlights are Jack the Ripper, Zeppeli and the two resurrected soldiers, all of whom are simply radiant with style and character. The facial expressions are also notable, as they blend in with the style while simultaneously feeling authentic and believable. The style does improve over time, but even though this isn’t quite as bombastic in design as Stardust Crusaders, its humble, down-played visual look helps to ground the art with the narrative.
All in all, Phantom blood is not quite as outstanding as the other entries in the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise, but is nonetheless a triumph in both artistic and character-building integrity.