THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is quite possibly the most popular anime on the internet right now, what was once a weird niche show in the west has essentially become the new Naruto, which is ironic seeing as it predates it. Now what do I mean by that? Well tell me if you've heard this one before, a mediocre shounen anime that's mostly popular with teenage boys, that has also infested meme culture, and has become almost impossible to criticize, not because it's a flawless masterpiece with absolutely no flaws that has changed society for the better (though the fans would want you to believe that), but because its fans will attack you if you so much as say it isn't the magnum opus the make it out to be. Now seeing as the Part 5 anime has come to an end, I've decided to review the first season, and tell you why I personally don't think it's anywhere near as good as people say it is.
The problem with reviewing season 1 mostly comes down to the fact that it combines two arcs with completely different settings, tones, plot, and characters, so I'll be giving each Part its own score in each category (with the exception of art and sound, both parts have the same art direction, animation and music)
Phantom Blood: 3/10
Think of the most generic good vs evil story, think of a story with a boring as hell flawless main character who's so righteous and good that his only mistake was being too nice (yes really), a bland and inhuman villain who's just evil for the sake of being evil and who's sole motivation for being evil is literally "my dad was mean to me", the most basic and overused 3 act structure, and a supporting cast so cookie cutter and forgettable, that you could switch some of their roles and round without anything changing. That's Part 1 in a nutshell
To be fair, the first 3 episodes are well paced, the story at first is a generic macguffin story, but it knows how to hold your interest and be suspenseful, then just devolves into Generic Shounen Battle Show Inspired By Fist of The North Star/Dragon Ball #50. It's quite hard for me to talk about themes, character development or anything because it's such a nothing story, no one develops (I mean Jonathan gets stronger but in terms of personality he's the same), the only theme is, I guess, "good will triumph over evil" or some generic bullshit like that, if Jojo had ended hear it wouldn't even be a footnote in the history of Shounen Jump. I'll go more in depth on why I think Phantom Blood sucks in the character section.
Battle Tendency: 6/10
Now this is much much better, not amazing but a huge improvement over part 1, and I think the main reason why is that it doesn't take itself too seriously and is basically a comedy. Part 1 took itself completely seriously, and as such I had to focus on plot, characters, themes etc first and entertainment value second, with part 2 it's the opposite, I feel like the series it at its strongest when it's basically just a comedy, it makes the poor writing, bland characters and unoriginal storylines a lot more tolerable, seeing as the focus is being entertaining and fun, rather than telling a great story.
The story is incredibly generic, it's yet another story where the villain is an ancient being who was sealed away long ago but has now come back, oh, and his goal is to collect a macguffin that gives him ultimate power, how original. However, again, it doesn't take itself too seriously so I'll let it slide seeing as it's really entertaining, it's also paced much better than Part 1. Overall if you're looking for some mindless fun, I recommend Part 2.
Phantom Blood: 1/10
A cliche story can be forgiven if the characters are interesting, unfortunately for Phantom Blood, the characters are some of the most bland and cookie cutter characters I have ever seen, period. Let''s start with Jonathan, Jonathan's entire personality is that he's a hero, he has no character flaws, he's just, the hero, that's all he is, he never develops he is the same irritating nice guy from beginning to end. Then we have Speedwagon, he's a thug who tries to kill Jonathan, but then he gets punched in the face and follows Jonathan around, all he does is stand around and tell the audience what they just saw, how did this character become popular, seriously, aside from his design there is nothing noteworthy about him. There's also Erina, who might as well be a cardboard cut out of a vagina, she has no personality (noticing a trend?) and exists solely to be Jonathan's love interest.
Then we move on to Dio, quite possibly the most iconic Jojo character, he's a terrible antagonist, his actions make no sense whatsoever, I mean killing his birth father made sense, he was abusive to Dio and killing him would essentially allow Dio to go from the slums to a mansion, however once he gets the chance to live a life of luxury, what does he do? He tries to kill the man who took him in, why? Because the plot demanded him to. Dio's goal is to be rich an powerful, but he's already an aristocrat, so logically he shouldn't do anything after killing Dario, if Dio just lived a normal life with the Joestars nothing bad would've happened to him, Dio caused his own downfall for no reason at all, Dio is stupid, plain and simple.
We also have Zeppeli, he's Jonathan's mentor, but not a fun or interesting one like Biscuit from HxH or Master Roshi from Dragon Ball, no, he's just a guy with, you guessed it, no personality, who teaches Jonathan how to fight and then dies like 4 episodes later, they expect you to feel sad but who's gonna feel sad for some guy who no personality who they barely knew for 4 episodes.
There are some other characters in Part 1, but they aren't really noteworthy, the other Hamon masters are just there, one of them tells Jonathan something he already knew, and another fights Joseph in Part 2. There's also this one kid who tags along Jonathan for 2 episodes and then disappears, I don't know why he was in the story, he could easily be removed without literally anything in the story being affected.
Battle Tendency: 5/10
Joseph is a huge improvement over Jonathan, in that he actually has a unique personality, he's an goofy asshole who's a lot more tactical than Jonathan, he's not too interesting, but he is really fun to watch, so for an arc that focuses more on comedy, I think he's a good protagonist, he even develops a little, he's much less obnoxious and rude at the end, which I know doesn't seem impressive at all, but trust me, he's one of the only characters in the entire franchise who actually develops.
My favorite character of the arc, and this season as a whole, is Stroheim, there's not a whole lot to him, he's just really over the top and fun to watch, any scene with him is really entertaining it's also interesting to see a soldier of the most cruel regime to date as something other than a complete monster, Stroheim is a proud and loyal soldier serving the country he believed in, even if that country was one of the only objective bad guys in real world history.
Now I've bad praising the characters in Part 2 so far, so why did I give them a 5/10 overall? Well the rest of the characters (besides the villains) are about as bland as the ones from Part 1, we have Smokey, a boy who Joseph saves at the beginning of the arc, he's set up to be Joseph's sidekick but is quickly dropped, like the boy from Part 1. Then we have Caesar, another character who's popularity baffles me, he is pointless, he trains with Joseph and is set up as his sidekick for the confrontation with the pillar men and is quickly killed off, having achieved nothing while he was alive. Lisa Lisa is about as bland as Zeppeli, she's also revealed to be Joseph's mother, there's not much else to talk about, moving on.
The villains are a slight improvement over Dio, and by that I mean, they're not completely moronic and illogical, their goals and motivations are overly simplistic though, but at least they have some motivation and a concrete goal that isn't "take over the world". Kars is a cunning and intelligent villain, a vast improvement over Dio, his motivations make sense, he wanted his race to overcome their weaknesses, but was forced to wipe out most of them once they tried stopping his experiments, he has nothing left but this goal to become perfect and is obsessed with it, and that's actually sort of interesting. The two other pillar men aren't nearly as interesting though, they just sort of follow Kars' orders, they try to make Wammu more interesting but it doesn't really work, still a vast improvement over Dio though.
The best part is easily the animation, it's incredible, the lighting, the cinematography, the movement, the Hamon effects, all of it is great to watch, I wish this kind of animation was used on shows with better stories but i'm not complaining here. Some scenes also play around with colour, and that really sets the mood for certain scenes, overall, the animation is great, the only problem is the amount of still shots in the show, otherwise I would've given it a 9.
The soundtrack is also great, there are some catchy tunes, such as the Pillar Men theme, Stroheim's theme and some of the other orchestral pieces. The ops are both incredible, they're well composed, the vocals are great and they're really catchy. Same goes for the ED but it's a song from the 70s so it doesn't really count
I recommend just skipping to Part 2 if you want a fun action show, you're not missing much by skipping Part 1, besides he Hamon explanation which you could just easily look up online. Personally I'm baffled this show became so popular, it starts off badly and just isn't anything that special.