After only viewing the first episode it my University’s anime club I quickly brushed off JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, totally misjudging it. But after a little encouragement from some friends I joined a livestream commentary where I viewed the entire series with others online. I really don’t believe I would have continued watching if it wasn’t for these streams, because little did I know I’d come to really enjoy the series for more then just the anime but the fandom itself.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a long running manga series written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki that began its run in 1987. The series is spit up into eight parts so far, each detailing a new addition to the story or in an alternate universe setting. Its an action packed series that loves to throw so much craziness and fun into your face. The characters are all loosely named after famous musicians, names of songs, or even food. For example the the nickname for the main characters, JoJo comes from the song Get Back by the Beetles. Frequent touches like these results in some pretty awesome names as well as some nostalgic feelings. Before the anime was released late last year, the only other animated adaption was an OVA based off the third series, Star Dust Crusaders.
The anime begins the story in chronological order starting with part 1 Phantom Blood and ending with part 2 Battle Tendency. Since part 1 isn’t as long as part 2 it only takes up 10 episodes before continuing on. We are introduced to Jonathan Joestar a rich 12 year old boy of British decent who lost his mother in an accident, however him and his father were saved by a man named Dario Brando. In return for saving him George Joestar promised payment. 12 years later, its time to for him to pay up. Dario Brando passes away and sends his son Dio to live at the Joestar manor.
Now Dio does everything he can to make Jonathan’s life a living hell, killing his dog, coming between the girl he has come to love, and moreover proving that Jonathan is just a spoiled brat. The real conflict starts years later when the two are in college and Dio seises control of the an artifact the called the stone mask that was originally hanging on the wall of their home. It is capable of changing anyone into an ultra powerful vampire letting them create an army or resurrect the dead to do their bidding. Jonathan sets off to stop Dio has he trains in the way of the Hamon or Ripple with the help of his mentor Will Anthonio Zeppeli and Robert Speedwagon.
And as a quick introduction to part 2, it centers around Jonathan’s grandson Joeseph this time in America. He two learns of the powers his grandfather owned and faces a new ancient threat.
First episode sets the stage for the main plot but it does not justify the rest of the series as this isn’t a drama oriented show like its being set up to be. I can understand why people are turned off because of how the appearances of the characters don’t reflect their actual ages but really when has anime complete accurately depicted age before. The animation is super fluid and lots of fun to look at despite the budget that was given. You’ll find that the colors often change to a very florescent look in certain scenes and it provides striking contrast. There are many moments where the picture has been blurred because of censoring for a television broadcast. Readers of the manga will tell you that there is a lot of vulgar images. The Bluray release has everything intact as well as enhancing the animation.
Phantom Blood is quite dark and has been known to be one of the less entertaining parts of the series. The plot is handled well the anime but it moves at a semi slow pace and is more serious then over the top and fun. Battle Tendency really redeems this anime production and defiantly captured my attention more. While Jonathan is the heroic patriarch of the series Joseph proves to be a more entertaining protagonist by proving his resourcefulness each and every battle.
Music wise part 1 is mostly comprised of violin filled tracks that perfectly fit the setting and theme, but overall it wasn’t very memorable for me. Part 2’s music is composed by Taku Iwasaki (known for his work in Soul Eater and Gurren Lagann). These are more funky sounding tracks with tastefully placed dub step that surprisingly works well for the 1930’s setting. Overall Battle Tendencies’ music is super addicting to listen to and stands alone as a prime example of a brilliantly crafted anime soundtrack.
Now lets talk openings and endings. I’ve got to say that I love all three of these sequences and songs and am compelled to say that the opening for part 2 has the best animation I’ve seen in any opening from the anime that came out in 2012. The first opening “Sono Chi no Sadame” is more or less the self declared JoJo series theme song. Something that the OVA lacked desperately. It gives a nice throw back to the manga by quickly showing the 5 of the main protagonists in the Joestar blood line, Jolyne, Giorno, Josuke, Jotaro, and Joseph all leading up to Jonathan’s mighty reveal. Whats unique about this opening is the animation that closely resembles the upcoming JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure video game for PS3. Watching it flash some of the key moments from Phantom Blood to the music gives you the feeling that your are being dragged into this bizarre adventure and there is no turning back!
Opening 2 “Bloody Stream” is my favorite out of the two. It doesn’t use as much of the striking animation from the first opening but the colorful characters and wild looking battle poses done by protagonists Caesar and Joseph set it apart. The JoJo series is known for its over the top poses that many fans in Japan have even created a JoJo Radio Taiso (or morning work out) that is comprised of famous poses from the manga. It also does a great job of concealing the antagonists identities before they appear in the show, showing them as menacing looking figures.
“Roundabout” is the very same song by the 1970s band YES. I love how the music cuts into the episodes final scene foreshadowing that the ending sequence is coming. Frequently the ending will not play in certain episodes to leave more time for the story to progress especially during a major fight. Because Roundabout is about 8 minutes long and certain starting points are used for where the ending song plays. Check out this neat synced up of part 1-2’s endings.
Overall I had a great time watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 2012 as it was my induction into the fandom. I can’t thank my friends enough for recommending to me that I give it another shot. As I await for the almost definite revival of Part 3 Star Dust Crusaders as a more faithful anime adaption I’ll be reading the manga. Totally give JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure a shot if you haven’t already. I would give it a 10/10 but because part 1 fell a little bit flat JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure receives a 9/10.