A Very Bizarre Adventure (Spoilers)
Firstly, the art's not mine of course, and secondly, there are slight spoilers throughout this post, so fair warnings for those wanting to see the series before being divulged some plot-heavy elements.
Considering there's a fire turning my immediate area into a hellscape, I figure I can pass the time updating the blog I've neglected for two months now. Primarily, I want to discuss a new series I've been indulging in. Admittedly, it's not a comic book or big-name franchise that most American mainstream viewers would recognize, but it's grown to become a series favorite of mine. That being JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
Since I've started senior year, time to enjoy movies has drastically decreased, but of course, my mind can't survive without some form of digital entertainment keeping it occupied during free time. To sate my desire for consumable content that suited my preferences, I reluctantly got into Anime, a Japanese version of a cartoon that has, in the recent decade, become a widely enjoyed phenomenon among Western viewers. It's quite strange to think about, considering the tumultuous history Japan's had with America and Western countries in general. Some could even describe the sweeping enjoyment of anime the masses are swirling in a byproduct of globalism, but that's a political debate I'm not interested in getting into. Right now though, I must express my praise for my introduction into Anime, and what likely shall remain my favorite animated series from another country ever, that being, of course, JoJo's.
What makes JoJo special? Well, considering I've never seen a serious, full-length anime series before (unless you count Pokemon and Dinosaur King, both of which were animes created for marketing card games to Western audiences), I only have cartoons produced in America like Ed Edd n Eddy, Chowder, Flapjack, and Transformers to equate it too...
And that immediately failed when I tried drawing correlation. Why? Because JoJo's premise is about a heroic family called the Joestars battling evil threats through familial generations. These threats include a somewhat homoerotic vampire who stole the body of the original Joestar, four ancient superhumans who don scant clothing, a serial killer obsessed with dismembered hands who calls upon the power of a mystical cat-humanoid who explodes everything it touches, and a crime boss who's power involves erasing time itself.
Yeah, when you get into JoJo's, well, if, I advise you disregard every other piece of media you've consumed. It forms it's own separate identity regarding 'The Bizarre' and enforces it pretty quickly. And honestly? JoJo's character development is quite enjoyable, seeing Joseph Joestar, the protagonist of Part Two who battles the Pillar Men (the aforementioned superhumans) becoming more humble over the series was a treat to watch. As was being introduced to new members of the Joestar bloodline and their distinct personalities and tactical abilities against enemies which helped them shine. Characters in JoJo are distinct and unique, but these traits alone don't define them. It's a show which makes a German officer from World War Two (Stroheim, also from Part Two), a heroic figure. And while Stroheim is loyal to his Reich and is certainly a more historical villain (and does ultimately perish), against the threat JoJo's sizes him up against, that being the Pillar Man, one could argue he plays a protagonistic role.
That's another major facet of this series, it's not just the main Joestar line which serve as the featured members of each episode. Throughout the seasons, save Part One and arguably Part Two, episodes can sometimes focus on side characters and their own storylines, desires, and adventures, and some episodes even focus on the antagonists and their attempts to further their wretched goals. These give us moments of great insight into their personalities. Ah, yes, speaking of: The villains, always a major factor for me no matter what I'm watching or reading. I have to say, JoJo's certainly delivers. So much so, that the villains are contentiously the most bizarre factor of the show, aside from the Joestar protagonists and their companions themselves. For one, their biographies are usually steeped in realism, and yet their mannerisms, clothing, and overall character are so eccentric. Dio, for example, is the overarching main antagonist of the animated part of the series (in the manga, which is a Japanese comic book, the series later rebrands itself in an alternate dimension, but anyway), and we see every step of his journey. From Part One, where he was a poor boy in Victorian England inheriting his father's ill-gotten fortune with the aristocratic Joestar family, to his slowly gaining schemes of achieving power from within the family, to trying to destroy the life of his perceived enemy, Jonathan Joestar, the first JoJo. By the end of Part One, Dio is supposedly destroyed, though in reality he merely stole Jonathan's body to utilize as a vessel for his now greater ambition, world conquest itself.
Continuously, in the next part, we see the Pillar Men, the last remnants of a race that once dominated over humans. They are led by Kars, the greatest of their race, whom sought immortality over the Sun, the sole weakness of his people. Yet, his people viewed this as power-hungry villainy, and Kars slaughtered his own people (verifying their claims in the process), before embarking on a worldwide journey and entering dormancy, only to return and oppose Jonathan's grandson and company.
There's also Kira, a serial killer who doesn't have any worldly ambitions, and simply aims to live a life without repercussions for his murders, or Diavolo, a crazed mafia boss with an alternate personality. And, reading the manga (the anime only reaches to Part Five), I have a feeling I'll encounter many more crazy warriors ready to oppose the Joestars and achieve villainous goals of their own.
Another distinct piece of JoJo's is the Stands. In the first two Parts, there was Hamon, a breathing technique the Joestars utilized against Dio and the Pillar Men. Later on, Stands, which are psychic embodiments of one's mental strength, are introduced as the new plot element and combat deliverance system. Instead of direct physical contact, JoJo's, for the next three Parts and beyond, provides us with a series of creatively constructed battles, each one different than the last, as the Joestars and their allies use their Stands to battle against those of their enemies in increasingly dangerous battles that become reliant on one's smarts as equal as their physical abilities. For example, the third Joestar, Jotaro, has Star Platinum, a mainly physical Stand that relies on precise movements. During his battle against DIO (who know has both a Stand and his name capitalized for a reason never explained, don't worry, that happens quite alot), he needs to adapt to DIO's mastery of time via The World, which can stop time's progression itself for everyone except DIO, a usual combat detriment to everyone. However, Jotaro soon learns and even adapts to DIO by having SP pick up the World's ability, and beats him through this trick. Whether you want to call that a plothole or not, that fight was undoubtedly fun to watch, seeing Jotaro battle against the relentless time-stopping vampirical madman, all while struggling to retain his cool in the face of such evil.
Discussing the show more would only continue revealing major plot moments and characters that honestly, you'll have more fun watching play out yourself. In just under a month of watching this series I have fallen in love, consuming every bit of memeable content I can about it and constantly revisiting clips of my favorite moments from the show on Youtube. Trust me, you'll love this Bizarre Adventure.