All right, next on the list is one of my personal favorite Jump titles: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure!



Do you remember how many breads you have eaten in your life?

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is unique. Even back when it felt a bit like a Fist of the North Star clone, it stood out because of author Hirohiko Araki's, well, bizarre artstyle (complete with impossible anatomy and awkward angles) and love for western culture.

Most people are familiar with Jojo through the Capcom-developed fighting game based on part three: Stardust Crusaders. (Which is currently airing a second season as I type this.) Part three? Yup, this isn't one single storyline following just one main character: Its a huge epic that follows multiple characters that are from the Joestar family. We advance over one-hundred years of bizarre adventures and through multiple generations and it still continues on today. (Despite what the title card says, Jojo continues on in another Jump publication: Ultra Jump, a monthly anthology aimed at an older audience than WSJ. It is currently in its eighth incarnation, Jojolion. Currently the series has over 110 volumes and is the second longest running Jump title behind Kochikame.)

Jojo was at one point one of the longest running manga series to not get a television anime adaptation (although part three did get two OVAs but they weren't the greatest): Either because of its extreme violence or the inability to capture Araki's unique style, it wasn't until 2012 that David Production, a smaller studio, took a shot at adapting the series... and while the animation wasn't that great everything else about the adaptation was stupendous. Thankfully, instead of starting at part three (arguably the most popular part), the went all the way back to the beginning with part one: Phantom Blood.



Hollywood wasn't ready for Guillermo Del Toro's version of The Mask...


Jojo's Bizarre Adventure EP1: Dio the Invader

Our story begins in the late nineteenth century: A man and woman find a carriage that was just in an accident. The man, Dario Brando, ignores the fact that a baby had survived the accident and tries to loot the victims-- until it turns out that the father, George Joestar, is still alive. George, mistaking Brando's thievery as an attempt to rescue him, thanks him and says that the Joestar family is indebted to him.

Twelve years later, the baby has grown into a nice boy named Jonathan Joestar. (Who carries the nickname Jojo because of the 'Jo' parts of his name) Elsewhere, Brando has fallen ill and abuses his only son Dio. We see scenes comparing the lives of the two: Jonathan is pampered by his rich lifestyle but is still a gentleman while Dio faces danger and abuse at every turn on the streets. Later, Jonathan tries to stick up for a girl who was being bullied but ends up getting beaten up while Dio learns from his dying father about the Joestar's family's debt to him and so he sends Dio to live with them so he'll become rich.

Dio arrives at the Joestar estate and is greeted by Jonathan and his dog Danny... and Dio knees the dog in the face. It is apparent that Dio plans to make Jonathan miserable. Dio puts up an act to get on George's good side but while he isn't looking, bullies Jonathan. ("I'm number one!") While all of this is happening, Dio observes a strange stone mask on a nearby wall...



Good god, dat swagger!

Dio continues to get on George's good side while making Jonathan look like a bad son. Later, the two have a boxing match with some of the local kids watching.-- let's just say Jonathan gets the crap beat out of him. Dio then turns the kids against Jonathan by spreading lies about him. It's all part of his plan to leave Jonathan as an 'empty husk' so he can take his place in life. Lonely, Jonathan's only friend is his dog but he ends up becoming close with the girl (named Erina) he saved earlier after the two spend some time together. The two eventually fall in love but Dio watches from the shadows...

Dio eventually makes his move and steals Erina's first kiss. Erina, heartbroken yet still defiant, tries to wash her lips with a nearby puddle, hurting Dio's massive ego and causing him to slap her. He manages to recover quickly (since he has some lackeys nearby) and keep up his act.

Jonathan learns what happens and he is NOT happy.

Jonathan finds Dio at the Joestar estate and fights him. While it starts as a one-sided fight with Dio winning, Jonathan's determination and anger eventually turns the tables as he starts to beat the crap out of his adopted brother. During one brutal punch, a splatter of blood hits the mask from before, causing it to grow spikes and fall to the floor. Dio, his pride hurt, prepares to stab Jonathan with a knife but stops when George happens on them.

Later, one of the Joestar butlers finds something burning in the furnace outside... it turns out to be Jonathan's dog, Danny. With Danny gone and Erina too ashamed to face him, Jonathan is alone as his father continues to take Dio's side.

Its revealed that Dio put Danny in the furnace and that he will continue his plan to take over the Joestar estate. Seven years then pass and the episode ends with Yes's Roundabout kicking in.



Anger surrounding Nintendo's poor distribution of Amiibo reaches a new high....

What a great first episode. Jonathan and Dio's characters are firmly established as well as their intense rivalry that will eventually blossom into an all-out war between Dio and the Joestars. Yeah, this is very small scale for what becomes such a huge series but it works. (Not to mention that is relatively normal compared to the absolute crazy stuff that happens later on!) You really love to hate Dio and want to cheer for the childish gentleman Jonathan-- the relationship between the two characters is the center of this storyline and it works.

David Production's animation is not exactly the highest quality. There are a lot of panning shots and still images with limited animation but the show's direction and absolute flair for style manages to elevate the show's look from being low-budget to being memorable and striking. The background music is suitably orchestral (though with some subtle techno) and works along with the heavy hitting sound effects... but real stars of the soundtrack are the absolutely stupendous opening and closing songs. The opening song "Sono Chi no Sadame" is absolutely hotblooded and combined with the 3D animated opening by Kamikaze Video makes for one of my personal favorite openings to any anime ever. (They would go on to make similarly fantastic openings as the series goes along!) Then there's the fact that they went out of their way to license Yes's Roundabout as the ending song fits with Araki's love for western music and creates some truly spine-tingling moments later during the season. (it may be also why no one has licensed the series for overseas...)

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is, unfortunately, currently unlicensed for a home video release overseas. It is available to stream officially on Crunchyroll, however! The manga is available from Viz Media but do be forewarned: Viz had only previously put out the manga for part three (Stardust Crusaders) and is only just getting around to releasing the volumes for parts one and two. (Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. PB Vol. 1 comes out next month!)



The next title I'm going to look at hasn't been determined yet so I'll just leave it as a surprise! See you next time!