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After all those years of the manga being published, the biggest surprise this Fall season and possibly ever is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. It's here, it's different and it is great.
I remember the announcement of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's anime like it was yesterday. Out of nowhere a the ANN news post popped up on my twitter feed and within 5 minutes a nice number of tweets related to the news were filling up my timeline. A magical moment for all JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fans, one which not many anime bloggers could understand since the manga is a long running epic.
Amidst the excitement of the announcement, my brain did that thing it usually does with good news: find a negative point to cool me down. It didn't take long for me to form a list of things that could go wrong, ranging from the character designs in the manga all the way to the semi-gag feeling not being captured by the anime. David Production deserve praise for addressing the all the potential potholes in the creation of this series.
Pretty straightforward start to the series with a somewhat faithful adaptation of half the first volume. Considering the age of the series, some of the material had to be omitted from the episode for obvious reasons and most of the stuff that got omitted wasn't all that memorable. The high pace did mean that the first half of Volume 1 where Dio was made into such a great villain didn't last as long but it wasn't forsaken so I don't really want to dwell on that. The episode also adopted a different style of narration and split the focus between Jojo and Dio, a difference which I liked for being different from the manga.
The choice of adapting so many chapters at once does seem a little crazy, given how there is no confirmation of the number of episodes. Phantom Blood - Volumes 1-5 of JoJo's Bizzare Adventure - was short enough to make into a 12 episode series, although now it looks like it won't take that much time. If this is the case, I'll be happy since Part 1 and 2 of the manga would work well as an animated series because they share more similarities than the rest of the sagas. I'm anxious to find out an estimate episode count but even without this knowledge the series isn't moving too fast for me.
As you might imagine, my issues wouldn't be with the story. I know what I'm getting and I also know that not everyone will like it, but I have no issue with it. My biggest fear was what was going to happen with the character designs. Unknown to those unfamiliar with the manga, Jojo and Brando were originally drawn as the buffest teenagers alive with muscles bigger than Arnie's, a point I instantly knew people would poke fun at if it was animated as is. The new altered character designs for the main characters are definitely doing it for me; I like Jojo's new look and Dio looks as evil as ever but at least as children they don't look ridiculous.
My second biggest concern for the series was if would come across as too serious. Even though JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has a lot of action and sometimes adventure in it, it's not really the best action-adventure series if you take it too seriously. One of the selling points of this series is that it makes ridiculous jokes that go well with the exaggerated action sequences, and yet again David Production showed how good artistic direction can shine through. The comic book style still moments complete with onomatopoeia (in Japanese) did just that, with the highlight being when Dio high kneed Jojo's dog. The action sequences were also brilliant as they captured the humour - at times sadistic - of the situations.
I love JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and I'm glad to see such a strong start to the anime series!
A mix of classic manga and modern animation, this adaptation of JoJo s Bizarre Adventure is determined to make an impression, one way or another.
As a citizen of the UK, I have had practically no previous exposure to JoJo or his bizarre adventures although mentions of Stands and a series of in-jokes in gag manga have made some impression on me. So here I am, exploring this series as a newcomer to the franchise. On first impressions, it bears the mark of older generations of seinen manga, with the visual style of a more family friendly Fist of the North Star.
The first few minutes of the episode set up the backstory of Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando. Their fathers meet by chance when the Joestars carriage falls into a quaint British ravine, and the Brandos are mistaken by Mr Joestar as his saviour. Over the next few years, the motherless Jonathan JoJo Joestar experiences a carefree aristocratic lifestyle, while Dio gets his face ground into the dirt by his alcoholic father. When Dio s father dies, the blonde genius decides to pay a visit to the young JoJo, and become the most powerful man in the world at any cost.
That was probably the most sensible part of the episode. All hope that this series was going to be thought provoking and intellectual are disposed of when Dio launches himself from his carriage with accompanying katakana for his landing. From this point onwards, what follows is less a battle of wits and more a humiliation conga line for JoJo. Immediate case in point: Dio kicks JoJo s dog so violently there aren t enough motion lines to capture the brutality. Despite being rightfully pissed off, JoJo has to apologise for his lack of manners. For the rest of the episode, JoJo is forced to be kind to Dio as he loses his friends and reputation to the obviously evil antagonist.
This adaptation straddles a thin line between melodrama and slapstick. The narrator evokes Kaiji and his tension-filled gambling hell, but it hard not to find some of the humiliation funny. Dio kicking the dog is, in context, so out of the blue as to be daft, topped only by JoJo s na ve musings as he invites a psychopath into his household. Later on, Dio delivers a face-shattering elbow to JoJo s nose. This should be serious, but the way that Dio wiggles his elbow around afterwards detracts from the solemnity of the arse-kicking. It s a shame, because the series does horror and dread so well the last scene with the dog is so effective in its cruelty, it made me nearly forget the slapstick vibe of the previous scenes. It s a shame that, for this episode at least, the mood has not been sustained throughout. I hope that this will be redressed in the next episode perhaps the vampiric mask that wakes up might provide a more serious bent. I know it is supposed to be a bizarre adventure , but I don t think the original writer would want viewers to find it too amusing.
On a positive note, the choice of ending theme is strangely appropriate. That, coupled with the mock Inca aesthetic, creates an atmospheric closing sequence for the credits. This series has potential to be great hopefully episode two will improve upon the mixed opener of the season.