JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (JoJo no Kimyō na Bōken) is a long running manga written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki and in publication since 1986. It’s been adapted to videogames and OAVs and, most recently, two anime series with the second one currently airing.
The world of JoJo has Vampires, Martial Arts, Gentlemen, Nazis, 1920s America, 1980s Japan and more and more. This is a series where a Nazi Cyborg shooting lasers from his mechanical eye is not only normal but also expected.
And I love it!
Here are three reasons why I love this series so much:
Over the Top: Most shōnen manga and anime tend to be very over the top, but when JoJo is does it it’s not just on action and fights but also on everything from the mythology to the characters themselves. In JoJo’s world, a Vampire can dive into someone else’s body through their mouth and blow them up from the inside.
Villains are ludicrously evil and reach levels of cruelty surpassing all your expectations. The opening story arc has the villain Dio burn the main character’s dog alive just to break his spirit. And that’s when the characters are still teenagers and before he turns into a Vampire.
Heroes are just as over the top as villains, with another 1st story character, Zeppeli. He fights a zombified Jack the Ripper by supercharging WINE.
The second story tops the first with Nazi cyborgs, tube-filled-wind-controlling vampires and a man whose superpower is to throw deadly bubbles at you. The third goes even beyond that and the series gets progressively more spectacular.
Constant References: In JoJo’s world, there’s a character-naming rule: If they’re not JoJos, then their name is a musical reference. Even the name JoJo is a musical reference, from a Beatles song.
Every story arc includes a ton of music-inspired character names, from allies to antagonists. The first arc starts the trend with Dio Brando (inspired by Ronnie James Dio and Marlon Brando), Robert Edward O. Speedwagon (R.E.O Speedwagon) and William Anthonio Zeppeli (William Tell and Led Zeppelin). The second story arc ups the reference ante with the Pillar Men: Kars (Cars), Eisidisi (AC/DC), Wamuu (Wham!) and (Carlos) Santana.
It’s a joy when you hear or read their names and realize the connection. Of course, as is the case with Dio and Speedwagon, sometimes it’s really easy to figure them out; such as the Part 3 antagonist, Vanilla Ice.
Extremely Vocal: As naming has a rule, there is another on storytelling: No character has or will ever have an inner monologue.
Characters in JoJo are extremely vocal with their thoughts, which hilariously also includes their plans and strategies while fighting their enemies. They will ramble on and give constant exposure and it’s never an internal voice over but them actually stating it aloud. From reactions to musings no character will ever keep his mouth shut while explaining something and even in the manga, you will only ever see speech bubbles…for everything.
While it is jarring at first, it gets funnier and funnier and you learn to accept it as just part of JoJo’s style.
Very Stylish: Arcs 1-4 use the Human-Fridge style reminiscent of Buronson’s Hokuto no Ken aka Fist of the North Star and then it shifts to its current more realistic style.
When you speak of JoJo’s style, it’s a matter of aesthetics, such as the use of vivid and dazzling colors, intricate designs and even the sometimes-strange character designs. Sound effect kanjis often take half the page and are so over the top the anime’s creators included them, so you hear a rumble but still get the “Rumble sfx” Kanji in the middle of the screen, giving it a look you can only describe as JoJo-Style. Much like the previous point, it can be jarring but once you see past it, it becomes another part of the fun experience.