JoJo's Mixed Bag
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an anime that has garnered quite the cult following. It’s completely understandable how this happened though, after all the show is expertly animated, stands out even among serval other titles that are of similar popularity, and is absolutely one of the most unique anime adaptations from the last several years. The show not only is wonderful to look at but also boasts a great cast of characters that alternate each season which the audience learns to love along their journey together. Even with the quality that the show has it is hard to recommend to someone that isn’t familiar with anime and honestly not even a spectacular recommendation to even those who are diehard fans of the medium.
With all this praise that is given to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure it certainly poses the question “Is it really as good as everyone says it is?” To me this is not a straight forward yes or no question, because it all depends on the individual and their perspective. Speaking of perspective, there is one major thing that I believe stood out to me immediately with the style that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures had, and that was the color swaps. In more key moments of the story there will be times where the color pallet for characters and the backgrounds will change to emphasize the “dramatic dialog” or “intense moments” that focus is being drawn to. Now this isn’t entirely a new style in of its self and since the first time I ever watched an episode of the show I have seen a few other anime, both newer and older, that have in some ways emulated this style of color change or the stylization to backgrounds and characters to drive home a moment that the animators want to leave an impression of the viewer. But I will say that in the case of this anime the changes to me at first where jarring to say the least. The abrupt changes in colors was not only a deep contrast but also in great regularity. This was to the point where, to many, it could be disorienting. Is it creative? Yes it is and once you get used to it the changes are a nice aesthetic especially when they are toned down for Diamond is Unbreakable and Golden Wind, parts 4 and 5 respectively. All and all the anime has a style that is all its own.
The adventure begins with Johnathan Joestar and the story that continues is split into different parts that follow his offspring and their descendants. Many of the fans of “JoJo’s”, as it has come to be known to those in the anime community, may consider the first part of the story to be the weakest in the series. This part follows Johnathan as he stops his adopted brother Dio from attempting to take over all of England with his newly gained vampire powers and the hordes of zombies that he has create. To me this resentment for the beginning of the series is understandable but not completely warranted. This is by far the shortest parts of the overarching manga that the show is based upon and is very straight forward and to the point and tells a very linear story with out to much more expansion on the world involved. The story then resumes with Joseph Joestar, who most would probably agree is the best JoJo so far in the anime. And part 2 is enjoyable with still excellent animation, weird new characters and villains, a rival for the main character, a mentor for the main character, insurmountable odds stacked against the main cast to which is seems impossible that they could succeed. AND like I mentioned before it gives us Joseph who is a quick witted, talented, highly effective fighter that is cunning and has a wild amount of ingenuity. I would say that from getting things established, to the introductions of the villains, and the journey and goal of the main cast all the way to the finale, part 2 is certainly to me the high point of the series.
Because I greatly enjoyed this part of JoJo’s part 3 had me reeling. As it turns out Dio never died so they need to stop him again and even from the smack down he suffers at the hands of Jotaro Kujo, who is the main JoJo for part 3, but somehow survives to show up in part 6. I have a huge problem with this and most of it stems from Dio being a bad villain. Dio’s motivations are so flimsy they could be bent by a toddler and from the way he acts Dio just wants to be bad for the sake of being bad. This is a prime example of weak writing of an antagonist.
Not only does the power system become irrelevant and essentially useless for the remainder of the series but the format of the story changes as well for part 3. In addition to this the humor goes from being situational and goofy to begin childish and immature, often relying on potty humor and slap stick. A huge set back is that now for the majority of this part the show is a monster of the week set up and take down and this goes on far too long and gets old quick. They need to get to Egypt and it is just one set back after another and then when they get there, now there is a new set of bad guys they need to face one at a time. There are several points from what I saw and from what I skipped that are well animated and fun but that’s about it.
I have been watching part 4 and to me it is the funniest season of the show and this may be due to the all most slice of life approach it takes. Unlike the other seasons, Diamond is Unbreakable is set in a singular city for what I believe is the entirety of its run. It’s a little more light hearted, they changed the characters to make them look a little more smooth and less like they were chiseled out of stone, so to me it is a little more pleasant character design. This excludes Jotaro’s Stand Star Platinum, which now looks ridiculous in comparison to its older design. I have watched the episodes of Golden Wind up until the brilliant torture dance scene and will continue it soon hopefully. For this part the comedy, adventure and action all seem to be on point even if it does seem like it was written by a 13 year old boy, you can take a deep breath and expect that it was a very gifted 13 year old boy.
It was at a certain point in part 2 where it seemed like the show runners realized that JoJo’s was a strange thing and they wanted to lean that way with it. And this was to their benefit and then while making part 3 it was obvious that they just looked to the rest of their team and said “we are making a meme” and there are so many thigs that are memeable about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and that’s completely fine and actually helps to make the show more prevalent and is loved by the fans of the show as they are fully in on the joke even if the joke is somewhat at what they love’s expense. Honestly I think there are many funny jokes in JoJo’s because to me it is primarily a comedy. It in no way a show I take very seriously, I kind of just turn my brain off and watch and chuckle at the absurdity and snicker at the cool action moments. I do believe that many people can get enjoyment from the wackiness presented by JoJo’s and get their fill of visceral imagery with gruesome scenes depicted here and there. JoJo’s is completely over the top and extremely campy and so the memes and anime community in return sort of react to it in that way. So it does become difficult to pin point what all is great and low quality in a series where the point is not to be level headed about what’s going on with hyperbole in the show. If I’m honest this is probably the only time I have ever given deep thought about this anime because I don’t thing about it much when I not watching it.
At this point you must be wondering “who are these fans?” And if you are one of them then there’s a high likelihood I’m going to describe you. A lot of the praise that I heard for this show comes from those who are big otakus or who are pretty heavily involved in the anime community. Now these are the people that I hear the loudest and it makes sense, these are the people that are probably going to be drawn to this series because even as an anime it is something quite different and that is both good and bad in my opinion. The positive of the show being so out there is that it has a somewhat niche audience but is still a big enough fan base to have a lot of good conversation and the opportunity to bond with others who are fans of the show and love what you love. And to be honest I thing JoJo’s is pretty good for the most part but also wouldn’t say that I’m a big JoJo’s fan, and this brings us to the down side of the show. I feel that it is somewhat problematic in the way it goes over the top. I don’t believe that violence is often imitated and if you’re letting a 10 year old watch this show that’s probably a bad call. I do think though that the way this show glorifies being freaky, or make a fool of yourself and also being a meme of yourself a positive and I think while there are those who find community in the fandom of the anime there are also those who will feel like an outsider to others who don’t know what JoJo’s is and they can look and sound foolish. Even further there can be some who enjoy the show like me but there are rabid fans that would say that they are a fake fan or would try to push them out of the fandom, Incidents like this happen all the time with some people who have superiority complex or just feel they are obsessive or in their minds “worthy” of liking something and those who don’t like it as much don’t deserve to like it at all. JoJo’s is a double edged sword but I feel it has caused more happiness that harm so it doesn’t deserve much wrath on it. I would say that it is not an easily accessible show even though it is pretty popular with the anime community it also could turn some off of anime which is a shame. The show is definite for those who are quirky and weird like myself who like some stupidity with their gore. I would say out of the anime I have watched, which is probably around 75 series, it is in the top 3rd or close to it. I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of the show at my own pace, it is filled with action and ridiculous characters and situations. In short to answer “Is it really as good as everyone says it is?” If you asking an everyday anime fan then yes its good, and fun if you like stuff like The Simsons mixed with Deadman Wonderland then JoJo’s is a good medium. Plus the song “Chase” from the second opening of part 4 slaps and is worth listening to even if you never watch an episode of the show.
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