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- Genre: Action, adventure, comedy, horror, supernatural, JoJo
- Episodes: 26
- Studio: David Production
Few families have had such a sordid and eventful history as the Joestars. An established line of the British aristocracy, you would think that they would be able to enjoy peaceful days in the lap of luxury. Instead, they have been fighting vampires and other monsters for generations and across continents. Every since Jonathan Joestar discovered the secrets of the ancient stone mask, his family has been both cursed and blessed with the power to defend others from unspeakable dangers. But can mere mortals really stand in the way of ancient gods?
First, let’s get this out of the way. Some of you may be questioning my inclusion of the horror tag for this anime. I guess it is a bit of a stretch but hear me out. JoJo’s Bizarre adventure does stick to a lot of the classic horror tropes. It features vampires and an ancient race of human devouring creatures. A lot of protagonists die in gruesome ways right on camera. And the series goes out of its way to let us know that no one is safe. Sure it’s not the most serious horror out there but I think it fits!
I watched JoJo’s Bizarre adventure at some point. Potentially when it first aired. And I remembered liking it but not that much else. So I decided to rewatch the first season and go on to catch up with the rest as it appears to have gotten more fun with time. And then I realized, this is actually a pretty great Halloween watch.
One thing most people know about JoJo, even without having watched the series, is those super distinctive and over the top visuals. I think that JoJo’s Bizarre adventures was one of David Productions earliest works and oh boy did they start things off with a bang! (David is also doing fantastic things with Fire Force).
The art style in JoJo is quite something. It’s up to you on whether you actually find this style pretty or not but it’s not likely to go unnoticed. There are definite western influences in the proportions and movements of the characters but it’s blended together with some classic anime aesthetics, some plain old exaggerations and a psychedelic colour palette that jumps around all the time, to create a look that is entirely unique. Like I said, appreciation will likely vary from one person to the next. I thought it just looked fun!
This said both age and restrained budget are visible if you look for them but why? The campy look is a huge part of the charm.
Similarly, the voice acting is ridiculous. Everything is hyper projected and over-enunciated, music is so dramatic and present and the voice-over narrator sounds like a parody of every voice-over narrator ever.
That’s sort of the point though. I think one of the things that I may have missed on my original viewing, is that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a straight-up parody. I had realized that it wasn’t taking itself seriously. That’s quite obvious even from just the visuals. But a lot of action comedies still have a serious plotline that just happens to be filled with jokes along the way. In JoJo, the plotline itself is part of the joke. I loved it. That’s the type of person I am…
I realize that I’m probably the only anime fan out there that made this comparison but to me, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was very reminiscent of Black Butler. I’m not saying that the two shows had anything to do with each other or that if you liked one you would like the other, but the approach to comedy was the same in both of these series.
Both of them were a deep exploration and deconstruction of a specific genre and the tropes it embodies, through both gross and subtle exaggeration. Both are best enjoyed when one is at least a little familiar with the staples the series are deconstructing and both seem to simultaneously embrace the genres they are mocking. There is a sense that the team behind the production of JoJo are all shonen and action hero fans that just wanted a little laugh.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure isn’t a mean parody. It’s not meant to make you feel stupid for enjoying shonen action series or to point out anything wrong with them. It does sort of make it obvious just how much traditional action series have in common with soap operas. And it’s hilarious.
Some of you might know that I prefer to watch subtitled anime in general. I enjoy the sound of the Japanese language and find that he performances or often slightly more understated which suits my personal taste. However, understated is not the right mood for JoJo, so I did switch over to the dub for comparison. And oh boy!!!
The English dub of JoJo’s Bizarre adventure is like a mix of Dynasty and 1960’s Batman. I’m saying it’s the best thing ever! Watch the English dub – it’s amazing!
Here are a few things I seriously liked about the series. For one, I enjoyed this reinvention of the vampire myth. I’m not sure if it’s based on anything but I hadn’t seen this particular version before and I quite liked it. I do think that it could be reworked into a very popular serious work.
The actual narrative of JoJo is a pretty old school action shonen. Big strong guys fighting other big strong guys who are evil. Nothing too special there. But it’s all in the overly theatrical delivery. It’s a show that has to be experienced to be understood. I know it’s based on a manga and I’m really curious to see how much is lost without those performances.
There are also a few very ooooooold school references throughout the series. The manga was published in 1986 so that may explain part of it. Still, I occasionally felt like my grandpa was telling me dirty jokes or something. Once again, in case that isn’t clear, I’m giving the series a compliment here!
All and all, the first season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a lot more spectacular than anything else. As in, it’s a spectacle. The characters are larger than life but not really developed, the performances are over the top and unsubtle, the production is dizzying and a little rough. But most importantly, it’s all in good fun. Like most comedies, your personal enjoyment will hinge on whether this is the type of humour you enjoy or not.
But it worked for me. Horror comedy is by far my favourite type of horror and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the seasons as those will be new to me!
Favourite character: Grandma Erina. It takes a special type of lady to put up with not one but two JoJos. And any lady that can intimidate Joseph Joestar has my respect!
Liquor might not solve all your problems, but it’s worth a shot!
Suggested drink: There’s an actual blog dedicated to JoJo inspired drinks. I am impressed! Let’s start with a Robert Edward O. Speedwagon
- Any time anyone is wearing a jaunty hat – take a sip
- Every time anyone close to JoJo dies – take a sip
- Every time there is a written sound effect – kapow!
- Every time anyone monologues for the audience – just listen, it happens all the time
- Every time anyone mentions “hamon” – take a sip without creating any ripples in the liquid. Good luck!
- Every time there’s a mid-combat monologue – listen some more
- Every time a character starts narrating what is happening – take a small sip
- Every time there’s some playful homoeroticism – just me?
- Every time JoJo becomes friends with someone he has fought before – take a sip
- Every time Dio finds something useless – take a sip
- Every time the camera focuses on…glutes – raise your glass
This show looks ridiculous in the best way possible.