Is this an original idea for something to write? Nah, it ain’t. But what my articles on this site are, are reviews of shows (particularly animes) that I have watched as of late. Recently, said show was JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Anyone whose been keeping up with my articles may have noticed that I actually finished Season 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure with my brother maybe a month back, right before I wrote my review of The Midnight Gospel (a show you should definitely go watch). So yes, this has been a long time coming. I swear to you that my next review will be more up to date. But now that I’ve done all the explaining there is to do, let’s hop right into it, shall we?
So. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an anime created in 2012 (based off the manga first released in 1987) which follows multiple generations of the Joestar family, starting in 19th Century England with Jonathan Joestar. As I have only seen Season 1, I will only cover Parts 1 & 2 (of which Season 1 is comprised). I plan to later finish the series and come back to this review, but… well, that’s for later! For people who haven’t watched JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, probably the thing you know best about it is that everyone seems to have a Stand, which is basically an astral projection named after some song the creators liked which is then used to fight other Stand Users. This is coming from someone who hasn’t gotten that far in the show because, you heard me right, Season 1 has none of that. Which surprised me.
So, seeing as this is my second “casual review”, I am wondering what my format should be. If this is going to be my thing, I should really solidify what people should expect going in. Well, I think I just accomplished the first thing. My intro should consist of some context, including my own relationship with watching the show and a small setup for the show itself. Well, seeing as that’s accomplished, what next? I’m thinking, why don’t we split these up into three sections. Five paragraph essay style. There will be the introduction, then technical review (animation, voice acting, music, etc.), then conceptual review (story, setting, characters, etc.), then a conclusion. I guess that’s four parts, but you know what, I’m leaving this thought process in, and call it 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑜𝓃𝒶𝓁𝒾𝓉𝓎. Let’s begin!
Let’s put it this way. This is one of very, very few shows where I actually never skipped the theme song, and that goes for both theme songs from Parts 1 & 2. The visuals are also very impressive — and I’m not simply talking about just how burly literally every single man in the show is, though they are very, very burly. No, I’m talking about the colors! The character designs are hilariously ridiculous, and to make up for having the average animation budget of, well, an average anime (that is to say, not as much as you’d like), they make their still shots extremely vibrant sometimes. It helps it feel very comic book-y, and is a welcome addition to the typical action anime formula. People could learn from this!
The voice acting in the English Dub (I watch dubs with my brother, so sue me) is pretty good, though nothing exceptional. There are some standout performances from side-characters and one-off villains (I think Von Stroheim’s voice actor is terrible in all the right ways, the ham that he emits is oh so wonderful), but nothing particularly great all around. As with most anime dubs, our trained ears picked up some familiar voices, such as Ichigo from Bleach playing Jonathan Joestar in Part 1 (the actor’s name is Johnny Yong Bosch). Speedwagon also ends up having a voice you can do an impression of, which is always a plus in my book for when the goal is to make colorful characters. My brother and I had fun narrating everyday events as if they were things Speedwagon was warning JoJo about.
“JoJo! You’re going to use too much milk in your tea! It will be impossible to carry downstairs when its that full!”
It’s quite fun. The battles are also easy to follow, which is good! My least favorite aspect of action scenes — both in and out of anime — is when you can’t follow the exchange of blows. For the most part, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure makes everything very follow-able. I don’t have an out-of-ten rating system I’m going to use because those feel rather arbitrary, so I’ll just say that I particularly enjoyed all the technical elements to this series.
I’ll try and make these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, in case you were worried, though I put the chances that anyone who hasn’t seen JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is reading this… low, heheh.
I definitely have some issues with the show’s execution. For one, for a show called JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, it doesn’t do much to surprise me. Not like I had perfect foresight and could expect everything, no, but, it wasn’t as outright bizarre as the title suggests. Part 1 has vampires, zombies, and an ancient martial art. Part 2 has more vampires and zombies, plus ancient beings who want to attain the highest level of power, which is related to the basis of this ancient martial art. Our main characters are two different JoJos — members of the Joestar family from different generations.
I like that this allows for our protagonists to actually die and leave the picture, which is nice because I as the viewer don’t automatically know if the hero is going to come out of every fight alive. That said, they still do the “pretend to kill the protagonist but wait he’s actually not dead!” thing, and I have reason to believe that they give the villains (specifically Dio) the same treatment (spoiler alert I guess but I haven’t seen the episodes themselves, I just highly suspect he comes back later). So they aren’t very subversive with killing off characters. Most of the people you’d expect to live still live, at least until the end of their respective arc (before the jump in time to get to the next generation).
In short: the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and so far no one dies without it being very clear that they’re going to die beforehand. Which isn’t the most fun or unique, but oh well. It’s to be expected. I have three things which I am definitely more unhappy with. I will keep them brief.
One, Speedwagon is annoying. A terrible trope of anime is how each battle has to be narrated somehow. The creators of the anime simply do not trust that the viewer has eyes with which to perceive the action, so anything that happens has to also be explained. And who does the explaining? Speedwagon. You’d think he’d at least get replaced by a new narrator for Part 2, but nope, he survives that long. Wonderful.
Two, the original villain, Dio (that’s not a spoiler) has a perfect motivation for being a villain which they literally completely throw out the window. They build up why he would have reason to hate rich people, and why he would want to seek power and wealth, and instead of making him, you know, a character with unique motivations, by the text of the show, we are told (by both him and Speedwagon) that his motivations don’t actually matter, he was just “born evil”. Why? Why would you intentionally make your character less interesting? Not that he was a particularly unique bad guy to begin with, but… why? I don’t get it at all.
Three, they use WWII as a backdrop in Part 2, but do… nothing with it? Not only do they do basically nothing with it, but where it is apparent, they basically make no commentary on it. Or, I hope for their sakes that they were meaning to make no commentary on it. The alternative is troubling. See, one of our main characters is a very nationalist Italian, and another is an extremely nationalist German… who is a commanding officer within the German military. There is even a moment where he does the sieg heil, except that they censored his hand. So that you can’t see it. Barely anyone says the word Nazi out loud (might have been different in the subs?), maybe it’s never actually said I’m not sure, and this character (Von Stroheim) is introduced by kidnapping and threatening torture to one of our protagonists. He also, in his first scene, disciplines a woman by making her lick his face. What. The. Heck. And no, there is no redemption for this. He lives and dies a Nazi. They just make him fight on the good guy side. Just… what!?
Sorry this is leaking into another paragraph, but he even sacrifices a cage full of prisoners! No redemption. The main characters are just suddenly pals with him. Rubs me so, so wrong. Get your shiz together show. Please be cognizant of the messages you’re sending out.
I think this show is good for some mindless fun. It’s like seeing the newest action movie at the theater; you want to be wowed by special effects and see some people fight each other. If you see that, you leave satisfied. This show delivers for the most part. It has fun campy acting, vibrant colors, good music, intense character designs, and in the end, what more can you ask for? Just don’t question too much and you’ll have a good time.