By its pilot: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Bizarre is actually pretty accurate
Year: 2012
Series Director: Suzuki Kenichi
Director: Tsuda Naokatsu
Seiyū: Okitsu Kazuyuki (Jonathan Joestar, eps 1-9); Koyasu Takehito (Dio Brando, eps 1-5, 7-9)

Initial research:
> Here we have another friend-recommended series. Last time the rec was out of thin air because “I hear good things”; this time it’s a series this friend has actually seen, which is in fact slowly eclipsing One Piece as his favorite series. Take all of that information as you will.
> Initially, I wasn’t looking forward to this. But Sugita Bias strikes again. Damn you. He’s above the fold (in post I clipped the characters that didn’t appear in this episode), but if I’m understanding right he won’t show up until much later. Still. Yare, yare. . . .
> So. Some of the supporting character names (ACDC, Santana, Robert E.O. Speedwagon) are giving me more context for leads like Cars and Caesar Zeppeli. Oh, I guess Dio too. And it’s either giving me a better or worse idea of what I’m in for. Is this Hetalia for classic rock bands? Also vampires I guess.
> Trivia tells me the manga was 25 years old when it first got this series-length anime adaptation. Just, you know, context.

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This is JoJo. See him run.

Summary: On a dark and stormy night, in England, also it’s 1868, some old hobo asshole (inexplicably with a beautiful, well-dressed lady) comes across a crashed carriage, and everyone appears dead except a crying baby. Old man finds a creepy stone mask (which, obvs, he’s looting the poor bastards) and casts it aside since that’s clearly worthless. As he’s taking the wedding ring off a guy, the man comes to, believing suspicious old man to have saved his and his son’s lives. He takes down the man’s name (Dario Brando, for the record) because George Joestar I is a gentleman and impossibly rich but I guess can’t think of some kind of instant repayment like, for example, payment. So he sort of leaves it to the universe to figure out how he’ll settle the debt.

And without him we wouldn't have a series.

And without him we wouldn’t have a series.

Twelve years later, George is still rich and his son Jonathan (JoJo) is a happy and bumbling kid with idealism for days. (He takes a beating from some guys who are teasing a girl, not for her sake specifically, but because it’s what a gentleman would do.) He lives in a mansion and has lots of green land and food and a dog and and friends and everything basically.

Dario, on the other hand, is still broke and his son Dio is a miserable and bitter kid, for good reason really. They live in a shitty shack and Dario is sick and Dio plays chess with winos to earn money (which may be their only income). The only good thing we see Dario do is at his deathbed: he hands Dio the old letter from George and tells him “Get rich, I don’t know. You figure it out.”

Someone *fucked* this man as recently as twelve years ago. #nightmarefuel

Someone *fucked* this man as recently as twelve years ago. #nightmarefuel

When Dario eats it (ahem . . . spoilers, nvm), Dio uses the letter as his ticket into the Joestar home, where he makes a decidedly poor first impression on JoJo.

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He’s not afraid of dogs, he just doesn’t like their “bootlicking” (that’s a real and actual quote, not like the one earlier). (Also no duh, they’re dogs, they lick boots, it doesn’t mean anything.) But he claims it attacked him, and George promptly adopts Dio, saying he and JoJo will get along swimmingly. I mean, both their moms are dead, so come on. Instant best friends, right?

Asserting his . . . uh . . . dominance.

Asserting his . . . uh . . . dominance.

Not so much? What Dio does have is impossible charm, and he starts slow, displaying his more refined qualities to undermine JoJo’s boyish innocence. George totally falls for it. (To be fair, JoJo eats like a sloppy Sim, so table manners are pretty impressive to the old man.) Also I guess 12-year-olds in late-19th-century England boxed so JoJo is great at this, but when he’s pitted against Dio he gets absolutely stomped without getting in a single hit. The young spectators flock to Dio, begging to be taught this supercool defensive style of boxing (there is some pretty sweet dodging), which Dio agrees to only if they don’t teach JoJo, shhh, he can’t keep a secret. JoJo’s a snitch. JoJo’s a loser. Soon his friends have abandoned him, except for Danny (the dog) and Erina (the girl he once defended). She brings him grapes so we’re sure of this.

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So they start hanging out, but Dio sniffs out the fact that JoJo’s not as miserable as he should be (again, his actual words and not a snarky joke on my part). This displeases him. Rather than target JoJo himself, he goes after the object of his happiness: Erina. And performs on her perhaps the worst conceivable act in all of history.

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Well guess what. Now Dio done pushed JoJo’s Berserk Button. Since he stomped JoJo so handily in their boxing match he figures he’ll just do that again. This time though, JoJo only takes a few hits before giving as good as he gets.

Also the creepy stone mask jumps off the wall when Dio's blood hits it. Like, jumps.

Also the creepy stone mask jumps off the wall when Dio’s blood hits it. Like, jumps.

Now what’s a Dio to do, after such a trying humiliation? Trick the butler into incinerating JoJo’s dog.

What's in the boooooox. . . .

What’s in the boooooox. . . .

Se7en years later—to be continued.

Genre: action, supernatural
Notable tropes: Berserk Button, Blond Guys are EvilBlood Magic, Chekhov’s MaskThe Coats Are Off, Curb-Stomp Battle, For the EvulzIdeal HeroKick the Dog, Serious Business, Would Hit a GirlYou Gotta Have Blue Hair.

The review part: So . . . yeah. I can tell you exactly what happened, but. . . . I don’t know. I’m just. This is . . . something about it, man. I’m. It’s a soap opera. With punching? So much punching. And like, it’s so self-serious, but not in a hammy way. I mean, it is overdramatic. But I still think it knows it’s a dumb thing. Oh gods, the thighs, man. The thighs are monstrous. Like weird poufy jodhpurs except that’s all leg in there. I hate the art. I HATE IT. They’re twelve and already pretty disgustingly muscular; in the next-episode previews they have necks wider than their heads. And whaaat is going on with the eyelashes. What is this genre? I mean it’s a little homoerotic but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be. Maybe it’s just the source material showing its age. I assume even He-Man was totally macho and not even a little bit gay once upon a time.

Admittedly, it’s pretty well animated. Even in action sequences it’s sharp as hell. Or should I say, because they are action sequences. There’s often a drop in frames for dramatic effect, and with fewer frames comes higher detail.

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As prescribed I watched this episode twice, and I seriously, literally, 95% did not notice the music. I could make guesses but I could not tell you with any certainty what most of the music was like, except that the closer was “Roundabout” by Yes. That’s what I know. The second time I even went in thinking, “I don’t remember the music, I need to actively pay attention this time.” It did not happen. I’m not sorry.

I do remember this: early on, when they’re alternating clips of Dio’s and JoJo’s lives, the music is orchestral and appropriately alternates between dark/foreboding and light/bucolic, in case you were confused about who was evil. But it did not have the intended effect; if you’ll notice, the majority of the screencaps I chose were of Dio because he’s fucking boss. And his situation as a whole makes him ultimately more sympathetic than JoJo, who comes off as naive and dumb (probably because he’s, you know, twelve). The dark, scary music initially only made Dio all the more pathetic and honestly, I was kind of rooting for the guy. Up until the part where he becomes tween hellspawn after which I just wanted to see them both beat the shit out of each other.

It happens in spades.

It happens in spades.

The best thing about the (unremarkable) music and the (ridiculous) art: comic book-style sound effects accompanied by righteous electric guitar chords. (You’ve already seen plenty of these, but please enjoy another.)

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The writing is just as cheesy as you’d expect, the acting just as theatrical. I guess that’s really all I have to say. I was too blindsided by all the WAHT. THE FUCK WHY. IS THIS HAPPENING that it was really quite difficult to focus on much else. If it’s going for shock value, well, bravo. I can’t explain it. You really just have to see it for yourself.

They grow up so fast.

They grow up so fast.

Cheese factor: So, so high.
Reminds me of: Aesthetically: fighting games I’ve never played. Story: like, The Count of Monte Cristo or something.

Overall: [4] I think it’s important to remind everyone that this rating system doesn’t apply to how “good” I think something is, but how likely I am to continue watching it. So I can’t say I liked it? But I’m more than likely going to watch more. I’m sitting here with my mouth hanging open because I just have nothing to say, about anything. I don’t know, I can’t . . . I just, what. Just.

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