Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a manga series that started being published in Weekly Shonen Jump on Janurary 1, 1987. It later moved to a monthly release in Ultra Jump magazine in 2005. Written by Hirohiko Araki, it covers the long history of the Joestar bloodline and their battle against many foes. The main gimmick of Jojo is that the story is divided into parts, meaning there’s a new cast, setting and protagonist. Each protagonists has the phrase plucked out from their name, making them a “Jojo.” But the series stretches it. For example, the “Suke” Josuke Higashikata’s (the 4th Jojo) name can also be pronounced as “Jo.” Giorno Giovanna (the 5th Jojo) is a “GioGio.”
The series is tells its stories through various battles. Intially, characters fought with “Hamon,” an energy technique where one controls their breathing in order to enhance their physical attributes. However, by the the third part, characters started using beings called “Stands,” physical manifestations of one’s energy. They can have various powers from basic things like punching really fast, to turning the iron in your blood into literal razor blades. Basically, stands are ghosts with cool powers. They’re like Personas in the Persona video games if you’re familiar with them.
Fights in Jojo usually don’t come down to who’s the strongest, but how well the characters are at outsmarting each other. In fact, some don’t even involve actual violence.
Here’s one of my favorite stands: Killer Queen. It can turn any object it touches into a bomb. Plus it looks like kind of cute (in a creepy way) in my opinion.
Stands and characters are sometimes named popular musicians, songs or albums, particularly rock bands. These include “Metallica,” “Gold Experience,” “Tom Petty” and many more. As a fan of pop music, Araki enjoys paying “homage” to the works he loves. Unfortunately, english translations change the names of some of these to avoid potential copyright issues. Songs like Roundabout by Yes and Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles have been used as credits songs for the anime series.
One other notable aspect of Jojo is the evolution of its art style, going from muscular characters akin to Fist of the North Start to more slender looking characters.
Here’s part 1’s protagonist, Jonathan Joestar:
Now here’s his alternate universe counterpart: Part 7’s Johnny Joestar.
Did mention this series was weird? I could go on.
Many characters in the series wear over the top outfits. This might be explained by Araki’s love of high fashion, including collaborating with brands like Gucci.
Lastly, fans of Jojo love to create memes around the series. This included calling everything a Jojo reference ironically to using the to be continued logo on random videos for comedic effect.
By combining all of his influences into his work, Hirohiko Araki has created something unlike anything else, and his work has influenced a large amount of Japanese pop culture. This includes other media like video games. For example, Guile from Street Fighter is based Jojo character Jean Pierre Polnareff.
According to the author, the theme of all parts of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is that it’s an “an affirmation that humanity is wonderful.” By relying on their strength, minds and each other, people are able to overcome various hardships. Many of the main villains of the series have a rather pessimistic view of humans, seeing them as something to be walked over.
Besides the manga, the series’ third part, “Stardust Crusaders,” has been adapted as a series original video animations (OVAs). But there’s an anime series that has been airing since 2012 and wrapped up Part 5 last summer. An adaptation for the sixth part hasn’t been announced as of this writing. While the animation can be limited sometimes, it makes up for it in wonderful music, direction and editing. I recommend it if you love over the top antics, clever fight scenes and media with a lot of heart.