Please help me Under-STAND! A look at the Stands from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

1 Nov

I figure that since I am about to undertake a project. where I describe the musical influences that Hirohiko Araki used in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, I should explain that the concept of Stands from the popular Manga series. For those of you not familiar with the series, The manga, published by Shueisha in their magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump, started in 1987 and went on to 2002. The story follows a family called the Joestars as they battle the supernatural forces surrounding their daily lives. Each series (there are seven in total so far) focuses on a different generation of the Joestar bloodline and often have overlapping appearances. It is currently Weekly Shōnen Jump’s second longest running manga with 100 volumes and counting

A Variety of Stands

Derived from the term, “one who stands by me”, Stands are a manifestation of one’s psyche and control over our innate power. Only those with unusually strong spiritual power and determination can produce stands, as they reflect our true values, whether they be of good or evil intention. Stands, in some instances, can be developed by way of using an external tool to bring them out, (the Bow and Arrow in series Four). If a person cannot physically or willingly handle the emergence of a Stand though, they will die. Families, like the Joestar’s, that have a unique history of Stand Users often produce offspring with Stands that automatically function, without having to be awakened. There have also been instances of Stands being produced artificially by other stands (Whitesnake in Series 6 is able to take others Stands and insert them into non-User via discs).

Stands retained a Humanoid appearance at first introduction in Series 3 and mostly consisted of using elemental abilities, such as Fire, Plants and Water, as well as more simplistic abilities. The four, fifth and sixth series introduced Stands with a more mechanical and more abstract appearance often trading the humanoid appearance for either more cartoonish or object based stands. Newer abilities followed, changing from elemental, almost magical abilities, to more intricate and specific (manifesting a plane and controlling it, giving life to inanimate objects, creating Zippers on objects to open them). More limitations were put on the abilities as well. Some abilities, however, are outside of the User’s control and often restrict them from movement, speech or another function. There are also Stands capable of acting outside of the will of their User, deeming the name “Automatic” Stands. The Users of these Stands often set commands and are not aware or in control of what the Stand does when it is “out in the field”.

Jotaro and Star Platinum

For the most part, Stands apperar over and above the users, when summoned remaining visible to only other Stand Users . When those who cannot see them experience Stands, they are often described as Ghosts, ESP or some other supernatural event. Some, like Strength and Wheel of Fortune from Series 3, are bound to physical objects (ships, hair, cars) and thus can be viewed by Non-Users. Other, like the Emperor and Beach Boys, appears as visible tools (in these cases, a gun and a fishing rod.)

Stands share an incredible link with their User. Users can ‘sense’ through their Stand, hearing and seeing up to one hundred times their normal human ability. Stands are not independent beings from their users though, as they relie on them as a battery or source of power. For instance, when Jotaro is suffocated during the beginning of Series 3, his Stand begins to disappear because of loss of breath. Stands also account for their User’s body. If a Stand is injured in a fight, those injuries get carried over immediately to the User.

Music plays an large role in the naming of the characters and abilities in the series.  Throughout the first two series and most of the third, many of the main characters from the various heroes, allies to villains such as Santana, Kars, J. Geil, Oingo and Boingo have names that can be accounted for by music. By the end of Series 3, Araki began using musical terms for a couple of his final Stands alongside the character, such as Vanilla Ice having an ability known as Cream. In Series 4, the musical references were more focused on the Stands and abilities of the enemies, where there was a fine balance between good and bad Stand Users in Series 5 & 6.

What I think is most interesting about Araki’s work, especially Jojo’s, is the insertion of popular culture into his creations. It has always raised the question for me though, is Araki really being influenced by the music around him and is enough  of a creative writer to interpret & create his own creations or is his real intention to use these interesting and popular titles to popularize his works and make them, atleast at the time of publication, culturally relevant?

Let’s find out, shall we? As I examine a few dozen Stands from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure!

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