A few days ago, I received an email from my local comics shop, Comicopia and I noticed that the 16th & final volume of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was on the listing. For those of you who don’t know me, this is one of my favorite series and I’ve realized over the past few years of reading the American release (and some of the scantalations), that not a lot of people know about it. Heck, even the people at Comicopia only had a vague idea about what the series was about. So I thought, in this post, I would share with you reasons that I love the series and hopefully prompt you to check out this marvel of Manga entertainment.
Just a quick recap of the story: The story of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure centers around the misadventures of the Joestars, a family of powerful, honest and generally good-natured people, whom attract the most peculiar friends, foes and situations. The series spans several generations, with each part featuring a descendent of the Joestars as the main protagonist along with a large cast of characters. Viz has published the third installment in the series, following Jotaro Kujo, his grandfather (hero of the previous installment) Joseph and friends as they battle a vampire named Dio that has plagued their family for the past century. This is the series that also introduces the concept of Stands, which stays throughout the rest of the series.
Here are my 5 Reasons to Read It:
1. It is exceedingly violent in the best way possible. Do you like it when your hero punches their villains through the teeth? Do you enjoy giants rats, people getting pulled into bottles and strange, carnivorous floating heads? Do you enjoy it when characters go to the extreme to win a fight, sacrificing their own limbs to win? Do you find that normal action manga *cough* Naruto *cough* Bleach* just isn’t enough to satisfy? Then this might be the series for you. Jojo’s is violent, more so than most comics, but it is all part of the ridiculous and over the top style.
2. 80s and 90s pop culture references. I know I’ve mentioned this before but this is something I love about the series, the music and occasional art references. It is another fun element to the series; I make a game out of trying to find the references. There is also something just amazing about the influence music can have over visual artists, especially in comics, even if it is just mostly name-dropping. This installment contains mentions of the Beatles Rubber Soul, Kenny G, Vanilla Ice, Pet Shop Boys, Mariah Carey, The Police, Muddy Waters among many others. Unfortunately, this fact may be part of what is keeping the US from publishing more of the series, as Araki’s frequent references to Western music may violate American copyright laws.
3. Araki’s artwork. Its bold american influenced style, his brash uncontrolled lines and his character design are initially what drew me to this series in the first place. He is so unique in his style in the world of Manga and it’s not just the way his design. Anyone can have good design but Araki has the style and flair to go along with it. It’s the way he poses his characters, almost floating in mid-air suspended by the very energy around them. It’s the way his characters look boldly deep into your heart, striking you with a fiery passion. His design is another brilliant element to this series; his characters are wearing their hearts on this sleeves, shirts and pants, covered in ladybug & dolphin lapels, hair dyed and worn in the most impossible way. Take a look:
4. Creativity in creating abilities. I’ve fantasized about superpowers. In all honesty, who hasn’t at some point in their life? Araki definitely has and he brings that fantastical thinking out in full force. I really love the idea of Stands because it reminds me so much of X-Men. Their are only a lucky few who do have this extraordinary ability and its tied so tightly to their personalities quirks and traits to it is this beautiful exercise in character writing. Araki also is able to utilize alluring pieces of culture around him to create something extraordinary. The entire cast of Stands from the third installment was based on of Tarot cards, which propelled me to further investigate the meanings behind the cards.
5. It is just a fun series. The books are a quick read but I always feel satisfied afterwords. This is definitely a guilty pleasure series for me but deep down, I feel as though Jojo and Hirohiko Araki have an important place in the scope of Manga. It is a real shame that Viz doesn’t have plans to publish the rest of the series but I implore you to check out what is available out there.