Instead of reviewing JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by seasons like I’ll be doing for almost every other anime/manga, I’ve decided I’ll be doing it by arc instead. For those of you who are familiar with JoJo’s, you know exactly why. The arcs can be so vastly different from one another and each has its own strengths and weaknesses that it just wouldn’t be right to review several arcs together as one big bundle. It wouldn’t do the story any justice. So, for today, I’ll be focusing on The Phantom Blood Arc, where our rightfully-named bizarre story begins.
*Warning: This may contain minor spoilers*
Synopsis: This is the story of Jonathan Joestar, his adopted brother Dio Brando, and a mysterious stone mask that intertwines their fates together. So starts the crazy, abnormal adventure of the badass men of the Joestar family.
Story/Plot: I must be honest, I was literally forced against my will to watch the first episode of this arc. Nearly every single person in my hangout circle has been obsessed with this series for about a month or two now. They got into the game a bit late, but that’s pretty much me with everything, so don’t expect anything different from those I hang around (haha). I was continuously being showed random clips of different arcs and even the opening and ending songs to each of them. One day, I was sat down and told, “We’re watching the first episode right now because I know you won’t otherwise.” And that’s where ‘BlameSaiki’s Bizarre Adventure’ began.
The story is as simple and easy to understand as it can possibly be. It’s just the cut-and-paste good versus evil that we’re all so accustomed to, but a bit more basic.
The story starts off decently well and then traverses to rushing through the childhood of Jonathan and Dio in order to get to the meat of the plot. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t know whether or not I was actually absorbing any of it. I mean, this first arc is only nine episodes long and tells us the entire life story of Jonathan and his constant struggles of needing to defeat Dio. He meets Dio, grows up, takes on some intense training, fights a few “bad guys”, makes great friends, and eventually fights Dio in an epic clash; all in nine episodes. And somehow, the characters manage to give us an immense amount of exposition, explaining everything that we’re already seeing for ourselves. It’s almost as if you’re watching a show in English dubbed, but still keep the English subtitles on, so you’re listening to and reading the exact same thing in the same language. It was just like we were experiencing the story twice, in a weird way. But, even though that can get irritating (especially during important fights), JoJo’s just makes it hilarious to listen to because of the exaggeration and intensity used when the characters say it. Everything is always urgent, and it’s great. Even them talking during the fights is entertaining because of all of the vibrant colors and fighting techniques that are shown on-screen in the meantime.
The story doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, which works out perfectly. There are no surprises, which means that there are no badly timed “plot twists” or plot elements that are pulled out of thin air to further progress the story. Whenever something odd happens that perhaps shouldn’t have, it’s okay because “Oh, he’s a Joestar, that makes sense,” or “It’s Dio, can you expect anything less?”
Characters: The most blatantly obvious thing to notice about the characters is that there is zero complexity with them. They don’t have/show any inner turmoil of deciding whether or not their actions are good or bad, or whether or not their actions will have any regrettable consequences. Jonathan and Dio are probably the most one-dimensional characters you may ever come across. Jonathan is the epitome of good while Dio is the one for evil. They’re both 100% of those qualities. I mean, they might as well have ‘good’ and ‘evil’ tattooed on their foreheads. However, that’s precisely what makes their interactions so interesting. Their polarized personalities make for some very good fights and dramatic scenes/moments.
The assortment of side characters was pretty interesting, as well. The one I want to focus on, though, is Robert E.O. Speedwagon, Jonathan’s best friend. He was literally just a cheerleader the entire time. He was also very wishy-washy with his intentions on the battlefield. One second, he would be complaining about something like, “Ugh, I wish I could be there to help! I’d beat him up myself!” and the next second, he’d be there and then would just yell motivational things to our protagonist or would just explain to the viewers what’s happening, even though we can see for ourselves what’s occurring. I don’t know why he had to act as the narrator. He was very useless but weirdly necessary as the Joestar family’s biggest fan. It feels a little strange to think that way (haha).
Also, the fact that almost every character we get introduced to has some sort of pop culture reference from the 80’s made it all the better. From what I’ve been exposed to, it looks like every season will be like that, but for different time periods, so I’m looking forward to experiencing those references for myself.
The story itself may be painfully simple, but the characters are most definitely what makes it worthwhile. I mean, who isn’t entertained by the badass Joestar family and their struggles and successes?
The other thing I wanted to mention regarding the characters is that my goodness did the voice actors for them do a fantastic job. Where the story/scenes fell short, the voice actors picked up the slack and made me become re-interested in the scenes that I began to doze off in. They were perfectly cast.
Favorite Character: At first, I genuinely thought I would end up loving Dio. He has a lot of characteristics that I enjoy in characters. But, the further into the story I got and the more I realized he was just textbook evil, the more I deviated from my original thoughts. It wasn’t until the conclusion of the arc that I picked one. Jonathan, at the very end, became my favorite character of the arc. He is too pure for his own good. He’s the absolute perfect gentleman. He’s the type of guy you would love to have backing you up throughout life. The way he will stand between a person and the impending danger in order to literally shield that very person from an attack is noteworthy and honorable, to say the least. But hey, he’s the embodiment of the Joestar men’s ideals, so why wouldn’t he be the most badass gentleman you could ever hope to encounter?
Overall Score: This one I had a bit of a difficult time rating. I love the way the characters interacted, the way such a simple story could be made to be so entertaining, and just the explosion of colors everywhere, but, at the same time, I felt like I got a bit of whiplash from how incredibly fast-paced everything was. There was barely enough time for me to say, “Oh, this is the climax of the arc,” before it was over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful it didn’t drag because it wouldn’t have been as entertaining that way, but it went too fast. So, I think I’ll rate this a 7/10? Maybe even a 7.5. I can’t go higher because I do have to take into account the serious lack of complexity that the story as a whole has, which is usually one of the main appeals to me as a writer.
Would I recommend this? This is such a strange, over-the-top, in-your-face show that if you go into it with zero expectations and a genuine desire to just be entertained and be taken along for the ride, you’ll absolutely love it and understand what all of the JoJo hype is about. So, all in all, after only one arc, I would certainly recommend this. I’ve been reassured multiple times that this is the weakest of the arcs, too, so I’m sure the others will be worth the recommendation even more.
I’m currently in the process of watching the second arc, so I’ll be sure to post my review on that one once I’m done. It may be a little while before I do, though, since I’ve only watched the first episode and work kind of exhausts me throughout the week and I don’t get as many episodes in as I would like to. Well, see y’all in the next JoJo review!