35 CommentsFirst Impressions, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure / By Shinmaru /


— Scamp, 2012

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has a long, storied history, and true to name, it has to be one of the weirdest things ever to achieve enduring popularity. There are a fair number of Jojo’s manga fans outside of Japan, though the fighting game (released on PlayStation and the Dreamcast, and which also received a recent HD update) has also played a strong part in coloring Western fans’ perception of the series. I mean, I’ve never read the manga (or played the game, for that matter), but I still know Dio Brando’s famous ZA WARUDO attack. I’ve seen more than a few manga fans worried that fans familiar with just that part of the JoJo’s story will see this episode and check out since crazy superpowers aren’t being whipped out everywhere.

But fear not, reader, for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is by far the most fun first episode I have seen yet this season! (With the caveat that I have yet to see K or Wooser.)

When Scamp looked at the 2000 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA, he wrote that it reminded him of “wrestling stories,” and that is totally the vibe I get from the first episode of this series. Pro wrestling, as you may know if you are or have been a fan, is not complicated (at least, emotionally). There are occasional gray characters, but for the most part, the line between the good guys and bad guys is plenty clear. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson described the best path for a wrestling character: the person’s natural personality with the volume turned way up. That’s how I would describe the tone of this first episode. It’s a basic story, but the viewer is surrounded by loudspeakers, the volume is cranked to 11 and the bass is rattling your brain.

Look at Dio Brando: he’s not content being a normal rapscallion — he has to be a pitch-black evil motherfucker. When Dio meets JoJo’s dog, he knees the poor pup in the face. He pokes JoJo in the eye when they box and he lands a hard punch, just because he can. To get revenge on JoJo for daring to hit him, Dio makes sure the dog will be roasted alive. It’s totally ridiculous. But you know what really sold me on the tone of this first episode? Learning that Dio and JoJo are both 12 years old.

Put aside your disbelief that these two musclebound dudes could be 12 years old. This is anime. Yoko is 14 during the first arc of Gurren Lagann. Characters in these types of series rarely look their age. But emotionally? This whole world feels as if it is viewed through the eyes of a 12-year-old. Every slight against JoJo is INSANELY melodramatic, because it’s really the first time anyone has ever been such a cock to him. When JoJo’s dad berates him for eating like he’s been kept in a basement for a decade, JoJo runs crying from the table. When JoJo’s dumb friends ditch him because they’re a bunch of gullible fucks, JoJo jumps around and rolls in the grass because he doesn’t know how to DEAL with this shit. The tonal distance between JoJo’s appearance and his behavior makes him endearing, even when he does super dumb shit. (His “I DIDN’T TRY TO SAVE YOU BECAUSE I LIKE YOU, B-B-B-BAKA!!!!!!” reaction to Erina at the beginning is such a 12-year-old move, down to me wanting to slap him upside the head, because seriously, 12-year-old are dumb and annoying.)

This goes for the presentation, too. Dio doesn’t look ridiculously, melodramatically evil just because he’s a massive asshole; the perception of him is also colored by JoJo being so young and naive. If you were ever bullied at a young age, then that bully probably appeared to you like Hitler crossed with Stalin, with a dash of Ronald Reagan. Dio’s doing bad shit, definitely, but Christ Almighty, the anime presentation colors his character like he’s Satan incarnate. And I also like how the typical shonen quirks like explaining everything you do fit 12-year-old Dio perfectly. Couldn’t you see a kid describing every terrible thing he’s doing in exact detail just because he thinks it will show how awesome he is?

So, yeah, definitely digging the tone and ridiculousness of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I doubt that stuff will shift much as the characters age 7 years in the next episode, but who knows? Either way, this is EXACTLY the type of nutty show I hoped this series would be before the season began. I am all in on JoJo.

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  1. Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I suppose you have to be gigantic when you’re 12 if you’re going to grow up to be the size of Jojo and company. I’ve only seen the ’93 OVA that drops you right in, and I know very little. I can’t wait for the backstory on the hat.

    as a side note, thanks for reminding me that Yoko was 14 :|

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the characters definitely get MORE gigantic as they age. I saw only the first three eps of the 2000 OVA, but the protagonist is in high school and he is WAY bigger than JoJo.

      and lol you’re welcome. At least teacher!Yoko is 21!

  2. Lanf
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    This episode tugged my MANLY heart strings hard. Seeing how everyone around him acted like a complete bastard made me weep MANLY tears. But when JoJo managed to strike back? Ho ho, my MANLY spirit burned.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I am sure there will be more opportunities for BURNING SPIRIT as the series progresses.

  3. Karry
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    >> Learning that Dio and JoJo are both 12 years old.

    They are 12 at the time of their first meeting, HELLO !
    At the end of the episode its pretty clear they are 12 and a half ! Obviosuly you must have seen some buff 13-year olds in real life, so its perfectly plausible. I remember seeing one such 13-yo boy beating a heavyweight boxing champion once in a ring, it was a bit…bizarre.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      lol, well, the plausibility doesn’t matter that much to me, or at least the plausibility in “reality.” As long as it’s plausible in this world, then I’m fine with it.

  4. Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    About Dio just being a complete dick, Takehito Koyasu’s portrayal just helps sell it with his distinct voice. I haven’t loathed a villain like this in a LONG TIME

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      He was a total highlight for me. It was like a more villainous version of his Touga voice.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Takehito Koyasu as a 12-year-old is just lol

  5. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Eee by gum, I ‘ruddy couldn’t believe what toss-rag Dio turned out to be. I thought was a grade-a chap, with a dapper sense of style; he was the dog’s bollocks for most of the ep… until he threw the dog in the ol’ furnace. Until then I figured he was taking the piss! No sense of chivalry, that one. If I were Jojo, I’d launched him arse-over-tit down the apple & pears, to his eternal rest! Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt!

    Speaking of Jojo, I thought he was a right ol’ bender at first, but fair play to the bloke, he knew how to chat up that bird alright…until Dio snogged her anyway! I really hope he doesn’t cock-up in the future & let Dio diddle him out all his quid. That smarmy, dog-killing git is far to chuffed up for his good; someone needs to tell to put a sock in it!

    I still want to know what ol’ mask’s about; it’s got bugger all to do the story so far. Oh well, it’s still early I guess. The show’s tickety-boo so far, & I little doubt it’ll ultimately be the bees knees!

    Ps. Cor blimey, how about that gg translation? I’d ‘av the western release use that proper English translation, with Dik Van Dyke playing the role of everyone!

    Ta ta for now, Guv’nor.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      I would like to hear you read this comment.

    • Mormegil
      Posted October 7, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      This blog has some of the best comments on the internet.

      • Howard
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:30 am | Permalink

        True that

  6. Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Not realizing the characters were 12 years old each, I thought the series was an exalting success on showing the clash between two very different types of self-centered personalities. Dio, the master chess player (tv trope as well), doesn’t give a care about the world around him. Jojo, the innocent pup, doesn’t realize the world around him. In which both characters play their tropes seriously straight, this episode derives its hilarity in its purity, like how Scamp describes the purity in K. I absolutely loved the melodramtic scenes surrounding the Dio’s forceful kiss on Erina.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      lol, yeah, Dio’s overreaction to Erina wiping his kiss away with dirty water is hilarious. Made up a bit for the cliche scenario of going after the hero’s ladyfriend.

  7. luffyluffy
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I really gotta wonder just how much money David Production sunk into this.

    Also, considering the ending is a western song you can say goodbye to any kind of western release.

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Nah, not necessarily. Ergo Proxy got licensed with the Radiohead intact, and other series (Speed Grapher with Duran Duran comes to mind) have just swapped out the songs.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted October 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Yeah but in the case of song swapping, you tell me Eden of the East is anywhere near as fun or dynamic without Oasis

      • Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        No argument there. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt it, just that a license is still altogether possible.

  8. hint
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Dio said… man wtf, Jojo gets bigger when he fights more.
    That explains their muscle size haha.

    • Posted October 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      JoJo gets bigger when he fights more? He’s a Saiyan!

  9. SQA
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Too bad JoJo isn’t mainstream in the West. I’d have love to see a WWE Heel actually have flying text when he does something evil.

    Dio is a Heel’s Heel and a Magnificent Bastard all rolled into one. What’s not to love?

    • Posted October 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      This would have been awesome when Degeneration X was around and you’d have “Suck it!” sound effects.

  10. Posted October 7, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Bullying in the most glorious fashion I’ve ever seen.

  11. Posted October 7, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Oh believe me, the ridiculousness has only just begun. Looking at this episode, it felt like it was attempting to set the mood for what was to come without actually using much of the bizarre stuff from later on. It was more focused on the over the top drama, which seems like a good place to start from for a new audience.

    • Posted October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I’m looking forward to it! From what I’ve seen of the 2000 OVA, this series gets pretty fuckin’ ridiculous!

  12. Xyopq
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    It would be amazing if WWE wrestlers made cameo appearances throughout the episodes and Dio’s real father is Hulk Hogan.

    • Posted October 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      It would make sense since Hulk Hogan seems as destitute and desperate as Dio’s father right now.

  13. Adrian
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    This shit is so amusing!
    Characters overreacting and screaming dramatically at every single thing that happens like they’re on a stage in a play, dudes being jerks to each other, exagerated expressions and lots of blood and fighting. I like this kind of melodrama. It’s not the “cry bitch” melodrama. It’s the “Screw you, I have the right to complain and I’ll do it while I can, even if I know you won’t take me seriously” melodrama. You know that after the bitching, he’ll turn the tables. They don’t try to make you feel sorry for the guy, but you understand he acts the way he does by the context of the scenes. Fuck subtlety, we don’t need that anyway. We’re old school folks and we’re proud of it. Best 1st episode of the season.

  14. ZabiLegacy
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Dear jesus. that was amazing >.< Best show of the season!

  15. PassingBy
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I totally enjoyed this. Best opener of the fall 2012 anime in my opinion.

    What do you think about the 2000 OVA?

    • Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      Interesting you should ask, since I just finished it! I enjoyed it just fine — definitely see the same amount of weirdness and absurdity, but with thought put into the battles and whatnot. It makes me hope that David Production will get to this point in the series, because I’d LOVE to see it with this kind of style and attitude.

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