By: BRENDAN MCDANIEL
I am an anime fan. That’s pretty inescapable for me at this point, and there’s nothing left for me to do but come to terms with that. Even with anime steadily becoming more mainstream as time goes on, it’s still pretty niche overall, so I get that interest in me covering an anime topic isn’t always going to drive readership like a Marvel movie or major video game would.
However, it certainly falls into this column’s wheelhouse of “entertainment media,” and there’s almost always something interesting to talk about with it. So if the major thing that week (that I can actually work a full column out of) happens to be something anime-related, it’ll likely be fair game for me to cover here. Which is good, because it just so happens that this week saw an announcement about one of my favorites. Next, you’ll say; “He must be doing a column on ‘JoJo!’”
“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a Japanese comic book series written by Hirohiko Araki. It’s been running consistently for the past thirty years, has been airing in its current form on television since 2012, is the absolute most insane thing to ever grace the silver screen, and its first season is coming to Netflix on March 8. I think everyone should at least give an episode or two a watch because I guarantee that you’ve never seen anything remotely like it.
Now here’s the tricky part: “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is an incoherent mess of a story. There’s no overarching plot to the series, instead of being told in various Parts that cover the stories of individual casts, which may or may not overlap with the other Parts. Each of these parts can vary wildly in subject matter, tone, and even genre, and the first season (covering Parts 1 and 2) provides a great example of the sheer unpredictability of this series. Coincidentally, it’s also probably the only topic I will ever have in this column where I can just report on it without embellishment and have it still be engaging.
In Part 1, titled “Phantom Blood,” Victorian gentleman Jonathan Joestar fights adopted brother Dio Brando in a family feud that will define the lives of every other character in the series; even the ones who exist in a universe that Dio wasn’t alive in (just roll with it). To do so, Jonathan masters the mystical martial art called the Ripple that transforms energy produced by breathing into the same energy that powers the sun, while Dio uses an ancient stone mask to turn himself into a vampire with ice powers and eye lasers and create an army of undead beings (also, they fight Jack the Ripper as a zombie, because that’s the sort of show this is).
That runs for ten episodes, and the rest of the season covers Part 2, titled “Battle Tendency.” It follows Jonathan’s grandson Joseph, who has moved to 1930’s New York City and become a delinquent with a heart of gold. They find more of the stone masks Dio used, and find out they were weapons made by the Pillar Men, an ancient race of vampiric superhumans that died out due to the fact that they die in the sun. Also, they’re named after rock bands (Santana, Wham, Esidisi (AC/DC), and Kars), because that’s the sort of show this is.
Although “Zombie Jack the Ripper” is hard to top, Part 2 features weaponized water bubbles, a Nazi cyborg with a massive Gatling gun in his chest(as one of the “good guys,” no less), a chariot battle against one of the “gay Aztec vampires” (the fan term for the Pillar Men), crashing a plane into a volcano, and someone showing up at their own funeral.
If you’ve been following these columns for a while, you’ll know that I usually try to tie whatever I cover to some greater purpose or meaning. Something you can take away and think about a bit, or that provokes further discussion. I… don’t actually have anything for this. My other stories fell through this week, we’re going into a three-week publication break, even I get tired of doing heavier topics all the time. If you’re looking for something to binge in the coming weeks, and everything else is just too normal for you, then check out “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” on Netflix.
And no, I don’t know how King Crimson works. It just does.