Last week Viz Media added the first three parts of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to their Shonen Jump vault. Despite how famous the series is, I’ve never actually read it. The most I’ve done is watch half of the 2012 anime adaption of Part 1, but I never got back to it because I’m pretty bad at watching anime when it’s not for work or simulcasts. So with this in mind I decided I’d read parts 1-3 and having completed them I wanted to put some of my thoughts down in a post.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood was a fairly straightforward shonen story. I liked how the story progressed and changed the relationship between JoJo and Dio, his adopted brother turned evil vampire. At 44 chapters it’s a fairly easy read and doesn’t hang around on any one battle too long. It was a great starting point for such a long series and by the end of it I was excited to continue.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency’s didn’t get off to a great start, with a new unlikable JoJo at the helm. This part started to lean a little more heavily into ‘monster of the week’ elements but also managed to keep the plot moving without wasting too much time on meaningless fights. It was difficult to enjoy it as much as Part 1 given how fond of that JoJo I was, but by the end I didn’t hate Part 2. I admit I was starting to wonder if I’d be able to stick JoJo out if Part 3 was similar, but I didn’t want to just drop it there. With the whole idea of each new Part bringing with it a host of new characters, I was confident that I’d find something to like in the future.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Stardust Crusaders was a fairly mixed bag in the end. I enjoyed it a lot more than Part 2, but it also spends the majority of its 152 chapters on monster of the week battles and that took away from it. It was nice to have a JoJo where both the current and previous JoJo were still alive and could spend time together (and actually Part 2’s JoJo was a lot better in this Part than previously), but on the other hand the Part goes on too long. I have a feeling it got extended in the middle because it was doing well because JoJo manages to fight off all the enemies coming after him and then Dio mysteriously makes several more. The plot moves incredibly slowly because there is always a new enemy causing an accident of some sort and waylaying the casts progress. If you like battle of the week manga then this is by no means a bad thing and hey, some of the fights were great, but personally I wanted more of what we saw in Part 1 with a more defined story in mind. Part 3 doesn’t even give that much time to wrapping up its story! It just shows the two joJo headed back home together (and that one character is okay having defeated Dio). It’s not quite what I was hoping for, but scratched the itch for more JoJo and has kept me interested in reading Part 4 (which Viz are just starting to release and haven’t added to the vault yet).
So having dived into this JoJo rabbit hole I’m happy I now understand what the fuss is about. I might not adore it as much as many of my friends do, but I can certainly appreciate it for what it is. Reading so much of it at once also gave me the opportunity to see how its popularity and how that changed it, like the progressively amping up of the random weekly enemies. I’m really interested to see if it does even more of that going forward or if it starts pulling it back a bit. I don’t actually know if we’ll see Dio more either or if Part 4 will skip that particular encounter. I feel like Dio works best as the ‘big bad’ of the series, so I’d certainly prefer he not be cast aside again. For such a popular series I’ve managed to stay surprisingly uninformed about what happens in the story, which is probably for the best.
Overall I guess I come away from this with an appreciation for JoJo even if it’s not outright like yet. I certainly like it enough to binge through each part, but I feel like a lot of that is born out of curiosity. I certainly won’t be seeking out volumes of it to own, that’s for sure. It’s a wild ride that leaves me with a lot of different feelings, but I guess in the end the overwhelming feeling is that I had fun and that’s what matters.
Here’s hoping I won’t have to wait too long to delve into more!