Coming off the high of watching the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime series, I finally planned on reading the manga series started way, way back in 1987 in Weekly Shonen Jump. But predictably I stalled on that. I finally got my chance to read Part I of the long running franchise, though, and I didn’t quite know what to expect. After all, I would be dealing with an pretty dated artstyle and a not so complex story. I ultimately believed that I would pine to just go watch the anime arc of Phantom Blood and call it a day.
Ok, I still want to do that, but instead of doing so in desperation, I want to watch it after tearing through 44 chapters of shounen goodness.
Phantom Blood starts the tale of the Stone Mask and the struggle between Jonathan Joestar, a rich, pampered noble, and Dio Brando, a pompous, smart, and arrogant kid who moves in with the Joestar family after his father dies. Dio, who wants to usurp Jonathan as heir to the family line, continually attempts to humiliate Jojo while showcasing his own excellence and style to Jojo’s father, George Joestar, but it doesn’t come easy, as Jojo through these trials and tribulations Dio puts him through manages to grow up and become someone able to stand up on his own. But their lives change with the Stone Mask, an item George Joestar had found and had in his mansion for years, and while their rivalry began in earnest as children, it officially became more than just that when the Stone Mask gets involved.
This arc has just about everything you might want in a shounen series, and maybe a bit more. A tale of friendship and rivalry? Well you get that with Jojo and Dio, where they begin as rivals, begrudgingly become friends in front of everyone in order to maintain normal relationships, but then turn into enemies that evolve from being a normal human. Need some of that usual shounen action? Well you’ll get that since in addition to facing a vampire version of Dio, you’ll get formerly loyal warriors that died in battle resurrected and aiming to kill, blood and distorted/contorted heads and arms that just look freaky, and bizarre things that range from jokes to a level of skill that’s actually pretty cool.
That’s what Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure promotes: a style, a flair, and the ability to do what it wants to do without having things slow down — even though it actually tries to insert a bit of history in this! It helps that you just can’t help but love some of the personality of the characters that appear in the manga, and that goes for about everybody that appears — and maybe everything. The thing that doesn’t work in the favor of Part I is as stylized and solid the art is, at times it feels dated and in other words not very good looking. The battles that take place are good, but then in some cases the art just doesn’t want to make it any better, and that’s the only bad thing I can take away from Phantom Blood — in addition to it being overdramatic in certain chapters.
But simply, Phantom Blood really surprised me. Now whether my opinion of it would have been different had I read the manga before the anime, who knows. But it was because of the anime that I wanted to find out about Jojo and see why it’s been a pretty popular franchise for most people. Well, I found out why, and I’m definitely planning on reading more.
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