Review: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4 – Episodes 1 – 4

Diamond is Unbreakable Episodes 1 – 4

I would probably consider myself a somewhat casual anime fan in that I love the form but don’t watch a huge amount of it nowadays. That said, I do get very excited whenever a new season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is announced and suddenly turn into a giddy fanboy. It’s hard to describe exactly why I love Jojo so much. I guess there’s just an insanity to it that appeals to me. It takes all the excesses of Shonen manga and turns them up to 11. It can be shocking, funny, ridiculous, emotional and nonsensical, sometimes all at the same time. One thing it never is though, is predictable, and I suppose that’s its appeal.  Creator Hirohiko Araki has one of those rare, twisted imaginations that is constantly a few steps ahead of the reader and following along behind him is a joy, even if a lot of the time he takes you places you would rather not go.

I planned on doing episode reviews for every episode this season but I was away overseas when the series premiered and have had to binge on the first four episodes which I will review here. Following this, I hope to review this every week after it airs. I have read the Diamond is Unbreakable manga but will try to stay away from future spoilers as much as possible. These reviews will contain some spoilers for the episodes themselves but I’ll try to refrain from them as much as possible also.

Diamond is Unbreakable is the fourth part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and though each part of Jojo’s is relatively stand alone, it gets complicated pretty quickly. After a small prelude with a shadowy figure preparing breakfast for a severed hand (?), it begins with Jotaro Kujo, the protagonist of Part 3, being driven by taxi to Morioh, a small town in Japan’s north. Within minutes, he’s bumped into a student, Koichi Hirose, and stumbled up an altercation between Josuke Higashikata and some bullies. Jotaro is surprised by Josuke’s use of a Stand, a type of power some characters can use in the Jojo-verse that manifests as a type of familiar standing next to its user. Jotaro has come to town, both to find Josuke who is an illegitimate son of the Joestar line and to track down a rogue Stand user who poses a threat to him. Things quickly escalate from there.

Probably the most striking thing about these first few episodes is the look of the show. Distinctively different from Part 3, the colours in part 4 are a strange mix of unfamiliar shades, perhaps to show that things aren’t right in the town of Morioh. The sky is brown, the roads are blue and there are weird washes of green and yellow everywhere. I was somewhat concerned when I first saw the previews for the series as it didn’t seem quite right to me, but seeing it all in motion I found it’s actually quite wonderful. It all looks very cartoony but it fits perfectly alongside the very cartoonish world of Jojo and lends a welcome unreality to some of the darker moments of the show.

The first two episodes focus on Jotaro and Josuke clashing with a serial killer named Angelo who also wields a Stand. Angelo’s Stand can move through liquid, using it to possess people or to kill them from the inside out. Angelo’s backstory is chilling but overall I found him to be quite an ineffective villain. A lot of threat is built up around him but Jotaro and Josuke seem to have no real difficulty in dealing with him and he spends most of the time just hiding in the bushes outside their house while his Stand does all the work. That said, there is no doubting his viciousness as he both kills one of Josuke’s relatives and rather graphically bites the face off a dog. These two episodes are mostly about introducing the characters and it’s done quite nicely. Josuke is particularly likeable, both laidback and affable (unless you mock his hair), especially when compared to Jotaro’s aloofness. I was also fond of Josuke’s mother who comes across as a tough, independent woman, which makes her reaction to Jotaro’s sudden appearance even funnier.

In episodes 3 to 4, it’s discovered that someone is using a magical bow and arrow to grant people in town Stand powers. Josuke and Koichi happen to stumble across the holders of the weapon while walking home from school. Koichi is shot with an arrow and Josuke is left to battle with the Nijimura brothers inside their house. I really like how these episodes show Josuke’s inherent kindness. When the younger Okuyasu Nijimura is injured in the crossfire of his brother’s Stand attacks, Josuke rescues him and just when it seems he’s about to beat Okuyasu into giving him information, he instead heals his wounds. Okuyasu is puzzled by this and asks him why and Josuke says something to the effect that it’s no big deal.  I also love the concept of Keicho Nijimura’s Stand but I don’t think it works as well visually here as it does in the manga. It’s a great concept and its introduction, when it remains hidden in shadows mysteriously peppering everyone with tiny wounds, is fascinating but I think it loses a little of its impact once revealed. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it but I think the element of surprise works in its favor so a new viewer will get a lot more out of it than I did. Josuke, of course, pulls out a classic Jojo comeback at the last minute when all seems lost, but it looks like we’ve still got more of the Nijimura brothers to come next week.

All in all, I’m really pleased with how the show’s going so far. The opening theme is great, light-hearted and catchy. The ending themes of the last few seasons have always gone with a classic pop/rock songs and this time its Savage Garden’s 90s hit “I Want You”, which is surprising and fits really well with the closing credits. I’m really excited for the episodes to come.

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