Diamond is Unbreakable Episode 14 – Let’s Go to the Manga Artist’s House, Part 1
This week’s episode of Diamond is Unbreakable sees the debut of a fan favorite character – Rohan Kishibe – which means there’s a lot of pressure to get things right. Rohan is a famous manga artist who, at the age of twenty, has success, money and the adulation of fans. He also happens to have recently moved to Morioh in an effort to get away from the noise and chaos of Tokyo. Two of his biggest fans, Koichi and Hazamada, run into each other at the start of the episode and though their conversation is awkward at first (which is understandable between two former enemies) they quickly bond over a love of Kishibe’s manga. Hazamada’s heard rumors that he’s moved into town so they both set off to find his house and maybe get hold of an autograph. Of course, this being Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, these sort of simple, well meaning plans never work out so well.
Rohan is in some ways, one of the creepiest characters in the JoJo-verse. He’s pleasant enough at first when he lets Koichi and Hazamada into his home for autographs, though there is a certain ominous nature to his behavior. It’s quickly revealed that he’s a Stand User and his Stand (Heaven’s Door) gives him the ability to read people as though they were books. He’s also able to write commands into them in order to force his victims to do what he wants. His power is really interesting visually, as it causes his victim’s flesh to literally flip open like a book cover, revealing pages of text beneath. Aside from his Stand, Rohan himself is rather eccentric and completely obsessed with extracting realism from his art. He will go to any lengths to obtain material for his work as he demonstrates by graphically dissecting a spider in front of Koichi and Hazamda within moments of meeting them.
A lot of people interpret Rohan as Hirohiko Araki inserting himself into a story, but I’m more of the opinion that the character is a parody of the perceived eccentricities of artists in general. There’s an arrogance to Rohan, a sincere belief that nothing in the world is more important than his art and that there’s nothing wrong with manipulating other people if it makes his manga better. There’s something truly disturbing about the way he revels in reading through Koichi’s memories whilst Koichi is helpless to defend against him. There is a moment where Rohan starts tearing bloody pages out of Koichi’s face that is one of the most horrifying things seen this season. And yet in the next moment, we see Koichi and Hazamada walking away, having completely forgotten what they’ve just been put through and overjoyed at getting to meet their favorite mangaka. The only clue Koichi has that something is amiss is the fact that he’s suddenly lost twenty kilograms. The next day, he finds himself standing once more outside Rohan’s house, not knowing how or why.
Being the first episode of a two-parter, this episode is mostly setting the scene and getting everyone in the right place for the second part. I feel that these episodes tend to be a little less exciting than others but this one generates some really good tension and really makes you feel Koichi’s discomfort and helplessness. I’ll keep the review fairly short this week so let’s wait and see what part 2 has in store.