Manga of the Month: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険) by Hirohiko Araki

Lets just get this out-of-the-way. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure goes from a pretty ugly manga to a better drawn but very oddly stylized manga. If art and character designs are a high priority to you then you are not going to make it through more than a few chapters before you give up in disgust. But everyone else is going to get hooked by one of the best shonen fighting manga ever.

When you first get into shonen fighting manga you are usually wowed by the crazy characters, unique powers, and dramatic fights. But usually after a half a dozen series most people being to see that while a few shonen fighting shows stay fresh most seem to blend together in mediocrity. But even more the One Piece there is a manga that consistently stays fresh and absolutely insane even after 100+ volumes. That manga is Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

It starts off with a “simple” story. A young man in Victorian England must learn sunlight based kung fu to avenge the death of his father at the hands of an evil vampire. But after a few volumes that young man completes his quest and then subsequently dies. At that point we learn that Jojo’s is actually a generational tale that follows the exploits of the Joestar family. Every few volumes a piece of the grand narrative will come to a close and the story jumps to another member of the Joestar family and their equally strange adventures. There is everything from mob stories to cross continental horse back races.

There are just a laundry list of reason to love Jojo’s. While the manga uses many of the standard parts of the shonen fighting formula it wisely knows that the secret to using that blueprint it to keep the ingredients you use in every iteration fresh.  By constantly changing the cast, powers, and setting at regular intervals the story may have the same vibe but no individual piece stays around long enough to wear out its welcome. Also Hirohiko Araki has a totally eccentric style so the manga is made up of honorable cyborg nazi’s, super powered dogs, invisible babies, and the most powerful and holy magical zombie of all time. Also most of the characters and powers are musical references which give the manga a catchy feel. You really just have to read Jojo’s to understand. Only the third part is commercially available but it is a great introduction to the madness.

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