The title of manga is often the series first foot forward. Much like a beautiful cover or a striking character design the title has the ability to catch a reader’s imagination in an instant. Most titles are functional with maybe a little hook. Just looking at the top manga on My Anime List you find titles like Berserk, Fullmetal Alchemist, Monster, One Piece, Slam Dunk that are all slightly descriptive and mildly intriguing but rely much more on their art work and plot description to draw people in. None of those titles hurt their respective series but they also don’t do any sort of heavy lifting. Then you have the infamous super lengthy light novel title that spells out the premise in almost press release levels of detail. I just linked to an article about some of the longer ones because nobody has time for a list of four of them. Those titles are the very essence of it sells you exactly what is on the tin.
In contrast Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure almost demands that you pick up the series just to see what it is about. It only gives you the vaguest idea what the series is about and piques all but the dullest curiosity. Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is one of those titles as well. You have a Judeo-Christian fallen angel and a device for making mochi. Not two things you normally associate with each other. It is a title that invites anyone who see a volume at least a reason to give it a second glance. You probably want to at least know the general plot if nothing else.
I had actually heard about Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer several years back. It was generally one of those titles that had a small but vocal fanbase that usually would throw it out as a series that needed to get licensed. The passion of the fans mixed with the memorable title definitely kept it as something I should remember. When I saw that my local library had the complete series I felt it was finally time to see what everyone had been talking about. I truly think that if the title has been less memorable I might have not had anywhere as strong an inclination to read this series which would have been quite the shame.
After hearing much about it, I finally got around to watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, specifically the 2013 series which covers the first two story arcs of the manga. It was quite a bizarre adventure. It reminded me a bit of Grappler Baki both due to the art style and in the style of action. The art features anatomically impossible muscle men often in beautiful poses, making kissy lips, and high fashion clothing. The crazy poses featured was mainly the only thing I knew about JoJo before going in, that and that there were some crazy mystical martial arts (again like Baki).
What I was not aware of is that the story of JoJo actually spans multiple generations, each arc featuring a different JoJo and taking place in different eras. The first arc features Johnathan Joestar and takes place in the late 1800s in England. The antagonist is JoJo’s adopted brother, Dio Brando. The second arc features Johnathan’s grandson, Joseph Joestar and the big bads are the “Pillar Men,” ancient super powered beings who created the stone masks featured in the first arc.
The action is often over the top and melodramatic, but always engaging. Much like in Grappler Baki, a fair amount of time is spent on explaining exactly what/how the characters do these crazy things. The writers are always thinking up some really creative and crazy things for the characters to do during their battles. This is what really keeps JoJo so interesting and entertaining to watch, because it’s just one ridiculously awesome thing after another. Air Master is really the only other show I can think of that matches JoJo in the level of hilariously awesome fighting techniques.
There are the typical training episodes, after being defeated by one of the big bads, then the showdown at the end. There are a myriad of characters as well, and often times a previous enemy will come back as an ally to JoJo but they’re typically no match for the big bads and at best can only help with dispatching henchmen.
Like many shonen protagonists, the various JoJos tend to be naturally gifted in the use of Hamon (basically the series’ form of chi) but lack proper training and rely mostly on raw power/force of will over technique. That carries them for awhile, but then they are forced to train with a Hamon master to refine their abilities. In the case of Johnathan Joestar his master was Will A. Zeppeli, for Joseph it was Zeppeli’s grandson Caesar and the mysterious Hamon master Lisa Lisa.
Respect for one’s enemy also seems to play a big role in the JoJo series, as the heroes and villains alike seemingly show moments of respect for one another. Of course, that’s usually after one of them has died, but still it’s a seemingly central theme.
The opening and closing themes are both fantastic. I especially love the use of Yes’ “Roundabout” as the ending theme, it’s just such a groovy kick ass tune and the classical acoustic guitar lead in works perfectly for the usually high tension cliff hangers in each episode. Follow that up with the funky bass line and punchy drums and it gets you so pumped to watch the next episode!
I tend to enjoy series with all the above qualities mentioned, and JoJo’s Bizarre adventure I’m glad to say was no exception, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end and am now looking forward seeing the third arc.