「侵略者ディオ」 (Shinryaku-sha Dio)
“Dio the Destroyer”

What JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Animation lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in spades with its old school shounen charm and nostalgia. DIIIIIIOOOOOOOO! From the start, it’s hard to understand why it took 25 long years for Araki Hirohiko’s manga to finally make the leap onto television because this premiere hit all the right notes.

These days, many shounen series have casts so large that it may seem like you need Facebook just to keep track of them all. On the good guys’ side there’s a main hero, but then there’s also all his nakama that you need to know names of, along with their powers and backstories. The bad guys usually are even more numerous as there’s usually a revolving door of mostly forgettable villains and their minions. However, JoJo’s appears to be the exception to this shounen trend – there are really only two characters you need to care about so far.

First off, there’s no anti-hero or angsty emo teen protagonist in this series, which is a very welcome surprise. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be really anything wrong with Jonathan Joestar (Okitsu Kazuyuki) at all. One would think that with a childhood marked by tragedy like countless other heroes, he’d have lingering issues of some sort stemming from having lost his mother at such an early age. Turns out, JoJo is just a happy-go-lucky 12 year old boy who wants nothing more than to become a true gentleman – a generic but admirable goal. Sure, the guy’s not very book smart or well-mannered, but he has plenty of heart, which is all a shounen hero really needs. The character who does have issues (and plenty of them) is our antagonist Dio Brando (Koyasu Takehito). He is adopted into the Joestar family to fulfill a debt Lord Joestar owed to Dio’s father, and on the surface, he’s very adept at showing his gratitude and playing the role of an ideal son. In actuality, all he desires is the family’s fortune so he’s set on making JoJo’s life a living hell for reasons yet to be explained. Dio is just flat out unlikeable from the start and his villainy is anything but subtle, like almost everything else in this show.

Character count isn’t the only way this show is different; there doesn’t seem to be much of a moral gray area between the two rivals either. Whether it was varying levels of animal cruelty, spreading lies about JoJo, or forcibly stealing Erina Pendleton’s (Kawasumi Ayako) first kiss, all of Dio’s actions were unquestionably evil and designed to make you feel disgust and hate for his character right from the start. He’s not someone you pity or feel empathy for – those emotions are reserved for JoJo, who falls squarely into the good guy camp with his notions of gentlemanly behavior. This all comes together to create the simple yet classic dichotomy of one hero and one villain, which has an appeal that cannot be achieved with the ensemble casts found many of today’s popular shounen. The focus is on their rivalry, and their rivalry alone – one which will be even more interesting to see once the role of the mysterious mask in the grand scheme of things becomes clearer.

David Productions and director Tsuda Naokatsu (Inu x Boku SS) have done a fantastic job updating this manga for the 21st century, especially with conveying the feeling that the manga itself has leapt off the printed page and onto the television screen. Keeping the old manga art style is a risk in that it could alienate younger viewers unaccustomed to a dated look, but I think it will pay off by making the series unique and charming. I absolutely loved the usage of manga-style sound effect text and character close-ups, and especially the character design of JoJo and Dio. Although the two boys were only 12 years old in this episode, their appearance was a great deal manlier than the majority of male characters found in the shounen genre these days. Their designs go a long way in making the fights feel hard-hitting, visceral, and brutal – just the way I like my action scenes. My only complaint would be that the music often times feels out of place, but it’s a minor one as complaints go.

Some people might scoff at or lose interest in JoJo’s because of its lack of a moral continuum. Others might dislike how absolutely nothing in this show is subtle or thought-provoking. There will inevitably be those who can’t stomach at how dated this show feels either. While those are all valid complaints, I personally wasn’t looking for any of those aspects in this series. What I wanted was a classic good vs. evil story told in an old school shounen manner, and this premiere episode delivered just that. This series has the makings of one that is focused on telling a great story, and doing so with plenty of style, panache, and charm. As JoJo and Dio take their rivalry into adulthood, I can’t help but be drawn into following what surely will become an entertaining and epic battle.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Roundabout」 by Yes



  1. YOU’RE COVERING JOJO! AWESOME! THANKS VERDANT! Also, I gotta say I’m very impressed with the way David Production is handling this series. Can’t wait for Dio to reject his humanity and count bread!

      1. Hope you continue covering it because JoJo is one hell of an awesome series! Phantom Blood (this current arc) is great, but Battle Tendency and Stardust Crusaders (parts 2 and 3) are some of the most legendary arcs in shonen manga history! Trust me. You’re gonna wanna stick with this series. You’re in for one hell of a treat!

      2. Show Spoiler ▼

  2. The animation was sooooo old school. I laughed so badly when Jojo headbutts and weak punches random punk #1. https://randomc.net/image/JoJos%20Bizarre%20Adventure%20The%20Animation/JoJos%20Bizarre%20Adventure%20The%20Animation%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2005.jpg

    As for the character count and powers, it shoots up quite fast after this arc.

    I find Jojo is one of those oldies that very few have actually read and yet everyone seems to know. Most people know about “ZA WARUDO!”

  3. Wow Dio is such a bastard. I know it’s got a bit of history with it’s manga and all but unfortunately I haven’t really tried to catch up on it cause most of the scans are of bad quality so I’m just gonna follow this anime and see what I’ve been missing out on for years.

  4. It’s pretty much everything I wanted out of a JoJo anime. They definitely don’t have a huge budget, but the great directing and massive amount of style it exudes really impressed me. Phantom Blood is generally regarded as the worst part, but if it’s being adapted this well, I really can’t wait for Battle Tendency and/or parts 3 and onward if they get that far.

  5. TWELVE?!? haha well that was shocking. I was really looking forward to getting into a good Shounen but the characters and storyline here feel really shaky. JoJo is a sexist idealist whom I don’t like as much I think the creators wanted me to and Dio is a psychopath. I also didn’t like the oversimplified plot elements (Dio’s caricature father, the way JoJo’s dad assumed he saved his life and how he suddenly favored Dio over his own son while never seeing Dio’s dark side.) Everything else aside I just didn’t get that sense of fun & adventure typical to the genre and thus it really felt flat for me. Shall be watching a little longer for the mystery. I know this manga is famous though, do the later arcs get alot better?

    1. The later arcs are generally regarded as being much better, yeah. At the rate they’re going, part 1 should only last about 9 or 10 episodes, and part 2 is considered by many JoJo fans to be the best one. And Phantom Blood DOES get better after this, too. The childhood arc is fairly weak, but the campiness does stick around. I do think that a lot of your complaints are fairly valid from a modern standpoint, but this is the kind of thing where I think you’d enjoy yourself a lot more if you try to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The source material is from 1987 so I honestly think that should be taken into account as well.

      As a closing note I’d say that Jonathan does get a lot more likable after the timeskip, but he’s still the most boring JoJo to a lot of people. The part 2 protagonist is a MASSIVE step up.

    2. To try not to spoil too much, a lot of what you’ve pointed out (Jonathan’s idealist attitude, Jojo’s father’s preferential treatment of Dio) will be addressed later within Phantom Blood.

      That said, Phantom Blood is still the most simple of the arcs. The show doesn’t hit its stride till part 2 and it really becomes something unique in part 3. I hope you keep watching.

    3. Yeah it’s kinda surprising to know that they are only 12 despite them having the voice of a 28 year old man and angular faces.

      But Jojo’s “sexist idealism” comes from the fact that they live in 19th century Britain.

      Suppa Tenko
  6. Thanks for doing a series intro Verdant!

    This is better than I expected as Phantom Blood is usually considered the most dated and rough-spun of the Jojo arcs. The ED is rocking and as you said, there’s almost a sort of old-fashioned charm to the characters.

    Another thing you hit right on the head is the fact that there aren’t any of what you call “anti-hero or angsty emo teen protagonist”s. Although the motivations of the casts will get more subtle over time, the one thing you won’t see are villains regretting what they’ve done or heroes who were just involved in the conflict out of the blue. From start to finish, it’s a battle between those who represent the best things of humanity (courage, intelligence, friendship) vs those who represent the worst (sadistic-ness, low cunning, ruthless ambition).

  7. Wow, this premier was definitely fun and stylistic. The dedication to the classic art style has my respect and also gives a refreshing look for the Anime airing this season. This is definitely a show to pay attention to.

    As a side note I couldn’t believe my ears when the ending started to play. Here I was watching an anime, and a great Classic Rock song from 1970’s starts playing, I about died.

  8. Dio is unlikable ? Really ? I think he’s an awesome, though I admit maybe a bit generic, character. Actually I paused the show just to see how much time I had spent watching, and it was only 6 minutes. 6 minutes and I was already emotionaly invested in the characters (Both Jojo and Dio). I do not feel disgust nor hate for Dio’s character. His villainy may be unsubtle, but at least it’s not coming out of nowhere since his motives for being so evil are imo easy to understand.
    The fujoshi in me would say it’s because of the sexual tension between two 12 years old guy, and Dio acts like a boy pestering the girl he likes, but actually I think it has more to do with the fact that Dio envies Jojo, he wants to be him, and thus he tries to take everything away from him : his girlfriend, his place as heir, his father’s affection, even his dog but since he doesn’t like dogs he just killed it. Imo Dio is everything but unlikable : he’s badass, he’s got shiny hair, a will to get to the top, a very human weakness (envy), and he’s angsty, though he works hard to hide it (belief that no one understands him, that his worth deserves a much higher form of respect from everyone, his reaction after Erina washed her lips) If you’re looking for the angsty emo teen in this show, it’s definitely Dio.

    1. Yeah, I can see what you mean now. He is pretty awesome as a villain, and I do like him in that way at least. I think I meant liking him the way you’d like Dexter or something, where you really feel bad for him and cheer on his misdeeds. I just found it so hard to like what he did to poor Danny or Erina that it erases pretty much any sympathy I felt for his character. At least he’s not the angsty emo teen protag!

    2. It’s not that Dio wants to be JoJo. He just can’t stand the notion of someone being above him, and will do everything he can to put himself on top and throw everyone down. He views Jonathan Joestar as an obstacle towards his path to power, and wants to do everything he can to drive JoJo insane so that he will receive George Joestar’s inheritance instead. His obsession with being the top dog and having the most money, power, intelligence, women, etc. eventually drives HIM insane and willing to do anything if it means that he has power, Show Spoiler ▼

  9. Awesome post for an awesome introduction episode! I honestly thought I wouldn’t like this because I’m so used to modern anime, but this was really impressive.
    FML, once again I have ~20 shows on my watch list. No sleep \o/

  10. I hate to say it even thou i know the story and everything is awesome but I just can’t stand the art style thou, it kind of remains me of those old 80’s batman show where they punch someone and u see like POW!, BOW, WOW right in the middle of the screen it just look so dumb and stupid. Like they drop batman into a fish tank full of shark and he just so happen to have something call a shark repellant on him that day, I mean god so cheesy.

    I by no means saying the show is bad, it has been running for over 10 yrs in manga, it has to be good in some way. All I am saying is if the art style were like the ova that came out a few yrs ago then I would have totally enjoy the show but not with this cheesy art style now I have to pass.


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