What They Say:
In England during the 1880s, Jonathan, only son of the aristocratic family Joestar, strives to become the perfect gentleman. But when his family adopts a mysterious young man of a similar age, his life takes a new turn. This adoption is a result of an old promise between their two fathers: Dario Brando had saved George Joestar s life in their youth, and on his deathbed, asks that Joestar take care of his son. But Dio is sneaky, ambitious and unscrupulous: he would do anything to get a hold of the Joestar fortune and destroy Jonathan s life. Their fratricidal struggle will lead them down a dark and dangerous path, and follow them from generation to generation like a curse.
Set up in Stereo 2.0 in Japanese and English in a 5.1 release – with it very westernized I went with the English dub and no adjustments were needed as it powers through the speakers on the Blu-Ray release, no issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video, and with the high impact music, foley and actions done throughout, this is far better than the weaker DVD release last year – combined with the superb visuals (see below) this is definitely a good start for Kaze in sync with Manga Entertainment.
The video is of a superb quality, as the colours and manga esque animation/art style comes through in such a way in a full screen format that it really pulls through the screen. It also works well because of how it almost updates the animation slightly when the Joestars change a generation; subtle things like that really help with the visuals. With a multitude of colours, this is definitely one of the best transitions to a Blu-Ray I have seen in a while.
HOWEVER, the English major in me does have to tut a little due to some of the subtitles – this is very minor and nitpicky but something punctuation and capital letters aren’t used where they should be or in the right place, almost feels that it wasn’t done by a native English speaker. This is noticeable several times so whilst it doesn’t hamper anyone watching the Japanese with subtitles, it is something that can be minorly off-putting.
There was no packing for this test release, however there is collectors packing in the full release in the Blu-Ray edition.
The menu is pretty standard, with pretty much the full cast on the screen for each disc (disc 1 has Jonathan and Dio mostly, whilst disc 2 has Joseph/Caesar and then Joseph/Lisa Lisa)with the relevant openings and shots in the show being showcased with those catchy as heck openings in the background – the menus have the selections below of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on discs 1 and 3 Extras. It is very standard and basic, and whilst perfect functional it feels a bit underwhelming for this series whilst the high music and visuals happen in the background…
The only extras this release has are all the different openings and endings for part 1 and part 2. The Blu-Ray official release has an art book though.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure maybe one of the most famous shounen works in most recent years – the characters, art style, memes, etc – they have become rather well known in today’s audience. And yet the funny thing, it seems to have simply grown in notoriety because it was originally based on the manga which originally was serialized in 1987…and yet it is still going on today. In fact, the first animated Jojo was an OVA back in 1993, and then light novels, manga and even films had been made, and yet the popularity of the series seems to have exploded after this 2012 anime which was done to honour its 25th anniversary. And it now gets a Blu-Ray release in the UK….
…so is it worth the hype?
This set covers the first 2 arcs and thus the first 2 generations of Joestars. The first arc is known as the Phantom Blood arc and introduces the first Joestar, Jonathan, and perhaps the most famous character of the series, Dio Brando. It is interesting because according to fans, the first arc is actually considered the weakest because for the first part of it, it is both a) quite short (9 episodes) and b) it doesn’t have a lot of action, mainly because it takes a few episodes to explore the abilities that are learned….but in that respect, it feels like the perfect learning curve, so let’s dig in…
The plot kicks in when Dio’s father, Dario was robbing a carriage – but find a man and his son alive. This is George Joestar, and his baby son Jonathan, and not realised what Dario was trying to do, thinks he was saving him and is in his debt. So years later, with his son Jonathan growing up, Dario is nearly dead and asks his son Dio to fulfill the debt and live with the Joestars – but you immediately see the glint of evil in Dio’s eyes when he literally spits on his father’s grave. It doesn’t help that Dio immediately makes Jonathan’s life a living hell as well as seemingly being better at him a both things. However, whilst Jonathan for the most part seems just to take it, when he steals a kiss from his girlfriend (resulting in the famous BUT IT WAS I, DIO meme) Jonathan finally manages to beat Dio in a fight…and unintentionally beginning something else as some of Dio’s blood spills on an ancient mask that reacts…
Dio continues his plans (including a really evil/sad moment involving Jonathan’s dog) but Jonathan despite trying to get along figures out his plans (including poisoning his father) – Jonathan searches for an antidote whilst Dio knowing about the mask to figure out what it does…he uses it on someone outside, thinking it just killed him. But in fact, in turns him into a vampire and nearly kills Dio if it wasn’t for the sunlight. With Jonathan then back from finding an antidote, and acquiring a friend named Robert E. O. Speedwagon as someone from the streets who knows Dio is lying, Dio looks set to be arrested…but he manages to kill Jonathan’s father and use the mask on himself before he gets killed by police. Dio becomes a vampire and leads to a fight where he manages to survive despite Jonathan’s best efforts, so Jonathan & Speedwagon escape which leads to the first of many mystical adventures…
Jonathan meets a man named Will A. Zeppeli who is about to use Hamon, a technique to use your inner energy for feats of strength and mystic. With Dio, it becomes a training journey (even encountering Jack The Ripper thanks to Dio), meeting vampires and people (Poco, a hypnotized thief for example) and leaves to several battles with Dio, as well as some of his warriors which thanks to teamwork and skill, they have to win…though Zepelli who is very likable with his suave attitude, is one of those who we wish we knew more of as he eventually dies in battle and uses his energy to help Jojo. It leads to the inevitable final battle between Jonathan and Dio and it appears Jonathan wins, but in episode 9 with Jonathan marrying Erina and on their honeymoon, it is shown Dio is still alive (albeit just a head) and their cruise ship is overrun by zombies. The end is dramatic, with Jonathan managing to make Erina escape with a baby girl and Jonathan dying, manages to make the ship explode, forcing Dio to the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again….right?
K eke ke…
The first 9 episodes pretty much sets up the future generations, and whilst slow paced, short and not as action focused, it does bring us both Dio, one of the most evil yet charismatic villains in anime, and Jonathan does get decent development in the short time we know him. Add to the ‘barely knew thee but awesome’ factor of Zeppeli and some great battles, it definitely felt a good introduction to Jojo.
The second arc – Battle Tendency – is where the series really kicks it into gear.
49 years after Jonathan’s death, Speedwagon is exploring a tomb where Stone Masks similar to Dio’s are kept – but one of his former helpers Straizo, wants to be immortal and betrays Speedwagon and activates a Mask. Here we see Jonathan’s grandson Joseph in New York help a young pickpocket from some crooked cops…and his personality is VERY different to Jonathan’s. Arrogant, cocky, confident but always smiling – he only seems to be afraid of his grandmother Erina – when Straizo comes to attack Joseph and Erina, his over the top tommy gun attack is definitely not our original Jojo…^^
Joseph however is skilled with Hamon and able to deflect techniques that basically killed his grandfather, and manages to kill Straizo, who reveals that the mask are going to release the Pillar Man – and keeping in mind this is in 1938, this ties into a certain event as we meet Rudol von Stroheim who intends to activate the Pillar Man for German science…
Speedwagon, however, is alive, so with Joseph going to find him, Stroheim activates the Pillar Man via sacrifices but he quickly becomes too strong and looks to kill him (known as Santana) but Joseph reveals he was disguised as a German soldier. A battle occurs with strategies implemented using Hamon in different ways to his grandfather, Stroheim actually helps Joseph out to try and kill him (Stroheim is obviously a Nazi, yet he is actually showcased as being very charismatic and over the top hammy making him actually hard to hate as a character whilst still hating his ideas) – and it is revealed there are other Pillar Men and needs to go to Rome to defeat them before they take over the world…
Here. We meet Zepelli’s grandson, Caesar, and the two don’t exactly hit it off immediately but do respect each other’s skills and the two team up to face the Pillar Men (one of them Wamuu, killing one of Caesar’s friends) as we see Caesar’s skills (using bubbles with Hamon to surprisingly devastating effects) with the conclusion being Wamuu forces a ring instead Joseph’s throat which will release a poison in 33 days – with the antidote inside his lip ring. He gets a second one via another Pillar Man Esidisi, so he has 33 days to train and beat them to get the antidote whilst the Pillar Men look for an artifact known as the Red Stone of Aja which can make the masks turn them into the ultimate life form…but also the means to defeat them…
Caesar in turn takes Joseph to his teacher, a beautiful woman named Lisa Lisa who by the end of the series has a lot more to reveal about herself as the 1st season does sync with this, she administers the classic training from hell for Hamon control. It does lead to him confronting Esidisi early and does manage to beat him and get their antidote, (he nearly manages to infect Lisa Lisa’s maid Suzy Q but they manage to kill it) and they head to Switzerland where Wamuu and the third Pillar Man Kars are waiting, and also that the red Stone is in the hands of the Germans, led by a now cyborg Stroheim…
It leads to another sad moment as Caesar takes off early to get revenge and face off against Wamuu as we learn of his past – which means sadly like his grandfather, a case of we knew him too little as he also dies during their battle but manages to recover the antidote in his last effort to save Joseph. With the stone in their possession, thanks to Stroheim and the reveal that the baby with Erina was, in fact, Lisa Lisa, you slowly put two and two together…
The battle between Wamuu and Joseph is a chariot race with both using their techniques to grab weapons and it is high paced, lots of techniques and battle thinking, which leads to Joseph (with some last thanks from Caesar’s Hamon) winning and the two having some respect for each other. Kars on the other hand, is a devious so-and-so and manages to use Lisa Lisa as a hostage and has the stone, and puts Joseph at a real disadvantage. Many reveals happen with Stroheim, Speedwagon and Smokey helping out (and the reveal of who Lisa Lisa is occurring) but leads to a high octane battle between the two but Kars gets the mask and the gem and appears to be invincible. Even with Stroheim helping it appears there is no hope despite some very ingenious tactics…but with a last minute reveal of the stone, Joseph manages to send him into orbit and Joseph appears to have died…
…which leads to a rather fun finale when he turns up for his own funeral, has married Suzy Q and Stroheim gave him a cybernetic hand –with the epilogue setting up two things. 1) The next generation of Joestars (we see Joseph as a grandfather, still raising hell) and 2) the raising of a certain coffin salvaging from the bottom of the Atlantic ocean which has the name ‘DIO’ on it…
So there is a lot going on, and it can feel rushed. Indeed, both Zeppelli’s dying did suck because both were very interesting characters and it felt we hardly knew them. That said, the 2nd season definitely feels where Jojo brings what it wanted to show – high pressure action featuring a cocky but likable and funny protagonist in Joseph, and managing to use the Hamon techniques inherited by his grandfather and use them his own way, with very creative results. Whilst the villains are not as interesting as Dio (though Wamuu has the anti-villain thing, being very respectful to Caesar in his death, and more so when he dies at the hands of Joseph), the action is literally from minute one and it is what you would think more from Jojo than the 1st season.
Joseph also has the advantage that his past can be explored – he has moments where they thinks his father abandoned him which then you learn what actually happened, the picture of the little girl with Erina which turns out to be Lisa Lisa, which in turn becomes a link with another mystery, and whilst he obviously never learned from his grandfather, the fact his teachings and respect were still installed with Erina means despite his cocky attitude, he is still a Joestar and has the respect and teachings that his grandfather did. Add to that his friendship with Caesar, his care for Lisa Lisa, and the respect he gains from Wamuu and Stroheim despite their allegiances, makes him a lot more well known than his grandfather and dare I say likable despite Jonathan being a lot more honourable. Add to that a lot of fun characters (Stroheim of all people may be the most fun secondary character outside of Speedwagon) and this definitely feels like the first part of what could be a true journey in the Joestar history.
Combined both seasons into one journey, it goes through a generation of Joestars and there is definitely a lot of get through. The big thing is that it starts and ends with Dio, as the end scene screams that he is going to return and considering he was easily the most memorable character of not just the first arc but even the second outside of Joseph, it will be interesting to see how he is in a more recent time (1987), how Joseph is going to take it, and also a mysterious young man in Tokyo which screams that he is the next JoJo, it sets up the third season ready to see how it goes. Jonathan in retrospect is quite forgettable but his legacy seems to set up much more interesting Jojos, and whilst the plots seem to revolve around people wanting to be immortal/taking over the world, sometimes it is just what you want. And with high action, animation, music and of course, Season 2 begins a lot of the iconic posing; it is clear why this got a renewed fanbase.
You thought this anime would get a bad review, but it was I…
…er, actually that doesn’t work. Darn.
Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure Season 1 is really 2 seasons in 26 episodes where we get the introduction of the Joestar line, and now continue into its descendants. The character of Dio is incredibly iconic in an evil is cool kind of way and the reveal he will return for the next arc makes me salivate in what he is going to do. Add to that Joseph was far more interesting than his grandfather, that even as an old man it is going to be interesting how he reacts to this. The show gets action packed once Dio turns into a vampire, and the story is the classic good vs. evil story, but you get vampires, zombies, Nazis, cyborgs, hamon energy and everything in between and for that, I can’t fault the rush I get from watching this series. Definitely a shounen series, but one that is quite recommended.
Cleaning Opening/Ending, Trailers, Episode Commentaries
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Kaze/Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: 02/04/2018
Running Time: 650 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.