Hirohiko Araki’s power system really does STAND out from the rest
Story & Art: Hirohiko Araki
Translation: Nathan A. Collins
Touch-up & Lettering: Mark McMurray
Design: Adam Grano
Editor: David Brothers
What They Say:
The town of Morioh is home to an endless array of eccentrics and oddballs, and within this small slice of suburbia, a serial killer roams free. As Josuke and company attempt to uncover a trail to Yoshikage Kira, they’re met with one opponent after another. Kira finds refuge under a new identity as Kosaku Kawajiri, but his insatiable bloodlust leads Kawajiri’s son Hayato to witness Kira for who he really is. Kira’s wish for a quiet life is in jeopardy – can Rohan, Josuke, and the others find Kira before the Kawajiri’s are added to his list of victims? The action-packed 8th volume of Diamond is Unbreakable showcases Araki’s boundless creativity, as he continues to evolve the potential of what a Stand can be.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? Sure, plenty of people will think of the funny poses or the endless collection of memes, but one of the defining characteristics of this series is the Stand (sorry Hamon). When Hirohiko Araki introduce Stands in Stardust Crusaders, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as we know it changed forever. So, what is a Stand? Vaguely put, it is the embodiment of spiritual energy. In most cases, it is directly tied to a user’s personality, behavior, and desires – a manifestation of the Soul, if you will. The establishment of Stands brought the series to new, unexplored heights, opening the floodgates for an infinite number of narrative possibilities. Stands in Stardust Crusaders were distinct in appearance, but their abilities were fairly straightforward, most of them functioning as a physical attack. It wasn’t until Diamond is Unbreakable that the concept of Stands would reach the power system’s true potential.
While Diamond is Unbreakable still features plenty of user-activated Stands (i.e. Josuke’s Crazy Diamond or Okuyasu’s The Hand), Araki also expanded on the idea of Automatic Stands. One of the first Stands of this type that we come across in Part 4 is Tamami Kobayashi’s The Lock. Kobayashi can’t willingly use The Lock on people, but if he coerces his target into feeling guilty, the Stand will trigger its ability automatically. This is the power of Automatic Stands – an autonomous force, activated by specific rules or scenarios rather than by a user. Stands were no longer bound to humanoid forms or physical strikes – the Automatic Stand transcended battle-shonen power systems, to the point where some of them didn’t even require a user. It was no longer an ability inherently tied to humanity – Stands became an otherworldly phenomenon. At this point, a Stand could truly be anything. In my opinion, Volume 8 of Diamond is Unbreakable is the ultimate showcase of what an Automatic Stand could be.
And what better way to start the volume than with one of the most fascinating Automatic Stands in all of JoJo’s – Superfly. Josuke, Okuyasu, and Mikitaka stumble across an individual living in a transmission tower. This peculiar person made a fully livable home out of said electrical pylon. But why would someone live in such an inconvenient spot? It’s not until Josuke enters the tower’s vicinity that they learn the truth – the man was not living here willingly; he was imprisoned by the tower. Like a Venus Flytrap, Superfly lures in unsuspecting people and confines them within its steel beams. One cannot leave the tower unless another person takes their place. Thus begins the battle between Toyohiro Kanedaichi and the gang.
I mentioned previously that Automatic Stands need no user input to function, and Superfly is one such Stand. A sovereign, self-sustaining object unlike anything yet encountered in JoJo’s. Sure, we’ve seen Stands take the form of inanimate objects before, such as Anubis and Strength in Stardust Crusaders, but Superfly distinguishes itself as a standalone organism. And because Superfly is unaffected by human reasoning – its power is absolute, and its guidelines are unyielding. While its user’s life is at a detriment, Toyohiro’s time spent in the tower allows him to learn its abilities inside and out, making him a formidable foe. “Let’s Live on a Transmission Tower” is a thrilling story arc and Superfly remains one of the most captivating Stands in the entire series.
Following their squabble with Toyohiro, he mentions that Koichi had been eliminated by another Stand user. Kira’s father Yoshihiro has been flying around Morioh, creating Stand users, and recruiting them to protect his son. Josuke refuses to believe Koichi was dead, so he enlists Yuya Fungami to help him find the next enemy. But their opponent had no intention of hiding – Terunosuke Miyamoto reveals himself to Josuke, only to bait and switch himself with Josuke’s mom. Thoroughly rattled, Josuke had walked right into a trap. He was only moments away from being snatched away by Miyamoto’s Stand, Misterioso.
This power can transform people and objects into pieces of paper. For someone to be caught by Misterioso, Miyamoto needs to discover his opponents “tell” when they’re afraid. For instance, Tomoko Higashikata swallows her saliva when she’s scared. Once Miyamoto is 100% certain, Misterioso traps its target in a piece of paper. Similar to The Lock, Misterioso can’t be activated on command, but the user can create scenarios that lead his opponent into revealing their panic response. Automatic Stands like Misterioso turn the battle into a game of wits rather than a brain-dead brawl. Additionally, not knowing what’s on the other side of this paper-centric power makes it a page-turner for both the reader as well as Josuke and Yuya. Araki is a genius for that one. Misterioso boasts a wonderfully psychedelic design and the fight itself is a nail-bitter all the way to its conclusion.
I said that this was the ultimate Automatic Stand showcase, didn’t I? Because Volume 8 ends with yet another auto-stand skirmish in the form of “Cheap Trap”. Rohan’s investigation into Kira’s new identity has been long and arduous. But just as he notices Hayato Kawajiri videotaping his father in one of the pictures, someone rings his doorbell. An architect by the name of Masazo Kinoto was commissioned to repair Rohan’s house after his fiery falling-out with Josuke. But something was immediately off about Kinoto. He absolutely refused to let anyone see his back, going so far as to limbo crawl up the stairs and contort himself to avoid sight. Rohan’s curiosity gets the best of him and he tricks Kinoto into showing his backside. To his dismay, Kinoto is brutally killed, and Cheap Trap attaches to its next victim, Rohan. This arc’s tone is both hysterical and exhilarating as Rohan navigates the streets of Morioh, avoiding the gaze of every passerby. After the mind-bending confrontation with Misterioso, it’s nice to get a straightforward conflict like Cheap Trap. Using Reimi’s Alley to defeat the Stand is perfect and proves that Araki took his world-building to the next level when centering Part 4 around Morioh.
I can’t end this review without talking about the tense, momentum-shifting “My Dad Is Not My Dad”. Yoshikage Kira wants to live a quiet life. But ironically, he’s also a paraphilic serial killer. After going unnoticed for years, Kira’s discreet murder spree came to an end. With Reimi Sugimoto’s guidance and Shigechi’s dying revelation, the Joestar’s and friends unearthed Morioh’s most prolific fiend. But Kira managed to escape his pursuers and take on a new identity. As Kosaku Kawajiri, Kira was granted a second chance at a peaceful existence. But this hand-loving heathen wanted to have his cake and eat it too.
After a run-in with an unruly couple, Kira follows them home and murders them in cold blood. Little did he know that Hayato had been tailing him with his camcorder. Hayato had his doubts ever since Kira took over and now, he had hard evidence that his father was no longer his father. As he makes a mad-dash home, Kira catches a glimpse of Hayato and immediately realizes that his cover is blown. What follows is the infamous bathroom scene, where Kira interrogates Hayato, nearly exterminating him in the process. But the quick-witted youngster was prepared for Kira’s wrath, setting up a camera to blackmail his deceitful dad. Kira’s renewed life had prematurely expired. But what would become of the Kawajiri’s? Will Rohan and the others discover Kira before more lives are lost? Tensions are at an all-time high as we await the final volume of Diamond is Unbreakable.
The cheery atmosphere is all but gone in the penultimate volume of Part 4. One after another, the Morioh gang fend off foes, inching ever so closer to the elusive Yoshikage Kira. Despite ramping up toward the story’s conclusion, Araki continued to innovate Stand battles and expand the lore of Morioh. We’re only one volume away from the conclusion of Diamond is Unbreakable. Look forward to the final battle between Yoshikage Kira and the Duwang Gang!
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen+
Released By: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 2nd, 2021
MSRP: $19.99 (hardcover) / $10.99 (digital)