Ah JoJo. Anyone looking into anime fan groups for the first time will see the first hints of this series, be it bizarre poses…. ok it’s usually those. But let’s go and look to the first arc of this long running series. (It began serialization in 1987 so yeah old).
While JoJo had been adapted before as an OVA that was the third (and due to that most famous) arc. But in 2012 a new TV anime adaption was made covering the first two arcs Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency and since it’s where it all started let our first venture into this bizarre adventure be the first. (Plus I need a whole separate section to cover the immense level of homo eroticism that is Battle Tendency).
Phantom Blood is set in Victorian England and opens up with 2 figures looking over a crashed carriage. The carriage belongs to the rich Joestar family, while the two onlookers belong to the poor Brando family, the old man of the Brandos having actually come to try and rob from those assumed deceased. However only the wife died and the father George, assuming the man has come to help him, pledges him a debt. This debt is repaid in the form of his son Dio Brando (YES THAT DIO) being pseudo adopted by George and thus the sort of brother of our lead Jonathan Joestar.
Now George is actually a nice man, I mean really nice. In fact even when he finds out the truth of the events with Dio’s father he still keeps up his debt. But turns out Dio is, to the surprise of no one because this is Dio, the only anime character that can rival Frieza in how universally known evil he is (Char is more an anti hero at times). Turns out he’s a complete and utter monster who poisoned his dad and is poisoning George to try and get the fortune. And plans to use a strange stone mask that has an unusual reaction to blood to kill Jonathan (the titular JoJo).
What starts off as a murder plot that Jonathan sets out to solve, with the aid of the wonderful Robert E. O. Speedwagon who has a fancy hat that he only uses once and primarily exists to prove Dio being evil is not due to him being poor. Suddenly turns… well Bizarre. As … well… Vampires… and a weird iteration of them (not Twilight stupid though) and ancient martial arts designed to kill vampires (which is forgotten completely by the third arc). Sadly the pacing gets weird at this point. Speedwagon becomes completely useless and characters come in right after another dies. Oh Dio gets countless great scenes and lines and it’s clear why he’s the villain the series is known for.
The fight scenes must be talked about however because they are kind of… odd. You see people do these over the top things but in a very odd way. You see they go into insane levels of description on how they do them, in excruciating detail. It is both annoying and hilarious. Frustrating yet endearing. The fights have a level of creativity in what they do that few other shows can match but at the same time feel like they are pulling stuff right out of their asses. Also they correctly show Queen Elizabeth was a bitch so kudos this show is more accurate than most English period pieces when it comes to that.
The adaption of Phantom Blood takes up 9 of the first series 26 episodes. Starting out as much more period piece esc with JoJo and Dio growing up. But by episode 3 it really begins to earn its title (or was that the end of episode 2) and by 4… Yep it’s a bizarre adventure. Some people say to go watch the third arc first then come back to this but I feel many elements are lost if you do that (especially since they drop the whole Hamon power thing by then in favour of the ghost fighting the series is more famous for) but I say go in the chronological order… the more tame and bringing in the bizarre elements probably helps people cope better than… well.. JoJo.