Be it as a severed head Dio will just continue to keep coming back, his burning ambition is that strong
I said I’d make some posts here for a bit so why not start off with something I really enjoy to wash away the unpleasantness of the last post. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was always a bit of a dark horse for me though I knew the manga material was probably up my alley being from the 80’s and free of some of the modern trappings of anime that truth be told I do occasionally grow weary of. Often times when I find myself longing for the days and styles of old that got me into anime in the first place I turn to watching an old favorite or classic that is recommended to me by likes of people who I know get what makes me tick. It’s nice though when you get something that’s brand new and can enjoy on this level, I think the last example for me was probably 2009’s Shin Mazinger where one of my absolute favorite directors in Yasuhiro Imagawa took the Mazinger concept and rebooted it into what was probably the best TV entry for the series to date. Jojo 2012 is a similar animal in many respects. Both shows lack in budget and animation prowess, something that would spell the doom of many a modern series where even the slightest frame out of place is the genesis of many a nitpick, but what they make up for it by having a stellar soundtrack, great direction and just a keen sense of what people like me want out of these shows. Gar characters, lots of passionate declarations, zany poses, brutal combat and a sense of epicness to the whole affair. Jojo gets the latter down quite well.
What we have in this opening Phantom Blood Arc is essentially a tale of two very manly individuals whose conflicting viewpoints on how one ought to try to live their lives would prove to be the catalyst for a blood feud that would last for over a century. Jonathan Joestar as he is in his final hours subscribes unyieldingly to the old school upper class ideal of the English gentleman who lives his life with honor, treats ladies with respect and while well-mannered will throw down if necessary in order to protect what they believe in. I happen to find much to respect about characters like this. It’s similar yet quite different to the whole concept of “power of friendship” which is probably modern animes closest interpretation to the concept, yet is distinctly a manly ideal whereas Power of Friendship is pretty gender neutral in most respects that I’ve seen. And then there’s Dio.
Dio is essentially the opposite of Jojo in almost every respect coming from a poor working class family with a terrible upbringing from a lousy father all he ever learned was that you have to crawl, scrape and back stab using any opportunity and trampling over anyone in your way if you want to get ahead and gain respect in life. He seems to believe as strongly in this philosophy as Jonathan does in his philosophy of how to be a true gentleman and almost seems to delight in carrying out his diabolical schemes, but especially when he gets under Jonathan’s skin in doing so.
And in a way it is actually Dio more than Jonathan who is the driving force behind this Phantom Blood tale, because if it weren’t for Dio’s insistance on making Jonathan’s life miserable, stealing the first kiss from Erina murdering his dog among many other callous acts of spite Jonathan would have just remained the layabout slob he was in the first couple of episodes, living in the shadow of his father George Joestar’s legacy and probably never actually ending up with Erina because he wouldn’t have had to defend her honor from Dio and thus never would have grown closer to her than he already was. He never would have awoken to his own potential to stand against the seemingly insurmountable Dio’s burning lust for power and influence, never would have met Zeppeli and learned of the power of the ripple to stop Dio’s ambitions….pretty much if Dio had never come into his life Jojo would likely have never amounted to anything. And hence this is why I think of this more as Dio’s story than Jonathan’s because in the end it’s Dio that it appears will live on having stolen Jonathan’s body and it’ll be up to the successive generations of the Joestar family to stand against his ambition. Phantom Blood is only the beginning though, the origin story if you will, but if it’s already this empassioned and enjoyable I can’t even imagine what the succeeding Battle Tendency arc is going to be like.
From everything I’ve heard Phantom Blood is supposed to be the weakest of the Jojo story arcs, which frankly just blows my mind and has me tingling in anticipation of what is to come with Joseph Joestar and the shift to 1930’s America as a setting. This is the show I’ve been waiting for for 3 years to reignite the fiery passion that is gar within me once more. You can try to imitate this style somewhat, but it is I think uniquely a thing of past Japanese works and I don’t think we could have gotten this show as it is from any more recent battle manga, sad as it is to say those days seem to be gone, but they live on in daring adaptations like this.