JoJo\'s Bizarre Adventure Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 1-59116-754-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

JoJo\'s Bizarre Adventure Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     November 16, 2005
Release Date: November 01, 2005


JoJo\'s Bizarre Adventure Vol.#01
© Viz Media


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hirohiko Araki
Translated by:Alexis Kirsch
Adapted by:

What They Say
In a Japanese jail sits 17-year-old Jotaro Kujo: punk, fighter, delinquent...and possessed by a force beyond his control! Around the world, evil spirits are awakening: "Stands," monstrous invisible creatures which give their bearers incredible powers. To save his mother's life, Jotaro must tame his dark forces and travel around the world to Cairo, Egypt, where a hundred-year-old vampire thirsts for the blood of his family. But the road is long, and an army of evil Stand Users waits to kill JoJo and his friends...

The Review
Imagine CLAMP deciding to work with Queen to write a rock opera adaptation of Fist of the North Star, with added elements of the supernatural and an evil incarnate vampire named Dio. Yes, this 20-year-old, 80+ volume manga is that much fun.

Packaging:
The cover features the original illustration from the 13th volume of the Japanese tankoubon release, with Jotaro doing quite a pose with his gaudy outfit. It is definitely nice to see VIZ use the original artwork here even though the designs are very dated and look completely different from other SJ titles. The English logo is in the same spot in the middle and attempts to mimic the original Japanese logo.

The print reproduction looks remarkably solid. The artwork has such a varied use of tones, which are pretty heavy and dark at times, so I was worried that combined with the age of this title it would look a little muddy. However, overall it is very crisp and smooth. Out of the other SJ titles that I have seen, many which have suffered from faded tones, this might be at the top in terms of print quality.

Another nice addition in this volume is an 8-page prologue by Araki-sensei that summarizes the previous two parts of the Jojo storyline (volumes 1-12), complete with artwork. Volume and chapter headers, as well as a note from Araki-sensei, are included as well.

Art:
There is no doubt that Araki-sensei’s style is very much inspired by Fist of the North Star and other bancho manga from the late-70s. The men are massive beasts that are larger than life and feature rugged, thick-jawed facial expressions. However, their gaudy and excessively ornamented clothing mixed with wavy, flowing hair and bishounen eyes are something out of an old shoujo fantasy title. These guys could be in a Marlboro ad as well as star in a Broadway rock opera. I love it.

The artwork is all very detailed and quite refined as well. Being an older title, it does suffer from some heavy tones and thick line work, but that’s really more of just a statement of its style. The Stand action sequences are also very exciting, with the Stand designs themselves being very imaginative and unique. The panel work features a lot of creative layouts with no a lot of white space at all, usually filled with action lines or other tones but also some really nice background work. It’s a dated art style, but a great style nonetheless.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated, but instead of using the standard overlays like other Jump titles, VIZ has subbed them with very small text next to the original SFX. This was a great decision by VIZ, as a lot of the SFX are really integrated with the artwork. I hope to see VIZ use this technique more in the future.

I am not familiar with the original text, but the translation feels quite solid. I know there was a lot of talk about possible name changes for the Western rock band references, but so far the only questionable different is Avdol/Adbul. I’ve read that it should be Abdul, and I’ve read that Araki-sensei actually wrote it as Avdol. In any case, I doubt this was some change made to avoid a lawsuit, and the REO Speedwagon reference is kept intact. The adaptation is very good as well, even keeping up with the purposefully hammy dialogue. The one oddity is that there are two instances of ‘@#%$’ in Jotaro’s dialogue where he is supposedly cursing, but I’m not sure if those were there in the original Japanese dialogue. If not, I’d rather there just be an acceptable translation.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
For those who don’t know, Jojo (named because with each generation the main character’s first and last name can be combined to form ‘Jojo’) is a manga that has been running for almost 20 years and reached over 80+ volumes. VIZ’s first release of Jojo begins with the third part (of seven) of the storyline, which starts with the last chapter of the original volume #12 and will continue for 16 volumes. The third part has been called the most popular section of the manga, so it is no wonder that VIZ chose to begin here with this long running manga to test the waters with English readers.

The entire Jojo storyline covers multiple generations of the Joestar family and their secret, supernatural abilities called Stands. In order to help set the stage, VIZ includes an 8-page prologue by Hirohiko Araki that does a great job of setting the back story for those who are uninitiated. I was able to hit the ground running and never felt like I was missing any info during this first volume, so I definitely applaud VIZ for including this introduction.

The story starts off with our main Joestar family member this time around, Jotaro Joestar, behind bars for getting into a fight. Jotaro is free to leave the prison, except that he refuses to set himself free because he is afraid of the “evil spirit” that lives inside of him. This “evil spirit” is what is called a Stand, a supernatural, psychic superpower that is like an alter ego that resides as spiritual energy within the body that can be manipulated to do battle as well as other interactions with the physical realm. However, only those who have the Stand ability can see the Stands and they remain invisible to those who are not gifted.

The Stand concept is an interesting twist in the whole shounen battle manga, illustrated quite nicely with some great flashy designs and originality. It feels like it was probably influenced by Professor X’s abilities from X-Men, and more than likely influenced future titles like Shaman King. After reading so many samurai, ninja, virtual pet, and martial arts based fighting or battle manga, it is definitely a refreshing experience here with this Stand battle system. It really matches the whole extravagance of this manga.

Still refusing to leave prison, Jotaro’s mother calls her father Joseph Joestar, who was the main Joestar family member in the second part of the Jojo continuum. Joseph recognizes Jotaro’s abilities and “persuades” him to come out of jail thanks to the help of another Stand user, Avdol, an Egyptian whose stand is a fiery falcon called Magician’s Red. Joseph soon explains the reasons behind Jotaro’s awakened abilities, which is tied to a hundred-year-old vampire named Dio who has been resurrected from a chest that was lying dormant on the Atlantic Ocean seabed. Dio has a history with the Joestar family, doing battle with Joseph’s grandfather Jonathan Joestar, who sealed Dio in the Atlantic years ago. With Dio’s awakening, the Stands in the Joestar bloodline have manifested themselves, including in Holly, Jotaro’s mother. However, her will is not strong enough to handle her Stand, leaving her with only 50 days to live. The Joestar family’s destiny is to destroy this living evil incarnate, a journey that will take them across the world with plenty of other Stand users sent by Dio to get in their way.

While I do enjoy the convoluted, epic plot about a family’s generational battle against an all-evil, immortal vampire, the aspect that I enjoy most about Jojo so far is its style in excess and extravagance. The garish costumes and bancho, FotNS inspired character artwork is definitely dated but feels fresh and very appealing in today’s English market. The violence is completely over-the-top--just take a look at the Stand ‘Tower of Gray’ which is a beetle that skewers the tongues of its victims, creating a veritable shish kabob. The interactions between father and son are also ultra-dramatic and feature a lot of the tough guy attitude that was prevalent in this type of manga in its time. When Avdol explains to Joseph that he will have to fight to kill in order to go up against Jotaro to bring him out of prison, Joseph’s response is stated matter-of-factly, “Let him learn.” Classic! Damn those overbearing parents making you fight!

Comments
Even though this title is pushing 20-years-old, reading it today in English is a fresh and exciting experience for myself. The gaudy, yet wonderfully illustrated artwork looks great with the bancho, FotNS inspired designs featuring bulky men and curvy women. At times I feel like I’m reading some sort of extravagant rock opera. The plot can feel a bit convoluted and the dialogue can be hammy at times, but that is the point. The story is so epic with it’s multi-generational history as one family does battle with a vampire that will forever be tied to the Joestar destiny. The Stand abilities are also a nice twist on the whole shounen battle style of manga.

While some fans may be upset at VIZ starting this title in the third part of the original storyline, it is understandable that they began at a point that will hopefully drawn in the most readers. If Jojo sells well, it is mostly likely that we will see more of this 80+ volume title in the future. Personally, you can bet I’ll be picking up this classic manga.

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