JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Super Techno Arts
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 25, 2003
Release Date: June 10, 2003

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #1
© Super Techno Arts

What They Say
More than 100 years have past since the battle between Jonathan Joestar and the vampire, Dio Brando. Now Dio's escape from the ocean depths awakens the psychic power known as "Stand" within 17-year-old Jotaro "JoJo" Kujo and his grandfather Josef Joestar.

Now they must battle the immortal vampire Dio, who holds Jotaro's mother Holley prisoner in a nightmare-filled coma. But they're not alone. Joining them in their quest are four warriors who also posses mystical Stand powers. These powers are manifested in giant spectral warriors that emerge from the bodies of the group.

But Dio has gathered Stand warriors as well, and he possesses a secret and incredibly powerful Stand of his own.

The Review!
The prequel that came after the original yet comes before it in the US release, JoJo�s Bizarre Adventure has finally arrived.

When it came to the audio on this disc, it�s definitely been a labor of love. With four options, either Japanese or English and then either 5.1 or stereo, you get a good selection right from there. Having it all mixed by the folks at Skywalker Sound is an even more neat aspect to it all. We listened to the Japanese 5.1 mix and enjoyed it rather much, though there�s very little actually going to the rear speakers. When compared against the stereo mix, there�s definitely a greater clarity and warmth to the mix though, so it�s definitely a good mix. Throughout that track, we had no issues with distortions or dropouts.

Originally released back in 2000 and 2001, these OVA�s showcase some rather good looking materials though with a few less than stellar digital effects. The materials and transfer itself looks very good, with the only real thing that stands out being some aliasing during the camera panning sequences, particularly when it goes up and down. Colors are nice and rich and fully saturated without bleeding, cross coloration appears to be very minimal to almost non-existent while the blacks look nice and solid without any macroblocking.

Though overly dark, the front cover here looks really nice one you actually focus closely on it, with it�s image of Jojo standing confident and his STAND reaching up and out from behind him. There�s a lot of dark reds and blacks here that mixes nicely without making the cover too murky. The back cover provides a number of screenshots from the show and a brief summary of each of the three episodes, listing them by name and number. The spine also provides the volume numbering, the only place you�ll find it. The discs production and technical information is all nice and clear, though considering the effort that went into the 5.1 remix it�s surprising that such a selling point is not listed here. There�s no insert for this release, but rather two tarot cards representative of the series.

The menus are a nice mix of either still shots or some form of animation playing as well as some light instrumental fare. The language submenu is particularly nicely done, if you select Japanese, it moves subtitles and other items over to the same category, but you can also change things individually. There�s no transitional animations leaving areas, but going into some of them there are. Most amusing was going into the extras section where the camera pans down and then from the left and right come the selections. While this is all happening, you can move the cursor down over a non-existent selection as of yet since the transitional animation has yet to finish.

For the first volume of the series, there are some interesting extras. Of particular note is that the entire first episode is presented again with a smaller window showcasing the storyboards to the series. This is again a great extra for die-hard fans and for aspiring animators. The image gallery contains about 27 pieces of conceptual artwork. There�s a four minute video piece for Jojo�s timeline history that goes back fairly well to explain things. I only skimmed it for fear of spoiling something within the show itself. Running about seven minutes in length is a production interview from back in March of 2000, presumably just around the time of this OVA�s original release. And to round things out, there�s a trailer for the second volume of this series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of Jojo�s Bizarre Adventure is a very complicated one, especially for casual anime fans. The franchise has a huge rich history, and at times a conflicting one about what it wants to be, prior to arriving at this particular OVA series. Between a manga series that kicked off in 1987 that is still running as well as a couple of video games and two OVA series. If you want the full details on all things Jojo, I definitely recommend this FAQ.

Since I like to look at a series as if it has to stand on its own, I skimmed the FAQ a bit for just some relevant information, but only after taking in the show itself. Right from the opening sequence, which is repeated on each of the three episodes here, you can tell what kind of show its going to be. We�re introduced to a ship sailing back in the mid 1800�s, set ablaze, and with the imagery of someone holding a large glass jar that has a human head in it. When the head breaks free with wiry tentacles, we watch as they plunge into the neck of someone and subsequently rip their head off. It�s no stretch to then visualize the head claiming itself a new body.

Bringing things back into the present, we�re thrust into another gloomy situation as we meet the lead character in jail. Jotaro Kosugi, a young high school man who wears the traditional clothes of a �boss� badass school lad, has taken up residence in this cell after having dealt some harsh punishment to a gang of eight punks recently. Jotaro, even after being told he could go, continues to remain in his cell as he claims he has to deal with an evil spirit inside of it. His mother comes daily, begging him to leave, but to no avail. Jotaro has gone so far as to really live there, having brought in things like a CD player and books.

His mother has come again, but this time she has a bit more help in the form of her father, Joseph Joestar. After the basic routine of insisting he leave the cell right now, Joseph starts employing a different method to bring him out. Jotaro continues to refuse and using some special abilities, the gun from one of the policeman whips from the holster into Jotaro�s hand. Putting it to his head, he quickly shoots, but to little avail. As we see through Joseph�s eyes, a third hand had come out of Jotaro�s body at the right moment and grabbed the bullet out of midair.

It�s from here that we�re introduced to the STANDs, special abilities that some people seem to have. Jotaro�s is having the presence of what he calls an evil spirit that helps him with its strength and other special abilities. With the presence of Joseph�s friend Avdol, we see Avdol create a fiery hawk of sorts that comes out from his body and attacks the spirit within Jotaro�s body. The fight is spectacular, but only those with the special abilities are able to see it actually happen, though they can feel the effects, such as the heat.

With Avdol�s help, Joseph is able to get Jotaro out of the cell and thereby under his influence. It�s from here we begin to learn the tale of what happened back in the 1800�s, the tale of an evil named Dio who had struck a blow against Joseph�s grandfather aboard the boat. Through a special bond the family shares, Joseph has sensed the return of Dio to the world again, still using his grandfather�s body. He tells all of this to his daughter and her son, as he intends to at least bring Jotaro into the plan to try and deal with this problem in the family.

From here, the show then progresses towards the natural battles that will ensue as each side tests the others powers. Jotaro finds himself something of an unwilling participant, but he�s intrigued by the various STAND people who come up against him and try to take him down. The battles are nicely violent, with little care for those who happen to get in the way. This is the kind of series that while not reveling in the violence of it all, it takes advantage of what it can presented visually and really runs with it.

These opening episodes manage to stand nicely on their own without requiring extensive research beforehand. There�s enough to intrigue viewers with the special STAND abilities and what Dio may be planning. The animation is very slick looking, though the first episode is the weakest since they were getting their bearings with the digital side of things. After the third episode, I�m curious to see how more episodes will play out.

Jojo�s Bizarre Adventure is a pretty solid first release from a new company. They�ve managed to hit all the marks just about right with this disc and it appears to be problem free. While Jojo�s won�t have me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next volume, I�ll be looking forward to seeing how they do with their future releases on a tighter timescale.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Staff interview,Production footage,Art gallery,Timeline history,Storyboards

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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