I’m familiar enough with the JoJo franchise to know it veers off into absurd shounen action territory. I’ve played the fighting game. I’ve heard about the OVAs. Think I saw an episode or two back in the day. It’s primarily about the punching and the Stands and cool shit like that.
But when you look at this first story arc detailing how Dio becomes what he is, it feels more like some old school monster movie than something out of a Shounen Jump magazine.
Wealthy aristocrat delves into ancient mysteries no man should investigate.
The ward of a noble plots to replace the real heir of the household and steal the family fortune.
Desire for power leads to a man becoming a monster.
Filthy back alleys and fights in burning manors.
Without knowing it was an anime adaptation of a manga written for young boys, reading the description of the first arc of JoJo makes it sound more like something out of a Universal or Hammer monster movie. It has all the trappings of those gothic horrors– all about falling into sin while seeking forbidden knowledge and power and all that.
You JoJo, who comes off as something of an amalgamation of Dr. Van Helsing and Kenshiro. He’s your classic protagonist who’s mistakes have led to the birth of a true monster, and only his actions can save the world from falling into darkness.
Then you have Dio, a fiend you can almost sympathize with. He may be a treacherous schemer who doesn’t care who he hurts in his quest for power, but he’s also a product of circumstance and fate. Being born into evil isn’t something he can control, and he’s only reacting to his circumstances in the most logical way possible by his reasoning. He’s like Dracula in the obvious vampirism bit. He’s like Frankenstein in that he’s not entirely at fault for his atrocities, albeit he still needs to be destroyed. You even have some Mummy vibes here, with rich, naive white men tampering with ancient powers of “primitive” cultures with the Aztec vampire mask.
All of this became pretty blatant in the third episode of the series. The confrontation at the Joestar estate, leading to the place burning down is a classic finale for this sort of movie. Add in the ample amounts of gore and yeah, this thing felt like the ending to one of the Hammer Frankenstein movies– creation trying to destroy creator as Hell erupts around them.
Damn good stuff here, and not what you’d initially expect when your prior knowledge is based around a fighting game where you can play as an ugly puppy with weird spirit powers.