We’re gonna party like it’s 1999!
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has been on a near constant streak for Toonami since it first began airing on the block in October 2016, beginning with the brief but tragic tale of young Jonathan Joestar and then carrying the tale on with his descendants. Despite being under the same title, it’s basically been several different series that just happen to share the same unique flavor of weirdness, which has actually been part of the show’s main appeal and charm for many. But now, for the time being, the series’ dub will have to make a pit stop in the fourth part, Diamond is Unbreakable, which might be the franchises’ most noticeably distinct turn yet. So, before we put away the stone vampire masks and power-giving arrows, let’s look back on how this season in particular might have been the most bizarre yet by, oddly enough, being the most normal.
The first key difference between this season and previous ones is scope. Parts 2 and 3 (making up over half of Season 1 and all of Season 2, respectively) mostly focused on massive globe-trotting quests with major stakes that impacted the entire world, whether it was from an Aztec god seeking invincibility or a blonde vampire named after a Heavy Metal band seeking world domination. Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, practically made every other episode into a mini tour guide as its cast jumped from one country to the next. Now, the focus shrinks in scale to the fictitious and remote Japanese town of Morioh and its inhabitants, but surprisingly doesn’t feel any smaller as Morioh proves to be an expansive and complex world unto itself. Each episode offers new insights about the town, with iconic landmarks being seen or sometimes made on the spot that breathe life into as a real place one could possibly visit and even call home. And every supernatural element about the town plays into the childish superstition that can likely be pretty relatable to the child in every viewer, making it easy to get wrapped up in these urban legends, especially when they turn out to be real for the characters.
Speaking of which, residing in that home are some of the more complex and complicated characters that has had in animated form, as this chapter marked the period when author Hirohiko Araki began instilling each season’s cast with more varied and distinct personalities in addition to sheer volume by this time that wasn’t quite as present previously. Our protagonist for the season, Josuke Higashikata reflects well, being the product of a very complicated family life compared to previous stars and having the less obvious special ability of being able to heal as well as destroy, showing a compassionate nature beneath his often hot-headed exterior. This is something he displays with is friends, Okuyasu Nijumuri and Koichi Hirose, who also help balance out things in terms of their own quirks, backgrounds, and development, with Okuyasu starting as a former villain and Koichi growing from the sidekick role into a hero in his own right. Two former protagonists, Joseph Joestar and Jotaro Kujo, also make appearances in supporting mentor roles, continuing a series’ theme of following the next generation that would continue for a considerable time afterwards.
The rest of the cast also have their own eccentricities, though more often than not to highlight the other major development this season has on the Jojo’s world at large, specifically the more interesting usage of the show’s trademark superpower, Stands. Whereas before they would be utilized simply for fighting, Diamond is Unbreakable bucks that as a necessity by using this to add to Morioh’s character as a location. While fights obviously still happen, Stands are shown to also be capable of non-offensive and sometimes even beneficiary capabilities, such as creating intensely nutritional food, picking up loose change, or even healing injuries (or at least reversing them). Though with that said, when fights do take place, they become much more complicated and deadly, ranging from using air control to put bubbles in bloodstreams, ripping open someone’s back, sucking out life through feet, and turning everything into a bomb. This means that fights themselves often need to be more than muscle-y ghosts playing fisticuffs, involving intense moment-to-moment tactics that make almost every encounter a real nail-biter, especially towards the end.
However, the main drawback of this season has got to be in its story’s pacing. Previous seasons started with a clear objective for their respective casts that became the driving force for that story arc. Kill this guy, find this thing, save this family member BY killing this guy AGAIN. Diamond is Unbreakable usually benefits from its more easy going tone, but this also leads to it sometimes sputtering and going at an irregular tempo that might end up being a major turn-off. Introduced this season is the Bow & Arrow, which is established as the source of Stand abilities and is therefore coveted by both the heroes and villains, as well as a generator of NEW heroes and villains as it is utilized. The problem is that the plot ends up being dependent on who has the Arrow at any given point and it changes hands A LOT. So it becomes a constant chase to retrieve it from one bad guy to the next, only to have it taken by the NEXT bad guy and then having to deal with the newer minor bad guys THEY make with the arrow. That said, when things work for this story, they REALLY work, but it can be hard to tell that in the moment with how this season was paced.
Overall, if you’ve been enjoying Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure up till now, this season will be a worthy next installment in the franchise, showing clear maturation in many aspects of the writing, while also showing there is still some room to improve. The adventure may be paused for the time being, but this season definitely shines like a crazy diamond.