Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (omnibus ed.) 01
May 16, 2015
Hirohiko Araki – Viz – 2015 – 113+ volumes
I call this an omnibus, but it’s a Japanese edition that is slightly larger than a normal volume.
I MISSED YOU, JOJO.
God bless anime. I’m pretty sure the current anime has popularity enough to warrant starting this series from the beginning. I’m torn on the edition, which is the Jojonium edition. It is gorgeous, a hardcover with all the color pages reproduced inside (on non-glossy stock, which I love), including the entire first color chapter. This volume has 3 chapters more than the regular edition of volume 1, so, in theory, the series will be shorter (but not by much). There’s also translated bonus content from Araki in the back, in this case a couple pages of comments about part one from Araki. He also drew new cover art for these editions, and they have very fancy cover designs. It’s one of the nicest editions of manga available in English, I’m a book geek, and this is one of my favorite series of all time, so I’m dying of happiness. But each volume also has a steep $20 pricetag. I’d pay it over and over again, but I know many wouldn’t, and that’s the only reason I worry about these print editions. On the other hand, if the print price is too much, these are also available digitally on Amazon for less than $10, which is perfect for a long series like this.
So far Phantom Blood (part 1) and Battle Tendency (part 2) are planned for these editions, which will take us through the first 12 volumes of the story. On one hand, I would totally read Stardust Crusaders (part 3) again, but then I would have to wait even longer for Diamond is Unbreakable (part 4), and I do already have Stardust Crusaders in English. So it’s hard to decide what to wish for. Either is fine as long as the series continues.
Anyway! The Jojonium edition is amazing. It was fantastic to read the first chapter in color, which is muddy and hard to see in the tankoubon edition. And it’s in English, of course, which is good and bad. I can stumble through on key words in Japanese, but reading it in English makes me realize… uh, the dialogue isn’t… terribly natural. Which is more than made up for by the fact that the story is batshit crazy. In that first chapter, we see Aztec vampires, a corpse robber, a nonsensical fight between boys, and a young boy kneeing a dog in the face really hard as an introduction to his foster brother. In color! And that’s how this series starts.
The animal violence is still here. Dio still incinerates Danny, who pops out and runs around in his death throes. When on Ogre Street in London, a cat eating a puppy still pops out of an alley. But don’t worry, Dio and Danny have made on the back cover. But only for the illustration, apparently.
Dio has a really hilarious habit of talking about himself and ending statements with “me – Dio!” similar to Bender on Futurama. It’s great.
The story… Dio antagonizes a young Jonathan Joestar after moving in. After basically breaking him (turning his father against him, turning his girlfriend against him, making the other children ostracize him, and killing his dog), Jojo decides to just take it. Seven years pass, the two are pretending to be friends, and Jojo’s father is dying. He realizes Dio is poisoning him when he finds a letter from Dio’s father where Dio’s father explains he’s dying of the same symptoms. He sets off to London to prove it, and meanwhile, Dio explores the powers of an Aztec mask the Joestars have lying around their house.
There are some moments of sublime strangeness in this first part. Pretty much any fight, which are overly violent. During a boxing match, Dio appears to take Jojo’s eye out with his thumb. During a knife fight, one man takes the knife between his pinky and ring finger, and the knife slices the rest of the way down his hand, which hangs off by a strip of flesh before he drives it into a wall and pulverizes the rest of his fingers. Dio swings a bottle into a man’s face and knocks out several teeth.
But the introduction of Robert Edward O. Speedwagon is probably the best. For no reason, he does this fancy hat shuffle thing. We realize later there’s a spinning blade in his hat, but man, those first few panels where he’s just whirling his hat around on his arms are fantastic, creepy, and completely without context.
The dialogue does get better as the book continues. The art took some getting used to, because Araki’s art is an awful lot better now, to the point where it made me wince to read that first chapter. But as I kept going, I realized this volume still has fantastic art – wonderful scenery, some awesome poses (though they get better), nice panel composition, and way more detail than Shounen Jump art usually gets. There’s great atmosphere throughout, and Araki is great at setting the mood and drawing creepy things. And gore.
This volume stops just before Dio’s iconic vampire transformation. At the beginning of the next volume, he’ll be ready to let the UREEEEYYYs rip.