JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 1–Phantom Blood manga review

Amazon synopsis:

The legendary Shonen Jump series, now available in English for the first time, in a deluxe edition featuring color pages and newly drawn cover art! JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a groundbreaking manga famous for its outlandish characters, wild humor and frenetic battles. A multigenerational tale of the heroic Joestar family and their never-ending battle against evil!

Young Jonathan Joestar’s life is forever changed when he meets his new adopted brother, Dio. For some reason, Dio has a smoldering grudge against him and derives pleasure from seeing him suffer. But every man has his limits, as Dio finds out. This is the beginning of a long and hateful relationship!

After the long wait, JoJo fans, outside of Japan, can now read the epic beginning of the Joestar ancestry and learn about the original “JoJo”.  Learn about how Jonathan Joestar started the bizarre adventure that will affect his family through generations and see how truly evil Dio Brando is. If thought he was sinister in Part 3 – Stardust Crusaders, you haven’t seen him yet in his beginnings before he had a Stand.

Story

Unlike most manga where the story takes place in Japan, the story of Phantom Blood takes place in 1880 England. The story begins with a prologue page of the Aztecs using a mysterious stone mask that draws in powers. After a short narration prologue, the story begins the young child Dio Brando fulfilling his father’s dying wish: to live with the rich, high-class Joestar Family. Reasons how this happened is explained when his father, Dario Brando and a soon to be wife, encounter a carriage accident. With Dario trying to rob the carriage, the father/husband George Joestar awakens and mistakenly thinks Dario was saving them and offers him a request for anything. With that backstory ended, Dio accepts the last wishes however, rather than living up to his father, Dio decides to follow his own goal and steal the Joestar fortune.

Later in the story, we are met with the protagonist Jonathon Joestar, the first JoJo. His normal changes forever when Dio arrives to his home and Jonathan’s father, George, adopts Dio; this is the beginning of Jonathan’s nightmarish life. I won’t spoil what Dio does, but he bullies Jonathan through physical and mental torture.

My Thoughts

I thought the story was very different than I usually read but I actually enjoyed. I like Araki-sensei, created a fiction world based on our actual world. Besides Araki using real world music artist as inspiration for the characters, he also relies on historical facts to invent JoJo’s world. For example, he starts the story with the Aztecs and he mentions the serial killer Jack the Ripper to help give readers an image of the story’s background. Besides that, if you are familiar with the world of JoJo, the story is filled with over the top violence and intense combat. The fight scenes in the manga are really epic. There are scenes where just have to keep reading whenever you see the good guys in a pinch or when a plot twist occurs. Going back to violence, the manga doesn’t hold back; the death scenes are graphic. Whether you see a person’s face pierced or killing a dog, this manga may cause people to feel uneasy. On the positive notes, the pacing is well-balanced. The first volume does an excellent job on describing the childhood between Jonathan and Dio but later as the story skips ahead, you forget what happened in the timeskip because you want to know what’s going on in the mind of the characters.

Characters

The characters in the manga are quite unique and bizarre (pun-intended). Even the majority of the story is about Jonathan, the story had moments where it shifts back and forth with Dio. In a way, they are like two sides of coin. Jonathan represents the goodness of a gentleman and he carries a pride that enables him to push forward and protect the ones he cares about. Dio, on the other hand, is a ruthless man that also has pride but only for himself. He believes that only the strongest will win and the good people like Jonathan are weak and trash. Dio is a man who serves only himself and takes pride over his own abilities.

The side characters like Jonathan’s friends help make the story feel relaxed. One of friends named Robert E. O. Speedwagon (inspired by real singer REO Speedwagon) is an example of a good friend. He first starts off as an enemy but after seeing the pure goodness in Jonathon’s character, he changes and he helps him by putting life on the line. Even though some may think that Speedwagon doesn’t belong in this dangerous adventure, he is loyal and willing to help Jonathan.

Art

Knowing Araki’s art, he does an excellent job on creating the characters. He really knows how to make muscular characters and give each character a “presence”. He takes the time to draw out every detail on the character’s face and action and I am surprised he is able to draw out every fight scene. I am also impressed on how he draws the characters in England. Personally, the characters didn’t appear Japanese like other manga but he really makes them different and unique. One of my favorite moments in the manga is where near the climax where Jonathan powers and he is revealed shirtless. I don’t read Fist of the North Star but that moment in the manga was epic and it felt like I could have read one.

Overall

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures – Phantom Blood is the foundation of the JoJo’s story. Whether you have read Part 2 or 3, you can admire the art and characters of the JoJo universe. Araki can make the story feel intense but also add some light hearted moments in the story. If you a person who is interesting reading classic manga or Shonen series like Fist of the North Star or Toriko, this is the manga for you. JoJo is a series with weird oddities mixed in with exaggerated violence and humor in a fiction “real-world” experience. I recommend this series. I enjoyed the characters and I hated Dio. Dio is an example of the most hated but possibly admired villain in manga.

What do you think of the series? Have read Phantom Blood? If so, was it good or bad? Comment down below for feedback.

If you enjoyed this story, go check out Part 2: Battle Tendency and then Part 3: Stardust Crusaders.

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