Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ever since its initial launch in 1987, Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga series has taken the world by storm, having spawned multiple spinoff novels, a live-action film, video games, a yet to be released spinoff manga, and of course, a widely-popular anime adaptation. What sets JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure apart from other manga series—aside from its bold, dynamic art style and unique fight scenes—is its plot’s division into several “Parts.” Each part focuses on a different protagonist—each sharing the lineage of the fictional Joestar family and having the nickname “JoJo”—in a different time period.
Thus far, the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga has had eight of these “Parts,” with a ninth on the way; five of them have been adapted into the anime, with the anime adaptation of the sixth part—Stone Ocean—set to release on Netflix this December. Which “Part” of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is the best is often a point of contention amongst manga and anime fans alike, and many fans have their own well-thought reasons as to why a particular section of the JoJo story should be considered the best. Some argue that the plot itself determines a part’s superiority, others argue their favorite’s superiority based on a belief that it stars the best “JoJo,” and some even argue their favorite part is best due to the quality of its anime adaptation. So, before the long-awaited release of the sixth part, let’s take a look back at what JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has offered fans so far to determine which part of the anime is the best.
Minor Spoilers Ahead
The first part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Phantom Blood, centers around the feud between the heroic Jonathan Joestar—the first character in the series to go by the nickname “JoJo”—and his villainous foster brother, Dio Brando, in the 1880s. Dio goes through great lengths to make Jonathan’s life miserable, such as killing Jonathan’s dog, forcing himself upon Jonathan’s girlfriend Erina, and attempting to kill Jonathan’s father. Eventually, Dio comes across a mysterious stone mask that grants him immense power by turning him into a vampire, and as a result, Jonathan must study the use of the mysterious energy known as “Hamon” under new mentor Baron Zeppeli in order to defeat Dio. Overall, despite its fun, adventurous, and bizarre (pun intended) story, many fans regard Phantom Blood as the worst installment of the JoJo story. First of all, compared to what future parts of JoJo have to offer in terms of plot and action, Phantom Blood is considered somewhat basic. Additionally, at the time the manga for Phantom Blood was written, creator Hirohiko Araki had not fully developed the dynamic visual style that the series has since become famous for, and therefore, the animation of Phantom Blood is not as visually exciting as its future installments. Lastly, many regard this part as the worst due to the common belief that Jonathan is the worst of all the JoJo protagonists; many view him as the most boring of the JoJos. However, antagonist Dio has become a fan-favorite villain, oddly enough, likely as a result of his later reappearance and lasting impact throughout the series.
The second part of the series, Battle Tendency, stars Joseph Joestar, the grandson of the late Jonathan Joestar, who has just moved to New York City from England with his Granny Erina in the year 1938. The main threat Joseph must face is the combined forces of the three Pillar Men: Kars, Wamuu, and Eisidisi. Kars was responsible for the creation of the stone mask that granted Dio Brando his powers, and the trio developed fighting styles that can counter Hamon. As a result, Joseph must venture to Venice, Italy in order to strengthen his Hamon abilities alongside new ally Ceasar Zeppeli—the grandson of Baron Zeppeli—under the tutelage of Lisa Lisa. While not commonly a favorite among JoJo fans, Battle Tendency is certainly more exciting than its predecessor. This is due to the introduction of heroes having unique combat abilities that serve as defining characteristics—for example, Ceasar fights opponents by channeling his Hamon energy into bubbles—and this is an element that is further explored in later parts. Furthermore, Joseph has proven to be a much more interesting character than his grandfather, having gone on to appear in future installments of the series, albeit not as the main protagonist. However, Battle Tendency, not unlike Phantom Blood, still lacks many core elements that have made the series both truly unique and adored by fans.
The next part of JoJo, Stardust Crusaders, features Jotaro Kujo as the new protagonist, living in Japan with his mother Holly, the daughter of previous protagonist Joseph Joestar. The story opens in the year 1988 with Jotaro in jail, having gotten into a fight at school as he’s done many times before. However, when his mother comes to bail him out, he refuses to leave, as he claims to have an “evil spirit” by his side. Upon the arrival of Joseph and his ally Mohammed Avdol, it is learned that this “evil spirit” is actually something known as a “Stand,” an entity that often appears at the side of its user and possesses some sort of special ability; for example, Jotaro’s Stand possesses insane strength, speed, and reflexes. These stands came into existence as a result of the resurrection of Dio Brando, having attached his head to the corpse of Jonathan Joestar. The trio must travel across the world to Cairo, Egypt in order to defeat Dio so that they can save Holly, who has developed her own Stand, but has fallen fatally ill as a result. Stardust Crusaders is a favorite among JoJo fans, due to its introduction of the Stands concept, which has remained a staple of the series ever since, as well as its cast of supporting characters that all share an ample amount of time in the spotlight. Jotaro, while often feeling a bit two-dimensional like his predecessors, exudes an aura of bad-assery that Jonathan and Joseph lack; he gets into fights at school, does not hesitate to cuss out anyone who gets on his bad side, and often maintains a silent grimace in the heat of battle, making him as intimidating a presence as the villainous Stand Users he and his friends fight. Stardust Crusaders is also adored for further cementing Dio as an iconic villain of anime and manga history. The primary negative factor of Stardust Crusaders is its sheer length. In total, it has forty-eight episodes, making it the longest season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to date. In comparison, Phantom Blood only has nine episodes, and Battle Tendency has seventeen. Due to this massive episode count, many parts of Stardust Crusaders’ story can feel a bit slow and drawn-out. For example, a fight with a particular villain may last two or even three entire episodes. However, it should be noted that this problem does occur in other parts of JoJo, as well as in other anime.
In JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s fourth part, Diamond is Unbreakable, Jotaro Kujo goes to the small Japanese town of Morioh in 1999 to locate Josuke Higashikata—this part’s “JoJo” and the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar—and enlist his aid in tracking down a magical arrow that has the ability to grant people Stands. Among the people granted Stand abilities by the arrow is Yoshikage Kira, a serial killer who has evaded suspicion and capture for many years. At a certain point, the conflict of the story shifts from combat between Josuke, Jotaro, their allies, and new enemy Stand Users to the hunt for the elusive Kira. Diamond is Unbreakable is often criticized for its somewhat slower pace that creates several lulls in the action. However, this pacing allows for more character development, making Josuke the most developed protagonist of the anime. Additionally, the looming threat of Kira, who later gains deadly Stand abilities, adds somewhat of an eerie, more serious tone to the plot, and the narrative remaining within the town of Morioh without involving international travel makes the story feel much more grounded as well.
What sets the fifth and most-recently-animated part of JoJo, Golden Wind, apart from previous installments is the unique origin of its protagonist, Giorno Giovanna. Giorno is in fact the biological son of Dio Brando, and because Dio was inhabiting the body of Jonathan Joestar at the time of Giorno’s conception, Giorno has blood relation to both Dio and the Joestars. Giorno dreams to work his way to the top of Italy’s Passione mafia and turn it into a force for good, and in his journey to do so, he becomes a member of the division of the mafia led by Bruno Bucciarati, who has similar aspirations. Team Bucciarati is eventually tasked with protecting the boss’s daughter, Trish, who is being hunted down by various groups within the mafia. The unique nature of this part’s new protagonist has become both a point of praise and of criticism. Many fans and critics have applauded the use of a main character that is the child of a villain rather than a hero, as well as his unique goal of taking control of the mafia, while others believe that these elements deviate too far from the heart of the series. Despite this, Golden Wind stays true to JoJo’s strongest elements through its exciting fight sequences, some of which are arguably among the best the series has to offer and through its compelling development of the supporting cast.
Overall, each part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is quite good and should be enjoyed by their respective fans regardless of what others deem the best. However, if one were to determine a potential “best” part, an appropriate response would be Diamond is Unbreakable. While Stardust Crusaders is certainly the more popular choice, its successor surpasses it in its character development and darker tone, though one cannot ignore the significant groundwork laid for the series by Stardust Crusaders.