Just a half-season in, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure adamantly reasserts itself as one of TV’s most creative, imaginative, and unpredictable shows. Ever. Its latest iteration, Diamond is Unbreakable, already has more big, gonzo ideas than most anime ever get to.
We’ve made our love of JoJo’s abundantly clear for anybody hoping to ken its enigma, but the basic plot follows the Joestars, a dynasty of super-powered martial artists who battle a ceaseless gauntlet of increasingly strange villains. Each season follows a different generation, in a different era, whilst embodying different genres. The first season was a demented mash of Dickens and Dracula. The second was like Indiana Jones with occult kung fu. The third was… many things at once. Imagine a globetrotting Doom Patrol facing down every single Video Nasty.
Now, as if to purposely flip the dynamic, series creator Hirohiko Araki has kept this season of Jojo’s to just one quiet, suburban town in the 90s. And the latest Joestar progeny is the dandiest yet–Josuke Higashikata.
As a prior hero’s illegitimate son, this Jojo is a posh tough guy, with a cheery disposition that only flares (violently) whenever anybody mocks his diligently groomed pompadour. He commands a psychic alter ego called “Crazy Diamond” which will brutally destroy whatever he points it at. The big catch, though? Crazy Diamond can also magically reconstruct whatever it breaks, or finds broken. So, if Josuke cracks a bad guy’s nose, he can then leave it looking prettier than it ever looked before. Or if he finds a torn-up clue, he can reassemble it into pristine condition.
Clues are a bigger concern this go-round. A serial killer’s skulking around Josuke’s home town–one who can magically separate victims’ limbs. So, while previous adventures have blended the bizarreness with other genre classics, Diamond is Unbreakable plays a bit like Twin Peaks. Except with ghostly goblins who apparate out of telephone wires. And Italian chefs who serve violently therapeutic pasta. And street corner con men who ply local rubes’ consciences by literally weighing their hearts down with padlocks.
Also, let’s stress that the characters just described are named for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and a song by the Who. Araki continues to pull a wide swath of pop into Jojo’s, naming every character after a band, singer, or song. Guessing each reference makes for a delightful ongoing mystery.
Not to say any of this is esoteric, of course. Why, Studio David has actually made Diamond is Unbreakable an easy jumping-on point for anybody who hasn’t dug through the dozens of prior episodes. Jojo’s rewards long-time viewers, and continues building its mythos, but this season’s taken care to smoothly reintroduce returning characters, like Josuke’s uncle Jotaro; and give succinct catch-ups on gnarly concepts like the Stands. Some even describe it as being more “slice of life.” To be sure, it’s a far-out life that’s being sliced from, but the piece is a little easier swallow than previous ones, maybe.
All of it’s still refracted through the lens of casual absurdity, to be sure, but the surreal still has a welcome air of magical realism. Those who haven’t ventured out with Josuke’s family should really hang out with the dude this season.
Would you give Jojo a go finally? If you’re an old fan, how does Diamond is Unbreakable compare to Stardust Crusaders and previous seasons? Hit the talkback with opinions.
Image Credits: Warner Japan