JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Episode 1 Review
In the wake of April Fool’s Day, where the internet is rot with fake announcements and news stories comes one of the most exciting debuts in the current anime season, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a supernatural action series created by Hirohiko Araki. Its claim to fame is as one of the longest running manga series of all time, debuting back in 1987 and still ongoing. What makes the series unique is instead of a central protagonist, the manga is a lengthy anthology which follows the exploits of Joestar family with each new part focusing on a different member. The series frequently changes protagonists, villains, setting, structure, tone, and genre while remaining recognizable across its 25 and counting years of history.
Diamond is Unbreakable makes up the fourth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as well as the fourth season of its anime adaptation. The episode opens up in 1999 in the fictional town of Morioh with Koichi Hirose, a high school student heading towards his first day of school, who runs into two bizarre strangers. The strangers are Josuke Higashikata and Jotaro Kujo. Jotaro is the hero of JoJo’s previous two seasons, Stardust Crusaders, and has arrived in Morioh looking for his long-lost (and considerably younger) uncle Josuke. Koichi discovers both Jotaro and Josuke are in possession of Stands, paranormal beings which are bound to their users with very strange and specific powers (Jotaro and Josuke’s are mostly punching). Jotaro is here investigating bizarre events which are occurring in Morioh as the town begins to reveal that there is an evil certainly lurking in this quiet town.
Story wise, the introduction Diamond is Unbreakable provides is somewhat skewed. It’s one of the elements that come with JoJo and its long history. Koichi is a good audience surrogate to this new season though it won’t be long before he’ll stop being such and just be a supporting character. The plot doesn’t explain why he decides to hang around with Jotaro and Josuke beyond “he kind of feels like it”, which is a stretch even for JoJo’s ability to paradoxically be incredibly serious and aloof at the same time. It does do a solid job introducing prospective new watchers to the series though the presence of Jotaro involves a number of call backs to Stardust Crusaders which risks alienating them. However the team does manage to add some foreshadowing to future arcs which prove amusing to fans of the manga without getting in the way of the episode. Still the story does sell Morioh as a location as it both comes off as almost an idealized suburban town hiding a dark secret
The animation studio is David Production which oddly enough did those really adorable Princess Amethyst shorts for DC Nation. The team has made a notable change in style from previous seasons, going for a more rounded character designs in place of the walking brickhouse look of Stardust Crusaders. This episode is light on stand out moments, most the episode is talking and features characters who are static or moving very little. That being said, the limited Stand fighting is up to par with the rest of the series as is the occasional extreme violence and body horror.
The voice acting cast lends itself admirably. Daisuke Ono returns as Jotaro Kujo and sells the character’s rough exterior. Yuuki Ono’s Josuke lends the hero’s change between reserved and humble to bursting with energy. While Yuuki Kaji as Koichi captures the character’s small and meek personality.
Overall, episode one of Diamond is Unbreakable is faithful adaptation though it suffers from some of the problems of the manga. This season seems to likewise be setting up a slower build which doesn’t establish immediate over arcing threats like in previous seasons. Still, it’s exciting to have JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure back and living up to exactly what its name says.