Ahhh yes. Doesn’t it feel good, friends? We’re finally out of the woods on the overviews of Parts 1-8, so now we can start talking about the series in earnest. Yeah – this is the kind of stuff I really live for.
So while I was writing the articles summarizing the various arcs, I regularly cam across this line of thought: How much of this story should I be giving away? It’s a common occurrence in my line of work, and something you’ll notice I’m especially careful of if you’ve read any of my movie reviews. Yet, as I write about Jojo’s, you’ve probably noticed that I’m pretty lackadaisical about hiding my plot spoilers. I showed off Kars’s transformation at the end of Battle Tendency, I revealed the most likely candidate for villainy in Jojolion, hell, I’ll even tell you about how Diamond Is Unbreakable has a cat that dies by the Arrow, becomes a sentient flower with a Stand, and teams up with the main villain! How crazy is that?!
This. Show. Is. AWESOME!
So what is it that makes me so glib about just giving away details like that? Well, it all hearkens back to this theory I’ve had since I started watching Jojo’s on Crunchy Roll a few years ago: this series is all but un-spoilable. I mean, take a step back and think about it. When you see that image above, what does it spark in you? Are you filled with indignant rage at me that I gave up the ghost on that? Perhaps, and I’ll give you that it would be a fine reaction to have. But I’m willing to bet that the majority of readers have a stronger feeling that’s more like mine, something in them that says: What the hell is this, how did it happen, and in what world does it make sense? Because you see, the point I’ve been trying to make over all these entries is that Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure isn’t Shin-Chan. It isn’t Happy Tree Friends. Hell, it isn’t even Rick and Morty, and that show does its best to keep the ridiculous tone everywhere. The point is, when something is weird in Jojo’s, it isn’t for no reason – it serves the greater plot. And that’s why giving away those details doesn’t harm from the experience, in my opinion – in fact, it should make you actually want to read and watch even more, because you want to have that experience yourself. If you compare that to Rick and Morty, I can’t tell you even the slightest details of the end of “Total Rickall,” because doing so gives away not just dramatic tension, but the entire joke of the episode – there would be virtually no reason for you to watch it besides the quippy writing and experience of just having seen it.
What Jojo does differently with these kinds of details is that it makes them constantly relevant to the ongoing plot. Sure, things might get seriously wacky in the moment, to the point that there’s an entire subculture dedicated to Out of Context Jojos, but once again, anything that happens in the manga stays consistent with the manga. And I’m not just saying tonally, in the way that you start to just roll with a Family Guy cutaway because, eh, that’s what they do. No, for Jojo, when you see a young lad start talking into random objects like they’re telephones and he’s getting messages back from his boss, after five arcs you just say, “Okay, this must be a Stand power or something, let’s see where this one goes,” and you run with it.
You learn to pick up on Araki’s visual and narrative cues. There are signals that this or that should be taken seriously, that this character is making a joke or that character is being serious. And when I set them out in front of you, freed from their narrative restrictions, sure, you lose some of that, but I’d wager that the comedic and “WTF?” aspects are worth that extra little tidbit. Even when I’m conversing between those who only keep up on Jojo via the anime and myself, dropping things like Doppio from Vento Aureo shouldn’t be seen as ruining the series – I’m giving you a taste of the exciting and weird world to come! You just have the benefit of already knowing some of the depth of what’s in store!
The one place you’ll notice I do stay very cautious about story spoilers, though, is with character deaths. It’s hard to do sometimes, especially when one person’s death is the trigger to a major event or the key lead-in to another arc, as is the case between Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. Still, I try to tread as lightly as possible when it comes to mortality in the Jojo stories, for a number of reasons. First of all, these are the kind of details you can’t really add to. Saying, “So-and-so dies during this fight,” doesn’t really continue the conversation – nobody wants to get to the part where their beloved hero dies, so they’ll put that off and fear for it, doing everything possible to keep that character alive in their mind.
Secondly, it destroys the narrative tension. Unlike the jokey and the weird spoilers described above, facing the mortality of someone you’ve grown to cherish just isn’t fun. You’re less likely to build a connection to that character because you don’t want to be hurt by that loss. For me, it’s probably why I started getting calloused to Game of Thrones after four seasons – people just started dying haphazardly, and I started seeing through their ruse: I knew who had plot armor and who didn’t, so why get invested in anyone outside of the core three? If I tell you which JoJos live, which side-characters bite the dust, all I’m doing is putting an expiration date on their heads and telling you, “Eh, put your love in another basket, or, better yet, skip along.” And I don’t want to do that. Jojo’s is too good for that, and you all deserve to find characters you enjoy, even if, and occasionally to the point that it tears you up to see them fail. Araki purposefully wrote a story about humans overcoming themselves, about the way good can transcend evil by its own power, and you know what? To do that, sometimes that means remembering what the stakes are. I don’t want you to lose that, so I try my best not to spoil deaths, but I promise to always be there to console my fellow viewers and readers once they reach those moments, because man do they hit hard. I’ve always got your back, friends.
By keeping the weird and the wild plot-relevant, spoiling these details means that you aren’t just ruining the joke. I can’t “beat you to the punchline” because there’s no punchline to be had. Being cued in to these moments won’t give away the big picture, and being given the big picture doesn’t give away the journey to get there. And I think that’s one of the most artful things about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – we’re experiencing a series that can often be traversed out of order yet still fully enjoyed. Hell, I knew the basic framework of most of the arcs, and I still loved each of them as I raced through them! I still remember the jokes my friends would toss about before I reached them, only for me to catch up a few months later and say, “Oh hell, here it is!” There’s an excitement that builds, and while you’re running through the series, you often get so engrossed that you completely forget what you’ve been told until the moment it appears. So don’t fear the spoiler – enjoy it, embrace it, love it. Because trust me when I say there is virtually nothing that anyone can tell you about Jojo’s that it won’t outdo.
Until next week, gang! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Out of Context Jojos, in the hopes that you’ll have the same reaction upon reaching it when I did as I first read Steel Ball Run.