Well here we are, at the anime that might have spawned the most memes ever. I’ll admit I had always side eyed Jojo for this reason. Crazy poses, beefy Mcbeef men and really weird people gushing to me about it was enough for me to ignore it for this long. It was only when I was looking at character design for a mafia project that I came across one of the later arcs in the series and I have to admit I was impressed! The designs are pretty and well thought out as well as being unique and different, I mean it’s totally nuts but that’s what I like about it.
So what the hell is it about? The overall story follows one family line, the Joestars, and their literal bizarre adventure. Each arc has its own enemy and weirdness as well as a different protagonist although old ones also make an appearance. But that’s enough of overall JoJo, what about Phantom Blood? Phantom Blood is where it all begins and follows the story of Jonathan Joestar (nicknamed Jojo hurdur) and how his father makes terrible life choices in desperate situations.
The story opens with George Joestar being robbed by Dario Brando after a horrific carriage accident. Despite Dario Brando looking pretty shady George assumes that he is there to rescue him, Dario looking for a quick cash grab agrees and informs him that everyone’s dead including his wife but his baby son’s ok so hooray! Thus begins the cliché life debt story. Jonathan is brought up happy despite the tragedy and even gets a cute dog named Danny. Dario Brando on the other hand also has a son named Dio except he was a terrible father who worked his wife to death (the only person who cared for Dio) leaving Dio to live in poverty and witness the cruelty of life.
Dario remembered the debt promised to him by George Joestar and wrote a letter for Dio to give to him after his death. This ensured Dio would have a bright future and not have to live horribly. But as anyone might have guessed Dio at this point has nothing but hatred for the world and wishes to become powerful and the biggest asshole in history.
So up till this point I had sympathy for Dio, only person who loved him died from abuse from his father, who then abused him and was generally shit. I could even understand him being suspicious of the Joestars for a long time but damn! This guy is a total asshole xD
The first day he arrives Jonathan greets him excitedly and what does Dio do? Kicks his dog right in the face! Yeah I should warn that the dog situation doesn’t get better… Dio is the villain that wants to completely break someone before finishing them. Jonathan despite being kind, lovable and so stereo typically British you’d cut him and he’d bleed tea is a bit clumsy and weak. Dio having learnt to be a master manipulator kicks his arse at everything, and also Jonathan lives in a town of stupid people so everyone assumes Dio is great and Jonathan has suddenly turned into a weirdo.
Jonathan, even as the kind being that he is, does eventually have enough of Dio. Unfortunately as not even his own father believes him his only comfort and friend is Danny the dog (T^T). But then a girl named Erina shows up, Jonathan earlier had taken a beating for her against some bullies and she became his only (human) friend in his time of need. Dating ensues, although as this is set back in the 1800’s it’s all chaste adorableness. Well Dio is pissed, here he was all ready for Jonathan’s big breaking point and he’s having a happy life! Dio decides to cement his place as king asshat and forcibly kisses Erina, her first kiss as well! Erina being the badass bitch that she is washes her mouth out with dirty puddle water so Dio promptly slaps her. Dammit Dio! What an asshole!
She avoids Jonathan out of shame which is the last straw and Jonathan goes to kick the crap out of Dio resulting in a stalemate between them. Throughout the fight a creepy mask that belonged to Jonathan’s mother hangs on the wall and reacts when blood is splattered on it…FORESHADOWING. Bitter and possibly the worst guy ever Dio then incinerates Danny… Yeah I’ll let that sink in. HE BURNS THE DOG TO DEATH! So at this point I was more than ready for Dio’s ass kicking but this is still all just set up for the main story.
Several years later and Jonathan has been visited by the steroids fairy and become super buff. Him and Dio are now besties (wtf?!) and have both just graduated school with bright futures ahead of them. Jonathan has been secretly trying to work out what the mask does but is concerned for his ill father. Turns out Dio has been acting all this time! I mean it’s not at all shocking, he’s practically an intern for Loki at this point. Dio has been slowly poisoning him in an attempt to get the inheritance. Buff Jonathan ain’t having none of that! He then leaves his father to go to London to have the medicine analysed and find a cure. Maybe not the wisest decision but whatever. Here he meets another critical character, Speedwagon, who is basically your lovable vagabond who has blades in his hat because that’s where you want sharp things… by your face.
All this text and we aren’t even at vampires yet! Dio begins to panic knowing he could be found out by Jonathan at any moment and attempts to follow him picking up his daddy’s drinking habit on the way. His plan is to use the creepy mask to kill Jonathan but discovers through hobo intervention that the mask actually grants the user vampire abilities. Jonathan with Speedwagon manage to find a cure and proof that Dio is poisoning George Joestar just as he did with his own father! Ha Dio you’re finally screwed now!
Well no, he dons the mask after realising his bitchy crying won’t work and kills George Joestar. Noooooooooooooo! Well actually he was also a lame dad but yeah Jonathan is really having a hard time.
Climatic battle ensues with police heads flying off and ending with Jonathan burning his house to the ground with Dio inside. Erina then returns to nurse him back to health, finally hooray! Except we’re only at the half way point… I know! They crammed a lot into these episodes! The second half deals with Jonathan learning a skill called Hamon from a guy named Will A Zeppeli, hamon allows the user through their breathing to change their body energy to predominantly sunlight energy. Perfect for kicking vampire ass, which is good because Dio is alive and creating a vampire army to take over the world.
So off poor Jonathan goes with Speedwagon and Zeppeli to save the day and slightly butcher English history xD I won’t detail every part of this as I really liked the ending and you guys should watch it yourself. Basically Dio is a total dick weed and Jonathan is a lovely guy who deserved better. They do meet more hamon users along the way as well as some prominent enemies but really Dio is the guy we all hate here and wanna see Jonathan get justice for Danny T^T.
Well for a short series of 9 episodes they are crammed full to the brim. It is very much the hero’s journey with Jonathan, despite him being quite bland in personality, I still found him very endearing. Probably because he had so many horrible things happen to him despite him always trying to do the right thing. Although the second half has more of the actual adventure, going into enemy territory, learning new skills, sacrifice and loss I preferred the prelude with weak Jonathan. You really learnt to hate Dio’s stupid face and felt for Jonathan’s struggle. The ending was equally as heart breaking with Jonathan cementing himself as nicest guy ever and Erina as the best wife!
The opening and ending music are phenomenal, the opening setting up for a bad ass adventure and the ending featuring the classic rock song Roundabout by YES, which keeps the tension going at the end of each episode. The art style is also really nice, the manga debuted in the 80s which was the time of the beefy man so if you’re looking for more variety in your anime man come on in… Although I will say nearly every male is beefy in this xD I will also warn you that there is some gore, I’m a big wimp when it comes to anything more gory than a blood splatter but I was able to stomach a head being chopped off and a weird vampire ability where they can stick their fingers into your neck and drain you like that! Although I feel a little squirmy about that one it was still watchable but if you are really sensitive about it I’d skip those scenes.
Some might find the story a little basic, good rich guy gets his ass handed to him by evil poor peasant until sensei shows him the way isn’t really new. It is very much a good vs evil fight from start to finish, they never come back and try to make us feel sorry for Dio, that guy fully accepts his asshole status early on. The supporting characters could have also done with a bit more characterisation especially the ones who get sacrificed. One other annoyance I must mention is that the series suffers from the show and tell syndrome.
Goddammit Speedwagon! I literally just saw Jonathan get flown across the room, you do not need to tell me 5 seconds later what I just saw! But these are all minor things, overall the series is very worthy of the praise it gets. Don’t let eccentric memes and fans put you off, if you are a fan of action and adventure or even crazy poses and fashion xD You will love this show.