In a corner of a world much like our own, anomalies exist. Born of strong spirit, and occasionally aided by a magical Bow and Arrow, these twists of the natural order give birth to great good and evil. Guided by the minds of those who control them, these powers fashion a story of horror and triumph, leaving bizarreness in their wake. Also, death and chaos…they leave a lot of death and chaos in their wake. But, on the plus side, some deserved it.
In case you’ve been living under a suddenly creepy-looking rock, allow me to to briefly explain the long-running history of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: It’s a manga that came out quite a while ago and is still going. So concluded the brief history of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I’d go into more detail, but considering this film jumps into the fourth iteration of the original series, it really doesn’t matter. If anything, I wish I didn’t have my previous knowledge of JoJo going into this film. By knowing where the story was going well before it went there, I found it hard to follow the film’s version of events. Though definitely more of a personal criticism than one directed at the film itself, it is a situation that many fans may find themselves in when checking out this live-action offering. With that in mind, I will say that the film found itself as it progressed, eventually settling into a fairly decent pace and rhythm by the time Keicho took centre stage. Of course, this casts an even darker shade on our time spent with Angelo, highlighting the overall hollowness of his presence. Sure he killed a bunch of people, but he didn’t do it that interestingly, especially in a world where people can erase existence with a literal flick of their wrist.
Speaking of presence, the character of Yukako held a surprisingly powerful one. Though a later addition to the original story, here she comes out of the gate swinging, letting us all know that she is not a force to be reckoned with. Alternating between sweet and terrifying in the time it takes to blink, Yukako immediately asserts her presence and impact on Koichi’s life. Considering that by that point Koichi held our focus, one would expect Yukako to amount to…something. However, it was not to be, as her tale is one for far later in this narrative. Again, I find it hard to judge this based on my own viewpoint, seeing as I already know how she progresses as events transpire. Thus, I can only posit that her inclusion in the film simply adds to the seemingly excessive cast. Even Jotaro Kujo (the JoJo of a pervious story) held little relevance in this condensed narrative, simply hinting at elements unrelated to anything present within our purview. He rocks up, drops a bomb about Josuke’s father (who we didn’t know was a no-show) and reveals he is hunting Angelo only after Angelo is seemingly captured…then he disappears. From the perspective of the film, this seems like a rather hefty oversight, as Jotaro seems like somebody who would be interested in at least observing Josuke. I mean, you just confirmed that he isn’t alone in his abilities, at least keep an eye on the kid. Also, he totally messed up your hat and that is not forgivable.
While we’re on the topic of abilities, let’s talk about Stands. Boy are those things crazy. With the binding thread that they are wielded by only a handful of people (seemingly), there is no rhyme or reason to what those things can do. Josuke and Jotaro’s clash would have you believe they hold a similar appearance and presence; however, this is only if you forget that Angelo’s is a weird water demon that explodes people from within. Then there’s Koichi’s weird egg and the simple fact that Keicho’s is an entire battalion of toy soldiers…just because. I mean, this already well down the path of JoJo Stands getting bonkers and you get none of that history in this film. Even Jotaro’s explanation is rather terse, essentially confirming something we as an audience have already seen. Thus, for better or worse, you really have to suspend your disbelief firmly to enjoy this film. Should you succeed, you will be rewarded with an awesome sequence of a pink ghost punching tiny bullet; however, should you fail, you are in for two hours of a confused expression plastered upon your face. There’s also a rather fun middle ground of disbelief and joy, although the tiny tank with the skull tends to tip those scales one way or another.
To not sound too incredulous or negative, I do want to throw a healthy amount of attention on the strongest element of this film: Design. With its source material so heavily encircled by style and flair, this film began its life with a notable handicap. You see, reality tends to hold to a fairly consistent colour palette and isn’t known for sporadically altering itself for the sake of drama. Even the cover/poster of the film leans more to its conceptual roots than the film is able, rendering main characters in highlighted states of colour. To compensate for these limits, the set design and costuming for the film go above and beyond. By reigning it all in by a slight degree, unique outfits and situations are given a more realistic edge. Of course, this edge is rather sharp and forgot to take hair into consideration, so the effect is limited. Appreciated, but limited. That considered, what actually caught my attention the most was the attention to detail when it came to locales. In the clash between Josuke and Keicho, the decrepit manor surrounding them was an intensely interesting setting and held true to its source. The shot of Josuke sitting surrounded by Bad Company was also a definitive comparison, showcasing the efforts taken to represent the JoJo people have loved for years. I would also argue that, even if you were new to JoJo, that shot was still pretty cool…once you get past the weirdness of a semi-sentient force of toy soldiers. Who also have helicopters.
Having seen the anime adaptation of Diamond is Unbreakable, I was pretty interested to see how a live-action take would do in presenting the early days of one Josuke Higashikata. To make a long point short, I was pretty happy with what I saw. As far as spectacle goes, the film carries a stylish presentation that scratches the JoJo itch to an acceptable degree and drives home the realisation that anime hair is just too time consuming to be viable in even a semi-realistic world. On the flip-side, the film’s desire to include the breadth of the Angelo-to-Keicho narrative forces it rush through almost everything. Though we are witness to some of his crimes, Angelo never develops enough to be the villain we are told we fear, let alone one with a believable grudge against Ryohei Higashikata. Keicho’s reappearance at the funeral is also rather sudden, though the development he receives during the film’s tail end does help mitigate this somewhat. Anywho, to avoid reiterating my arguments for the umpteenth time, this film is a fine addition to the ever-expanding titan that is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and I would recommend checking it out if you were looking for a Diamond is Not Crash-course for the tale of Josuke…or if you just wanted some external confirmation that big, gold badges are in style. They totally are, by the way…or were. Does this film take place in 1999? The original takes place in 1999…big, gold badges were in style in 1999.