JoJo’s Bizarre Review: The Phantom Blood

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a widely popular manga series illustrated by Hirohiko Araki and animated by David Production. The series is split into 7 parts, 5 of which are animated and are slated to reach Netflix with full English dubs in the near future. The series follows the action-packed adventures of Jonathan Joestar and his descendents as they battle Dio Brando, an immortal vampire and Jonathan’s enemy who has sworn to destroy his bloodline in his quest for world domination.

Jonathan Joestar

The Phantom Blood is Part 1 of the series, and takes place in 1800s England. A nobleman by the name of George Joestar owes a life debt to a thief, Dario Brando, who saved him and his son from a carriage wreck. This is fulfilled when the Dario dies and shortly before doing so, instructs his son, Dio Brando, to live with the Joestars. Over his father’s grave, Dio vows to become the sole heir of the Joestar fortune. Jonathan Joestar, the main protagonist of The Phantom Blood and George Joestar’s son, attempts to foster a friendly relationship with his new half-brother. Dio, with his mission as his sole priority, responds only with contempt and aggression. He makes no attempt to hide his intentions for the Joestar fortune to Jonathan, but puts on a friendly demeanor in front of George. Dio at one point steals a stone mask that the Joestars have kept as an heirloom for centuries. Upon putting it on a mugger after a street fight, he learns that it has the ability to turn those who wear it into vampires.

Meanwhile, George falls ill after being poisoned by Dio. Upon being nursed back to health by Jonathan, he learns of Dio’s true intentions. In a final fight between Dio and Jonathan, George leaps between the two as Dio goes to stab Jonathan. As George lays dying in Jonathan’s arms, the mask activates, turning Dio into a vampire when he puts it on. In a last ditch effort to subdue Dio, Jonathan sets the Joestar mansion ablaze. After a battle amidst the burning mansion, Dio falls to his presumed death, only Jonathan and his companions to learn he survived. The Phantom Blood ends in Jonathan pursuing Dio, who’s goal has shifted to total world domination and the destruction of the Joestars, to put a halt to his evil doings.

A lot of fans of the series hold the belief that Part 1 is, while a necessary watch to get the full experience out of JoJo, one of if not the weakest entry out of the 5 animated parts. To an extent, I’m inclined to agree. A lot of the aspects of JoJo that people outside of the fanbase recognize, like the concepts of Hamon and Stands, as well as many favorite characters, such as Jotaro (who doesn’t appear until Part 3), are sparse in mention or entirely absent at this point in the series. That being said, Part 1 is still a hugely important entry in the series because many characters you meet here return in later entries to play vital roles in the story from here forward. In terms of aesthetics, the animated version remains largely on par with the style that Araki drew the manga in, which remains true throughout the 5 animated parts. As far as voice acting goes, the voice acting is on par for the time, featuring plenty of compelling dialogue that isn’t without its share of humor when it’s appropriate (I watched the subbed version, as dubs are for cowards.) The music is, unlike most of the series, surprisingly forgettable, with the exception of the opening song and outro songs, which have garnered standalone fame thanks to the community’s rabid posting of JoJo related material online.

On a whole, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Phantom Blood is an adequate appetizer which leads to far more thrilling adventures as the series progresses. If you’re looking for a fun seinen anime with plenty of material to chew through with fun fights, lovable and love-to-hateable characters, and a huge community, give JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure a spin.