JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, Vol. 3

By Hirohiko Araki. Released in Japan as “Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.

It’s striking how much of JoJo’s, particularly this first arc, has been embedded in anime fandom in general. I was unfamiliar with the arc till reading Viz’s version, but when Dio, about 3/4 of the way through this volume, begins screaming “WRRRRYYYYYYY!!!”, I laughed, finally knowing where another meme came from. One of the great joys of reading this series is seeing how easily it can get turned into memes – and that’s not a knock on its quality, it’s a sign that people are able to take the musing, exciting and horrifying that is JJBA and make it their own. Not every series is able to do that.


That’s Dio on the cover, but for most of the first half he sits out the battle, content to sit on a throne and do evil things like having a mother beg for her child’s life, then zombifying the mother so she kills the child herself. In Volume 1 a token effort was made to give Dio a reason to be evil, but it was just token – Dio is the villain because he really really loves doing evil things, and adding ‘immortal vampire’ to the list only made it easier for him to be MORE evil. Once Bill Bruford and Tarkus – or however they’re spelled – are taken out, Dio finally manages to fight with JoJo and show off how he really is from the dark side – pure attacks don’t even affect him.

This is the last volume of the first arc, and you can tell by how much the violence steps up. This was already a very violent series – I’d mentioned the debt it owed to Fist of the North Star before – but it really amps it up here, with the aforementioned mother and child, with one of Dire Straits (I love the naming in this series, and it reminds me I miss Bastard!!) getting flash frozen and then shattered, with JoJo’s mentor remembering at a convenient time the prophecy that said he had to die, and finally with the apocalyptic ending where Dio, now just a head, finds a way to kill off Jonathan Joestar once and for all.

The ending shows off how much JoJo’s is also immersed in the tropes of tragedy, though I’d argue it’s not really pure tragedy as JoJo doesn’t have a fatal flaw like Hamlet or Lear. He just can’t escape Dio, not even after he gets to marry Erina and go off on a honeymoon. The last 30-40 pages are awash in corpses, and indeed the story ends with (seemingly) Erina the only one still alive. Somehow, though, I doubt Dio is dead. The author clearly planned to move on right after this – there are no breaks between this arc and the next one in the series, so it’s not like many modern manga where a reboot takes place after a break of several months/years. Instead, it shows off how all of this – the histrionics, the shouting, the battles and the tears – was a prelude, working p to something even bigger.

What will that be? Well, we’ll find out in November. Or now, if you like reading digitally.

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