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How The Structure of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Avoids The Pitfalls of Shonen Cliche


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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
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Location: North Brunswick, New Jersey
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:35 pm Reply with quote
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the parts vary in setting, style, and length


Only "mostly" on the length, honestly. Phantom Blood & Battle Tendency are only roughly 5 & 7 volumes long, not that much of a difference, while Stardust Crusaders, Diamond is Unbreakable, Golden Wind, & Stone Ocean all range between 16-18 volumes. Only Steel Ball Run broke free with 24 volumes, & JoJolion is currently at around 21 volumes, so there's a good chance it'll end with a similar number of volumes as SBR, if not exactly the same. Sure, each Part differs in all the other ways, but Araki has actually maintained a rather consistent feeling of length, depending on the form they take; Hamon are 5-7 volumes, Stands are 16-18, & Ultra Jump series (yes, SBR started in Shonen Jump, but still) are 20+.

Other than that, though, this article is well done & does explain a general idea of how Araki manages to avoid the usual trappings in the long run, though each individual Part certainly features said trappings.

Quote:
If Araki felt the need to one-up himself with every part, the JoJos would be fighting intergalactic space wars by now.


Hmmmm, now I want to see an intergalactic space war done in the style of JoJo...

Quote:
It would be fun to see another series take on the generational style that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure uses


This does exist, kind of, via those sequel manga to old manga, especially those that first ran in Jump, like Akatsuki!! Otokojuku, Kinnikuman II-Sei, or Ring ni Kakero 2. Of those, I think RnK2 actually utilizes that concept in the most interesting way, as it doesn't simply glorify the previous generation as idols, but instead gives most of them rather sad, dark, or downright tragic future; a few of them are even dead before the manga begins!

In fact, one early arc has the second generation leads team up, like their fathers before them, only for them to outright ruin the legacy of the previous generation by losing a match; after that, they never team up again. It's similar to how Joseph Joestar was often shown off as simply an old man in Stardust Crusaders and, aside from one fight where he got to act like his old self, usually was portrayed as the weakest of the team; Dio even called him out on that. Joseph was essential to their success, and he was a ton of fun to see as an old man, but Araki made sure not to glorify him, at the expense of Jotaro & the others.
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Themaster20000



Joined: 05 Aug 2014
Posts: 713
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:59 pm Reply with quote
From the few parts I've read of JoJo,it was a genius move to handle the series in this way. As pointed out,a lot of these series just don't know when to end before becoming stale,where with Jojo,Araki gives himself the opportunity to experiment and change things up a bit each part. It also helps that he knows how to end each part, without it feeling like it's rushed to a half-assed conclusion.
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Grasser1



Joined: 14 Oct 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:04 pm Reply with quote
You do know that you don’t have to shit on every popular manga to praise Jojo, right?
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Greed1914
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:09 pm Reply with quote
I'm not surprised to read that Araki's editor steered things away from Hamon. Early on during Stardust I got to thinking that there had to be a good reason why the story pretty much dropped it in favor of Stands, and it seemed to me like Hamon had run its course, even if there was more story to tell.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:03 pm Reply with quote
The arc Reborn was on before it got cancelled was starting to get pretty until it was cut short. Though in hindsight yes having the series end with the future arc, where the Anime ended, would have been best.
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vanishingblood



Joined: 19 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:54 pm Reply with quote
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Dragon Ball's stakes and power levels escalated to such an insane degree that the anime had to rebrand the Saiyan Saga onward to “Dragon Ball Z” just to make the sudden jump feel justified.

Nice that this author completely makes something up to support her narrative. The name change had nothing to do with what happened in the story.
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Zhou-BR



Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 972
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:05 pm Reply with quote
Lord Geo wrote:
Quote:
It would be fun to see another series take on the generational style that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure uses


This does exist, kind of, via those sequel manga to old manga, especially those that first ran in Jump, like Akatsuki!! Otokojuku, Kinnikuman II-Sei, or Ring ni Kakero 2. Of those, I think RnK2 actually utilizes that concept in the most interesting way, as it doesn't simply glorify the previous generation as idols, but instead gives most of them rather sad, dark, or downright tragic future; a few of them are even dead before the manga begins!

In fact, one early arc has the second generation leads team up, like their fathers before them, only for them to outright ruin the legacy of the previous generation by losing a match; after that, they never team up again. It's similar to how Joseph Joestar was often shown off as simply an old man in Stardust Crusaders and, aside from one fight where he got to act like his old self, usually was portrayed as the weakest of the team; Dio even called him out on that. Joseph was essential to their success, and he was a ton of fun to see as an old man, but Araki made sure not to glorify him, at the expense of Jotaro & the others.


Curiously, that's where the last arc of Saint Seiya Omega (which had Masami Kurumada's blessing but not his direct involvement) faltered. While the first year's staff wisely came up with a "curse" that sidelined the original series' protagonists, the second year's staff gave them such major roles that the new generation characters started to get less and less screen time.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:47 pm Reply with quote
Grasser1 wrote:
You do know that you don’t have to shit on every popular manga to praise Jojo, right?


Well, then maybe those manga should perform better if they don't want to be used as negative examples.

Anyway, I do agree that Araki basically splitting Jojo into separate, self-contained stories is ultimately what has helped the series remain stimulating and interesting despite it running for over thirty years. Additionally I feel like Jojo has also kept up with the times. A lot of shonen seems to never really evolve past the point it was first created, often being stuck in a vacuum that can really age stuff quickly. Jojo on the other hand does new stuff all the time and because of that the story feels more organic.
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Olaole



Joined: 06 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:15 pm Reply with quote
Grasser1 wrote:
You do know that you don’t have to shit on every popular manga to praise Jojo, right?


Only the bad ones that deserve to be shat on, honestly. As the author said: One Piece does a great job progressing a rather simple, but long story along a red string of smalelr arcs that is drectly tied to the worldbuilding itself. Hunter x Hunter changes the main character focus for literally hudnreds of chapters and is not afraid to skip ahead or go into greater detail, Kimetsu no Yaiba tells a very 90s style story with a lot more cohesion than other current popular Shounen titles. Kenshin, Nanatsu no Taizai and a few others also have a pretty good grasp on story progression and how to tie escalating powers into their narrative (Arthurian legends in NnT for example). Even Boku no Hero Academia - imho a rather unremarkable and cliched story overall - is pretty good when it comes to handling its overarching plot and sense of scope, power, etc.

It's just that Naruto, Bleach, FT, Titans, Death Note, Black Clover happen to be both really popular and suffer from severe writing issues. But since the genre - by default - aims at a younger, easier to impress audience and mediocre/bad authors tend to employ the cheap tactics detailed in the article as a crutch to keep their manga/income going, these problems tend to be fairly common in the most popular action Shounen. Especially in WSJ since their rating system is the most brutal out of all the big magazines. However, this problem isn't new and isn't limited to WSJ. Even back then series like Rave Master or Shaman King faced similar problems.

Of course that doesn't mean these series are terrible all the time, Naruto's first 150 chapters and Bleach until the end of Soul Society were pretty good. Same goes for the first half of Death Note and pre-Saiyan saga Dragonball is probably THE alltime classic of Shounen for many. But the systematic problems make it hard to stick the landing and move forward if you arent a massively talented author. Retconning/adapting/changing old concepts/events without it feeling forced, cleverly planting seeds for potential future storylines, keeping the escalation in check, using your Checkov's when the time is right, etc. It's what differenciates a good author like Oda, Miura, George RR Martin or Tolkien from the merely adequate or bad ones. And Araki - despite his tendency to leave threads open and forget a few crucial details at times - has created a very unique formula within this system that just works and delivers great stories time and time again.
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Generations



Joined: 21 Jul 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:49 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
The arc Reborn was on before it got cancelled was starting to get pretty until it was cut short. Though in hindsight yes having the series end with the future arc, where the Anime ended, would have been best.


Arguably, I'd say it would have ended better without the Future Arc existing at all. Reborn! turning from a gag manga into a semi-serious shounen tournament-style series was already a bizarre transition that, despite my initial misgivings, worked out... for the most part. And then the Future Arc happened and everything went so far down south it's almost admirable.
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Krunky



Joined: 08 Jul 2019
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:51 pm Reply with quote
All this article proves is that people give a lot of leeaway to Jojo despite it suffering the same problems of its contemporaries particularly with Part 3 and Part 5. At least the author didn't bother to use the "female character" argument in the franchise's favor like a certain CBR article did with MHA last week because that's an uphill battle I don't think you can win even with a female lead in Part 6 spoiler[who is the only protagnist to fail to defeat the main antagonist and its in fact her male counterparts who wind up succeeding.]
Olaole wrote:
Grasser1 wrote:
You do know that you don’t have to shit on every popular manga to praise Jojo, right?


Only the bad ones that deserve to be shat on, honestly. As the author said: One Piece does a great job progressing a rather simple, but long story along a red string of smalelr arcs that is drectly tied to the worldbuilding itself. Hunter x Hunter changes the main character focus for literally hudnreds of chapters and is not afraid to skip ahead or go into greater detail, Kimetsu no Yaiba tells a very 90s style story with a lot more cohesion than other current popular Shounen titles. Kenshin, Nanatsu no Taizai and a few others also have a pretty good grasp on story progression and how to tie escalating powers into their narrative (Arthurian legends in NnT for example). Even Boku no Hero Academia - imho a rather unremarkable and cliched story overall - is pretty good when it comes to handling its overarching plot and sense of scope, power, etc.

He says this while praising Kimetsu and NnT which has suffered the exact same problems as Naruto and Bleach coming into its last arc. Rolling Eyes
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#mlsauder



Joined: 20 Sep 2019
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:28 pm Reply with quote
vanishingblood wrote:
Quote:
Dragon Ball's stakes and power levels escalated to such an insane degree that the anime had to rebrand the Saiyan Saga onward to “Dragon Ball Z” just to make the sudden jump feel justified.

Nice that this author completely makes something up to support her narrative. The name change had nothing to do with what happened in the story.


Hi! I'm the author for this article. The name change for Dragon Ball Z really came about as a result of a different producer taking over the show and the story moving into Goku's adulthood, which coincided with the shift in tone brought on by power escalation and other factors. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2016/10/15/kazuhiko-torishima-on-shaping-the-success-of-dragon-ball-and-the-origins-of-dragon-quest/#5d3ca83725e5)

I did make a leap in logic and attribute the name change entirely to the tonal shift, which I shouldn't have done. It's good that you called me out so that I can be more thorough in my research for next time.
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Yuvelir



Joined: 06 Jan 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:38 pm Reply with quote
If I love something in an action show is when the story's stakes are world-wide but what gives the heroes the determination to fist their opponent is just something small and personal but relatable.
Jojo isn't quite like that but it's nice.

As for One Piece, I don't think it is surviving its length with so much grace. Even if the individual arcs are mostly self-contained they're also very samey in their structure and how they play out. Then there's the power creep which is getting out of hand fast with haki. It hasn't inflated the stakes (for instance the conflict in Wano is very similar to the one in Arabasta) but it puts into question how many past events could even play out like that at all or how some characters could be seen as being on a similar level.

Lord Geo wrote:
It's similar to how Joseph Joestar was often shown off as simply an old man in Stardust Crusaders and, aside from one fight where he got to act like his old self, usually was portrayed as the weakest of the team; Dio even called him out on that. Joseph was essential to their success, and he was a ton of fun to see as an old man, but Araki made sure not to glorify him, at the expense of Jotaro & the others.

This carries its own problems though. There is no point in making a character come back if there is nothing of its old self to be seen.
Joseph didn't need to be as witty and flamboyant as he used to, but it would have helped if he was still reasonably smart and creative (on a general basis, not for a one time glimpse) and his hamon power hadn't been immediately branded as completely useless (beyond how it could be combined with Hermit Purple, him trying to teach it to Jotaro could have resulted in a more satisfying end than punch to the shin explodes vampire head).
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DavetheUsher



Joined: 19 May 2014
Posts: 143
PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:52 am Reply with quote
Krunky wrote:
All this article proves is that people give a lot of leeaway to Jojo despite it suffering the same problems of its contemporaries particularly with Part 3 and Part 5.


That's where the infamous "Is that a Jojo's reference?!" meme comes from. The annoying fanbase inserting it into everything. Wink Jojo's is fun because it's fast and loose with it's writing. But to be honest It's pretty dumb and has some of the worst battles and power scaling I've seen in a shounen. But it gets by because it's so over the top and fun about it's fights its hard to really complain much. It's the definition of fun, but I'd easily take almost any other shounen over it for actual story or coherent battles.

Krunky wrote:
5. At least the author didn't bother to use the "female character" argument in the franchise's favor like a certain CBR article did with MHA last week because that's an uphill battle I don't think you can win even with a female lead in Part 6


The main thing people try to push on Jojo is homosexuality, not female characters. Despite Araki being married a common narrative to be pushed is Araki being secretly a closest homosexual and living out his gay fantasy in the series. Seen a couple reviewers try to say that. But to be fair fujoshi say that about a lot of shounen Laughing
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BadNewsBlues



Joined: 21 Sep 2014
Posts: 3885
PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:00 pm Reply with quote
Krunky wrote:
spoiler[who is the only protagnist to fail to defeat the main antagonist and its in fact her male counterparts who wind up succeeding.]


Which is funny due to the fact

- That Johnathan did not kill Dio at the end of Phantom Blood which would lead to him coming back for Stardust Crusaders

- Joseph actually couldn't defeat Kars do to the latter being too powerful to do outright so Araki had to pull a bit of ass.

- Jotaro and the others didn't defeat Kira but instead watched as an ambulance turned his head into a pancake.

Greed1914 wrote:
I'm not surprised to read that Araki's editor steered things away from Hamon. Early on during Stardust I got to thinking that there had to be a good reason why the story pretty much dropped it in favor of Stands, and it seemed to me like Hamon had run its course, even if there was more story to tell.


With there being no more masks, Joseph defeating the pillar men all by himself, & Dio deciding not to go crazy with creating more Vampires like he did in Phantom Blood there really wasn't really much more to do with Hamon. Sure Hamon was shown to be useful even on non vampire characters but with Stands having their own abilities that outclassed hamon it would've been left in the dust regardless.


Olaole wrote:
And Araki - despite his tendency to leave threads open and forget a few crucial details at times - has created a very unique formula within this system that just works and delivers great stories time and time again.


....Minus a few hiccups and other issues.

DavetheUsher wrote:

The main thing people try to push on Jojo is homosexuality,


To be pretty fair it doesn't help when Araki draws the characters in awkward looking poses or draws them with a particular look (for the earlier parts).

Yuvelir wrote:
and his hamon power hadn't been immediately branded as completely useless (beyond how it could be combined with Hermit Purple, him trying to teach it to Jotaro could have resulted in a more satisfying end than punch to the shin explodes vampire head).


Considering it would've simply been throwing things back to Phantom Blood not really.
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