The Spring 2019 Manga Guide
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
What's It About?It has been ten years since the defeat of the vampire Dio. But like all great evils, his legacy reaches out far past his final demise, influencing those of like minds and similar agendas. His shadow now looms over the sleepy, quiet Japanese town of Morioh in the form of a vicious serial killer named Angelo, his power given to him by the same arrow that once made Dio's great army of Stand users. In order to stop him, Jotaro Kujo has given chase, finding not only Angelo but the illegitimate son of his grandfather.
He is a young teen named Josuke Higashikata, a new heir to the Joestar legacy. In spite of initial misunderstandings and hostility, Jotaro is able to enlist Josuke and his own, powerful stand ability, Shining Diamond, in the hunt for Angelo. But Josuke must be careful, for he must not only protect himself from Angelo, but his family and friends, as Angelo is vicious and will do anything to continue his macabre rampage. And even without Angelo, the seemingly peaceful town of Morioh holds things far darker, far more twisted. If Josuke is to survive, he must summon his friends and every ounce of courage in his body, for a new threat lurks around every corner.
Diamond is Unbreakable is the fourth part of Hirohiko Araki's Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, which first began serialization in 1987. Jojo's is published by Viz Media, retailing for $19.99 physically and $10.99 digitally.
Is It Worth Reading?
I always enjoy Jojo's Bizarre Adventure for the same few reasons: the over-the-top insanity of plot, characters, and art, the way each JoJo is a different character from the previous, and the sheer creativity of each story arc. Diamond is Unbreakable, the fourth entry into the overarching series, is no exception to any of these even as it reinvents how the narrative is laid out. This time the story opens with Koichi, an unassuming high school student in 1998 Japan basically stumbling into the crazy world of Stands and guys named JoJo. He's the point-of-view character for the opening chapters, which, while not a strict departure from the earlier stories, is still enough of a change that it's worth noting. He feels more like a Captain Hastings to JoJo's Poirot than Watson to Holmes, but it's basically the same thing when it comes to introducing the new storyline – that Joseph (two JoJos ago) had an affair that resulted in Josuke, and Jotaro (last arc's JoJo) has come to find him.
While this hardly endears Joseph Joestar to me personally, it does allow the story to make only a small jump forward in time while still bringing in a new protagonist, and as an added bonus keeps the former one young enough that his presence doesn't feel like a rehash of Stardust Crusaders. That said, I'd still strongly recommend being caught up on the previous storylines before picking this one up, most specifically Stardust Crusaders. Hamon, the main power from the first two, may not be a major force now, but you'll need to know about Stands and it definitely helps to be familiar with Dio and the name Speedwagon.
The crux of the matter as of this oversize volume (the same page count as earlier Jojonium editions) is that someone has a way to create artificial stands using a special bow and arrow, and that somehow Dio, although dead as of the previous arc, is still mixed up in it. Jotaro wants to figure out what's going on, and Josuke'd kind of like to know, too, because he has no real clue what his Stand is or why he has it. The drawback here is that this feels like a much slower start to the story than previous arcs; it isn't until the end of the 367-page volume that we truly figure out what the quest is going to be. The upside is that Josuke is given the chance to develop as a character – he's easily the kindest Joestar descendant since Jonathan, and his Stand is even rooted in his inherent kindness, able to repair anything (or anyone) broken. As with other JoJos, the cruel death of someone he loves is the catalyst for truly coming to understand his power, and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his sweetness and learn to allow people to say bad things about his hair as the story goes on. It isn't quite as instantly engrossing as previous arc-starts, but if you've been enjoying the manga right along, the slower beginning here isn't likely to be much of a detriment to your continuing to do so.
After the epic scale and world-ending catastrophe of the last Jojo Part, Stardust Crusaders, the beginning of Diamond is Unbreakable is comparatively modest, calmer. I mean this in purely comparative terms, however. It's fundamentally still Jojo: We begin by chasing down a serial killer, violence and extreme perversity are reveled in to what would be an alarming extent if it wasn't all so campy, and there is still much screaming about Stand abilities. But lowering the scale on any level, from multiple megalomaniacal vampires to a small-town set of brothers who simply want to grant their mutated father the mercy of death, speaks to a shift in values.
It's this shift that, in 2016 when DavidPro released their anime adaptation, made me fall in love with the sleepy town of Morioh, and made me the massive Jojo fan I am today. Part 4 has sometimes been criticized for its lack of a strong narrative throughline relative to other Parts, and although every Stand encounter certainly isn't created equal, (the initial arc with Angelo feels like a leftover from Stardust Crusaders in all the unpleasant, gross ways) I'd argue this is one of its greatest strengths. It allows for our main cast to just simply be, lending them an amiable humanity that none of the over-the-top archetypes in the first 3 Parts ever had.
But the more powerful aspect of the change is best showcased in the encounter with the Nijimura brothers. Everything I love about the Part is here: Extremely creative Stand battles, loveable characters, and a surprising tenderness. The conclusion of this arc is not conventional Jojo; the main villain isn't so much beaten as he is revealed to have a surprising sympathy in his motivations. And when he does die, it is not a moment of triumph, but a moment of tragedy, of surprise, of self-sacrifice.
“In his very final moments, my brother protected me.”
“Yeah. I saw it. Your brother protected you…” Josuke affirms.
Josuke Higashikata is the kinder, gentler Jojo of a kinder, gentler Part. Sure, like the art and storytelling, he might be rough-around-the-edges and a little too quick to fly into a frenzy at the slightest derogatory mention of his hair. But his heart is large and beats deeply in his chest. He only wants to do right and play video games. And in a Shounen landscape that always emphasizes the large, the Earth-shaking, and in so doing can often forget the heroism of simple, basic kindness, Diamond is Unbreakable is something sweet and special.
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