Housewives, toddlers, senior citizens and dogs with the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jacked and flamboyant heroes duking it out with super-powered manifestations of their fighting spirit called stands. The destiny of the Joestar bloodline is written in blood and tears. In syndication since 1987, Hirohiko Araki’s “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” has become a worldwide phenomenon due in no small part to David Production animating every page with reverence since 2012. With the fifth season, “Golden Wind,” wrapping up this summer, there’s no better time to be or become a “JoJo” fan.
“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” consists of eight parts, each following a different member of the Joestar bloodline who can feasibly be nicknamed JoJo. Yes, it’s a requirement. Part five takes place in the year 2001 in Italy and features Giorno “GioGio” Giovanna, whose stand, Gold Experience (named for the 1995 Prince album), has the power to give life to objects, turning them into small animals or plants. Giorno joins the mafia-esque Passione in hopes of rising to the top and ceasing the group’s egregious crimes. He shares this goal with six friends: five other stand-using gangsters — Narancia, Fugo, Abbacchio, Mista and their leader, Bruno Bucciarati — as well as Trish Una, the daughter of Passione’s boss, Diavolo. Together, Team Bucciarati must defeat Diavolo’s stand-user cronies and eventually the boss himself, whose stand, King Crimson, can bend reality to his will.
As “Golden Wind” is faithfully adapted from its source manga, much of its appeal must be attributed to the story penned and inked by Hirohiko Araki 20 years ago. “JoJo” is equal parts action, comedy and heart. Any mishap may be the work of an enemy stand, and each one’s ability is more insane than the last. Grateful Dead causes everyone nearby to rapidly age to death, Beach Boy manifests as a fishing rod that can enter a body and tear out the heart and Oasis allows its user to swim through solid ground.
The series intermittently breaks from the excitement in favor of iconic and absurdist humor, such as episode seven’s torture dance, where Team Bucciarati dances to psychedelic visuals while roasting their enemy’s eye with focused sunlight. “Golden Wind’s” most enduring appeal, however, is in the genuine fellowship, forged from adversity, that its heroes share.
David Production deserves praise for the care they’ve taken in bringing Araki’s tale to life. From reference-laden credits sequences whose secrets are revealed only at the season’s end, to the shifting color palettes that define iconic fights, to a 40-second recreation of a seven-page beat down, David Production’s love for the source material is infectious.
There’s a special kind of joy to Hirohiko Araki’s storytelling. The brazen declarations of righteousness. The contorted poses that the heroes strike while flexing their power. Discovering what musical reference and off-the-wall stand ability will be on display next. Mista’s bullet-riding gremlins, the Sex Pistols, delighted to no end.
“JoJo” entertains beyond the screen with an adoring fan base in every corner of the Internet and every crevice of popular culture. Season five was most certainly a gold experience, and David Production’s next rendition of the bizarre adventure will be worth the wait. Until then, the “JoJo” references will keep us going.
A version of this article appears in the Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 print edition. Email Fareid El Gafy at [email protected]