I’ve developed a weird relationship with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures (JJBA) as I’ve been reviewing every home media release of the series. I’m often left in awe at the creativity of Hirohiko Araki in the world-building and characters he’s developed. However, there have been issues I’ve had with the series that leaves me feeling mixed about it more than I care to admit. So I was a bit hesitant about Diamond is Unbreakable, but rewatching the series in English has revitalized my love and passion for the franchise. I believe this is the best story arc for JJBA (as of now) and couldn’t be happier with the first 20 episodes.
Diamond is Unbreakable takes place in the vibrant town of Morioh, where we follow high school student Josuke Higashikata, and his friend Koichi Hirose. The two bump into Jotaro Kujo, who was sent to find out why there has been a recent uptick in individual stand users and to fix the Joestar family drama. We learn that Joseph Joestar had an affair with Josuke’s mother (Tomoko Higashikata), making Josuke the Jotaro’s uncle. Morals aside, Josuke feels terrible that his existence is causing issues within the Joestar family and tells Jotaro that he isn’t interested in making things more complicated. However, the more significant plotline for Diamond is Unbreakable involves Jotaro’s search for the stand users that have popped up in Morioh. Seeing that Josuke has his own stand, Jotaro asks for his assistance. The two Joestars end up fighting a stand user named Anjuro, who killed Josuke’s grandfather during Anjuro’s run-in with the police. After Angelo is captured, Jotaro and Josuke learn that Anjuro received his powers from a bow and arrow. So it’s up to Josuke and Jotaro to find the artifact, as well as the person responsible for creating stand users. But we soon find out that there’s been something dark lurking that is about to be uncovered by Josuke.
What makes Diamond is Unbreakable stand out (besides the beautiful colors of Morioh) was the storytelling. The first arc, when Josuke and company have to find Enya’s bow and arrow was a compelling storyline that keeps viewers engaged during the first four episodes. Josuke had to fight off Anjuro, who was formidable in his own right, and later take on the Nijimura brothers (the ring leaders of the recent uptick in stand users). Both battles were engaging, funny, and brutal, but none of the brutality felt out of place or perverted. I didn’t like how far Anjuro went with a bystanders’ dog, but given how twisted he is, it made sense. Plus, the fight between Shining Diamond and Worst Company was a highlight, despite being in episode three. But it was able to set the tone of Diamond is Unbreakable as well as foreshadow what to expect in the future.
The story continued to stay interesting as the group chased after Akira, who stole the bow and arrow after Keicho Nijimura was murdered. And while I don’t view Akira as anything special, the fact that he was able to avoid getting captured quickly helped the story flow more naturally. The main antagonist kept shifting, and watching his downfall made Diamond is Unbreakable quite enjoyable. We even get callbacks from the previous series, with Joseph Joestar making an appearance during the search for Akira. The main storyline of Diamond is Unbreakable never loses its shine and keeps viewers interested in what will happen next.
When your crush leaves you on read: pic.twitter.com/aDQQfsdgrC
— VIZ (@VIZMedia) August 7, 2019
Thankfully, minor side stories filled in the necessary gaps and gives this series a nice change of pace. These episodes did a lot to help build Morioh. Shizuka Joestar episode (the invisible baby), Tamami Kobayashi battle, Toshikazu Hazamada one-off, Tonio’s restaurant, and Koichi’s getting into a relationship with Yukako all helped create a vastly beautiful area. It was a trend that was established after the first battle with Anjuro, when viewers got a narration about “Anjuro’s rock.” During the first 20 episodes, we get to take a tour of what Morioh Town has to offer and see all of the landmarks and tourist attractions that make the town fun. It felt like I was actually moving to this fictional area and becoming a local.
It isn’t until we reach episode 17 that things start to pick up. It’s when Reimi shows up laying down the plot that the rest of the series follows. She wants her murder to be avenged and to stop this dark cloud from covering Morioh. Many people have gone missing or have died, more so than the national average. Reimi begs for both Koichi and Rohan to figure out who is the cause of this and to stop them from continuing to plague Morioh. Both eventually accept the request, as we find out Rohan was saved by Reimi and is ultimately the reason why she died. He learns about his family’s past as well as Reimi’s family, creating pathos for Rohan that I wasn’t expecting. And now the race is on, for Koichi, Rohan, Josuke, and all the other stand users who’ve aligned with them, to find out who the murderer is.
Surprisingly, viewers find out who is the main antagonist of the rest of the series at the end of episode 17, as a blonde man nearly crashes into Koichi with his car. We then see this man talking to a severed hand, creating tension as if to will our main heroes to find him. This moment was the cherry on top, as these 20 episodes were flawless.
Okuyasu… are you okay? pic.twitter.com/HmU4Wn9ntn
— VIZ (@VIZMedia) August 5, 2019
What makes Diamond is Unbreakable even more memorable is how impressionable the characters are. I loved the designs for nearly everyone, with Rohan catching my eye the most. While he’s an odd character and a little disturbing, aesthetically he’s fantastic. But everyone’s style seemed cool to me. Even Josuke, despite his bizarre hairstyle. His suit and buttons look great for a lead character. Much like with Jotaro (who returns in an equally attention-grabbing outfit), being able to design a main character to look great is vital. But the designs for many of the characters emotionally appealed to me. Characters like Keicho Nijimura, Reimi, and Akira all looked stunning and helped build this franchise to be as stylish as it has ever been. I couldn’t get enough and loved the amount of screen time each received.
The music also surprised me at how much it improved the scenes of the series. A lot of the tense moments featured some great music that added to the impending doom that our heroes would face. Plus, I loved the music that was played when Koichi started to become stronger with his stand. It provided an exhilarating tone that I found enjoyable. I don’t usually notice the music in JJBA, but in this series, I found the music to be a step above what other JJBA parts have had.
As far as the negatives for the release, there weren’t any that stood out. I do wish we could’ve had more episodes that dealt with the main storyline of getting the bow and arrow back. Or to see Koichi and Josuke get closer to finding out who the mass murderer in Morioh is. But the side adventures with other stand users were enjoyable and added the bizarre tone that JoJo is known for. Besides the invisible baby one-off episode, I found the stories not involving the main plot to be fun. Other than that, I’d like to see the opening in more episodes, but that is a personal preference.
The English cast of Diamond is Unbreakable is a memorable one. I found the performance by Zach Aguliar (Koichi) to be the most impressive out of everyone. Hearing him scream and reach a higher range was something I wasn’t expecting. Plus, Aguliar had to explain a lot during these episodes, showcasing how well he narrates events in his own right. I was also impressed with Faye Mata as Yukako. She was able to flip a switch to go from lovesick puppy to deranged lunatic on a dime. Finally, this was Billy Kametz’s breakout role, and he nailed Josuke in spades. He gave the youngster an excellent bravado sound that didn’t come off as overly confident. Kametz doesn’t disappoint and does the Joestar family tree proud with his performance. Other notable performances include those of Jason Marnocha (Keicho Nijimura), Allegra Clark (Tomoko Higashikata), Frank Todaro (Tamami Kobayashi), and Kira Buckland (Reimi Sugimoto).
VIZ Media continues to impress with the boxes they make for their JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure releases. It’s in the same style as the previous versions and include a key animation booklet. The booklet has some terrific stuff that I found fascinating. VIZ Media also included interviews with the English cast (Billy Kametz, Zach Aguilar, and Jalen K. Cassell) that many fans will enjoy.
What happens next? Wrong answers only! pic.twitter.com/zUv3wGBS5i
— VIZ (@VIZMedia) August 1, 2019
I needed to rewatch Diamond is Unbreakable to remind myself what makes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure great. It’s a franchise that is wildly unique and brings together some fantastic characters. However, it was the story that has taken over my love for this series. The little bread crumbs that set up the major plot points to come is writing at its peak, and the tone of Morioh Town is something else. It can go from a colorful lovable area to a dark, bleak place when you look in the right places. Diamond is Unbreakable keeps viewers interested, and all of the stands and crazy villains that show up that will leave you satisfied. I’m sold, and Diamond is Unbreakable is the best part yet!
Pros: The best storytelling JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has to offer; amazing and memorable characters throughout; the art style and setting to represent Morioh Town; great villains; a fantastic OST; side stories were just as fun to watch; the foreshadowing for future arcs; the English cast.
Cons: Wish that more episodes had the opening song; Joseph Joestar’s moral compass.
C.J Maffris is the senior staff writer at Toonamifaithful.com. Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris