This was supposed to be the beginning of a great thing in the U.S. The fact that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures part one and two were getting an English dub, was a step in the right direction for the franchise gaining more attention. There was huge excitement, especially for a franchise that has a large following in Japan and the West. So with a dub being made, many believed this was the all-important first step to have the popular franchise become a world-wide success. Then Warner Bros. Entertainment released the dub, and things seemed to go downhill since it’s release. While some fans are more concerned about if this show airs on Toonami, the real issue is will more JoJo ever be released in the U.S.
People should have realized trouble was brewing back when the home media release for JoJo was pushed back for a few months (from July to September). While I’m not sure what the case was, to me that sparks a little nervousness, considering that this was the first dub Warner Bros. released in a long while. Thankfully the series didn’t have a similar situation as the Ladies Verses Butlers franchise has dealt with (thanks to Media Blasters), but the delay certainly didn’t make fans hungrier for the title to be available. So the demand seemed to be low by all accounts of the situation. Which is probably why things haven’t gone as well for the series as hardcore fans would have wanted.
I thought the dub premiere at Anime Expo 2015 would help bring excitement about the franchise. Plus when the cast was announced that included stars like Johnny Yong Bosch, Ben Diskin, and Patrick Seitz I thought the interest in the U.S would grow more. To me, that seemed like Warner Bros. Entertainment was taking this very seriously due to the talent that was acquired for the voice work. When a company acquires the rights (especially to a show that can make or break a companies decision to continue to work in the anime business), they usually treat the series like a sacred cow. They would normally try to do whatever they could to amp up fans to increase interest. What that would mean is that Warner Bros. would have to produce a great dub with solid actors, and a production crew that gave fans what they wanted in a physical release. It looked promising at the start, but after that things just fell apart.
Not a good week for JoJo anime fans. Apparently series 1 isn't selling well and Toonami can't afford it, so TV is out. What's left is…….
— Todd DuBois (@GWOtaku) November 13, 2015
We can look no further than the product that Warner Bros. released. The box looks like something that was put together in one day. It’s a very bare cover, that has simple artwork to TRY and gain attention to potential buyers. Instead of a box that caters to the typical anime fans, it looks more like something you would find at your local Wal-Mart. This box looks more like something consumers would find in the five dollar bin. It’s dull, and doesn’t give anime fans or collectors that experience they normally get from purchasing a new series. But it doesn’t stop at just the aesthetics of the box itself.
It was only a DVD release, which was a bummer to some who love buying Blu-ray Discs. In fact that can stop a lot of people from buying a series altogether. Home entertainment systems have evolved, and Blu-ray quality absolutely obliterates what any DVD can provide. Not to mention that the 26 episodes are squished together on three discs (you can do the math). I certainly think it would have been better if they added at least another disc to space out the episode count. Squeezing nine episodes per DVD disc could easily hamper the video quality to those who have been trained in that field. Usually a DVD release has around four-six episodes per disc, so I was surprised how much was crammed in JoJo’s release. The anime giant Funimation usually give fans four discs for a series that has 20 or more episodes, for quality purposes.
You can compare Warner Bros. Entertainment release with some of Funimation’s releases that are only DVD’s like Fruit’s Basket or Oran High School (which had 26 episodes as well), and it’s not even a contest. Not only did Funimation’s released four discs per series, but they also offered more behind the scenes content than what JoJo gave fans. Going back to Fruit’s Basket and Oran High School, they gave fans little extras like outtakes, episode commentaries, and even a video commentary. What did Warner Bros. give fans? Besides a migraine, just a simple main menu that helped you pick out what language to watch the series a few other settings. That’s what happens when you shove nine or eight episodes on one disc. There’s then no room for anything else, that would make fans want to buy the series. Otherwise your basically buying something TV stations could just play. So of course this release looks as bare as a release can get.
I wasn’t surprised when RightStuf’s CEO Shawne Kleckner talked about how JoJo has underperformed when dealing with disc sales. It was during the ANNCast weekly podcast where that factoid was revealed. I certainly wasn’t happy about that statement, but I wasn’t surprised. The release seemed uneventful and I think Warner Bros. Entertainment was banking on the popularity of the series to make fans go out and buy the first two parts. Like I said, they did have some popular names in the English dub, that could entice anime consumers in the U.S. However, just because the title has JoJo, doesn’t mean that everyone will just fork over their money to buy a release that really seems lackadaisical. The series needed to offer more to warrant people buying in droves.
I somewhat get where Warner Bros. was thinking. JoJo is a popular name especially due to Stardust Crusaders blowing up on Crunchyroll. I couldn’t stop hearing about the series over and over from fans on forums. Plus it was recently revealed that part four was being produced, which had fans going nuts. This series is popular in both media (anime and manga), and it’s come to the point where this series should be more popular outside of Japan. Yet it isn’t, and it’s because of what Warner Bros. is doing/will do with the series that’s hurting it the most. There is time to fix this situation, but I doubt the company would just start from scratch to appease fans here (especially if there isn’t a loud outcry). If they gave the series a Blu-ray release, and added a few features like commentaries or outtakes then maybe the disc sales would be a lot better. So with this release looking poor, there is no hope that the series can make a comeback in the U.S. right?
That isn’t necessarily the case when dealing with anime. Get the anime to air on television or even on a streaming website might help out JoJo’s cause. Thankfully there is a great action block that’s dedicated on giving fans a better cartoon, known as Toonami. JoJo is a show that fans have been begging Jason DeMarco to air for a while now. There’s obviously some interest with anime fans, that could greatly help the show gain more fans stateside. It’s certainly a show that has a “Toonami” feel to it when talking with some of the people here at Toonami Faithful. It’s an action show that would be a welcomed addition to the block. From all the blood, punches, dialogue, and rock band references, I believe that many would enjoy this show.
There is a huge obstacle that is preventing JoJo from gracing Toonami’s lineup. That would be the cost of airing the show. ANN’s Mike Toole was wondering that if the show could air on Toonami on Twitter. That’s when Toonami’s own Jason DeMarco replied to Toole’s tweet about how expensive the show is at the moment. I have a feeling that once again Warner Bros. is telling the people at Toonami, that because this show has a name that everyone knows about, that the action block should spend a ton of money to own the broadcasting rights to the show. It almost sounds like (from the outside looking in) that Warner Bros. thinks Toonami needs JoJo more than the other way around. For this to become a success JoJo is in desperate need for some Toonami love. So this looks like one of the worst ways to do business, especially when it’s out there that the show is under performing. If I was Warner Bros. I would try to give the show to Toonami at a lower price to potentially gain interest and up the sales of the physical release. For me personally, I like to watch a couple of episodes (if I can), before I decide to purchase the series. There are probably many other consumers who feel the same way I do about making the decision about buying a series. Warner Bros. need to showcase the show, to prove that it was done with the intent of making fans happy (reliable and well produced dub). Instead, he have Warner Bros. acting greedy because they have a “name” brand. That will do nothing but shutout their show from gaining the Toonami audience (and that’s an important audience in the U.S.).
There might be some fans who believe that Toonami doesn’t need to have the show in it’s lineup. Obviously the action block would survive without it, but it’s such a unique show that would be fun to air. While, it has your typical action and fanservice (mainly with Lisa Lisa in one episode), it was a fun series to watch from start to finish (I own the series myself). What I enjoyed most was Robert E.O. Speedwagons’ commentary during the action scenes (it almost seemed like it was making fun of other anime shows that have characters explaining their attacks to their enemies). On the plus side, it sounded better than 80 percent of the commentators in the NFL (Keith Silverstein did a great job). Also the poses are silly and really had me enjoying the series from start to finish. Good action and solid music is always a great way to get hooked onto a series, which JoJo did. I am a fan of the franchise after watching the first two parts. And I am one of those fans that would love to see part three receive an English dub. Right now it just looks like a wasted opportunity for Warner Bros. since it hasn’t taken off.
What we have right now is a mess, and I will put it squarely on Warner Bros. Entertainment’s shoulders. They had something that is immensely popular, and couldn’t deliver to the U.S. fanbase. Maybe since this project wouldn’t destroy the entertainment company, that they didn’t think they had to really wow fans with the psychical product. I’m not saying the dream of this franchise expanding are done, considering how One Piece made a revival thanks to Funimation gaining the licenses. However, I do think it’s initial release will damage the brand and make it impossible for JoJo to air on Toonami as well as for any future season arriving stateside. That really is the ultimate goal when it comes to anime in the U.S. If it airs on the action block that gives it a large audience to consume the product and potentially buy it. Instead fans of the series will have to wait until the license expires with Warner Bros. for anything to change. If it doesn’t, then things will stay the same, and a truly interesting series will be lost in obscurity.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He struck many poses while writing this article and hope you did while reading it. Feel free to talk all things JoJo with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris