After a year-and-a-half-long hiatus, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure returns with its latest iteration, Jojolands. The previous part of the Jojo manga, Jojolion, began in May 2011. The anime series adapting the manga, which drew in scores of new fans, didn’t begin until October 2012. As such, Jojolands will be the first part of the manga that most fans will be starting together simultaneously.
Expectations are understandably high, and, in my opinion, Hirohiko Araki seems poised to exceed those expectations with Jojolands. If there’s one thing Araki knows how to do, it’s how to write a gripping and enticing beginning. The first chapter is already one of the most exciting introductions to a Jojo part I’ve read. The characters, setting, and stands already have excellent potential for a captivating read that will leave fans begging for more chapters.
That being said, let’s review and recap some of the elements that make this one so exciting.
[Warning: mild spoilers for Jojolands #001: Mechanism]
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s newest Jojo
Our brand-new ninth Jojo is Jodio Joestar, a 15-year-old high school student and smuggler living in Oahu, Hawaii. He is another grandson of the alternate universe Joseph Joestar and a cousin of Yoshikage Kira/Josuke 8.
I appreciate that Araki established Jodio’s connection to the Joestar family tree right off the bat. While the mystery of Josuke/Josefumi/Kira in part 8 was fun and captivating, it will be nice to have a Jojo where the mystery of his family tree isn’t a major plot point for this part. However, his name does seem to be an indication that there may be more going on with this character than we realize. Perhaps his as-of-yet unnamed father is a descendant of Diego Brando?
If we’re looking for a main-timeline character that Jodio is most like, the parallels between him and Giorno Giovanna are apparent. They are both 15 years old, involved in a crime ring, and seem to have an unwavering, single-minded goal. Jojolands could very well end up being the alternate timeline’s version of Golden Wind.
While Jodio’s goal of becoming “filthy rich” is understandable, it’s not immediately the most interesting motivation for a Jojo we’ve seen. It will be interesting to see how Jodio’s character and motivations may change and evolve as Jojolands progresses.
His character design is already appropriately quirky and memorable. From his unique hairstyle to his flashy pants, Jodio’s outfit and look are another fantastic addition to Araki’s character design portfolio. I can’t wait to see the outfit in full color!
As a side note, Spanish-speaking fans were quick to point out that Jodio’s name means “f***ed up” in Spanish. I can’t help but wonder if this was intentional, and if it was, that is hysterical.
While some parts of Jojo have a gradual build-up to the formation of the main squad for the part, Jojolands has already given us a pretty solid foundation for what appears to be the JoBro gang for Part 9.
In the first chapter, Araki introduces Dragona Joestar, Jodio’s older sibling, Paco Lovelantes, a high school super-senior, Meryl May, their crime boss, and an as-of-yet unnamed fifth character.
Dragona Joestar already has the potential to be an excellent JoBro. They’re an 18-year-old high school student who Jodio refers to as male, but presents as very feminine. While Dragona’s gender identity is as of yet unclear, it’s already apparent that many fans are hoping for them to be openly trans or genderqueer. It would be a big step for queer representation in Jojo, and manga in general, so I personally hope that Dragona’s gender identity will be handled respectfully and affirmingly.
Additionally, they already have some clearly defined character quirks. For instance, they only eat watermelon for breakfast and a huge fan of Dua Lipa. (I wonder which Dua song Dragona was listening to that caused them to drive “unsteadily” and get pulled over. My money’s on “Physical”; that song has a similar effect on me.)
Paco Lovelantes is a 19-year-old super-senior and a partner in crime to Jodio and Dragona. We don’t know much about him yet, except that he has a rough home life and is a kleptomaniac. However, it’s already clear that he is rough-and-tumble but likable, and the foundations of JoBrotherhood are already there.
Meryl May Qi is the gang’s crime boss and a certified girl boss. In addition to being this gang’s equivalent of Bruno Bucciarati (or at least Polpo), she is also a high school principal, a fashion designer, the owner of the Iko Iko fashion boutique, a wife, and a mother. Clearly, she’s a busy lady. What’s not as clear is what her role in the story going forward will be. Does she have a stand? Will she be a major player in the plot? Or is she more of a side character who gives the main squad their jobs? Only time will tell. I hope to see more of Meryl May, and I think it would be excellent if she gets a Stand.
Finally, Araki briefly introduces us to an as-of-yet unnamed fifth character. Although we know very little about him thus far, it’s apparent from his design that he’ll be a major player. Additionally, judging by his behavior, it seems like he will be the designated goofball of the squad.
Although we don’t know much about these characters, their backstories, or why they live a life of crime, the groundwork has already been laid out for the formation of an excellent main squad for Jojolands. It will be fascinating to see which of these characters stick around and whether we’ll be introduced to more main characters in subsequent installments.
The stands in Jojolands
In the first chapter alone, we’ve already been introduced to three new stands. So far, there’s Jodio’s “November Rain”, Dragona’s “Smooth Operators” and Paco’s “The Hustle”. While none of their powers have been clearly defined yet, we’ve already gotten several hints as to what these new stand powers may be.
Jodio’s stand “November Rain” is already the clear highlight. It’s got a unique, memorable design, reminiscent of other non-humanoid stands such as “The Grateful Dead”, or perhaps the Martian tripods from War of the Worlds. Its powers are water-based (as the name would suggest). It appears as though the stand can create highly localized, deadly rain (perhaps acid rain) that can melt/liquefy humans. Its name is a reference to the classic Guns N’ Roses song.
Dragona’s “Smooth Operators” is a reference to the classic 80s hit by Sade. It is another colony stand like “Sex Pistols” or “Harvest”, composed of many tiny robot-like creatures. This could potentially be an interesting parallel to recent advances in nanotechnology. The stand’s power seems to have something to do with changing the physical appearance of things, like ID cards and license plate numbers. Its usefulness in crime, therefore, is already apparent.
We haven’t seen much of Paco’s “The Hustle” yet, other than its appearance and name. However, it seems to aid Paco in his pickpocketing endeavors in some way by making his muscles sticky or allowing them to grip things in an unusual way. Its name is a clear reference to the disco classic of the same name by Van McCoy.
Though we have a long way to go before we see these stands full potential, they’re sure to have some interesting battles in future chapters.
Araki has been teasing for a while that Jojolands would be set on tropical islands. We now have a definitive location for that: Hawaii.
While we haven’t seen much of Hawaii thus far, it will be interesting to see how the island location interacts with the storyline. We are sure to get plenty of island-hopping and ocean-related antics as the plot progresses.
It’s also clear that this is another present-day or near-future Jojo part. The early-on references to COVID-19 and Dua Lipa situate Jojolands firmly in the post-pandemic era. The real-world reference to COVID was especially interesting. Although it’s not super likely, it will be interesting to see if post-pandemic life ends up interacting with future chapters.
What’s Next for Jojolands and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures?
Like many other Jojo parts, the plot heading forward is not readily apparent from the outset. However, the gang already has a clear objective: steal a diamond from a wealthy Japanese tourist’s villa on Hawai’i island. This mysterious Japanese tourist will clearly be someone of importance, whether to the plot or the Jojo canon in general. It will certainly be an interesting reveal when we find out who the tourist is. It also seems likely that this diamond heist will kick off the main plot for part 9.
Jojolands chapter 1 is already a fantastic start to this latest part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The characters and stands are the highlights of what is already shaping up to be another captivating and charming installment in this fantastic series. Waiting a month for the next chapter is going to be painful, but wait we will, with bated breath.