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Well, that was an experience, and one that lived up to the title.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 is, presumably, the first of several live action adaptations of the Jojo’s[1] manga and anime franchise.

I liked it, but it isn’t the sort of film I’d normally watch.

The Franchise

The Jojo’s franchise is enormous. According to Wikipedia the original manga started in 1987 and is still running[2]. It is apparently up to 121 tankobon volumes and still going.

The franchise includes a couple of anime adaptations, several light novels, drama CDs, video games, etc.

Diamond is Unbreakable[3] adapts the fourth arc in the manga.

The Stands

The core premise of Jojo’s appears to be Stand users: people who can project beings who will fight (or do other things) for them on a sort of astral plane. Only other Stand users can see Stands. The main character, Jōsuke Higashikata, has a Stand called Crazy Diamond that can restore objects to their original form, including the injuries of others, but not heal himself or restore life. He can also use it to implant objects inside people.

The Film

Directed by Takashi Miike, Diamond is Unbreakable is quite an experience. The visuals of the fictional town of Morioh is unlike any Japanese town I’ve ever seen. No doubt this is because a lot of the filming took place in Spain.

I’m not going to go into details of the story, I’m going to focus more on the feel of the film. First up this is a very violent film – it is rated MA+ in Australia for a reason – but the violence never felt gratuitous as such.

As might be expected from Takashi Miike, Diamond is Unbreakable looks and sounds like a manga come to life. From all I’ve heard Jojo’s is a wildly over the top franchise, and Diamond is Unbreakable delivers that in spades.

The hero Jōsuke Higashikata is interesting. He’s referred to a “Jojo” because both the “jō” and “suke” characters can be pronounced that way, and the name can be read as a protector. To begin with he’s not that motivated to protect anything but the hairdo[4] and his family. However when he fails to protect his grandfather, suddenly It’s Personal and Jojo steps up to be a hero and a protector.

However Jojo doesn’t kill, and will use his Stand to heal when he can. That said, Jojo’s idea of punishment when deserved can be deeply chilling.

Diamond is Unbreakable does a good job of giving the villains credible motivations[5], and a solid justification for the inclusion of the Defeat Means Friendship trope.

The weaknesses of the film are born from its strengths: this is an effective adaptation of a manga, but contains a couple of characters who do very little in this instalment. They may well be developed in later films, and were probably welcomed by franchise fans, but possibly detract from the film for newcomers.

That said, there’s remarkably little Continuity Lockout in play here. The story is generally accessible to the newcomer, and moves along at a fair pace.

The Verdict

Diamond is Unbreakable is not my usual sort of film, and the Bizarre Adventure part of the title is well and truly justified.

However I did enjoy it at this length.

I’m not likely to check out the long running anime or manga. I am likely to check out any sequels to the movie that emerge, at least for the first one or two. Screening in limited release in Australia at the moment (e.g. Dendy), I recommend checking it out.

Here’s the trailer:

[1] I’m going to refer to the franchise as a whole as Jojo’s.

[2] Although it transferred from Weekly Shounen Jump to Ultra Jump in 2005.

[3] I’m going to refer to the film as Diamond is Unbreakable.

[4] Which will be hilarious for any players of Sentinels of the Multiverse familiar with Greazer and the Impeccable Pompadour card. Speaking of which…IMG_3991.jpg

[5] Even if I don’t agree with them.