It may sound unusual, but Jojo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki has been out for about 30 years. For all the time of its existence, manga has not lost a single gram of its charming style and still can surprise us. Many other famous shounen anime and manga have stumbled over their own ambitions and sizes when Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is still interesting. So how does Jojo's manage to be interesting? We decided to continue talking about Jojo's, referring to AnimeNewsNetwork and today we will discuss how JoJo's structure allows him to be relevant and what it can teach other manga artists. Also read the past article for the roots of manga and anime's insane style.
The danger of a drawn-out manga
The longer a story goes on, the more likely it will stumble over itself. We can see this in other stories, from the stories of Sherlock Holmes after his resurrection to the Star Wars sequels. This can happen for a number of reasons, but for the shonen, the main problems are characters losing their purpose and refusing to innovate. If a story stops grounded in its reality and breaks its own rules or freezes, stops developing, it loses the magic that made fans love it.
This problem is expressed in the fact that manga artists are forced to adjust to the ratings. If a new manga does not gain popularity in the ratings or sags from time to time, the author may never be able to tell the whole story as he wants. Thus, mangakas use cheap tactics, for example, introduce new abilities for the hero out of nowhere in order to raise the rating and dynamics. But then, if the manga becomes very popular, the magazine's editors will push the mangaka to keep the story going further than he intended.
The author must ensure that the story takes advantage of the adaptation and does not hinder it. If it's the other way around, we end up with a bunch of silly stories that look more like a parody of ourselves. Making a long-lasting shonen in a competitive format is tricky, but Araki avoids it due to his part structure.
A clear goal that the heroes achieve
Each JoJo's part tells the story of a member of the Joestar family. Each piece varies in decor, style, and length, but they all involve the supernatural threats that the Joestars struggle with, as well as shared themes of fate and family. One of the key elements that makes this structure so effective is that each piece focuses on a few important characters, and those characters have clear goals that they actually accomplish.
The goals of the protagonists are easy to empathize as they are based on familiar emotions that all people experience at one time or another: Jonathan wants to prevent his brother from hurting anyone, Jotaro wants to save his mother from Dio's influence, Johnny wants again learning to walk, and so on. And since each part is its own separate narrative that naturally ends when the goal is achieved, there is no room for stagnation. Each hero contributes to the ultimate goal of protecting the Joestar family from supernatural evil, but they are allowed to solve personal problems within their own parts.
When a manga has no clear purpose or continues beyond the point where it comes to a logical conclusion, there is no sense of direction in the story.
Relevant Bets for Every Story
The next advantage of the "parts" structure is that it gives each segment the freedom to set its own rates for the heroes. The third and seventh parts of the magicians are epic adventures that unfold in many locations. Therefore, it is logical that the heroes' opponents can pose a global threat.
Parts 4 and 8, by comparison, are tales of small towns where the greatest threat is, for example, a serial killer who wants to live a quiet life. The stakes go up and down according to the needs of each part, but they always stay at a level where readers can empathize with the characters.
Many manga artists will continually raise the stakes in their stories to keep readers impressed enough and boost ratings, but gambling the entire universe and getting characters to throw meteorites at each other usually doesn't work in the long run. This goes hand in hand to give the characters clear goals - people care about other people, not broader concepts, so raising rates from "one person will die" to "the whole universe will be destroyed" alienates readers instead of make them get carried away. Dragon Ball's stakes and power levels increased to such an insane degree that the anime had to evolve into Dragon Ball Z for the sudden jump to be justified.
If JoJo's arcs were unified, then everything would slide into intergalactic wars. This is unnecessary and is not what the readers subscribed to. JoJo's has always been insane but reserved when it comes to raising rates.
Development against stagnation
Newcomers to JoJo's are often surprised when they realize that there are no Stands in the first two parts. Instead, they feature Jamon, a fighting style that uses breathing techniques to channel the energy of sunlight towards an opponent. It is very effective against the legions of vampires that Jonathan and Joseph have to fight, but it is not particularly useful for fighting humans and has no variations to make every Hamon user feel different.
Araki said in a 2012 interview for the JOJO menon special edition that his editor got tired of Jamon after the second part and asked him to come up with a power that was less limited. Thus, he came up with Stands that are based on the fighting spirit of a person and can take any shape. Initially they were "ghosts" who fought for their users, but over time Araki introduced many other types of Stands that keep the system fresh even after 30 years.
If Araki had limited himself to Jamon or the first Stand option, we would never get insanely creative fights such as Josuke's final confrontation with Kira. The series may have ended as Death Note, which met with fan backlash for its second season when it introduced the not-so-perfect replacement for L.
And this applies not only to battles. Part 1 was a heavy Victorian melodrama, but each part subsequently goes its own way in terms of tone and genre. An action-packed adventure, a hardcore gangster thriller, a prison story, a western ... These wild shifts can be enjoyable for everyone and pretty much ensure readers enjoy some parts more than others, but overall they help each protagonist's story feel. fresh and independent.
What lessons can other shonen learn from this?
Obviously, not every long-term shounen can start over with a new protagonist. It would be interesting to see how another title uses the generational style that JoJo's uses, but there are two things worth copying to other shonen. First, set clear goals for your characters that pay off naturally. And second, don't be afraid to develop the concept instead of just raising rates and power levels.
One Piece has done a fantastic job of maintaining interest in its story after nearly 1000 chapters, and that's because it uses the islands that the characters visit as separate "parts" with their own storylines, character arcs and goals. The overarching goal of finding the treasure will ultimately be achieved, just as the Joestars will ultimately rid the world of evil, but what holds readers back is lesser victories.
The use of minor characters also allows the focus to shift away from Luffy from time to time, giving the other characters the option to have their own full story arcs to help refresh the anime.
"Dr. Stone," on the other hand, is very attentive to the sequel. After the love story of Taichu and Yuzurihi was solved in the first few chapters, they no longer served any purpose in the narrative. Thus, the author traded them for the villagers of the Stone World, whose individual goals are much better aligned with Senku's goals to create a new society with science. Taiyu and Yuzuriha end up returning as minor characters with different roles in the story, which suits them much better.
Not everything in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure history works perfectly. Araki has a habit of forgetting some of his rules, which causes problems ranging from small inconsistencies in the Stand's abilities to whole threads of the plot. But the structure of the "parts" is ingenious, and other mangas that deal with the serialization system can learn valuable lessons from this. We hope more manga like One Piece and Dr. Stone, take inspiration from Araki's work, so the shonen world just gets bigger!
The Topic of Article: How does Jojos Bizarre Adventure keep its brand for 30 years?.