This week I’m starting to go through one of the longest running shonen manga ever to come out in the US.

Manga Title: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 – Phantom Blood, Volume 1
Story and Art by Hirohiko Araki
Translated by Evan Galloway
Touch-Up and Lettering by Mark McMurray
English Adaptation Edited by Urian Brown

Available from Amazon.com

The Premise

It is the late 19th century. Jonathan Joestar (or JoJo) is  the son of some minor nobility in rural england. Several years prior, Johnathan’s father was saved from a carriage wreck by a very unpleasant man named Dario Brando. After Dario’s death, his cunning, devious, and evil son, Dio Brando comes to live with the Joestars. Meanwhile, JoJo has been studying a mysterious mask that his father had brought back from an archeological expedition in Latin America – one which responds strangely to blood…

High Points

Araki is a great artist with a really strong sense of style. His characters are really expressive, and his backgrounds are profoundly detailed. Also, Araki does an impressive job of making Dio an unquestioning horrible villain, who is totally unsympathetic, but who is completely understandable in his motivations.

Low Points

Imagine if someone with no knowledge of late 19th century England tried to write a story set there, with their only research being watching episodes of “Upstairs, Downstairs” with all the dialog replaced by the trombones used in the “Peanuts” cartoons for dialog from adults.

Scores

Originality: This is one of the earlier works of manga I’ve seen set in this time period. Further, Araki’s… loose understanding of the period makes for a plot that can’t not be unique. 5/6
Artwork: See the high point. 5/6
Story: See the low point. 3/6
Emotional Response: It’s a rare work that causes you to laugh at it and with it to equal degrees of frequency, while also causing you to legitimately flinch a few times. 4/6
Characterization: Dio is a detailed two-dimensional character. Everything that fleshes out the character reinforces the two-dimentionality of the character. The rest of the supporting cast runs into problems due to the Low Point. 4/6
Flow: 6/6
Overall: This isn’t an unquestioning recommendation, but I had a lot of fun reading it. 4/6

In totalJoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 – Phantom Blood, Volume 1 gets 30 out of 42.