JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Figuration Libre

If you want to praise JoJo I think you would talk about its sense of humor combined with its unique narrative, especially the visual aspects of it. Like, it is fun to watch a vampire whose head was just split in half putting it back together, but having it a little off, so he has to adjust the two pieces, which seems to make him slightly annoyed.

Even better is to watch two dudes fight, where one throws a steamroller at another, and then both repeatedly punch it to make the machine hit the opponent. There are hundreds of awesomely stupid things like that in the series, and they all work because of how the show presents them. It is not all about actions scenes either, this anime can make even a static image work. Like this one, when an ark antagonist assumes a ridiculous pose and the anime treats it like focal point:

Dio Brando

It isn’t just one particular antagonists, they all do the poses

The whole anime is like this. People act as if they are actors on a stage, they strike poses that look like they belong to an athletic dance performance; the events are unpredictable and ridiculous while the characters are always in dire predicaments. You never know what would happen, would they outsmart their enemy or would they just overpower him or her, or will they get out on a sheer luck.

The anime went through four generations of JoJos already, each had their unique visual style, interesting quirks and interesting people to hang out with. There is a lot to say about each of the JoJos, a lot to praise in each season. But if I were to guess what would not make it to the list of praises I’d name the art style and animation.

JoJo is one of those (un)fortunate anime that were adopted from a manga with a got a huge and dedicated fan base. It is a common theme now to try to appeal to such fans by treating the source material with an utmost care. This usually means that the script, the key scenes, the character designs, all would be made as to follow the manga as close as possible. But JoJo took a step further, adopting an animation style that brings the characters closer to their manga look. This can be seen in the Stardust Crusaders, where character designs are notably heavier, which limited the fluidity of the animation and the diversity of the facial expressions. Take a look, can you imagine these faces moving very much? Right.

D'Arby

Polnareff and Kakyoin

Joseph Joestar

But even when the art style is this restrictive you can find animation gems. There was an episode where two brothers were trying to attack Jotaro Kujo (the third generation JoJo) and his friends. The younger brother had a power that allowed him to read near future in his comic book. It is not clear to me how much of an advantage this gave them, but the comic book did look pretty awesome. Here, take a look.

Boingo's comic book

This comic book inspired two alternative ending sequences made specifically for the episodes that feature this comic book. I’ll post a few screenshots from the second ending below ^^

You can watch the whole thing too, I definitely recommend it. Here is the first one:

What I found especially interesting is that this art style looks very similar to something called Figuration Libre, a French artistic movement. Here some examples of how this art looks (these are works of Robert Combas).

Do you see some similarities? When I first saw that JoJo’s ending I was very impressed by how unique it was, and I was even more impressed later when I realized it was an artistic influence of this not very well known French art style. I think this is the role those progressive art movements should play, discovering new forms of expression, new interesting aesthetics, and then giving them to the public by influencing popular commercial works, such as illustrations, decorative artworks and TV animations.

So what I wanted to say is, even in a show like JoJo you can find some awesome pieces of art, if you look carefully. It would be easy to brush aside this ending theme as some lazy weird joke, since the animation imitates still motion which creates an illusion of simplicity, and it would be easy to ignore it because the the art style looks so childish, while in fact it is very deliberate. Good job, whoever is responsible for this awesome piece of animation ^^b

JoJo's scenery

Just putting a few cool looking pictures here, which have nothing to do with Figuration Libre. Don’t mind me.

D'Arby

^^/

Kakyoin eating eyeballs

Okay, I’ll stop now -.-

If you want more art style talk, check out this post on Madoka Magika and postmodernism. If you wanna read more about JoJo, here are a few reaction posts on the first and second seasons.

Spring season 2014 – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

The title meant to say that among the great variety of titles that are going to be released this season I am picking only one. And that is the newest incarnation of JoJo series – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. Once again I’m going to see how those overbuffed guys will fight Dio’s minions in order to save Jotaro’s mom. Why not :P

JoJo Stardust crusaders mess

yeah, I think I can dig that

I haven’t read the manga, yet I did watch the OVAs, both the original and the one made in 2000. So I think I am familiar with the plot. Though I’ve heard that the OVAs I’ve seen are somewhat rushed, and there was manga material left out, that gives me hope to see something new too.

If that is your first time seeing Stardust Crusaders, don’t worry I’ll try not to spoil the upcoming events. Also I don’t think you really need to know anything about the previous seasons too, so if you don’t feel like watching the 2012 JoJo series (which is a prequel to Stardust Crusaders), don’t bother. On the other hand you’ll miss a pretty good anime.

JoJo Stardust crusaders Jotaro

Jotaro, new JoJo

So what do I think about this show. First, I liked the opening in the original OVA much better. And I liked the ending theme in the 2012 series much better. Is that a fair criticism? No.

Also I think this anime would have been better if they used more hand drawn look for the art style. But I do appreciate that they are experimenting with their attempt to make it look like “moving manga” or something of the sort.

And last thing, after seeing Joseph Joestar in the last series where he (spoilers!) killed indestructible immortal men that lived for thousands of years, well, after that seeing him take spirit photos as his main ability is kinda weird. Where is his ripple techniques?! Okay, sorry, I almost digressed into ranting.

JoJo Stardust crusaders Dio

By the way, I wonder if Dio can possibly be more powerful than pillar men?..

End of spoilers :P But seriously, it is really hard to write about this new anime without comparing it to 2012 TV series and previous OVAs. So I apologize, but I think my posts will be pretty much filled with references to those anime.

Till the next time (^_^)/

My other posts about JoJo – list.

To be the first one to see the newest posts, follow me on Twitter or tumblr. To see the catalog of the posts published in this blog click here.