More than an established classic, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a curiosity – an extravagant, atypical manga with a unique set of pop-cultural references. Hirohiko Araki’s work is considered today to be an imaginative centerpiece, which, while not always successful, has always sparked discussion.  In total contradiction with typical manga at the time in its inception (late 70s-early 80s),  Phantom Blood, the first part of what would become a lifetime series, already stood out. With the eccentric choice of Victorian England as a setting, when most manga were set in Japan, Araki was set to create one of the most referential and referenced stories of all time.

Phantom Blood, Battle Tendency, Stardust Crusader, Diamond is Unbreakable, Golden Wind, Stone Ocean, Steel Ball Run and Jojolion – let’s go for the full 30-year retrospective.

One inspiration = One part of the Jojo’s saga

What gives Jojo a unique dimension is the source of inspiration from which the series draws its theme. Thus, each part of the manga, from Phantom Blood to Jojolion, takes as its source of inspiration a classic from cinema or from literature. To not spoil the upcoming anime release of part 6, Stone Ocean, I will only mention the first 5 parts of the saga.

Phantom Blood

Phantom Blood is very much inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with both works set in Victorian England and protagonists with the same name (‘Jonathan’) whose lives are irrevocably changed with one faithful encounter. For Jojo, this encounter is Dio, and for Stoker’s Jonathan, with Count Dracula.  In both stories, we follow a Jonathan who discovers a macabre truth about their newfound acquaintance. The protagonist must then make a difficult decision to confront said truth: in Dracula, whether to stay with the Count or return to a more secure lifestyle, while in Phantom Blood, Jonathan must renounce Dio’s humanity in order to save his family.

Maybe Jojo’s Jonathan becomes a representation of Van Helsing, a vampire hunter and sworn enemy of Dracula. Great power always comes with great responsibility, doesn’t it? Jonathan will stay true to this maxim while Dio will forcefully reject it.

Battle Tendency

Battle Tendency is inspired by Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this part, focused on Joseph Joestar, we can recognize several concepts adapted from the emblematic film. What’s more, the manga takes place in the same time period as this Indiana Jones flick, in a post-war WW2 context, with our heroes fighting remaining Nazis. Joseph resembles Henry Jones Jr., and shares with him a fearless, daredevil attitude that particularly stands out when faced by difficult situations.  

There is also a Pandora’s Box central to both works: this eponymous lost ark, and in Jojo’s, the discovery of bodies encased in a pillar of ice. Opening these Pandoras Boxes will unleash antagonists that must be stopped at all costs.

Stardust Crusaders

After his first two works, Araki wanted to test a new approach. Indeed, Araki was interested in fighting his true style that would differentiate himself from other mangaka, even confessing that he “did not see [himself] as a true mangaka” and “did not know what kind of mangaka [he] wanted to become”. From this tormented creative mind emerged the defining concept of Jojo’s – the iconic ‘stands’.

Stardust Crusaders is inspired by Jules Vernes’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

While Vernes’s work is a clear inspiration, Araki only loosely adapted the original concept of the novel, the protagonist Phileas Fogg’s obsession with his race against time. keep the basic concept of the film adaptation. So, it is mainly the eagerness felt in the two works that will have the best part. In the Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg is obsessed with this race against time. In Stardust, pressed by the energy-sapping evolution of Holly Joestar’s stand, Joseph and his grand-son Jotaro must embark on a trip round the world to save her life.

The two works also have a very similar finality. Phileas Fogg finishes his quest mere seconds before his allotted time, it will be the same for the Joestars, with the conclusion of this part of the manga played with moments to spare.

Diamond is Unbreakable

Diamond is Unbreakable has a slightly different approach, in comparison to the three previous parts.  The manga’s setting is the peaceful town of Morioh, based in part on the town of Sendai, Hirohiko Araki’s hometown located in Miyagi Prefecture. In this part, the eccentric but beloved author stand-in character, Rohan Kishibe, appears in the manga.

Part 4 is shrouded in mystery. Inspired by the American film Psycho, we will follow the story of a mysterious serial killer in parallel with the adventures of Josuke, Koichi and Jotaro. Appearing like a perfect man to the unsuspecting eye, the serial killer is actually a psychopath who kills, kidnaps, and dismembers his victims.

Golden Wind

Based on the classic Scarface, Part 5 tells the story of a small-town thug who wants to take the throne of a Mafia godfather. The story begins with the appearance of a new drug on the black market which utterly destroys those who consume it. Our protagonist Giornio must fight not only against this scourge, but also discover the identity of the mafia boss to take him down. This deadly chase will see our heroes switch between the roles of hunter and prey. Golden Wind has a very linear plot but is made up of many twists and turns will keep you going.

Music as Stand-art!


One of the author’s pleasures is intrinsically associated with creation and names in his manga. The author started to mix his imagination with music before the stands started appearing in part 3, Stardust Crusaders, thereby inspiring a folklore of character names and stands full of references. As a music lover, the author takes great pleasure in placing musical references in his manga. This was his own habit to create the most unique mangas. It’s simple: the wider your musical culture, the more you will be able to pinpoint a particular reference. To shed some light on this, let’s go back to our previous sections, part by part.

Phantom Blood

Most of the references of the first paragraphs on Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency relate to the names of the characters. Protagonist, antagonist, extra, company name, everything goes. Now, let’s start with the most charismatic villain created to date (yes, that’s totally a subjective opinion – laughs): Dio Brando is inspired by the American heavy metal band Dio. His underlings, Dire and Straizo, are inspired by English rock band Dire Straits, Bruford by musician Bill Buford, drummer for the group Yes.

The side of the “good guys” is not left out, since the nickname Zeppeli is obviously based on the popular group Led Zeppelin; Robert E.O. Speedwagon comes from the rockband REO Speed ​​Wagon and Tonpetty, the monk who teaches the wave to Antonio Zeppeli, is a nod to American musician Tom Petty.

Battle Tendency

For this part, the future Madame Joestar, aka Suzi Q, takes her name from the musician Suzi Quatro and the song Susie Q by Dale Hawkins. Staying in the Joestar family, Lisa Lisa, who will prove to be a great ally by giving our heroes the necessary weapons, takes her name from the band Lisa and Cult Jam. Also, Aja’s famous red stone, central to the plot, takes its name from Steely Dan’s album, Aja. The men of the pillar, Santana, Wamuu, Esidici, and Kars, have names inspired by the music groups Santana, Whami, AC / DC, and The Cars.

Stardust Crusader

With the arrival of the stands, the author has a whole new playing field to work on. But it is on different characters that the author will let off steam the most: Iggy, the famous little pug dog who has conquered many hearts of fans, is inspired by musician Iggy Pop, Jean-Pierre Polnareff is named after French musician Michel Polnareff, Muhammad Abdul was named in reference to the American singer Paula Abdul. While we’re at it, let’s also talk about Abdul’s stand: Magician’s Red has an attack called Crossfire Hurricane, a name that comes from the first line “I was born in a cross-fire hurricane” of the song Jumpin ‘ Jack Flash of the Rolling Stones. Rubber Soul (Rabā Sōru) takes its name from the Beatles album Rubber Soul, Hol Horse is named after the American pop-rock duo Hail and Oates, Vanilla Ice after the rapper of the same name, etc., etc., etc…

Diamond Is Unbreakable

Diamond Is Unbreakable is where the author unleashes his creativity with musical references in the characters’ stands. Indeed, Crazy Diamond, our hero Josuke’s stand, is named after the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd. Koichi’s stand, Echoes, is named after the eponymous song by Pink Floyd (again them), Okuyasu’s stand, The Hand, is a reference to Canadian rock band The Band. Rohan’s stand, Heaven’s Door, is linked to Bob Dylan’s song Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. Yoshikage Kira’s stand called Killer Queen and his power evolutions Scheer Heart Attack and Another bites the dust are references to the group Queen’s songs. A little last for the road? Akira Otoishi’s stand, Red hot chili peppers, is… I’ll let you guess;)

Golden Wind

In Golden Wind, the concept is the same: the stands are almost all references to music or others, and the author is clearly loving it. Giorno, our hero with great ambitions wanting to become godfather instead of the standing godfather, has a stand called Gold Experience, which is a reference to the album “The Gold Experience” by singer Prince. Our hero’s name is a nod to Italian singer Giovanni Giorgio Moroder. A lot of characters have stands with the exact same name of an album or a group’s same: Bucchelatti’s Sticky finger stand is named after a Rolling Stones album, Mista’s stand, Sex pistol, is a direct reference to the English rock band, Prosciutto and his stand Grateful dead, etc., etc … the list is still long, and I could keep talking about it!

Even though I only scratched the tip of the iceberg of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, I have to proclaim two absolute truths! First, the author is a crazy music lover who, in excess, constantly picks the reader’s brain with his gestures, each event, each new encounter. Second, Hirohiko Araki has a lot of culture, and he humbly puts this knowledge at the service of his work, de facto creating a second reading of the same work which is as unusual as it is rich.

It is Hirohiko Araki’s mastery that gives his manga a simplicity and a certain complexity which, together, create an incredibly well written work with its unique signature.

For an author who struggled to make his personal mark and differentiate himself from his peers, you could say that this is a complete success!


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