Have I ever mentioned that I love JJBA?
Having run for 25 years, over 8 arcs in which a whole new cast of characters is introduced each time, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has exactly one metric motherfuck of characters. And herein, I select something of a balance of personal favourites and generally great characters (admittedly my favourite of the lot is #3, but I don’t quite consider him the best).
P.S: A couple of these writeups will be copypasta’d in part from previous writeups because what even is the point in rewriting the exact thing I already wrote?
Jolyne is sort of a halfway point between her dad and her great-grandfather. She has Jotaro’s badass delinquency and one-liners, mixed with the thuggish hot-headedness of Joseph.
Though she’s never quite as good at being either of those two as they are, she also gets a decent backstory explaining her delinquency, featuring the all-too-common factor in JoJo backstories (daddy issues). And once she decides to try and reconcile with her father, she is perhaps the most determined and unflinching JoJo of the lot.
Controversial choice, I guess, since Dio is perhaps the most iconic character in the whole franchise. But let’s face it – Dio is basically two-dimensional as hell. Aside from the “Daddy Issues” excuse, he’s completely irredeemably evil – he’s never even really displayed as anything else until the Stone Ocean flashbacks, when we see how he was around his allies.
But no, even though he isn’t an especially well-written character, Dio is so fucking good at being evil it’s hard to care. He’s one of the most creatively evil villains ever written – from chucking Danny in the incinerator to walking up walls with his superstrength to toying with Jonathan’s jugular, Dio is a joy to watch.
This becomes even more obvious in Stardust Crusaders – as short as his screentime is in it, he uses The World like a kid with a new toy, fucking things up at whim in an almost Joker-like fashion.
Thank fuck for Gyro. That is to say, without him, we would have had no interesting protagonist to carry Steel Ball Run until Johnny eventually came out of his shell. Character development, beeyatch!
Even early on, though, Johnny wasn’t bad, though mostly because he had Gyro to bounce off of. In a way, their dynamic was similar to Caesar and Joseph from part II, but with the roles reversed.
Unlike them, though, the breathing room in Steel Ball run allowed for more Seinfeldian dialogue, building up the bromance between the two of them, allowing us to gradually get attached to Johnny whilst Gyro carries the weight. And once we learn about Johnny’s backstory, how he became crippled, and why he dislikes Diego – oh yeah, and Daddy Issues ™ – you understand his character a lot better. He starts off unmemorable but by the end he’s one of the best JoJos.
Jotaro is pretty much the poster-boy for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and with the possible exception of Dio he’s perhaps the most iconic and beloved of the lot. Following on from a ridiculously strong lead in the previous arc, Jotaro took the lead by letting the rest of the cast take the lead, allowing him to be cool, stoic, and rarely break a sweat, – Jotaro is about as cool as they come.
He’s calm and collected at all times, but this doesn’t keep him from emotional moments – if anything it serves to make them more intense. It’s been stated by Hirohiko Araki that he doesn’t really know how to act around people, and tends to assume people know what he’s thinking anyway (which is of course completely wrong). This comes back to bite him in his relationship with his daughter, in spite of him always having the best interests in mind for her.
WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU IN ALL STAR BATTLE ARGH
Anyway, Steel Ball Run was where Araki finally got the hang of backstories. He’d tried them numerous times before, but with few exceptions (Jolyne, Pucci, the Zeppelis, and that’s about it) they were always superfluous.
Every significant character in Steel Ball Run has a backstory – and each and every one improves the character, providing basis for their motivations instead of being the only substance they have. And while Diego’s backstory is an obvious ripoff from Tezuka’s Dororo, it adds a lot to what could have just been a Dio clone, making him sympathetic where the original was not, having built himself up from his terrible childhood to a successful jockey.
Despite being similarly ruthless to the original, he’s not amoral, and straddles the line between villain and anti-hero, making him a dynamic character and a joy to watch.
Jean-Pierre Polnareff is a character we love for being… well, an idiot. Polnareff is fucking stupid from start to finish. Amusingly so. He’s comic relief, in the sense that he’s the Butt Monkey of the team. He also set the trend for a specific member of the cast to constantly be the first to get attacked by the stand user of the week (followed by Oyakusu and Narancia). However, on top of this, Polnareff actually has probably the most character development of anyone in Stardust Crusaders.
Initially, Polnareff was a distant, lone wolf (and in the anime version, he was also willingly working for Dio as opposed to having been brainwashed). He felt no loyalty to the team, and was only working with them out of convenience to try and find the man who killed his sister. By the end of it, he’s extremely loyal to, uh… the surviving members of the team, partly through the sacrifice of certain others.
You know what, I’m just going to stop there. I can’t really go into more detail without saying who dies. If you’re annoyed that I told you that anyone dies, don’t be, someone always dies in JJBA. It’s a given.
Anyway, short version is that he’s lovably stupid and has some pretty solid character development.
Part VII wasn’t just where Araki got the hang of backstories – the dialogue is noticeably much better, and Gyro supplies the bulk of it.
Though Johnny is technically the protagonist, Gyro firmly led the story, bringing Johnny into the Steel Ball Run to begin with, being the first to have a backstory and a motivation to be in the Steel Ball Run, and most importantly, being one of the most instantly loveable and attention-grabbing characters in the entire JoJo saga.
It’s quite hard to not love Gyro – he’s wacky, loveable, creative, compassionate, and has one of the most noble goals in an arc full of noble goals.
At this point you have probably worked out what my favourite arc is, if you didn’t already know.
Funny Valentine is quite easily the most underrated JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure character (seriously, 9 MAL favourites, what the fuck).
Despite being the arc’s villain, he has perhaps the most noble goal of anyone – to secure prosperity for his country. If he wasn’t so deliciously evil about how he did it, he wouldn’t even be a villain.
But thankfully, he is. And due to the nature of his stand, he’s ridiculously good at it. D4C makes him damn near unstoppable, and he executes every action he takes with it in the utmost of style. “Dojyaaaaaaa~n”, anyone?
Like pretty much everyone in Steel Ball Run, his backstory makes him so much better than he would otherwise have been. Even before he went into politics, he’d fought tooth and nail for his country. He’d been through hell for it, even having the Stars and Stripes carved onto his back in the process (incidentally this is like the coolest piece of character design I swear).
He is also an extremely dynamic and unpredictable character. His face is an unreadable mask, and he is all too silver-tongued when he needs to be. In spite of his willingness to do anything to reach his goal, he has a sense of honour, ensuring to keep his promises – though sometimes only in the most literal sense.
His defeat is one of the best moments of characterisation in JoJo, though. I won’t say exactly why what with spoilers and all, but his final actions are equal parts one of the most heroic and evil things in JJBA.
Kira’s characterisation revolves around an excellent paradox: his desire to live a perfect, normal life, in contrast to his carnal desire for women’s hands… forcibly separated from their bodies.
This is shown excellently by his various strange and meticulous habits, but more than anything by his stand. Killer Queen is one of the stands stated to have formed as a manifestation of its users will. Ignoring for a second that Killer Queen has an absolutely bitchin’ design and a brilliant name pun that works on god knows how many levels (listen to the song in question if you don’t get it), it’s a perfect representation of Kira. It suits him down to the personality, the appearance, and especially how well its ability suits both him and his needs. It’s probably the most perfect stand-to-user matchup in the entirety of JJBA.
This even carries over to his afterlife as shown in the Deadman’s Questions arc of Under Execution, Under Jailbreak. While most of his previous life is a mystery to him, his drive for normalcy in the face of being born into deranged circumstances is what drives him. I think it’s a great reflection of his character.
It also helps that this is a great contrast to the usual JJBA Big Bads. Dio wants to continue raising his vampire minions and live like a king, feasting on virgin maidens. Cars wants immortality. Diavolo wants to maintain a gang of superpowered mobsters, and keep his identity hidden. Pucci wants the end of the world (sort of, it’s complicated). And Funny Valentine just wants his fucking napkins. Against all this, Kira just wants to hang around with his… girlfriends.
Also, fun fact: his design is based on David Bowie.
Joseph Joestar is perhaps the quintessential JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure character.
While Joseph is a dead ringer for Jonathan in appearance, you would never mistake one for the other – they’re polar opposites in terms of personality. Where Jonathan was noble, gentlemanly, and generically heroic, Joseph is brash, loud, and not afraid to pick a fight.
On top of that, he’s not just willing to fight dirty – fighting dirty is his defining character trait. Not that he is without a sense of honour, though – his reasoning for picking fights is always noble (well, almost), and does not hesitate to put himself in harm’s way for a loved one.
While this does, to some degree, make him sound like a standard idiot hero shonen protagonist, the key factor that sets Joseph apart from the ilk is that his attitude is misleading – he’s incredibly smart and quick-witted, and always prepared. Joseph is a big fan of Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War”, and it shows in his continued pragmatism in combat and his constant trickery.
And that was my top 10 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure characters. If you think I’ve made a mistake here and missed out a character I shouldn’t have, then feel free to shut the fuck up and stop being a whiny little bitch.
Or just post a comment. That’d be kinda nice.
I desperately crave attention.