Volume 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood is the star of the epic story of the Joestar family, which starts by focusing on Jonathan ‘JoJo’ Joestar, a simple, good natured young man living in 19th century England.
Jonathan lives an idealistic life in the countryside. He lives with his father in a giant mansion and has fun playing with his beloved dog, Danny. Sadly, everything begins to unravel when Dio moves in – the son of a man that Jonathan’s father believes he owes his life to. Dio has a dark side and Jonathan seems to be the only one who can see it.
As with the first volume of most ongoing mangas, as you read this you can tell it’s mostly just to “set the scene” for the story that’s to come. I guess that’s kind of unavoidable. Nonetheless, there are quite a few shocking and unexpected plot developments which keep the story moving along. They also do a good job of making Dio someone that you really love to hate, because he’s so nasty and manipulative.
I also really appreciated the opportunity to see 19th century England through a manga lens. It’s a setting that I have always been very fond of and it’s very interesting to see it interpreted in this way. From the scenery to the character’s characters outfits, I find the aesthetic very appealing… Even if it is a little over the top at times.
Speaking of things being over the top, you may find that the general mode of storytelling is a little over the top. Specifically, the character’s inner monologues are sometimes a little “on the nose” as they say and it feels as if their intentions and motivations are being spelled out a little too clearly for you. At times, it might seem silly, but other times it’s kind of endearing.
Overall, it’s an interesting volume and the start of one of the most famous mangas in history. If you’re a fan of manga, then you might just want to give this a try, although I am not sure that I would recommend it as your first manga.
(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)