After the grand adventure that was Stardust Crusaders, the next few parts of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure veer off in different directions. They keep the same basic structure —a ragtag group of Stand users team up to fight a rogue’s gallery of bad guys before taking on the main villain—but are wholly unique in their own ways.
Let’s check out Diamond is Unbreakable and Golden Wind, which are the last two animated parts available right now, and see where they fit in the bigger picture. What are their strongest points? and, could you skip straight to them if you really wanted to? Join us as we find out!
Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable
- Episodes: 39
- Air Date: April 2016 – December 2016
- Prerequisites: Stardust Crusaders (recommended)
Up until this point, every JoJo story has been about going on a journey to save the world from an all-powerful evil, but Diamond is Unbreakable is pretty much the exact opposite of that. Josuke Higashikata, the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar, hangs out in 1990s small-town Japan with his school buddies and uses Stand powers to do things like cheat at the lottery and save himself from falling off a windowsill.
Part 4’s Stand battles are even better than before, showcasing unusual applications for seemingly straightforward powers and varying the structure much more than in Stardust Crusaders. They mesh well with both the slice-of-life atmosphere of early Part 4 and the tense serial killer hunt it turns into later. We also get to see Jotaro as a mellowed-out mentor (which some fans prefer over his rude Part 3 persona) and Joseph as a withered old man who still has that mischievous sparkle on the inside. The story largely stands on its own without relying on older parts for context, but watching Part 3 can be helpful for background info on returning characters.
Verdict: The mix of slice-of-life, Stand battles, and the serial killer plot can sometimes step on its own toes, but Diamond is Unbreakable is chock-full of heart and is perfect for people who like a more relaxed pace in their anime.
Part 5: Golden Wind
- Episodes: 39
- Air Date: October 2018 – currently airing
- Prerequisites: Stardust Crusaders (optional), Diamond is Unbreakable (optional)
Golden Wind, also known by its Italian name Vento Aureo, takes the Stardust Crusaders formula and transforms it into a hardcore gangster drama in early 2000s Italy. Our protagonist this time is Giorno Giovanna, the son of Dio (who, through vampiric powers and bodysnatching, managed to have a child in modern times who is technically a Joestar). His personality is a mix of Dio and Jonathan, possessing the cunning and pragmatism of the former and the righteous heart of the latter. He joins the Italian mafia in order to reform it from the inside and ends up embroiled in a conflict much bigger than he imagined.
Despite being criminals, the members of the gang we get to know are universally likeable and complex characters who grow and change throughout the story. And since Giorno isn’t actually the leader, it creates an interesting dynamic where each member learns to trust him and believe in his dream for a better world. The battles are also fantastic, especially since they’re almost always fought to the death. Golden Wind’s story is so self-contained that you really don’t need to watch any other parts beforehand, but Stardust Crusaders and Diamond is Unbreakable help explain Stand arrows and such.
Verdict: If you’re looking for an R-rated gangster thriller that’s bursting with the unique style that only Araki can bring to the table, you’ve found it. Golden Wind hasn’t ended yet, but we know from the manga that it’s well worth the weekly wait.
How We Got Here
Hirohiko Araki has been writing the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga for over 30 years now (not that he looks a day over 30 himself) and is now up to part 8. We’ll save manga analysis for another article, but suffice it to say that the series is still growing and changing in new ways. Araki created the “parts” structure in the first place as a way to try out new genres and characters while telling the story of a single family, and it’s also helped him avoid common shounen pitfalls like power creep, filler, and stagnation. He does tend to forget random Stand powers and minor plot points sometimes, but as long as you don’t think about it too hard, you can focus on the amazing characters and writing instead.
JoJo has always been a beloved institution in Japan, but before the 2012 anime adaptation of Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, it was almost unheard of in the West. There were a few video games and a lackluster OVA series (all based on Stardust Crusaders, which is why it was many Western viewers’ introduction to the franchise), but there was no official English translation of the manga and no adaptation that captured the joy and energy of Araki’s work. David Productions has done a wonderful job so far with bringing the manga to life through its modern anime, and we can’t thank them enough.
Ideally, a new viewer should watch every part in order and then read the rest of the manga to catch up to the present. But if you’re just starting out and want a taste of JoJo in your favorite genre, it’s certainly doable to skip straight to the part you’re most interested in. Just make sure you go back and watch everything else eventually!
What did you think of our overview? Who is your favorite JoJo protagonist? Do you think we’re heretics for allowing new fans to skip parts? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!