The main way JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure sets itself apart from other stories is in its structure. By following multiple stories across a long-reaching timeline, each with a new mostly new cast, the series is able to explore different structures, directions, and themes while never losing the feeling of being a cohesive unit. Every part differentiates itself from the others in major ways, giving every reader a part that appeals to their specific subjective tastes.
But screw subjectivity, now is the time to rank all of the parts of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure that have been completed so far.
Part 1: Phantom Blood
Yeah, you all saw this coming. Despite kickstarting the international phenomenon that is JoJo’s, the introductory saga is the one fans spend a lot of time telling their friends to just push through to get to the good stuff. It may come as a shock then that it’s actually a lot better than many may remember.
To be clear, Phantom Blood is Jojo's Bizarre Adventure in its least polished form, by a longshot. For every cool character, there’s another with no personality; for every memorable drawing, there’s another that’s comically awkward; and for every creative and inventive fight, there’s another where the good guys win by doing nothing more than walking up to the bad guy and punching them really hard. And yet, the strengths it does have are bolstered by the ripple effect (pun intended) the arc has throughout the rest of the story.
Without spoiling too much, major events throughout the rest of the series are sometimes so closely tied to the events of Part 1 as to contextualize the entire saga, adding layers of depth to what initially seemed like a mostly straightforward good-vs-evil narrative. For those that didn’t like this part the first time around, we strongly recommend revisiting it after catching up to the rest of the series so as to experience it in a whole new light.
Part 6: Stone Ocean
And here it is, easily the most divisive part of Jojo’s. Some say it’s a train wreck that was derailed by too many changes in direction for one story; others say it’s an artistic masterpiece with some of the most interesting philosophical musings in popular fiction. Both stances are completely accurate, to be fair, and Honey’s Anime does not aim to discredit smart themes in manga, but to make those themes compelling to the reader, the narrative that communicates them must first be interesting and Stone Ocean doesn’t do as good a job there as most parts of the series do.
The funny thing is that this arc shapes up to be great at first. The main hero and villain are written and designed in very compelling ways, some of the series’ most memorable minor antagonists are here and the premise of a JoJo’s story centered around a prison escape has a lot of potential as a concept. The problem comes with the aforementioned changes in direction. We’ll try to avoid spoilers again, but some characters have arcs that amount to nothing, others drop out of the story completely and even the cool jail setting ends up being strangely underdeveloped for JoJo’s, and our heroine Jolyne and her crew escape it a pretty long way before the finale.
Speaking of Jolyne, she represents another issue with Stone Ocean. Yes, we did just say she was both written and designed well, but the problem doesn’t come from her as much as from how much author Hirohiko Araki wanted to focus on her. Part 6 is far too focused on its heroine and the rest of the arc’s cast don’t get to shine much as a result. It sometimes feels as though Araki created them and then decided not to pursue his plan for them at the last minute and just have them sit on the sidelines for the rest of the story. It comes off as uncharacteristically sloppy for him.
Part 2: Battle Tendency
Few improvements are made as swiftly in manga as the leap from part 1 to part 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. In fact, Battle Tendency seemed to be going almost out of its way to fix all the major issues we had with Phantom Blood. The art has been polished tremendously, now arguably showcasing the apex of the 80s muscular action manga style; we’re treated to one of the coolest and funniest heroes in JoJo’s alongside a small, but strong supporting cast; and the eponymous battles are marked by brilliant strategies and intense duels of wits.
The pacing may be a bit off at times and some of the twists in the plot may ring a little hollow, but Battle Tendency remains a great example of why we love JoJo’s all the same.
Part 5: Vento Aureo
If you’re looking at this series for extremely well-written and expertly drawn fighting, then this is the part you’ll probably like the most. The superpowered showdowns of Vento Aureo are among the best in the genre, thanks to a varied set of abilities from friends and foes alike and the extremely inventive scenarios they’re put through.
If you’re hoping for anything more meaningful than that, you’ll probably find this part to be just average as far as JoJo’s is concerned. There are certainly endearing characters and the art is great, just like almost all of the series, but the overall plot fails to leave the sort of impact many fans are used to. The issue mainly stems from our hero, Giorno Giovanna. He has some cool moments and is an irreplaceable keystone to the themes of the saga. However, he has no arc to show these themes, not changing or growing as a character, not learning any new insight from his journey and finishing it with almost the same characterization as when he started. As a result, the impact of the narrative is cushioned, leaving us to have to keep it out of the top 3 in spite of its many qualities.
Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
It’s the most widely known segment of the JoJo’s story and also the most uneven. This is the arc that famously introduced the concept of the stand power to the canon and you can tell that Araki was still figuring them out when he wrote it. He plays around with many of the different powers and encounters in the part and while some work wonderfully, others fall completely flat.
It also suffers from some fairly poor pacing, with a mid-section that stretches on far too long and battles that are resolved far too abruptly. With that being said, when Stardust Crusaders gets it right, it gets it very right, being responsible for some of the most popular lines, visuals, and scenarios in all of manga and for good reason. Even the "bad" parts aren't even really that bad. Unmemorable maybe, but Araki's flair and unmistakably genius action sequences are on full display during the entire story and elevate moments that would be cringe-inducing in other manga into something so truly unique that readers will have no choice but to stay glued to the page.
Part 7: Steel Ball Run
Much like Phantom Blood (which this part takes a lot of inspiration from), Steel Ball Run is a fairly straightforward hero's journey story. So, what makes it so much better? Well, simply put, everything.
It’s the execution, not the concept, that truly makes a story and part 7 features some of the best delivery of this classic story type seen in recent memory. Not only is the art gorgeous, not only are the poses wonderful, not only is the action phenomenal, not only are the characters lovable, but the entire arc simply exudes mastery from every angle.
Panel layouts are expertly arranged in a manner that captivates the eye as if emulating the cinematography of Leone or Kurosawa; the small interactions between characters feel like reading a long-forgotten conversation with an old friend, the plot is laced with intrigue, deep character development and nuanced conflicts. Steel Ball Run is simply a triumph for comics in every regard.
Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable
Yeah, it’s going to be pretty hard to top what we said about Steel Ball Run, but in a way, we aren’t really even trying to. Part 4 is not as technically impressive as part 7, it’s not as iconic as part 3 and its action sequences aren’t as gripping as part 5. So why is it the best part of JoJo’s?
If we had to sum up Diamond is Unbreakable in one word, it would be love. More so than any other part of the story, part 4 feels like it’s made with love being poured into every pen stroke. You do believe that Araki truly loves these characters, this setting, these events, this story. Each aspect is crafted not only with the expertise of a seasoned craftsman but with the passion and adoration that is only reflected in a true classic.
Of course, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a great series and although some installments may not be as good as others, each forms an integral part of a phenomenal franchise that has more than earned its right in the pantheon greatest manga of all time.
But what are your favorite parts of JoJo's? Let us know in the comments and stay posted to Honey's Anime for more.