C’mon, admit it: you’re just as enthralled by the villains in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure as you are the heroes. There’s no shame in it. Any good hero needs an equally as compelling antagonist to test their mettle and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is in no short stock of great villains. Many would even argue they’re more the stars of the story than the Jojos themselves!
So, let’s take a look at each villain and how they play off each Jojo to establish their role in the story. For the sake of anime-only viewers, we’ll only be looking at villains up to Part 5 so as to not spoil anyone on any potential new anime adaptations!
It’s hard not to feel for poor Dio. His father was scum, living as an unapologetic drunkard by forcing Dio to take care of his sorry ass. Even when he’s taken in by the Joestars, you can almost understand why he couldn’t care less about his goody-two-shoes foster brother Jonathan. Have you ever seen that guy? He keeps going on and on about becoming a proper gentleman and doing the honorable thing for the family! Who can even take that seriously when you see the hell Dio’s been put through?
It’s this very dynamic between Dio’s ambition at the cost of everything in opposition to Jonathan’s desire to maintain the status quo that drives the conflict between the two. In fact, Dio’s sheer charisma actually makes him a bit too sympathetic as a villain! Maybe you’re not exactly rooting for him, but you can’t deny that you’re more invested in watching him take action over Jonathan’s aloofness toward the world around him. After all, you understand why Dio craves power, and his reveling in his hatred for the Joestars just makes him too entertaining to not cheer for him a little bit.
Perhaps author Hirohiko Araki understood that Dio drew a little too much attention from Phantom Blood’s hero, as Kars is a much more subdued villain. In fact, his fellow Pillar Man Wham is the one with a more personal connection to Battle Tendency’s hero. He’s the one who teaches Joseph to quit running away from his battles. Kars would have been just as happy if he didn’t have to deal with Joseph here.
Yet, maybe this is what makes him the right final boss for Joseph. At their core, both Kars and Joseph are strategists. Maybe Joseph likes to trick people while Kars cooly thinks through each motion he takes, but the point is they’re more similar than they care to admit. This inversion is also why we want to see Joseph take down Kars. Sure, they’re both arrogant, but Joseph’s cocksure attitude is so much more fun than Kars’ domineering posturing.
No longer is DIO bound by the confines of lower case letters of his mortal name. After all, you’d never address the Christian deity known as “God” with a lowercase “g”, now would you? Dio Brando’s resurrection into DIO has solidified his ascension, as his mere presence now has thrown the entire world into chaos due to his blessing of stand powers. Slowly, only the strong may survive, but DIO is the only man fit to lead over this new world order.
All posturing aside, the return of DIO has changed the original character from a personal villain into a grander concept. We’re joking a bit about DIO’s self-assured belief in his godhood, but that is what he feels like in the grand scope of Stardust Crusaders. He barely ever shows up in the main plot, but you feel his presence throughout as an omniscient force.
Can you even call Kira a villain? All he wants to do is live his boring, salaryman life in his hometown of Moriah. He just wants to go to work, grab the chicken katsudon sandwich at the local bakery at lunch, chop off the hands of women, gaze out at the lake during breaks at work… you know normal things. Why won’t that pesky Josuke just leave him alone and let him live his life in peace?
There is something about Kira that speaks innately to our sense of repression. We know what he’s doing is awful but, at the same time, if you knew a serial killer was hiding out in your city, would you really want to get involved? There’s a real sense of helplessness to Kira selfishly disrupting the public order to fulfill his sick needs, as you know all he wants is what you want too. So long as you pretend he’s not going around murdering women and taking their hands, you could seriously keep living like nothing was happening. And it’s a disquieting revelation when that occurs to you, and why you end up cheering for Josuke in the very end. He’s doing what you know you’re willing to do.
Diavolo is less of a character and more of a presence, but not quite like DIO was. DIO was this inescapable force that the entire world noticed, while Diavolo evokes this unsettling dread that will never go away. He’s more like a movie monster whose goal is nothing more than the cold-hearted eradication of anyone who stands in his way. In fact, his true form is a mystery for the majority of Vento Aureo! We can only recognize him by his stand. This sense of the unknown he evokes only continues to induce us with despair, knowing that he could strike at any moment and no one can do anything about it.
We love the Jojos, but part of why we love them is due to how they are forced to confront their respective villains. We get to watch them grow as people, or right an injustice that we need to see resolved. And that is the heart of any great story.