ByElle Collins/Feb. 28, 2020 2:15 pm EST
If you're on the internet, you've almost certainly heard of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, but if you're not into anime you may not know quite what it is. It can be confusing, the way that fans take about JoJos, plural, even though the title seems singular. There's really only one JoJo at a time, even though sometimes two or three of them meet and hang out. So what is a JoJo exactly?
The simplest explanation, which is also a bit of a cop-out, is that a JoJo is the protagonist of a story arc ofJoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a long-running manga series by Hirohiko Araki, which has been adapted into an anime series, some movie-length videos, and one live action film. There are eight story arcs so far, with each one featuring a different JoJo (although the last two JoJos are alternate versions of earlier JoJos, but we'll get to that).
More specifically, a JoJo is any member of the Joestar bloodline who has special powers and a name that can be abbreviated as "JoJo." Only the first two JoJos actually have the last name Joestar, but we'll get into how the later ones are still connected to that family when we get there. So let's start at the beginning, and explore the Bizarre and Adventuresome history of the Joestar family.
George Joestar wasn't exactly a JoJo himself, and he doesn't really have any Bizarre Adventures that we know about, but the events of his life do set the saga in motion. In 1868, George, his wife Mary, and their infant son Jonathan are in a serious carriage accident, and Mary is killed. A criminal lowlife named Dario Brando attempts to rob the wealthy and unconscious George, but George ends up mistakenly believing that Dario's actions saved his life.
Years later, George repays his supposed debt to a dying Dario by taking in his young sonDio Brando, and raising him alongside Jonathan. Dio is basically a sociopath, but he manipulates the gullible George into thinking of him as a better son than the well-meaning but uncouth Jonathan.
When Jonathan and Dio are young men, Dio attempts to poison George but is caught and nearly arrested. He responds by using a magical Stone Mask to transform into a vampire (this is where the adventures start getting bizarre). George Joestar sacrifices his life to save his son Jonathan from the evil Dio, who goes on to become the archenemy of generations of JoJos.
Jonathan Joestar is the only son of George Joestar, and the protagonist of "PhantomBlood," the first story arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He's a young gentleman of Victorian England who seems to lead a relatively normal life until his father dies and his foster brother Dio becomes a vampire.
It's up to Jonathan to thwart the world conquering plans of the now-immortal Dio. Initially all he has is a hoodlum sidekick named Robert E. O. Speedwagon, but then they meet a strange Italian man named William Anthonio Zeppeli, who trains Jonathan in an ancient and entirely fictional martial art called Hamon (sometimes referred to as "the ripple" in English translations). Hamon enables the practitioner to channel their breathing into energy that they can manipulate to create various effects, which are particularly effective against monsters like vampires.
After a convoluted series of encounters — which some might call a Bizarre Adventure — Jonathan manages to destroy Dio's body with Hamon, seemingly killing him. Thinking evil defeated, Jonathan marries his love, Erina Pendleton, and the two depart on a Honeymoon cruise to the United States. Unfortunately, it turns out that Dio is still alive as a disembodied head, and with the help of one of his undead minions, he plans to steal Jonathan's body for his own. Jonathan sacrifices himself in an attempt to thwart Dio once and for all, and save Erina, already pregnant with Jonathan's child.
Dio Brando: Usurper of the Joestar line
Dio Brando isn't a Joestar, but he's essential to the development of the bloodline, and to the Bizarre Adventures that make a Joestar into a JoJo. As we discussed above, he was taken in and raised by George Joestar after his father Dario died, but if anything it was Dario's abusive parenting that had the greater impact on who Dio grew up to be. Unlike his brutal father, Dio is capable of maintaining the facade of a civilized gentleman, but he turns out to be that much more evil.
Dio makes for a sociopathic human being, but once the Stone Mask transforms him into a powerful immortal vampire, his evil is so great it threatens the entire world. He's able to transform his henchmen into the undead (the terms "vampire" and "zombie" are used pretty interchangeably in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure), and it becomes pretty clear that he would burn down the entire human world if he'd get to rule over the ashes.
Jonathan Joestar dies thinking he's taking Dio with him, but Dio survives, successfully transplanting his head onto Jonathan's body. In this hybrid form he lives for another century, returning as the antagonist of the third arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, "Stardust Crusaders." He also fathers illegitimate children with Jonathan Joestar's body, at least one of whom becomes a JoJo in his own right.
George Joestar II
Like the grandfather he was named after, George Joestar II isn't really a JoJo, or at least he isn't thought of that way for a long time. George was born to Erina Pendleton Joestar months after Jonathan's death, and raised on the island of La Palma by his widowed mother. He grows up to marry Elizabeth, also known as Lisa Lisa, who was also saved as an infant by Erina from the ship where Jonathan died. Together they have a son, Joseph Joestar.
During World War I, George serves as a pilot in the BritishAir Force. That's when he discovers that one of his superior officers is a zombie agent of DioBrando who has been operating in secret since Dio's supposed death. He confronts the man, but not being trained in Hamon, he's no match for the undead officer and is killed. Lisa Lisa later avenges him, killing the zombie with her own Hamon powers.
In 2012, George finally got his own Bizarre Adventure, in a light novel writer by Ōtarō Maijō with art by Hirohiko Araki. The book was titled Jorge Joestar, as Maijō changed the spelling of George's name to make him more of a JoJo.
Joseph Joestar is the son of George Joestar II and Lisa Lisa, and the protagonist of "Battle Tendency," the second arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.As an older man, he's also an important supporting character in the third arc, "Stardust Crusaders," and appears in the fourth arc, "Diamond is Unbreakable," as well.
With his father dead and his mother absent, Joseph is raised by his grandmother Erina, under the watchful eye of his grandfather's old friend Robert E. O. Speedwagon, now a wealthy philanthropist. Joseph is a master of Hamon, which he uses in the late 1930's to battle the Pillar Men, a group of powerful ancient beings who want to rule the world. It turns out they're the ones who created that Stone Mask that turned Dio Brando into a vampire.
Joseph befriends an American pickpocket named Smokey and another Hamon user,Cesar Zeppeli, the grandson of Jonathan Joestar's mentor. They both train under Lisa Lisa, the last Hamon master on Earth, who Joseph only later learns is his mother.
Joseph defeats the Pillar Men, sending Kars, the last and most powerful, into outer space, where he'll float forever as a sentient, frozen statue. Once that's done, Joseph Joestar thinks his Bizarre Adventure is done, but he'll have to return to action years later to help his grandson when Dio Brando returns.
Holy Joestar Kujo
Holy Joestar is the daughter of Joseph Joestar and his wife Suzi Q. To Joseph's chagrin, she falls in love with a Japanese jazz musician named Sadao Kujo and moves to Japan to marry him. Although her full name, Holy Joestar Kujo, does include a "JoJo," she never has a Bizarre Adventure of her own. Instead, she does her best to raise her son,Jotaro Kujo, while Sadao tours constantly.Despite her best efforts, Jotaro becomes a teenage delinquent, but in time he also becomes a hero.
Meanwhile, Dio eventually reemerges with the stolen body of JonathanJoestar. Seeking power, Dio is cut by a special arrow that grants the power to summon a Stand, a psychic entity of vast power. Because Jonathan's body is pierced by the arrow, all of his descendants are granted Stand powers as well. While that works out fine for most of the family, the gentle and good-natured Holy doesn't have the will to control her Stand, and it makes her sick instead. Her illness gives Jonathan and Jotaro the impetus to go on a quest to find Dio and deal with the threat he poses to their family and the world.
Jotaro Kujo, son of Holy Kujo and grandson of Joseph Joestar, is the central protagonist of "Stardust Crusaders," the third arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. When that story begins in 1988, teenage Jotaro been arrested and wants to be kept in jail, because he believes he's possessed by an evil spirit. It turns out what he thinks is an evil spirit is his own Stand, Star Platinum, which has been awakened thanks to Dio's actions.
Star Platinum is capable of both impressive violence and impeccable precision, and in time Jotaro discovers that it gives him the ability to stop time, making him one of the most powerful Stand users in the world.
Jotaro's grandfather Joseph arrives in Japan to explain about the Dio situation, and after Holy falls ill the two JoJos and their Stand-using allies depart on a globetrotting quest to find and defeat Dio Brando once and for all. Eventually they find him in Cario,Egypt, and Jotaro is able to destroy his family's immortal foe with the power of Star Platinum.
A decade later, an adult Jotaro Kujo travels to the Japanese town of Morioh to meet his much younger uncle, Josuke Higashikata. Although he's still a young man, Jotaro is much more of a supporting character in Josuke's arc, "Diamond is Unbreakable."
Josuke Higashikata, the protagonist of"Diamond is Unbreakable," is the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar and a Japanese woman named Tomoko Higashikata. He is considered a JoJo, even though his name only has one "jo" in it, perhaps because he's the son of a Joestar even if he didn't get the last name. As a high school student in the town of Morioh in 1999, Josuke has a unique style and an impressive pompadour, to which he devotes no small amount of time and attention.
As a member of JonathanJoestar's bloodline, Josuke also has a Stand, which is called Crazy Diamond and has the power to repair basically anything — including living beings.
The mystical arrow that gives people Stand powers has also found its way to Morioh, and it falls to Josuke and his friends to deal with the new Stand Users who emerge, including the arc's central villain, a dangerous serial killer named Yoshikage Kira. In addition to his older nephew Jotaro Kujo, Josuke's allies include his best friend Okuyasu Nijimura and their diminutive classmate Koichi Hirose, as well as a manga artist named Rohan Kishibe, who would go on to star in his own spin-off stories under the title Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan.
Now here's where things get a bit complicated. The protagonist of the fifth JoJo's Bizarre Adventure arc, "Vento Aureo," Giorno Giovanna is the son of Dio Brando. However, because he was conceived when Dio was wearing Jonathan Joestar's stolen body,Giorno is technically a Joestar. He's also a JoJo (GioGio), with a Bizarre Adventure of his own. His Stand, Gold Experience, has the power to create and manipulate life, which is no small thing.
Giorno is the first JoJo to have a slight build rather than looking like a towering stack of muscle, but he still resembles the other Joestars as well as Dio. As a teenager in Naples,Italy, in the early 21st Century, Giorno gets involved with the Passione mob and attempts to become a boss so that he can cut down on the killing and stop the sale of drugs to kids.
If the story of an androgynous teen in a pink outfit infiltrating the Italian mafia sounds farfetched, that's only because you're not used to the Bizarre world in which JoJos have their Adventures. Naturally, Giorno's attempts to prove himself to the Passiones lead to battles with a bunch of other Stand users and the recovery of the magical arrow from the previous story arc. By the end of "VentoAureo," Giorno does indeed become the boss of the Passione mob, and remains dedicated to making Naples a better place.
Jolyne Cujoh is the estranged daughter of Jotaro Kujo, and the protagonist of the sixth story arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, "Stone Ocean."She's the first true female JoJo, so it's no surprise that her hairstyle is so complicated that it puts Josuke and Giorno to shame. Her Stand is called Stone Free, and gives her the power to unravel her body into an elastic string.
As a young woman in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 2011, Jolyne is framed for murder and sentenced to prison. Her father Jotaro visits and explains that her imprisonment is the work of a disciple of Dio, who plans to kill her while she's locked up. That disciple turns out to be the Prison Chaplain, Enrico Pucci, who then uses his own Stand's powers to steal Jotaro's memories and Stand, leaving him in a comatose state. Working from behind bars, Jolyne must find a way to defeat Pucci and save her father.
Even after Jotaro is saved, Pucci remains a threat, and Jolyne must ultimately sacrifice her life to stop him and save her friend Emporio. Through a complicated series of Stand-related events (these Adventures never stop being Bizarre), the struggle between Pucci and Emporio causes the timeline of the entire universe to be rebooted, leading to an alternate world where Emporio finds doppelgangers for Jolyne and their other friends, happy and free from prison.
Johnny Joestar and the alternate Joestar line
Following "Stone Ocean," the original world of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure no longer exists, and the seventh story arc, "SteelBall Run" takes place in an entirely new timeline. Its protagonist,Johnny Joestar, is essentially a reboot of Jonathan Joestar, although he's completely different from the original version in almost every regard. He is still a young man in the late 19th Century, but in America and dealing with his own set of problems.
Johnny is paraplegic, but able to ride a horse, which enables him to enter the cross country race known as the Steel Ball Run. He has a Stand named Tusk which allows him to shoot his fingernails like bullets (is this Adventure Bizarre enough yet?). He also befriends Gyro Zepelli, from whom he learns a technique called The Spin, which is sort of like Hamon but with more spinning balls.
The eighth JoJo's Bizarre Adventure story arc, "JoJolion," is set in the same continuity and stars a new version of Josuke, living in Morioh in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This arc is still ongoing today.
These new JoJos are less concerned with legacy and family bloodlines, so while there are still descendants of the Joestar family out there having Bizarre Adventures under the name of JoJo, there's also a very real sense in which the Joestar line runs from George Joestar to Jolyne Cujoh, where it ends along with their world. But as long as Hirohiko Araki still has stories to tell, the Bizarre Adventure will never truly be over.