JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure stands the test of time as one of the most stylish and outlandish anime to grace the medium. Not only does the series feature a revolving door of ensemble and supporting characters with otherworldly stand powers and musical references baked into their names, but it also has some of the most charismatic protagonists in anime. However, not every JoJo is as compelling to watch as their predecessors and descendants.
While this list could go the route of ranking each character based on the potential of their stand abilities (we all know Giorno would win), this totally biased list will instead judge each JoJo up to the Stone Ocean anime based on how compelling their personalities are as main characters in their respective parts.
Hot take, I know, but personally I never really vibed with Giorno like I did the other leading Joestars in JJBA. While Giorno is conceptually interesting in that he’s technically both Dio and Jonathan Joestar’s son (it’s complicated), his personality never quite steps out of the giant shadow cast by his “Jo-bro” and the real main character of Golden Wind, Bruno Bucciarati. While Giorno and Bruno share a similar dream to rid Italy of gangsters peddling drugs to kids, Giorno always felt like he was the supporting character in Bruno’s grand story to usurp their gang leader.
While yes, Giorno does have arguably the most powerful stand in the entire series and offers some of its most iconic moments (like his seven-page punch-out of one of the vilest villains in the series, Cioccolata), it’s hard to recall anything personable about him other than that he thinks drug are bad and sometimes lets his inner Dio out whenever his mild-mannered demeanor gives way to frustration. Although there’s nothing wrong with having a Joestar take the backseat to a story arc, being forgettable in a sea of Passione characters oozing personality is a tough break, especially for a JJBA protag.
Not only does Jonathan serve as the progenitor of the Joestar bloodline, but he’s also the most virtuous member of the family. This mild-mannered giant of a man will trek from the crime-riddled Ogre Street to the top of the most picturesque vampire-laden mountains in order to avenge the death of his father, who honestly didn’t treat him well enough to warrant the perilous trip. Jonathan’s selflessness as a protagonist more often than not disarms his enemies, leading them to offer him support in the form of a trusty sword or the entire industry of the Speedwagon Foundation long after his time has passed.
While Jotaro’s overall role in JJBA is as the series’ straight man who sandbags any and all outlandish battles that befall him and his allies, his stoicism and tough-guy persona have become synonymous with the series’ mainstream appeal. Jotaro Clint Eastwood-ing himself out of any dilemma he finds himself in, whether it’s being held hostage by a giant gorilla, playing a high-stakes racing video game, or overcoming the crushing weight of a road roller is made all the more hilarious in retrospect when you remember that he’s actually 17 years old. Jotaro is also one of the few JJBA characters that fans get to see age as the series progresses, becoming the mentor to Josuke and deadbeat father to Jolyne. My favorite part of seeing Jotaro evolve was learning that his stoicism is mostly a defense mechanism to cover for his not having as quick a wit as his other family members, who can more readily spout quips at the drop of a hat. This is why he’d lean on allies to deliver cool one-liners. The more you know.
No Joestar has ever been as lucky as Joseph Joestar. Throughout the entirety of his tenure in the series, dumb luck, coupled with villains’ knack for underestimating this bumbling fool of a man, consistently allows him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Part of Joseph’s secret to success is that he, unlike Jonathan, doesn’t let fairness get in the way of him winning. Joseph will forgo the safety of innocent bystanders by pulling out a machine gun in the middle of a fistfight with a vampire if it means he can get the upper hand. The dude’s a cheater and he knows it, but at the same time, you can’t help but root for him to figure out some scheme to pull on his foes in order to eke out a victory.
Jolyne Cujoh embodies the grit and out-of-the-box tactical mind that every JJBA protagonist aspires to reach. Throughout the entirety of Stone Ocean, she is fighting on the backfoot. Not only is she the victim of false incarceration at the hands of her ex-boyfriend which lands her in a state prison with super-powered Floridian inmates, but she also fights a flurry of some of the most brutal and nigh-unwinnable battles in the series while preserving an unshakeable hope that things will turn out alright. All the same, Jolyne will fight tooth and nail to free both herself and her companions from those who would see them rot in the back of a jail cell, even if it means reducing her body to a pile of string to get them to freedom.
Josuke is simply the best member of the Joestar family by virtue of being the most human. While other Joestars tend to oscillate between being either noble paragons, power fantasies, or, in the case of his father Joseph, cheating scoundrels, Josuke’s blend of all of those qualities makes him feel more grounded as a character. Josuke will help anyone in need with his healing stand, Crazy Diamond, but it’s not beneath him to trick acquaintances into cheating to win the lottery or beat a person within an inch of their life for insulting his pompadour. Despite having the looks of a typical high school delinquent, Josuke actually has a heart of gold and won’t dine and dash like his nephew Jotaro or rush to punch out his opposition to overcome tricky scenarios. Instead, he’ll use his head to win battles, as we see in scenarios like him defeating a stand-using rat that completely bodied Jotaro and Star Platinum by sniping it. Modern problems sometimes require solutions rooted in brain power rather than muscles.