Last week, the world (specifically Japanese citizens) read the latest installment of Hirohiko Araki’s mega-popular manga series, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The JOJOLands. While I was uneasy about whether or not Araki should continue the series with yet another saga since its previous part, JoJolion, ended so suddenly, folks on Twitter, TikTok and Reddit are treating this chapter like a second renaissance for the series and I’m inclined to agree with them. The first chapter of The JOJOLands proves Araki still has more bizarre stories worth telling.
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The JOJOLands, the ninth installment of the Joestar family’s epic tale, takes place in modern-day Hawaii on the island of O’ahu. As opposed to Golden Wind being about a Joestar’s war on drugs, JOJOLands is about a couple of Joestars who sell drugs to their community. The story follows Jodio Joestar and Dragona Joestar, the series’ first-ever Joestar sibling pair, as they and their ragtag troupe of high school smugglers attempt to steal an ungodly expensive diamond.
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The fact that Jodio and Dragona are the first JJBA siblings isn’t the only thing that makes them a unique duo within the series’ mythos. Jodio’s namesake references iconic characters in the series’ first chapter, and Dragona is the series’ first canonical gender non-conforming character.
Jodio Joestar’s name is an amalgamation of Jonathan Joestar, the hero of part one, and Dio Brando, the ongoing antagonist of the series. While this isn’t the first time Araki has introduced a character who shares ties with Dio and Jonathan, Jodio sets himself apart because he knows he’s hot shit and he’s not afraid to let the reader know in painfully hilarious detail. In The JOJOLands, Jodio serves as the series’ reliable (as far as we know) narrator. When expounding upon the illicit Goodfellas-esque activities he and his cohorts get into, Jodio literally does the “I’ve got better bitches/clothes/money meme from TikTok” when highlighting how a bullied scrub crying on the floor has nothing on his JoJo swagger. I love this sassy child.
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But the showstopper of The JOJOLands’ first chapter, “Mechanisms” isn’t Jodio, but his older brother, Dragona, who serves as the series’ first GNC main character. While he’s never witnessed Dragona do this firsthand, Jodio says the “roundness of his chest is due to cosmetic injections.” Fans have theorized that Dragona may have used his stand, a ghost-like power called “Smooth Operators,” to give himself breast injections. Jodio also provides readers with the nugget of Dragona exposition in revealing that he “loves girls’ fashion and he works at a fashion boutique in Kalihi called Iko Iko,” because of course he does. This is JJBA we’re talking about.
Aside from the likable Joestar duo, The JOJOLands is so exciting because it’s the first JJBA part to take place in the modern day. Phantom Blood took place in the late 1880s and steadily progressed toward the year 2011. The JOJOLands takes place somewhere between 2020 and 2023—evidence of this time period comes early in its first chapter when Dragona recoils at a perverted police officer standing too close to him saying “I don’t wanna get covid.”
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In typical JJBA fashion, The JOJOLand wastes no time in establishing its modern musical references early on in this chapter, as well. Jodio’s first line is about how Dragona blasting Dua Lipa’s music in their getaway car is the reason they got pulled over. This occurs before the duo “attack and dethrone God” by having their stands, November Rain and Smooth Operators, beat the brakes off of a couple of chauvinist cops and set their patrol car on fire. The kids are alright.
The JOJOLands has a strong start and I hope Jodio’s exaggerated swagger of a Joestar youth gets vibe checked into oblivion by the Soft and Wet return of Josuke “Gappy” Higashitaka.