A retrospective on ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable’

After Battle Tendency and Stardust Crusaders, mangaka Hirohiko Araki decided to build a smaller scale bizarre adventure with the fourth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Diamond is Unbreakable. While Diamond is Unbreakable is a continuation of the story of Stardust Crusaders, its new cast of characters, vastly different antagonist and slice-of-life elements distance it from the previous part. Major spoilers for Diamond is Unbreakable ahead.

Screencap from episode 1, “Jotaro Kujo! Meets Josuke Higashikata”

Diamond is Unbreakable begins with Jotaro Kujo heading to Morioh, a tourist town in Japan. He does so for two reasons: to tell Joseph Joestar’s estranged son, Josuke Higashikata, about Joseph’s inheritance and to find escaped serial killer Angelo Katagiri and learn how he manifested a Stand. Stands are the physical manifestation of a person’s fighting spirit or soul. While in jail, Angelo suddenly received one and was able to escape because of it. While Angelo poses a great threat to the people of Morioh, the person that gave him his Stand could be even more dangerous. After Angelo kills Josuke’s grandfather, Josuke vows to protect the town of Morioh and prevent more deaths.

Keicho Nijimura commanding his Stand, Bad Company, to attack Josuke in episode 4, “The Nijimura Brothers, Part 2”

Josuke and his friend, Koichi Hirose, discover that two brothers, Okuyasu and Keicho Nijimura, are creating Stand users using an ancient-looking bow and arrow. After defeating them, Josuke learns they were creating Stand users in hopes that one of them would possess a Stand powerful enough to kill their father. Their father was one of DIO’s followers, but after the vampire’s death at the end of Stardust Crusaders, he turned into a gross monstrosity who was only a shell of his former self. Keicho couldn’t take seeing his father that way and wished to free his father from that suffering.

Akira Otoishi and his Stand, Red Hot Chili Pepper, in episode 12, “Red Hot Chili Pepper, Part 2”

Right when Josuke changes his mind, so that Keicho will try to save their father instead, Keicho is killed by a Stand he created. The Stand, calling itself Red Hot Chili Pepper, steals the Stand arrow and runs off to cause chaos across Morioh. Okuyasu desires to avenge his brother’s death, and joins Josuke, Koichi and Jotaro’s fight against Chili Pepper. Upon defeating Chili Pepper’s user, Akira Otoishi, the group believe the town is finally free of monsters. They could not have been more wrong.

Koichi and the town’s resident mangaka, Rohan Kishibe, learn about a mysterious serial killer that has gone unnoticed for years. The killer’s first victim, Reimi Sugimoto, watches over the town hoping that someday she will be able to tell her story to those willing to listen. However, unless they can prove the killer is a Stand user, Jotaro and the Speedwagon foundation won’t help them.

Koichi Hirose and Rohan Kishibe meet Reimi Sugimoto in episode 17, “Rohan Kishibe’s Adventure”

After the death of Shigechi, a friend of Josuke and Okuyasu, every Stand user in Morioh is alerted of the presence of the killer, who they now believe to be a Stand user due to them witnessing the destruction of Shigechi’s Stand, Harvest. Jotaro and Koichi’s investigation into the killer lead them to a cobbler shop where he has been getting his suits tailored. After encountering the killer there, they learn that his name is Yoshikage Kira, an ordinary man living a normal life outside of the occasional murder. Kira manages to escape capture, making a new identity for himself and hiding in plain sight.

As you can tell from the more complicated plot and various primary antagonists, Araki wrote Diamond is Unbreakable without a clear goal in sight, unlike previous parts of JoJos. David Productions improved the flow and tension of Diamond is Unbreakable by foreshadowing Kira from the very first scene of the first episode, opening on a man making breakfast for a severed hand. Kira appears multiple times in the background of scenes before he makes his first real appearance at the end of episode 17, “Rohan Kishibe’s Adventure.”

Jotaro is confronted by Yoshikage Kira in episode 24, “Sheer Heart Attack, Part 2”

The studio also chose to move Kira’s encounter with Shigechi to be after the Cinderella arc so that there would be four straight episodes focusing on the gang discovering Kira. This change allows the tension after Shigechi’s death to be maintained, while making the Cinderella fight feel like a standalone with little significance. Thus, making it more surprising when it comes into play at the end of the Sheer Heart Attack fight.

Speaking of fights, nearly every single fight in Diamond is Unbreakable is memorable. This can mostly be attributed to most of the antagonists, whether minor or major, having clear cut motivations. This is a significant improvement over Stardust Crusaders, as most of the enemy Stand users in part three were either motivated by DIO’s charisma or money. The latter motivation made most of the fights in the first half feel less interesting.

The best examples of this difference are Keicho Nijimura and Yoshihiro Kira. As mentioned earlier, Keicho is causing chaos across Morioh in hopes that one of the Stand users he creates will be able to bring his father peace. Yoshihiro’s motivation, on the other hand, is he just wants to protect his evil serial killer son from getting caught by the gang. He loves his son and is willing to help him bury a dead body just to protect him.

Star Platinum unable to destroy Sheer Heart Attack in episode 23, “Sheer Heart Attack, Part 1”

On top of this, the Stand battles are way more creative in Diamond is Unbreakable. The fights in part four harken back to the strategy reliant fights of Battle Tendency, with our characters having to use more than just brute force to solve their problems. This is shown particularly well in the fight against Sheer Heart Attack. Sheer Heart Attack is so durable that even Star Platinum, the Stand that defeated DIO, has little to no effect on it even after stopping time.

The introduction of automatic Stands, like Sheer Heart Attack, allow for more complicated fights, with our protagonists being forced on the defensive until they can outsmart the Stand’s programming. However, Diamond is Unbreakable also introduces new twists on Stands seen in Stardust Crusaders, such as Stands that can be a detriment to their host, such as Superfly and Cheap Trick. Superfly’s user, Toyohiro Kanedaichi, has to actively work around the pylon he is trapped inside of and use his familiarity with it to outsmart Josuke, Okuyasu and Mikitaka to free himself. Similarly, Cheap Trick kills its user if anyone sees their back, forcing Rohan to find new ways to maneuver around town to avoid his death.

Josuke becoming part of the pylon while attempting to escape from Superfly in episode 31, “July 15th (Thurs), Part 1”

This is not to say that there aren’t more straight-forward fights. The fight against Yuya Fungami’s Highway Star requires Josuke to constantly outrun the nigh invincible Stand. To put a stop to Highway Star, Josuke must defeat the user, as the Stand vastly outmatches his own.

Josuke’s Stand, Crazy Diamond, while still being good at punching like Star Platinum, has a more unique ability. It can fix or repair anything that is broken, including people. One of my biggest complaints about Stardust Crusaders was how basic some of the main Stands were, especially in the early fights. Araki seems to be working his creative juices more in this part, as most of Diamond is Unbreakable‘s main cast have diverse and unique Stand powers. The best examples of this are Okuyasu’s The Hand being able to erase space from existence and Rohan’s Heaven’s Door being able to read and rewrite a person’s mind as if it were a book. Just like the enemy Stands, these too allow fights to be more interesting than some of the fights in Stardust Crusaders.

Rohan Kishibe using Heaven’s Door to read Masazo Kinoto’s mind in episode 32, “July 15th (Thurs), Part 2”

Part four also begins to embody the idea that Stands are an extension of their user. Killer Queen, and by extension Sheer Heart Attack and Bites the Dust, feel like a physical representation of the dangerous, nigh unstoppable killer instinct of Yoshikage Kira. To contrast, Crazy Diamond fixes what is broken, just like Josuke wishes to fix what is broken within Morioh.

Every fight within Diamond is Unbreakable helps both of them to become stronger combatants, resulting in a spectacular final fight between them. Long range Stand fights, where the enemy is utilizing a Stand from a great distance to conceal his location or put him out of range of our heroes’ close range Stands, are common throughout JoJo’s. However, both Josuke and Kira have short range Stands, forcing them to work around their Stands’ abilities or utilize abilities they have picked up over the course of the show.

Crazy Diamond fighting Killer Queen in episode 37 “Crazy Diamond is Unbreakable, Part 1”

However, the icing on the cake is the Bites the Dust arc. Bites the Dust is quite possibly the most powerful Stand seen in JoJo’s so far, while being a nice spin on time reversal storylines like Groundhog Day. Unlike that movie, this time reversal is being caused by a clear antagonistic force, with the Stand’s defeat being the only way to stop it and prevent the repetition of the gang’s deaths. This clear line of cause and effect builds tension throughout the fight as Hayato Kawajiri attempts to defeat Bites the Dust without the use of a Stand.

Much of this tension can be attributed to the amazing score by Yugo Kanno. Each of Kira’s themes represent his personality perfectly. His main theme, “Killer,” showcases the calm demeanor of Kira before revealing his more sinister side at the end. The themes for each of his abilities are loud and menacing remixes of his main theme, representing how violent Killer Queen is. This representation is layered throughout every character theme, with Josuke’s feeling like an unstoppable anger with some of Jotaro’s theme mixed in to show how much his teachings have influenced him. Diamond is Unbreakable‘s score is probably my favorite of all of JoJo’s.

Okuyasu after drinking mineral water at Tonio’s restaurant in episode 10, “Let’s Go Eat Some Italian Food”

Diamond is Unbreakable utilizes slice of life elements, and the best episode in the show is entirely slice-of-life. “Let’s Go Eat Italian Food’ is a hilarious exploration of what makes our characters tick while subverting the audience with the reveal that Tonio Trussardi, the owner of the Italian restaurant, is a good guy. He just wants to heal people with his food enhanced by his Stand, Pearl Jam. The pure joy in this episode contrasts greatly with the more terrifying events in the rest of the part and enhances the flow of the story.

Part of why the characters in Diamond is Unbreakable are so memorable is due to the voice acting. The Japanese voice acting is excellent, but the English dub is what left a lasting impression on me. Matthew Mercer reprises his role as Jotaro here, and hearing him voice a more methodical mentor role definitely suits the character better. Jalen Kassel and Zach Aguilar bring out Okuyasu and Koichi’s personalities well. Even some of the more minor roles, such as Kira Buckland as Reimi, Laura Stahl as Hayato, Phillip Reich as Yuya, Andrew Russel as Otoishi and Jason Marnocha as Keicho, stood out to me.

Josuke posing in the middle of the street in episode 39, “Goodbye Morioh – The Heart of Gold”

However, the true stars of the show are Billy Kametz as Josuke and D.C. Douglas as Kira. Billy Kametz brings this raw wit with his portrayal of Josuke while still presenting this child-like innocence when he’s talking with his friends at school. Josuke is a great younger foil for the older characters in the show, such as Jotaro and Rohan and his relationship with Joseph feels fleshed out despite it only being the focus of a handful of episodes. On the other hand, D.C. Douglas brings out this evil serial killer tone fitting Kira perfectly. These two performances alone already make part four’s dub great, but when combined with the rest of the cast, the dub becomes one of the best I have ever heard.

The only have a couple complaints for Diamond is Unbreakable. Rohan fight against Boys’ II Man and Janken Boy feels unnecessary, as his gambling game against Josuke fulfills the same narrative purpose for his character. I also wish that Okuyasu had at least one solo Stand battle to give his character a little more development. These changes would have enhanced the story for me, but they are not necessary as Diamond is Unbreakable is still great despite these faults.

Diamond Is Unbreakable shows that Araki can make any genre work within the pages of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and David Productions did an absolutely fantastic job adapting it for the anime. Not only is Diamond is Unbreakable my favorite part of JoJo’s, but it is one of my favorite anime of all time.

Rating: 9.5/10

Published by John Wintroub

I am a fan of all things pop-culture related, especially film, music, anime, and comic books. Killer Queen has already touched this bio and King Crimson has obliterated the rest.

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