Decided to drop an old analysis of JJBA I've done quite some time ago. It's still relevant so I take the opportunity to put it here.
Araki began Jojo's Bizarre Adventure with a simple question: "Who is the world's strongest person?" "Who" as in how he would be like, not a name though. With this simple question Araki can explore aspects of humanity that few did. However he began with a fairly simple study of the question but we'll see that it will become a lot deeper.
Who is the world's strongest person? Would he be evil or good?
As I said, Araki began fairly simple. Phantom Blood isn't much the feud between two men but the clash between two extremes, evil and good.
Araki said it himself Jonathan and Dio are concept and as characters are very plain. Jonathan Joestar is the good guy, no that's too weak he's the greatest guy in the world. Even as a kid, he was saving ladies from bullies, no matter if he was being pounded. Jojo is a pillar of moral fortitude, and he inspires others to do good and be brave themselves. Hence Londonian cutthroat Speedwagon follows him and becomes a respected businessman and Poco risks death in the chamber where Zeppeli dies. Kind, compassionate, all-loving, he won't even bear a grudge against Dio and in his last breaths, implores Erina to say a random baby. Dio Brando is the bad guy, no that's too weak, he's the biggest cunt in the world. Already in childhood, he assassinated his father. Being the epitome of evil, Dio is selfish, greedy, petty, violent. And surround himself with the next biggest cunts, bullies and Jack the Ripper. Even worse he corrupts: Bruford and Tarkus were noble knight he transformed into zombies. Never had he a positive relationship with anyone, hence he wants to kill the one man he respects to hijack his body.
These characters can be considered to be strong:
- physically first, Araki wishing to illustrate the strength of these men, he draws inspiration from various sources, 80s actions movies, Fist of the North Star, monster tales, martial arts.
- mentally secondly. Jonathan comes from the upper class, having been raised with the idea of being a gentlemen while Dio is the social climber, hanging to every opportunity to have more status. Both models can be considered to be very strong mentally.
Yet their strenghts are very opposite, another way for Araki to draw a parallel between Jonathan and Dio. Physically Jonathan performs numerous feats of strength, like dragging several men while playing rubgy or pummeling a vampire; on the other hand, Dio is very agile, he catches a rubgy ball while jumping and hangs on the ceiling. Jonathan's mental strength is righteousness, he always think good of everyone and his tenacity comes from his love for others. Dio's mental strength is his ambition, it drives him to do anything for his goals and his tenacity comes from his selfish desires. Both become stronger but while Dio was looking for it, Jonathan was thrust into the Ripple, again Dio is the ambitious one and Jonathan retaliates.
Araki makes Jonathan and Dio clash four times uring Phantom Blood:
- First as kids.
- Then Dio becomes a vampire.
- Their battle at Windknights
- Their final clash in the boat
And every time Jonathan prevails even if he dies the fourth time. That is Araki's response: The good guy's the strongest. But why?
As kids Dio had the upper hand, their first boxing match showed Jonathan was weaker physically, and moreover, Dio made everything to isolate Jonathan, to crush his spirit as he says. Dio's underlings make the mistake to talk about Erina to Jonathan just to see Jonathan's face. Jonathan battles Dio, but this time he fights for Erina and wins, making Dio back down and change his plans. Here's a good example of why evil loses. The little thugs first informed Jojo for a petty laugh, but did they need to do it? Dio's plan was foiled by his underlings. Moreover Jonathan has a huge morale boost because this time he must restore Erina's honor. We will find this again in the Atlantic, Dio is in a dominating position once again, but Wang Chan's eagerness allows Jonathan to manipulate him, the latter finding himself fighting for Erina's sake. Evil is petty, evil is mental weakness while good is strength and you are never more powerful than when you are fighting for others. Moreover in Dio's castle, Araki illustrates why good is stronger. Good relies on others.
If you look at why Jonathan wins against Dio or even manages to go to him, you see that a great part of why is teamwork between Jonathan's companions. Speedwagon de-ices Zeppeli's arms, Poco crawls into the chamber and open the way for Zeppeli, Will.A passes his Ripple, all to get to Dio, and ironically, one of the instruments of Dio's defeat is Bruford's sword, a gift to Jonathan because he purified him. Even the monks take care of the vampires for Jonathan. All of these people were united by a will to do good. Even Poco, who wants to save his sister. For the greater good, Jonathan's companion cooperate and risks their lives, giving him the edge he needs to overcome the brute strength Dio acquired. Good goes both ways, you fight for others and others fight for you.
Even if we fans put the emphasis on smarts, and guts, was there any moment when Dio lacked those? His and the villains mistakes were all fueled by evil while the heroes' contributions were all due to good.
Other parts to come.
What does is mean to be the strongest?
Battle Tendency is one of the most battle oriented parts of Jojo, there is a grand total of 16 battles in 7 volumes! But these are not simply battles, there is Araki's own thought about the concept of "battle" and "will to become strong". The serie's title is "battle tendency" but the more correct translation could be "the flow of battle". Here Jojo's signature battle of wits is further developed, and Araki begins to complexify the way his battle are going to be portrayed. Moreover Araki tackles the tropes of the enemies going stronger and stronger as the serie continues and criticizes, or at least notice the limits of that line of thinking.
Battle Tendency features a war, a war between the Ripple users with their associates the Nazis and the Speedwagon Foundation against the Pillar Men and their vampire minions. This war's goal is to keep/obtain the Red Stone of Aja, keep that in mind please. That is very important. The most important new feature in battle is the mental battle between two fighters. Joseph outsmarts his enemies regularly, take advantage of the environment and the abilities that the Ripple grants him. That is also true with the Pillar Men, they use the bodies to the fullest, and also fight smarter. This stems from a big change in the characterization: the fighters have weaknesses, not a mental weakness like cowardice and evil, not a physical weakness like the Ripple, but real intellectual weaknesses: as a whole the Pillar Men underestimate their opponent, but Joseph doesn't always think his moves through, Ceasar is too hot-blooded, Stroheim is too arrogant. The fights' spice is to witness flawed warriors trying to outsmart their opponent before their fatal flaws get them killed.
Additionally, Araki doesn't only think about the battle, he thinks about the true weight of these battle. During the whole part, the Pillar Men have been WINNING the war. Look closely at the "flow of the war", Joseph defeats Esidisi, yet the Aja is transported into the Pillar Men territory in Swiss. Then Ceasar makes a HUGE mistake, not only he dies, but the Ripple users went hurrily to the rescue, being trapped into the mansion and Joseph brings the stone even closer to them. Joseph kills Wamuu but Kars had a backup plan anyway and has his hands on the stone, culminating in using Stroheim's intervention to become the Ultimate Being. Him being thrown into space nowithstanding, the winning moves in the war were made outside of battle, Kars actually won the war. What Araki says here is that battle for the sake of battle doesn't cut it when you make a fighting manga, defeat and victories have repercussions but a victory can be transformed into defeat, a defeat can be transformed into a catastrophe. Joseph has been making a serie of victory against the Pillar Men but his victories were MEANINGLESS.
Even in Jojo there is the reality of battle, good sentiments and heroism won't help you when you make mistakes and die. Araki doesn't renounces part 1 though, having allies and determination are still of great use. See Joseph cooperating with Ceasar to get the Stone of Aja.
Moreover Araki tackles the whole idea of "strong" that is depicted in shonen. Battle Tendency is a war, thus it features a lot of strong characters, in fact I'm sure the density of "strong" people compared to other parts is higher. But Araki also subverts the usual qualities of "strength". First the battle doesn't concern physical strength or righteousness like in Part 1 or other shonen that existed (FotNs, Saint Seyia, Sagigake!! Otokojuku, or Dragon Ball, Araki puts the emphasis on "wits" not "strength". The heroes aren't safe from death, their valor won't help them in a life or death situation. Ceasar dooms himself while going for the killing blow "like a great warrior", and Wamuu dooms himself because letting Joseph lives will result in his death too. Araki honors this way of thinking but also notes that it leads to death, specifically wasteful deaths, which is something because the death of characters is a big deal in Jojo. Another subversion is that of the "special technique", you have a lot of special techniques in this part, both from the heroes and the villains. What happens to these special techniques? They work once, sometimes they don't work, as the enemy finds a weakness and counters them. The aforementined shonen glorified the techniques, the special abilities that made a sure win, here once again the reality of battle beat the flashy moves everyone has to offer. See the Divine Sandstorm, it works once against Joseph, then Ceasar carefully countered that, his mistakes allows Wamuu to use it once again but then during the race, JOseph counters it and Wamuu takes a huge blow instead. The idea of characters growing in power is also analyzed. First look at Straight, his one fear is to grow old and weak, thus he wears the mask to become the ultimate being, even if it means sacrificing others and going to hell for that. He gains power at a cost, his humanity. But above else, his growth in power is rendered moot because he, Straizo, didn't grow and was thus outsmarted by Joseph. Kars is like a repetition of Straizo, he too seeks to become more powerful to befriend the sun, and he becomes the strongest man in the world. And what does that bring him? Nothing but power, he lost his fellow Pillar Men, he is alone and even thugh he is the ultiate being, there are things that he cannot do anything against, like space. Even the Pillar Men as stronger enemies is subverted: they are stronger than vampires but they still have weaknesses that become their undoing. Power with only power is useless.
Being simply the strongest is a dead end, being the "strongest" in power doesn't mean anything and is also uninteresting to write about.
What happens when humans get power?
Stardust represents a big change in Araki's writing policy. Stands make their debut, surnatural creatures are dropped altogether with the remnants being wiped out in this part, from now on, Jojo will exclusively concern humans. The reason for that is that Araki must've constated that: 1) he already did enough with non humans with Kars, 2) that Jojo's is all about the potential of humanity, and humans themselves are such an interesting subject.
First we must see how Stands fit in Araki's building concept about "strength". Stands are not only the way for Araki to illustrate the power of his characters, they also serve to differentiate the "power" from its "wielder". This is important for Araki to differentiate between these two, like how he began to do in earlier part, as "physically strong characters" can still have "mental weakness". This result in stands like Yellow Temperance and its user Rubber Soul where Temperance is a really powerful stand but his user is so mentally weak that he become the "weakness". Less subtlely Stands are for Araki an occasion to make an infinite range of powers, fitting the own infinite potential humans have. And even less subtlely, Stands as "power" are very dangerous, it is only alluded but it seems that in this part people get stands but most cannot bear them and die of illness. Abdul says that he saw a lot of these stand-sick people and of course Holly is the straightest example of how Stand and a fortiori "power" shouldn't befall to the ones that cannot bear it. Most remember that when a Stand is hurt, the user is hurt as well but there is also the most unspoken rule that Stands can be destroyed, and while they regenerate, the user won't be able to do everything because his own fighting spirit has been shattered. When Abdul seemingly burns Polnareff, he references that property; it also explains why DIO couldn't regenerate from exploding. Araki introduces the spiritual side of battle in the manga: Stand battle are not only a battle of "physical strength" or "wit", they are a "spiritual battle" where the determination of both opponent clash and is put on the line of fire.
So what about the users themselves? For the Crusaders, it's very simple, each of them represents a side of humanity: -Abdul is reason he's the most reasonable of the group, he also is the most knowledgeable and often tell the others about stands, however he is also prone to lose his cool as he fled before DIO and took D'Arby's taunts very badly. -Kakyoin is the will to surpass one's failure, you may remark that Kakyoin loses the most and when he wins, his victories are difficult and he wants to atone for giving in to DIO however he always outsmarts his enemies and he solved the riddle of DIO's power. -Polnareff is bravery, he is the most dedicated to finish off DIO, especially after Abdul's death, and he is also foolish and naive, which is why he's best teamed up with someone so he doesn't commit blunders. -Joseph is the acquired wisdom one has with old age, he is the one most willing to introduce us to the local customs and Hermit Purple feeds his allies information, Joseph is ultimately the one to pass the message to Jotaro, however Joseph is the physically weakest, being old and not that fit, his Stand is near useless in battle. -Jotaro represents the potential of humanity, he's got the best of everything, he's noble, cool, smart, handsome, his Stand is the strongest of all but also doesn't reveal its true power/potential before the very end. However he still stay humans, he's got a bad temper and is aloof with those not on his level, but cares about his loved ones. Is it a coincidence that Jotaro is the only multi-ethnic man of the group? -Iggy doesn't really fit anywhere, I guess Araki wanted to say that animals have potential too. He does grow to be brave and learns to be selfless however.
This multinational team, with diverse characters with different personalities, motivation, weak points and strong points reflects the universality of the human potential. And each of the side characters will contribute somehow for humanity's potential, Jotaro, to rise to the level of power of Evil himself, DIO. See what happens, Abdul and Iggy's sacrifice allows Polnareff to live, witness a little of DIO's power and warn the rest so they survive DIO's trap in the tower, Kakoyin guesses DIO's power and Joseph passes the message to Jotaro who finishes him off.
What about DIO and his goons? That's also fairly simple, the bad guys are also very diversified, they got several men, women, old people, babies, animals, humans, vampires. As the potential for good is universal, so is the potential for evil. These stand users have different reason for working with DIO, some just like to spread evil, some do it for money, because they are dragged into it, because of their selfishness, some because they are attracted toward DIO. One thing Araki made for his bad guys is to model them or their stands after movie monster (Freddy, the Creature from the Lake, a mummy, zombie-apocalypse-inducing fog), but there's another subtlety, only the true scumbags have these kind of stand. See Hol Horse, Oingo and Boingo, Daniel D'Arby, they all have still some shreds of decency and honor. Another subtext is that when power is in the hands of scumbags, they become monsters, predators that freely use their power to torment those weaker than them, with at the top of these villains the epitome of movie monsters, a vampire.
DIO is the first stand user introduced to manipulate something as metaphysical as time, as he said, this is the "power to reign over the world", timestop allows DIO complete control over one's fate, the world around him and denotes his utter will for domination. He is still the personification of Evil in this part and for Araki, evil is powerful but weak, his arrogance proves to be his own undoing at several levels, his victory was thwarted first because he toys with Polnareff, then when he dismisses Kakyoin's last gesture, and finally when he gloats about his power without checking on Jotaro. Finally DIO utterly loses, and dies before the potential that humanity for good that it can offer, and thanks to the cooperation of good people, as well as the fact that a human was pushed to the extreme limits of his strength allowing to surpass himself and finally step on DIO's level and vanquish him.
Or does he? Dio's multiple streaks at surviving everything was a symbol of how indestructible evil could be, Dio is dead, but his evil still has repecrussions around the world.
Diamond is Unbreakable
Where would one find strength?
Diamond is Unbreakable takes a new direction from the previous parts, notably because Araki must've had no idea how to continue without the red string of the vampires. DiU resembles more a "slice of life" manga, with more down to earth characters, and pretty much locked in the same place, Morioh. However Araki manages to complexify his views about strength once again.
Thanks to the slice of life style, Araki manages to develop a bigger cast of recurring characters, which emphasizes the relations each character has with others. This of course proves to be important when we talk about the "strength" of the characters, one of the main reason the good characters win their encounters is once again because they fight for others and others fight for them.
First of all there is family. With most notably three Jojos in the same part, of course the attachment has for others who share the same bloodline would have a very big role. The main characters' respective families are more prominently written, save for Rohan who nonetheless has Reimi as a "big sister". Our heroes fight for their families, Josuke takes the role of Morioh's protector to honor his grandfather and the pain he inflicts to those who threaten his mother is really up to eleven, Josuke notably fuses Angelo with a rock and Terunosuke with paper, turning him into a book. Moreover Koichi awaken his stand because his family is under The Lock's spell, illustrating how having your loved ones being in danger will make you stronger. Inversely, their family will support them. Even if Keicho badmouths Okuyasu constantly, his reflex was still to save him from Red Hot Chili Pepper, Keicho once again saves the day by giving Okuyasu a last brotherly advice from the afterlife. However the most notable example would be Yoshihiro Kira's ungodly devotion to preserve his son's well-being. The old man's dedication allows him to take the arrow and become a big threat to the main characters once again. Then there is friendship. Like in other parts friendship is also fairly important. Teamwork really begins to shine here, in almost every fight our heroes give or receive support from other characters. The most shining examples would be against Superfly where Mikitaka and Josuke help each other, Josuke and Okuyasu against Shigechi, Koichi feeding Josuke intel against Highway Star and of course every character contributing to find/defeat Kira. Such a theme is omnipresent thanks to the setting, allowing Araki to make a various cast which has every reason to meet with each other and frequent each other. Once again, Koichi's fighting spirit grows into Act 3 because of Jotaro being in a tight spot Finally there is pure selfnessness. Examples of pure selflessness are pretty rare in DiU, but they are present and have a long lasting effect. Most visible would be the unknown teenager saving Josuke, inspiring the latter's hairstyle and his personality. As Jotaro says, Josuke's power "is the most gentle one could ever have". Josuke's capacity of liking and thus befriend anyone wins him several allies, Okuyasu and Yuya most of all. In parallel, Koichi's bravery fueled by his will to help others is what wins him the respect of Rohan or even Yukako's love.
Selfishness is weakness. In the shadow of that strength in others is the weakness in solitude. Here almost none of the villains work with anyone nor they care about anyone but themselves. If Araki says that "an enemy who does bad things is a person who has spiritual weakness", that weakness is demonstrated by the fact that villains will defeat themselves due to their self-absorbed minds. First would be Hazamada who brutalize a random biker only for this biker to get back at him at a crucial moment, saving Josuke and Jotaro. Hazamada's petty will to viciously take revanche (because of course he doesn't deserve the shit that happens to him) defeats him without intervention from anyone. Second is Akira's arrogance and hamminess that first costs him a pinky, and ultimately his need to show off his stand's strength propulse it into the sea. And finally there is Kira. Kira is sort of a spoiled brat, he always wants for things to go his way, his "quiet life that" he wants so much is at the cost of numerous women he killed; moreover, looks at his interactions with his father, there's nothing, Kira doesn't care for his father beyond the help he offers, does Kira thank Yoshihiro, does he even bother to talk to him, does he even spend a single thought about his father, nada, nothing. And when Yoshihiro tells Kira that for once things cannot go Kira's way forever, he throws a tantrum. The Arrow does acknowledge Kira's determination, but Bites the Dust will only ultimately speed Kira's demise. Further examples of Kira throwing himself into the mud: he's disturbed by Koichi's socks and loses time fixing them as he likes, so Jotaro punches him while his guard is down; he's gloating abouth he, YOSHIKAGE KIRA, is a chosen one and about luck being on his side, of course Josuke heards him, even if it was a setup, it fully exploited that trait of Kira.
Finally Araki portrays a certain number of characters whose stand is in direct relation to their talent: Tonio, Rohan and Aya, who work using their stand. Interestingly, the three of them work out of pure passion and will to have people benefit from their talent. They also work very hard and they work alone. This is in fact praise of the notion of koyū or 固有, meaning a practical talent everyone has, and the dedication people should have toward their Talent. Once again the universality of that Talent is demonstrated by how diverse the three of these characters are: a gentle Italian going around the world for the best ingredients, a Japanese woman who studied in England and has a thing for fairy tales, a rude self made mangaka from Japan. These three characters show for their respective craft such dedication it resulted in their Stands. Do note that out of the three of them, two got their Stand naturally, not from the Arrow. Their Stand isn't a personification of their "power" in a fighting point of view, of a personification of their "strength", their strong point, the thing they are best at, and at which they are best they were rewarded so to speak, with a further enhancement of their "strong point". Of course it is faulty to think of these stands as crutch for the craftsmen, they were already that good at what they do.
Can strength exist without weakness ?
Golden Wind, the "black sheep" of Jojo for the Western fans. Whatever you like this part or hate it, it does have the most interesting subtext in my opinion. Araki has always been giving the spotlight to the concept of "strength", but with this part, everything is upside down, place to "weakness", a quick check to the following Jojo will at least tell you that they now begin in a weak state, and that they wish to grow beyong their weakness, but let's concentrate on that part, shall we?
That particular part is full of reflection about first "one's weaknesses", the term "weakness" concerning something as mundane as a little phobia to a litteral state of powerlessness. First let's examine the main characters and their respective "weaknesses". -Narancia: Narancia's weakness is his overeliance in others. Placing friendship above all, it landed him in prison in his youth because he was naive enough to think his friends would never betray him. Even then he has difficulties doing things that his idols Fugo and Buccellati do not tell him to. -Fugo: Fugo wasn't that much explored, but of course he has his quick temper, which ruined his life when he hit a professor with an Encyclopedia. If not for Araki kicking him out of the plot, I'm sure his weakness would have been explored more. More interestingly he has a second "weakness" of sorts, him backing up when he had the choice to betray the organization. -Abbachio: Abbachio carries the guilt of having given in to crime, which resulted in his comrade's death. He now wants to atone for his sin by being absolutely obedient to Passione and the hierarchy. That's why he antagonize Giorno, because the latter talks back to his superiors, doesn't let himself be humiliated as a newbie (in short Giorno disrespects the hierarchy), and above all, still thrives even if his way of doing things doesn't correspond Abbachio's. -Mista:Mista's weakness is his phobia of the number four. Beyond the comical contrast between the character and his phobia, which amounts to superstition in Japan (a really taken seriously superstition sometimes too), Mista's phobia indicates the inner weakness he has behing the persona he has. When he fights, Mista has this tendency to doubt himself, more commonly than others. This is because unlike people think, Mista is not just "cool", he's "playing cool". Deep down he's still a normal teenager whose fighting put pressure on him, and he does snaps and panick during the final fight against Diavolo. That's not out of character since 1) There's now only four of them able to fight Diavolo, not counting Polnareff, 2) Pistols n°5 (the 4th Pistols) suggests that it was Diavolo who interfered with Mista's gun. -Trish: Trish is weak because unlike everyone else, she is powerless in the situation she's in. Until Venice, she's basically an item that is thrown around and must be kept safe for the sake of the Boss's orders. Trish is caught in a string of events she cannot do anything about, all because of her mysterious father. -Bruno: Buccellati has one weakness, he has conflicting loyalty between Passione who gave him protection but also his own personal morality, his bad history with the drug trade makes him hostile to Passione's own involvement in it, but can he dishonor himself by going against his benefactors? The doubt makes him accept Giorno in Passione in hopes that he at least will do something about the drug trade when Bruno won't have the guts. -Giorno: People are quick to compare Giorno to a Jotaro 2.0, however, he's more than just Jotaro. Much like Mista, Giorno's serene and cool behaviour is partly an act. Don't make the wrong conclusions, Giorno is still a ruthless vigilante with a strong sense of Justice, but he passes as being only that. When Giorno's alone, and the occasions are quite rare, he's acting quite goofy and really more human than with others, he does emote, he makes blunders as well. Giorno puts a certain distance between him and others because of his past, he was the victim, the foreigner that everybody bullied. His benefactor may have protected him and Giorno may have grown a spine, but this kind of youth would have left some traces, the main trace being the persona that he cultivates, because if you don't act strong , you're gonna get picked on. Up to Ghiaccio's fight, Giorno doesn't want to show the others his weakness, and that, as stupid as it sounds, is his weakness. The weakness in each character is more important than in other parts because these weakness have a great impact on not only the character's personality, but also their lives.
Then there are the villain. Most villains do not have much more of a role than confronting the respective characters with their own doubts and weakness (Formaggio, Zucchero, Prosciutto, Illuso, Tiziano have Stands that will put the heroes in a "weak position', in state in which they are "powerless"; Sale and Ghiaccio have powers that exactly counter Mista and Giorno's respectively, rendering them "powerless" as well). We do have however Pesci who also overcomes his lack of self confidence but more importanly, Diavolo. Diavolo is a "strong man". First he has the powerful organization Passione in his hands, a group that controls the country and that makes even the main group sweat of terror at the idea of confronting it. Secondly he has the intelligence and determination to administer that organization, terminating every rebellion even before they happen. Finally he has King Crimson, a powerful Stand with a powerful power, Time Skip, that allows control over other's fates. Not only Diavolo is strong, but he makes others "weak", his power makes everyone subject to Fate and him only, placing him well above others, and they cannot do anything about it. Less importantly, his drug trade spreads "weakness" to the civilians, spiritual and physical weakness as the clients become dependant on the drug. Yet Diavolo has one weakness. His daughter, the only thing that connects him to his past, the one thing that takes Diavolo's status as an unbeatable force on par with the gods themselves and reminds others that yes, he is human. Another thing I should talk about is Fate. Up to part 5, Fate is presented as a neutral force, it can favor some villains like Dio who had the ear birthmark, but it would also favor our heroes or punish the villains with some well thought irony. But here Fate is in the hands of Diavolo, with King Crimson, he can read the future and decide what happens to who in the vicinity. Moreover, Rolling Stones predicts the inevitable death of several characters. That Fate is such an antagonistic force is here to emphasizes the utter "weakness" of humans, as they are under the rule of Fate and there's nothing they can do about it.
How does everyone deals with their respective weaknesses? First there is the one who fails to overcome his weakness, Fugo. There's not much to talk about him, he gives in to his fear of the Mafia and is dropped. All of the other character (try to) grow out their weaknesses. And again, the key is in others. For the sake of Trish, Bruno grows even more balls and fights the Boss, Narancia makes his own decision of joining Bruno. For the sake of Bruno, Abbachio goes on to the path of Justice and joins him, growing out of his depression. For the sake of her protectors, Trish overcomes her powerlessness and develops a Stand. Weakness is alleviated throught our relations with others. But more interestingly, we have Giorno and Mista. The two of the group that are acting strong. Mista doesn't overcome his phobia. Araki could've done it, making Mista drop his fear of the number four, but he didn't. Why? And even more interestingly, Giorno begins to stop acting like the miraclemaker he claims to be. It's very subtle and it begins with his fight with Ghiaccio: during that fight Giorno 1) is made powerless against Ghiaccio, he cannot do anything against him 2) makes a huge mistake that throws the two of them into deep shit. Giorno gives in to hopelessness but Mista goes "nah, I can carry for the two of us too". With that fight, Giorno learns the value of relying on others, that it's okay not to be perfect. After that fight, we will notably see Giorno being more open to Mista and the others (for instance Giorno apologises for being wrong in a deduction). Giorno shows his limits and imperfections to Narancia when notably he says he cannot ressurect Abbachio, not putting a strong face or making speeches or anything. Yet the two of them do just fine during their fights, they grow stronger and survive despite having "weakness". Araki means that weakness is a part of human nature, you can overcome some weakness, but you can also acknowledge that you have limits and that only by relying on others you will be able to overcome them.
But what about Diavolo? Diavolo didn't understand anything, in part because of his craziness. First he desperately wants to get rid of his weakness, his daughter. Already a strong person, he wants to set himself above others and in the process dig his own grave by aleniating the main group. Like Kars, Diavolo thinks there's only one place at the top, but acting as if everyone was against him, he had in fact everyone against him. Unlike Dio who had true followers, Diavolo's goons are using Passione for their own sake and sometimes even plan to betray the Boss. Moreover by overrelying on his own power, he throws himself into GER, making his demise inevitable (whether or not he could've escape GER is another matter). Also thinking himself blessed by Fate, he makes blunders (human blunders, that's important) such as overlooking Abbachio's clue.
The Requiem idea is a nod for the potential of humans to grow stronger, they reach another plane that is above even normal Stands. The protagonists being in a desperate state but still willing to fight are granted the possibility of growing stronger by Polnareff, but they still have to fight only to approach it. Gold Experience Requiem is the climax of Part 5, the coronation of everyone's effort toward that will to grow strong, to overcome but also live with their weakness, and thanks to the sacrifice and work of the characters, Giorno is able to attain a superior state, growing even more stronger than Diavolo who in his turn is made powerless. Fate, who always had been a tool for the main villain, is now in Giorno's control.
Weakness will always be part of us, and we may be powerless against things such as Fate, but through others can humans conquer all that.
How does one become strong? Alternatively, how does one become weak?
Stone Ocean is, by contrast to Golden Wind, very optimistic despite the infamous ending. And this optimism begins with the protagonist, Jolyne Cujoh.
Jolyne is in the first chapters, truly, an eyesore. As the next Joestar, it would be natural for her to be introduced in a badass way but she's in prison (like Jotaro yes, but unlike Jotaro...), utterly humiliated because a guard caught her masturbating. Moreover in the next chapter, she's shown as a flightly, weakwilled, and while she demonstrated morality in her hit and run flashback, she quickly gave it up to Romeo's words. Besides she doesn't even have a stand! We never had such a piss-poor introduction since...Jonathan perhaps? Thankfully, she develops a stand soon after, conveniently beginning to use it when Hermes is mugged by guards. Moreover, Stone Free truly awakens in a surge of self preservation instinct against Goo Goo Doll and finally, when Jotaro confess his love for his daughter (that came out wrong), she decides to stay in Green Dolphin Street to save her father/protect Emporio. Acquiring power, then growing a spine, then making a really heroic decision based on her morality; the first volumes essentially illustrate the strength one can have: physical strength (Stone Free), spiritual strength, and moral strength.
There's reckless and there's Jolyne, she among all the Joestars is the one most willing to lay her limbs and life to achieve her goals for instance, we have breaking her cloud suit to reach for Weather, setting herself on fire, and of course, the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the part. That recklessness stems from her innate gentleness: part of her character is that she repays love with love, inconditionally. Hermes sympathize with Jolyne, Emporio warns Jolyne from danger, Jotaro says he's always cherished her, all of these characters have demonstrated kindness toward her, and she repays them tenfold. Even then, prior to Whitesnake, it's implied Jolyne is more sad than angry at her father's cold attitude. Additionally, she is the first willing to acknowledge Foo Fighters' humanity, and see that its actions do not come from ill will, but preservation instinct and thus, she cuts her some slack. It doesn't mean however, that she isn't pummeling and easily forgiving those she deems evil enough, like Guess and Romeo.
That personality is fairly standard, but what is really interesting is how those around her react to that attitude. Let's take a look at the Jojo crew for part 6. -Hermes is a woman seeking revenge. (And I'd like to point the difference with Polnareff, who had at least his chivalry for him, Hermes is purely out for revenge). -Emporio is a cowardly kid. -Foo Fighter is a sentient plankton colony. -Weather Report is an amnesiac who attempted murder (and then a misanthrope supreme death seeker). -Annasui is a crazy murderer. Hardly suited for heroism, right? None of them could've pretended being a hero. And yet, by the end of the manga, they died fighting the big bad, and some sacrificed themselves too. What gives? See everyone one these characters are drawn to Jolyne, they look up to Jolyne. Throughout the manga, we have such sentences as "Your feelings...I...don't...understand them very well...but I don't feel like fighting against you anymore."FF. "to go to the punishment ward for her father...her determination completely won me over"Annasui. "She is the light that shines in the darkness of my heart"Annasui. Long story short, she is a role model, the one everyone looks up to because she's courageous and righteous. She is the cause of Annasui's character development from an psychopathic companion to a friend able to lay down his life. Thanks to her, Emporio grows from a wimpy kid(he used to say "but it's too dangerous [to go to the maximum security ward]""All I can do is hope she's all right") to the one who finishes off Pucci. Jolyne repeatedly impress her companions with feats of courage and influence them to do the same, out of will to be the same as her or for her too.
And who among the Jojos is looked up to so much? In attitude she may be a mix of Josuke and Jotaro, but she is thematically similar to Jonathan Joestar! Both were weak people that really grew strong, both are looked up to by their peers, both die to save someone's life. Araki is bringing up again that good breeds good as much as evil breed evil. Funny isn't it? DIO's best follower against the last Joestar.
Araki goes a long way to "trivialize" the Joestar bloodline. The typical hotblooded attitude of the Joestars causes more problem to Jolyne than they solve. Jotaro's coldness is treated more realistically when her daughter commits offense to catch his attention and resents his apparent lack of love. Even the Joestar birthmark, the symbol of the Joestars is distributed like one distribute leaflets. Turns out DIO had other sons, who technically are part of the Joestars, and Pucci acquires the birthmark too. And finally, the Joestars have a weakness. Jotaro makes the mistake of going to the prison for his daughter, Jolyne is distracted by Jotaro's memory disc, Jotaro wastes his timestop trying to save Jolyne. This is instinctive, this is beyond logic, and Pucci kills them by heavily exploiting that weakness. Jolyne herself shows doubts at the prospect of killing Pucci after he fused with the baby, she isn't sure what to do, she isn't sure if she can do it.
Yet, Jolyne is fundamentally different from the others as she is free, she doesn't have such spiritual weakness as cowardice or selfishness. It is also illustrated by her status in Green Dolphin Street, while Emporio and co. are prisoners, Jolyne decided by herself to step back into the prison, in spirit she is free, she took the decision of going into that prison. The prison is something of a metaphor. See you are pretty much allowed to do as you please within its boundaries, you can look at the TV, you can earn money and buy stuff...But try to go beyond the limits and you'll be put down with violence. Green Dolphin Street represents the limits our lives have, the absolute rules humanity has to suffer. And the ultimate limit is our Fate. And that freedom stems from hope: "Stone free... I'm going to free myself from this stone ocean" By deciding to go against the limits of the prison, she became free, the mere thought of breaking her boundaries set her aside from the inmates. That same hope is also part of her charisma, and why her crew is looking up to her: -Emporio about Jolyne "I have hope...I have hope in how confident she looked!!" -WR to Jolyne"I'm unable to protect you, but I can protect the disc...and, if you have the willpower left in you, you might be able to pull through this" -Annasui to Jolyne "I can see hope for myself through you, and I've never felt this way...not in prison, not in the outside world."
Pucci in contrast in the reverse
Why Pucci is an allegory of spiritual weakness and its harm.
- Pucci is really different from other main villain in that he must be the spiritually weakest of all the villain. While other big bad had always that illusion of being the "chosen one", Pucci didn't just thought it, he would enforce it.
- Enrico Pucci believes in higher powers than the human spirit. Pucci is the most chitchat prone of the villains, an habit he picked from DIO probably, and during these seemingly meaningless chat, he would often explain how humans are below other things:
- First he believes in the absolute power of Fate, that Fate that took him so far in the manga.
- Secondly he is also a believer, he believes in God, and also that God chose him. Hence he also believes that humans must attain Heaven, and that human fundamentally act to attain Heaven.
- With Miraschon, he explains how humans cannot escape their own nature, seeing how Miraschon was stealing stuff.
- Pucci casually speaks about sparrows that kill themselves because they don't know their limit.
- Accoring to him, everything exists because of gravity.
- All of this stuff makes Pucci a cardinal sinner in front of Araki, who always supported the unlimited potential of humanity. Pucci is a weak man who depends on higher powers and not himself.
- This is explained by his very dramatic backstory. Pucci and WR were switched at birth, Pucci learns of it by pure luck, by pure luck Perla and Wes fall in love, commiting incest. Somehow Pucci hires the KKK and Perla jumps off a cliff because she thought WR was dead when he was not. This backstory incorporates lots of elements from tragedy: Pucci and Weather being separated at birth is an old trope, something you can find in works such as Star Wars. Unwitting incest between separated siblings is found in Oedipus Rex, and of course lovers mistaking one another for being dead is Romeo and Juliet. Tragedy has a big message in that the characters cannot escape their fate, things were already sealed before they happened, and they were meant to happen. Guilt stricken, Pucci has under the influence of DIO, shut off his guilt and replacing it by belief in the almighty Fate. He became a shell, a man depending on others, and even his own goal is nothing but DIO's, not exactly though. Hence we can hear Pucci saying that "shame", regret of the past kill and hinders people, and that they need to abandon it.
- Even with that belief, Pucci is still a very stressed man, resorting to such trick like couting prime numbers to calm himself.
- But more than a weak man, he also search to weaken those around him.
- Pucci has a tendency to take weak people and give them power. McQueen, D&G, Miraschon, Sports Maxx, Guccio...All of these people are terrible human beings, and moreover don't even have the fighting spirit of a stand user, they often cheat, cry, try to commit suicide etc. These weaklings don't become strong, not at all, given the separation between a stand and its user that was present since part 3, they only search to destroy Jolyne for their own gain, and because Whitesnake swayed them into it, these minions too do not act for themselves but because they were ordered, and Stand users aren't usually so docile. Pucci's goon have no other purpose to destroy the strong ones that are Jolyne and co.
- Moreover Pucci weakens the strong. The most obvious method being the stand extraction ability of Whitesnake, depriving strong people of their power, then giving them to his own minions. But Pucci has also a serious knack for exploiting people's emotional weaknesses. Look at his plans, Pucci is always giving people a cornelian choice, like choosing between loved one n°1 or loved one n°2. Jotaro's memory disk against arresting him; saving Jolyne from D&G or killing Pucci; save your daughter from that prison but risking being killed in the process.
- In his delusion, Pucci wants to imprint his belief on others. He never suspected that Jolyne could grow into being strong. He thinks that knowing the future leads to happiness when one page earlier, it was demonstrated that people instinctively fight their Fate, and even if they see it, they will try to avoid it. When Emporio turns his logic against him, Pucci finally lose it, and reveals how crazy and weak he was, "you lost to fate" says Emporio, "walking the path of Justice is true fate". The priest can only scream at his impending doom, never having understood why humans are strong.
Contrary to Jolyne, Pucci lost hope, tormented by the loss of his sister, he began to think everything was dictated by Fate and that happiness would lie in knowing one's fate. Pucci is thematically Jolyne's antithesis, her negative and he brings down Weather with him in the same hopelessness, only for Jolyne to drag Weather out of that state.
Different but similar to ordinary people, the Joestars are merely human yet they are so extraordinary! Araki says here that anyone can hope to be as strong as the Joestars, that the bloodline isn't anything special, and anyone can be as badass as them, as long as they are willing to do the necesary steps. At the end, the responsability of killing Pucci is left to the most unlikely of heroes, the tagalong kid. -"Emporio, you're our hope"Jolyne to Emporio.
With the death of Jolyne comes the birth of a heroic Emporio, who demonstrates Joestar levels of badassitude and crazyness. Against all odds, he manages to beat the villain and save humanity from that prison that is Fate. Even if the Joestar's bloodline ends here, their soul lives on.