A live-action adaptation of the shonen manga known lovingly as ‘JoJo’ among fans, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable – Chapter 1 is packed to the rafters with fighting and guys looking cool. And it works wonderfully.
The story follows Josuke Joestar, a high school boy with a supernatural gift called a ‘stand’. After the town of Morioh is beset by sinister crimes, Josuke must use his powers to protect the people he loves. This is actually the fourth story of the manga and anime, but it’s the first of several planned live-action movies – hence the ‘Chapter 1’ billing.
Veteran director Takashi Miike (Audition, 13 Assassins) is a master craftsman and introduces the bizarre world of JoJo in a way that’s courteous to newcomers without impacting the pacing.
The ensemble cast are all gorgeously talented: handsome Kento Yamazaki is hugely likeable as Josuke, while Ryunosuke Kamiki excels as his ever-trembling nerdy schoolmate Koichi. Fans will be rewarded by the depth of nuance in these performances – Nana Komatsu’s Yukako may even be eerier than her anime counterpart.
Visually, the film is refreshingly colourful, aided in part by Miike’s decision to shoot in the Spanish city of Sitges, its mediterranean hues nicely accenting the comic’s classical and European influences. The costume design also succeeds in imparting the edgy fashion that makes ‘JoJo’ so interesting.
Direction-wise, Miike’s frames are bustling with texture – smoke, leather, dust – who needs 3D when images are this deep? Music is used sparingly, with sound design taking a more prominent role and that carries a payoff in terms of scene dynamics.
In conclusion, Diamond Is Unbreakable – Chapter 1 will blow you away, imparting both awe and relief. Awe that Hirohiko Araki’s world could be brought to life so vividly and relief that it’s been done so expertly. Sure, it’s certainly bizarre, grotesque at times and, with all the fight scenes, won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
That said, the whole cast act with conviction and aren’t outshone by the visual fireworks. As far as manga-based movies go, this could be the best one yet.
By George Art Baker