Miike’s JoJo film is entirely unnecessary but it’s lot of fanservicey fun nonetheless .
I’m not entirely sure a live-action JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure movie needed to happen. Perhaps Phantom Blood, with its small and self-contained story and (comparatively) simple mythology could have translated well. I can imagine the gothic horror angle working nicely. Maybe Battle Tendency could have been a decent choice, with its Indiana Jones-like setting and fun action sequences. However, once Stands are introduced, everything starts to get a little wacky and increasingly hard to portray properly on film. I can’t even imagine what Mannish Boy or Iggy would have looked like.
So what’s this version bringing to the table? Let’s ignore the series’ rich legacy (the film sure as hell tries to) for the time being, and just focus on the main draw to the show: the unique designs of the Stands and the extremely inventive battles. There’s not much live-action is going to offer that wasn’t already done very well on the show or in the manga, but director Takashi Miike goes all-out here and really, his unabashed style is quite perfect for the show. He steps up to the challenge and does his best giving us still cartoonish but believable Stands and action sequences that actually manage to make sense while also retaining their JoJo silliness.
The movie is a pretty accurate retelling of the first five episodes of the fourth part, and roughly equates to the same runtime as well which does effectively make it entirely pointless for people new to the show. Because, why not just watch the first five episodes if you have 2 hours to kill? So basically we see the stories involving Angelo and the Nijimura brothers, told more or less in the same order as in the show. It’s definitely the sort of format that could have used a revamp to make it flow a bit smoother, but if you’re coming in having seen the series it probably won’t matter much.
The big change comes right at the end. After the conflict between the Nijimura brothers ends, the manga and anime introduced us to Red Hot Chilli Pepper, whose user Otoshi Akira becomes the show’s primary antagonist, for all of about 6 or 7 episodes. Diamond is Unbreakable is known for being somewhat all over the place in terms of pacing, with a ten-episode lull somewhere near the midway point where we’re introduced to a number of different characters but the plot just sort of grinds to a halt. Instead the movie decides to do something a bit interesting: it skips the whole Chilli Pepper arc and replaces it with Sheer Heart Attack, a Stand which only appears for one fight while the Joestar Group are hunting Kira.
By doing this the plot of Diamond is allowed to focus a lot more and get right to the meat of the story in the next film. There are definitely questions that are raised, such as how this plays into Yoshikage Kira’s desire to stay out of sight and live a peaceful life of murder. It feels very out of character for him and brings concern as to the way he’ll be portrayed in the future, but it’s not like it’s impossible to have this make sense. Should this series be allowed to continue, this shift into the Kira story allows the plot get right down to brass tacks without dragging on. Of course, how the movies would introduce Rohan and a few other stand users – notably Cinderella user Aya Tsuji – without looking forced or breaking narrative flow remains to be seen.
That is to say if it ever comes out. It seems that there’s major doubt over the future of the live action films, which is a bit sad. It’s certainly not a perfect adaptation and I’d never recommend it to people who haven’t seen the show first, but for people who are waiting for Stone Ocean to be announced it’s certainly worth checking out. The costumes and casting are almost perfectly spot-on (I’m not sure Yusuke Iseya looks a lot like Jotaro, but he’s got the later-part weariness down), and there are a number of small nods to the continuity of both Diamond is Unbreakable and the greater JoJo universe that will make this feel like it’s the work of someone who’s dedicated to bringing us a movie that, if nothing else, we can watch and point at all the fun references.
And it’s a commendation to say that you could pick a frame at random and you wouldn’t mistake it for anything else. It’s a bit clunky, sure, and is missing the series trademark of shifting colour palettes at the drop of a hat (or poses to be honest) but nevertheless it’s JoJo through and through. It’s like watching cosplayers make their own high-budget version of the product they love so much and in that way, Diamond is Unbreakable is very much worth the price of admission. It’s no replacement by any means, but that’s only because the original is so good. Miike could have easily used Crazy Diamond to try to fix what isn’t broken, but it looks like he’s channelling The Hand, and simply removing a lot of dead air.
Verdict: What it lacks in relevance it makes up for in sheer fan service and for that reason, it’s definitely good watching – but not if you’re new to this.
Overall entertainment: 8/10
Violence: Some decent anime action/10
Sex: That Yukako romance seems more out of nowhere than the show
Setting: 1999? But I swear I saw some smart phones around
Jotaro: Speaks English to his grandfather. Finally I know what language they spoke in Stardust Crusaders!
Koichi: Gets very little to do, but the Rohan manga was a nice touch.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 (2017)
Also known as: ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 ダイヤモンドは砕けない 第一章
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Hirohiko Araki (manga), Itaru Era
Kento Yamazaki – Josuke Higashikata
Yusuke Iseya – Jōtarō Kūjō
Ryunosuke Kamiki – Koichi Hirose
Nana Komatsu – Yukako Yamagishi
Masaki Okada – Keicho Nijimura
Mackenyu – Okuyasu Nijimura
Takayuki Yamada – Anjuro Katagiri
Alisa Mizuki – Tomoko Higashikata
Jun Kunimura – Ryohei Higashikata