JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is quite an interesting anime. Although interconnected, each “season” of the show has a different title and features a different cast. The series follows the successive descendants of Jonathan Joestar as they fight against an evil man who has gained supernatural powers and terrorizes their families. Of course, the descendants have their own special abilities and fight the evil man and his minions along the way. After the awful first season, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure became an increasingly entertaining show, but I’m not going to recap or review every JoJo series. As much as I enjoyed the season Diamond is Unbreakable, I noticed something particularly unfortunate but important to articulate.
Every season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is clearly targeted at young boys. There are big muscles, testosterone-fueled threats, ego-driven displays of power, and barely a woman to be found. Although there are actually a handful of women featured in Diamond is Unbreakable, they are sadly little more than offensive stereotypes. However, the point of this article is not to shame people for enjoying this season or the show as a whole; Diamond is Unbreakable is fantastic. I am simply going to organize my thoughts about an unfortunate aspect of the show by isolating a component of it. But as always, beware of spoilers, anime-niacs.
Diamond is Unbreakable shows 15-year-old Josuke Higashikata meet protagonist of the previous JoJo season, Jotaro Kujo, when the latter comes to inform the former that the two are half-brothers. Jotaro’s father, Joseph Joestar, who was married, had an affair with Josuke’s mother, Tomoko. When Josuke was born, Joseph was 62-years-old while Tomoko was 20. This point is not explicitly stated in the show nor is anyone who is aware of the affair particularly disgusted by it or the age difference. In fact, neither Jotaro nor Joseph are embarrassed—it is Josuke who believes his existence brings shame to the Joestar family. Younger in previous series, Joseph is 77-years-old in Diamond is Unbreakable and is portrayed as a very gentle and warm old man.
Not only is the age difference between Joseph and Tomoko disgusting, but the young woman would have had to raise Josuke on her own if not for help from her father. At no point is Joseph berated for his actions by anyone, and actually, quite the opposite happens when Tomoko meets who she believes is Joseph for the first time in many years. When Jotaro arrives at her home, Tomoko believes it is Joseph, so she hugs him, rubs her face in his chest and professes her love for him. Outside of this one instance, Tomoko is characterized as very moody and easily agitated.
Joseph’s actions and Tomoko’s characterization casually convey a few unfortunate messages, one of which is that a man can cheat on his wife and face no repercussions, nor should a woman hold the father responsible for supporting the child. Also, Tomoko reinforces a particularly dated stereotype that women are moody, or otherwise sexual objects for the desires of men, regardless of age. It was 15 years without contact, but Tomoko reverts to an infatuated teenager at even the thought that Joseph stands in front of her. Tomoko’s terrible characterization is not the only unfortunate example.
Yukako Yamagishi falls in love with Josuke’s friend, Koichi Hirose, both of whom are in high school, despite no previous interaction between the two. She quickly becomes obsessed with him, kidnaps, and traps him at her summer home. She even visits an “aesthetician” to alter her appearance in order to attract Koichi after he escapes. Not only does this illustrate that girls are shallow, as Yukako did not know Koichi before becoming obsessed with him, but it shows boys that it is normal for a woman to change her appearance and become more “attractive” for a man. Because there is no substance in Yukako other than her obsession—no background, hobbies, or ambitions; her value is solely in her appearance, which she must change in order to attract Koichi. Just as Tomoko is infatuated with Joseph despite his absence and the lack of a real relationship between the two, Yukako is obsessed with Koichi despite any connection between them. This reinforces the notion that young women are simply “boy crazy” and shallow, and shows boys that women should change their appearances to become attractive.
Aya Tsuji is the “aesthetician” and has the power to alter a person’s physical appearance, so she uses her power to cause people to fall in love. Sadly, she is the only woman in the season shown at a job. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career as a beautician or cosmetologist, but there is no more substance to Aya than this profession and it is one that surrounds physical appearance. There is no depth to Aya.
Shinobu Kawajiri is a housewife who does not like her husband—she is bored with him and the two largely ignore each other. It is only when the antagonist of the season, Kira, kills her husband, steals his appearance, and inadvertently treats Shinobu better than her husband that she begins to fall in love again. Shinobu has no idea that her husband is dead and a murderer is living in her home and gaining her affection. Shinobu becomes quite enamored with the man despite his odd behavior. This sadly illustrates that a woman is not only oblivious, but wishes only to be shown affection in order to be fulfilled.
Reimi Sugimoto is brave teenager who actually saved the life of her young neighbor from a murderer. That’s pretty badass, right? Too bad she was killed in the process. She is a ghost, and although she has a few awesome moments throughout the show, she is nonetheless quite dead.
Sexual objects, moody, craving affection, stereotypically obsessed with beauty—these are all quite terrible characterizations of women. While this was not the first instance of a lack of positive representation for women in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, it was most obvious throughout Diamond is Unbreakable.
I do not think that this article is going to reach an enormous amount of people, or cause anyone to believe that the writers of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure have written women poorly, but that hasn’t been my purpose. I wanted to criticize a piece of media from a specific viewpoint instead of just absorbing what I watched without thinking about it. Although I do hope that someone reading this agrees with my brief sentiments and examples, what I really hope is that the next time someone watches or reads a piece of media, she or he will be more aware of how a particular demographic is treated, and more critical of it. This doesn’t mean that a show or movie necessarily deserves outrage or boycotts, but maybe more people can join in a discussion about progressing to better treatment of women in media. It’s a fact that women have been historically mistreated in media and although there has been progress, there is still a long way to go.
I also must realize the limitations of my own criticism, because I focused on women—a broad demographic. I have not accounted for age, ethnic background, or sexual preference, for example. All of the women featured in Diamond is Unbreakable are young, the same ethnicity, and straight, or at least it is not stated that any are lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or asexual. So it is not just women that need better representation, but women of more diverse backgrounds.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a difficult recommendation for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is poor representation of certain demographics. If you can deal with the first season and find yourself enjoying the second, then I would recommend you continue watching because each season feels like an improvement over the last. Although Diamond is Unbreakable is likely intended for boys to watch, this show could absolutely be enjoyable for anyone. It is my favorite season of the show so far—this was simply an exercise in thinking critically about something I watched.