The Anime Annex: The Women of ‘Diamond is Unbreakable’

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.

Mess with the waifu, you get the knaifu

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.

This is one thing we can agree on, lady

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.

There goes my hero! Watch her as she goes!

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.

Jonathan Robert

Jonathan loves comic books and he loves coffee. Jonathan’s mother gave him his first taste of coffee at the tender age of 3 and it was love at first sip. He now needs to wheel around an IV drip of caffeine at all times or else he turns into a dark, monstrous creature that feeds on despair and makes babies cry. The local village-folk have kept him locked away ever since the “decaf catastrophe of ‘06.” When allowed out of his dungeon, he writes various articles for Geekade, including the monthly column, “Welcome to the D-List,” and records the "Mutant Musings" podcast with his geek-tastic girlfriend, Patti.

14 thoughts on “The Anime Annex: The Women of ‘Diamond is Unbreakable’

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  • April 7, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    I have always been bothered by the objectification of women in Jojos. I love the series, but the females are almost always useless and with bad characterization, so I appreciate the article.

    • April 7, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      Agreed! And thanks for the comment!

      • April 8, 2020 at 11:35 am

        Have you part 6? Interested to hear what you think of the female protagonist and focus on female characters.

        • April 8, 2020 at 11:36 am

          *have you read part 6

          • April 22, 2020 at 12:38 pm

            Sorry for the very delayed response!
            I have not. I read pretty much no manga outside of Junji Ito. I’m a comic book nerd first and there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the hobbies I’d like to have.
            But I’m certain a Stone Ocean anime will happen, and hopefully soon, so I’m excited to watch and be able to collect my thoughts on it when it does happen.
            Thanks for commenting and asking!

  • January 17, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    did he say that Joseph is jotaro’s father? Jotaro’s father is Sadao Kujo and he abandoned Jotaro and Holy because of his music career. Joseph is Holy’s Father, meaning that Jotaro is Joseph’s grandson

    • January 24, 2021 at 6:15 pm

      To be honest, at this point I don’t remember all the details, just how it seemed in this anime. Never read the manga by the way if that’s something you’re referencing! Thanks for reading though!

  • May 4, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Wow, I never gave it much thought besides a few scenes here and there that seemed off, but now I just feel bad for poor Tomoko :(…and angry at Jospeh >.>

  • May 9, 2021 at 11:51 am

    All right, I understand what you’re saying on some of these, but allow me to debunk some things you said.

    One: Tomoko doesn’t exactly portray a stereotype that women are moody. It’s just part of her personality. She’s a bit frustrated, I think, and part of that may come from the loss of her father and having to raise Josuke alone. As for reverting back to being an infatuated schoolgirl when she thought Jotaro was Joseph, not gonna lie, I think I would have done the same thing. This is coming from a woman, by the way.

    Two: Aya is of very little importance to the series in my opinion, and her role could have just as easily be played by a male. I don’t think her gender has very much to do with anything.

    Three: Again, I think Shinobu’s want for affection from her husband is just HER personality, not necessarily because she’s a woman, but because she just wants to be loved.

    Four: I understand what you’re saying about Yukako being obsessed with Koichi without even knowing him very well, but I think that in itself is something of a small miracle. It diverts the stereotype of women falling in love with the popular, handsome boy for no other reason than his looks. In fact, assuming that Josuke is the popular, handsome boy, then no females in the part embody that stereotype. But Yukako falling for Koichi is particularly interesting, because she says she’s attracted to him for his potential. Not for his looks, but for his potential. I think that it’s good for there to be a female character who loves someone not for their looks.

    Five: Reimi…Reimi is easliy one of the strongest characters in the series. She’s the only one I feel you are legitimately wrong about. She saved Rohan from dying when she was about sixteen, and she died in the process. She had no special powers back then. She was just an ordinary teenage girl. So why did you write her section as if dying while saving Rohan was a weakness? She had no powers or anything. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps you were pointing out that she died for a man? But Rohan was around four and I am certain she would have done it for a girl as well. She was his babysitter and it was her job to protect him. There is no weakness whatsoever in Reimi. She is also no one’s love interest, unlike many of the other female characters in the series. I don’t quite understand why you even thought to mention Reimi in an article that clearly is criticizing female characters in the part. Reimi is an excellent characterization of a woman. Strong, caring, and independent.

    • May 12, 2021 at 7:55 am

      One: Tomoko being moody as a part of her personality is, indeed, what I am criticising. That it *is* a part of her personality.
      Two: But Aya *is* a woman.
      Three: But she is a woman and this is how she is portrayed.
      Four: Point taken, but she is still hopelessly obsessed with him, regardless of the reasons.
      Five: Reimi is amazing, but not an excellent charactrerization, as she is dead. No ability to travel where she wants or any agency to make any decisions she wants. That is the criticism. Had she survived, I would likely have had no point of contention with it.
      Your opinions are yours – they do not debunk or invalidate mine. As I stated in the article, I loved this series. All of the women in the show have a purpose and serve an overall story to varying degrees of success, again, in my opinion. That does not mean that the way they are portrayed is free from criticism. I noticed something and, rather than take their portrayal at face value, decided to take a closer look at each and point out what I noticed. I could excuse every portrayal by telling myself “this is the way it is in this story and that’s it,” but that’s not what I intended to do. The thoughts, behaviors and mannerisms of these women didn’t *have* to be the way they were. I don’t believe drastically changing their personalities to what I consider are more positive portrayals would have drastically altered the show. Perhaps I’m wrong. Either way, it is what it is, and my criticism of it is what it is as well.
      Nontheless, thank you for reading.

    • May 12, 2021 at 10:31 am

      I agree with you 100% I typed a long thing like this but for some reason after a few attempts I couldn’t get it to post. There’s LOTS of misinformation in this.

      • May 12, 2021 at 2:47 pm

        There is no misinformation in my article. There is how I critically viewed the show, and how you did. I used facts and examples to make my points. You may not like my points and you may not think that women were not portrayed poorly in this series, but again, that’s how you viewed it. Thanks for reading.

  • September 4, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    Great points. I completely agree with you. Me and my friend were discussing these same exact things when I was watching it; it was too hard to ignore these gravely unrealistic characterisations. I stumbled upon this article because I was researching how old Tomoko was when she had Josuke. I actually really liked Joseph until Diamond is Unbreakable. Because of that, I don’t anymore. I’m the same age as her when it happened and I find it disgusting.

    Though, you know what made me actually want to barf? Every word that came out the foot stand man’s (I forgot his name) mouth to those nurse women. 🤢 he was on screen for like 10 seconds before I started to hate him. And the women ate it up 😭 if it was real life I’m certain things would’ve went differently.

    But anyways, I digress. Great article 👍 appreciate the honest critique instead of mindlessly consuming it like most jjba fanboys. Thanks for shedding light on this problem. Lots of anime has this issue with female characters and it’s really annoying.


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