An Analysis of Manga Series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Manga (2024)

‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ is a musical puzzle to unbox. Spotting the eclectic musical references of its author Hirohiko Araki might just get you an amazing playlist

What does a song like Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” have to do with a Japanese manga? Or Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”? The Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers? Steely Dan’s Aja?

Well, these and many more are deeply embedded in the story and characters of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, as the name suggests, is indeed one of the most unusual Japanese manga to have ever been written. Written and illustrated by mangaka Hirohiko Araki, it began its serialization in the Weekly Shonen Jump in 1987, making it one of the oldest ongoing manga series. Yes, it’s still ongoing! Wildly popular, it has spawned a plethora of memes and references hidden in plain sight.

The easiest way to find a JoJo reference is to simply scroll down the comment section of nearly any YouTube music video featuring bands mainly from the Sixties to the Eighties. You will undoubtedly come across someone talking about how the song is a JoJo reference.

Or something similarly strange along the lines of how this song makes them feel like opening a person’s face and reading them like a book. Literally.

It’s called JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure after all.

Naturally, because it’s been running for 35 years and counting, it’s a given that there are a LOT of characters. JJBA’s characters often have unique abilities or attacks (think of it like the superheroes from Marvel or DC) and almost all of them are named after songs, musicians, bands and albums.

It’s no secret that Araki is a fan of Western music, and his manga makes it very clear. It’s an adventure in itself finding nearly every single easter egg and nods to all the musicians, some are obvious but others are a little obscure. What you’re about to read is essentially a guide to the music references scattered in JoJo’s bizarre universe and how they’ve been linked to the characters that have been named after them.

Be warned, this is going to be full of spoilers; it’s hard to get into detail while avoiding them.

JJBA is currently divided into nine parts, each replete with their own references. Parts one to six, broken down to its bare bones, is basically a tale of the trials and tribulations of the Joestar family (which takes place over generations) thanks to the primary antagonist Dio Brando and his various minions, and whatever the consequences of Dio’s actions. So, what better place to start at than the very beginning? Phantom Blood.

Blending together Bram Stroker’s Dracula and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the tone and setting of Phantom Blood greatly differs from the successive parts. And we get our first music reference right in the beginning with the Joestar clan’s patriarch — George Joestar I.

Fun fact: the first four generations of Joestars are all Beatles references. George Joestar I (and his grandson George Joestar II) are a reference to George Harrison. Jonathan Joestar (the first JoJo) is based off the song “Get Back.” Joseph Joestar (Jonathan’s grandson) is designed after “Come Together.” Lots to unpack, isn’t it?

Let’s keep things simple sticking to just Jonathan for a while.

Paul McCartney in Many Years From Now (Barry Miles, 1997) said, “Many people have since claimed to be the JoJo and they’re not, let me put that straight! I had no particular person in mind, again it was a fictional character, half man, half woman, all very ambiguous. I often left things ambiguous, I like doing that in my songs.”

While Jonathan Joestar (affectionately called JoJo) hasn’t claimed to be the JoJo from “Get Back,” he certainly is a fictional character inspired by the lyrics (and the restaurant which Araki frequented in his hometown, called Jonathan’s).

If Jonathan could be described using just a single word it would be — gentleman. The very picture of chivalry — kind, gentle and brave. To be the ‘true gentleman’ is Jonathan’s goal. He sees the best in everyone and sympathizes even with his enemies. Combined with his affable, good-hearted nature, he’s able to turn even a street thug who ambushes him into a loyal friend and ally. He’s a skilled fighter but doesn’t harm anyone unless they explicitly deserve it. Jonathan is able to think on his feet, even in the direst of situations. Steadfast to his beliefs and incredibly resilient, he’s able to overcome any grief thrown his way to accomplish what he set out to do. Jonathan Joestar sets the bar very high for the future descendants of the Joestar line, the subsequent JoJos.

When Jonathan was an infant, his mother died in a carriage accident which ultimately led to the arrival of his adopted brother Dio Brando, who proceeds to steadily ruin his life, isolating Jonathan from everyone around him, from his father to his friends.

To quote The Beatles’ “Get Back”: “Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner/ But he knew it couldn’t last.”

And it doesn’t, because of Erina Pendleton (his girlfriend and future wife). Erina is aptly named after Elenore Rigby to match Jonathan’s “Get Back.” Rescued by Jonathan as a child, she’s impressed by his selflessness and courage to stand up for someone he doesn’t even know. She’s the first person who supports and believes in Jonathan when Dio turns everyone away from him.

The proper lady to Jonathan’s gentleman, Erina is compassionate, tender and sweet. But she’s more than capable of holding her ground when the situation demands it.

Erina Pendleton, much like her namesake Elenore Rigby, is a character fated to be lonely. She’s separated from Jonathan for seven years and becomes too mortified to face him after being humiliated by Dio, despite Jonathan defending her. Their reunion is a bittersweet one when she nurses Jonathan’s wounds in the hospital after the Joestar Manor is burned to the ground. Even that reunion is cut short when Jonathan decides to keep his distance while going off to fight Dio.

An Analysis of Manga Series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Manga (1)

While she waits for Jonathan’s return, the face she wears — which she keeps in a jar by the door — is a brave one. Though they get married later, their honeymoon comes to an abrupt end as Jonathan dies aboard a sinking ship, sacrificing himself to make sure Dio stays dead. He convinces Erina to save herself and rescue an infant who was also aboard the ship. Erina is once again separated from the man she loves.

This isn’t the end of Erina’s loneliness. The next loved one to be lost to her is her son George Joestar II, killed by a vampire. Yes, there are vampires. Soon the only family left to her is her grandson, Joseph — the second JoJo. Joseph leaves her behind in New York while he investigates the appearance of the mysterious Pillar Men (the musical references of whom will all be revealed in good time). Once again, Erina is left all alone. Fret not, Joseph does indeed return, dramatically and from the dead.

However, unlike the tragic ending of Eleanor Rigby who, to quote the Beatles song, “Died in the church and was buried along with her name/Nobody came,” Erina dies surrounded by her loved ones, living to the ripe old age of 81, making hers a happy one. While Erina was one of the lonely people, she certainly did have a place where she belonged.

An Analysis of Manga Series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Manga (2)
An Analysis of Manga Series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Manga (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Last Updated:

Views: 6324

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Birthday: 1993-01-10

Address: Suite 391 6963 Ullrich Shore, Bellefort, WI 01350-7893

Phone: +6806610432415

Job: Dynamic Manufacturing Assistant

Hobby: amateur radio, Taekwondo, Wood carving, Parkour, Skateboarding, Running, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Pres. Lawanda Wiegand, I am a inquisitive, helpful, glamorous, cheerful, open, clever, innocent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.