After countless rumours, a live-action adaptation of Hirohiko Araki’s cult favourite JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was finally announced a couple of months ago. The announcement caught some fans by surprise as to them JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is just too crazy, noisy, bizarre to ever be turned into a live-action film. Others knew it was inevitable given the franchises success and popularity. Regardless of their initial reaction, what followed was the typical disdain felt for live-action adaptations of manga and anime. However, there’s a strong possibility that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 will not suck. In fact, it may even become the definitive version of Diamond is Unbreakable because there are quite a few reasons to be optimistic, even excited about the film.
Why the definitive version? Well, due to a film’s limited running time of approximately two hours, the plot has to be condensed accordingly. Now, Diamond is Unbreakable is very uneven from a story-telling perspective. It has pacing issues and sudden tonal shifts. Plot-lines are picked up, dropped and entirely forgotten about, just think of the hinted time-travel and the invisible baby. This is most apparent in the original manga where basically filler episodes, like Jotaro and Josuke’s fight against the rat, seemingly drag on forever. Sure it does the manga’s title justice but not in a good way since it’s structurally and thematically rather messy at times. The anime handled most of these issues by structuring the plot better. Now, a film version - whether animated or live-action - can help structure the main plot even better as it will have to drop certain plot-lines so as to not have an excessive running time and there’s no shortage of plot-lines that can easily be dropped or altered without hurting the narrative. Thus, structurally and thematically the major plot line will be able to benefit from a film adaptation.
The first image of Kento Yamazaki - Japan’s number one leading man for anime and manga adaptations - in costume as Josuke gives cause for celebration. Not only does Yamazaki look like Josuke but he looks like a realistic Josuke. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure does not translate well into real-life as numerous cosplays can attest so I’m glad the film went for a more realistic and practical look. It’s faithful to the original but still its own thing. When you see Yamazaki in the poster, you can’t help but recognise him as Josuke. It’s all there: the colour, the emblems, the pose, the hair! They went for a more juvenile delinquent look which certainly fits Josuke. Speaking of Yamazaki, he’s very good and tremendously likeable actor so it will be interesting to see his take on the role of Josuke. The rest of the characters are equally well cast. I personally cannot wait to see the other costumes, particularly Jotaro’s dolphin loving outfit.
Now, a film also means more exposure and us fans will undoubtedly all profit from that. Exposure means more merchandising and easier access to it. I, for one, love buying stuff. Wouldn’t you want to buy Jotaro’s kissing dolphins and triangle ruler emblems? We will get toys, figures, jewellery, maybe official apparel and, most importantly, the film will make it more likely for the rest of the manga to get an English release. The Diamond is Unbreakable manga has already been confirmed to be translated and published by Viz Media but there’s no word yet on the remaining parts. If the film becomes a success, it will increase the demand for the manga, in turn leading to the other parts becoming officially translated as well.
One of the main concerns the live-action film faces is that it’s a live-action film. Many have prejudices against live-action adaptations of anime and manga because “they all suck, yo!” However, there are anime and manga adaptations that do not suck, yo! There’s Oldyboy, the various Hana Yori Dango TV dramas and the Rurouni Kenshin-trilogy to name but a few. All are faithful adaptations and genuinely good. “All live-action manga and anime adaptations suck, yo!” is not an argument against live-action adaptations but proof of one’s own close-mindedness and ignorance.
Another faithful manga adaptation is Ichi the Killer. A good video game adaptation would be Ace Attorney. Why do I single out these two and what do they have in common? They were both directed by Takashi Miike who’s also the director of the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure live-action film. Miike is an incredibly versatile and prolific filmmaker who’s known for not shying away from anything. Be it epic period pieces, disturbing psychological horrors or absolutely bonkers action flicks, Miike has done them all. However, there is one specific film in his filmography which assures me that Miike is a perfect fit for Araki’s manga. That film is the gleefully insane Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld. It centres on a young Yakuza who turns his whole village into vampires in order to defeat a god who threatens to destroy the world. Or something. To be perfectly honest, it’s not a particularly good film per se and more of a guilty pleasure but it shows that Miike is not afraid to go bizarre. Additionally, the fight scenes in Yakuza Apocalypse are amazing. They are beautifully shot, well choreographed and perfectly executed which comes as no surprise since The Raid’s Mad Dog Yayan Ruhian choreagraphed said fight scenes and even has a role in the film as well. Apart from being great on a technical level, they are also utterly insane. Miike knows how to film action and fight scenes. Just watch for yourself.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why we should welcome the live-action film and go into it with an open mind. Given the talented cast and staff, it’s off to a very promising start. Of course, we won’t know whether the film will ultimately be good or bad until we’ve seen it. All we know now for sure is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 is in good hands.