December of 2021 saw the release of two JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure spin-off manga, Fujiko’s Bizarre Worldly Wisdom -Whitesnake’s Miscalculation- and Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak. These couldn’t have released at a more opportune time, with the premiere of the Stone Ocean anime driving interest in the franchise to an all time high, and JoJolion’s conclusion in August leaving manga readers desperate for more material. The JoJo’s fandom positively erupted across every social media platform with the release of these manga; with more hot takes, reactions, and lore explorations surfacing than the franchise has chapters.
By in large, the members of the JoJo’s community — or at least its loudest voices — agree that Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak is hot shit and Fujiko’s Bizarre Worldly Wisdom is just shit, or even a blemish on the franchise. However, the community — especially its most annoying members — tend to be too kind to anything to do with Pt. 3 and — its very worst members — too critical of anything to do with Pt. 6. With this in mind, I’m reviewing both of these manga so I can give what I hope is a more nuanced perspective on these deeply derivative pieces of media.
Fujiko’s Bizarre Worldly Wisdom -Whitesnake’s Miscalculation-
The set up of Shou Aimoto’s Fujiko’s Bizarre Worldly Wisdom -Whitesnake’s Miscalculation- one-shot is that one of Pucci’s efforts to defeat Jolyne and attain “Heaven” was such a disastrous failure that it didn’t deserve to be in the main manga. Pucci’s plan revolves around bestowing the stand Bad Romance to Fujiko Fujiyama, an erotic artist in Green Dolphin St. Jail, that lets the young woman control the emotions of anyone who accepts a drawing from her. While she initially uses this power to make Jolyne uncomfortably and embarrassingly aroused during a yoga class, Fujiko quickly gains such an affection for Jolyne that she begins to empower her instead. Realizing his mistake, Pucci seals Bad Romance back into a DISC and Jolyne escapes the stand attack almost completely unharmed.
It’s easy to understand why some people don’t like this manga. The central conflict resolves itself without the protagonist’s involvement, there isn’t much in terms of world building or interactions between established characters, and there’s some arguably non-con content involving the only female lead in the JoJo’s franchise. There’s not much here unless you’re a fan of Jolyne making ahegao faces in different art styles, and there’s already plenty of that online!
Ultimately, I think this one-shot being middling at best is proof of how authored JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is, and how the manga could only come from the mind of Hirohiko Araki. All the pieces of a classic JoJo’s villain of the week are set up here. A visually distinct weirdo with a memorable introduction? Check. An exploration of an incredibly niche subject that attempts to impart the reader with a newfound understand and appreciation of it? Check. Hot people being kinky and horny??? Biiiiiiiig check.
When a person less interesting and with weaker storytelling chops than Araki attempts this formula, though, it just ends up falling flat. Whether it’s a stag beetle fight, an aside about guitar anatomy, or four full chapters dedicated to hyping up Italian food; Araki knows how to convey his deep appreciate for his personal interests, make his audience resonate with them, and construct a compelling narrative involving these subjects. While Shou Aimoto has several successful manga under her belt, she can’t make this formula work as well as Araki and, to be fair, I don’t think anyone could.
All of that being said, I thought this one-shot was pretty interesting! It was bold of this manga to address the stigma against erotic artists the world over and try to legitimize both the art form and its artists. Also, seeing this one-shot mostly bungle the sexual elements in its story, gave me a deeper understanding of how Araki makes the eroticism of his series work so well (it’s by giving all his characters agency and acknowledging the sexual elements of masculine form). So, well I didn’t love this one-shot, it did at least make me analyze a piece of art I love from a new angle and appreciate it for that.
Also, anyone who says that this one-shot is “just hentai” is a media illiterate fool with some latent puritanical beliefs. By comparing a work to phonography as an insult you’re just revealing that you don’t have the ability to meaningfully critique media and that you watch or read bad porn. Figure out how to live better.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak
Written by Kouhei Kadono and illustrated by Tasuku Karasuma, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak focuses on fan favorite villain Hol Horse as he figures out his life following Dio’s demise. Accepting a job to capture Dio’s pet parrot — which may or may not be a stand user — he teams up with Boingo and runs into Josuke in Morioh, which is also actually the hometown of Noriaki Kakyoin!
On paper, Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak is what most people would want and expect from a JoJo’s side story. It gives beloved characters more time in the spotlight, explores relationships between tangentially related characters, and it fills in plot holes and weaknesses present in the original manga. What manga reader wouldn’t like this spin-off?
I don’t. I loath this manga and its approach to storytelling. It’s entire conceit resolves around filling a supposed plot hole that only emerges when obsessive fans over-analyze the manga. Sure, there’s a single panel where Dio has a cockatoo in the manga that’s seemingly retconned into Pet Shop the hawk in later chapters. While those who evaluate fiction on how well every minute piece fits together — as opposed to interesting things like its creative direction, themes, or literary devices — might call this lazy or poor writing, I would object by asking, who the hell cares!? JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a fantastic manga specifically because Araki avoids planning out his story in favor of penning a more spontaneous narrative. This spin-off feels like it was created by Cinema Sins watching lore perverts and I despise its inception.
Then there’s the focus on Kakyoin, a character who doesn’t have any appeal outside of his connection to other characters and a split second splash of characterization a few pages before his death. The people who insist that Kakyoin’s death is actually affecting or that he’d have any kind of impact on the story if he survived are more annoying the people who spam the “Is that a JoJo’s reference?” meme. If Kakyoin’s death is supposed to be an emotional cornerstone of this manga, I have to believe that this spin-off is for people who think Demon Slayer villains are compelling and morally complex because a bad thing happened to them before they killed hundreds of people.
In fairness, some elements of this manga are fun. Hol Horse wearing three watches is a great visual signifier of the fear of Dio that now defines him. I’m also sure that Josuke and Hol Horse’s interactions will be a continued treat as they’re two of the most lovably idiosyncratic characters in the franchise. That being said, I’m deeply frustrated by the storytelling beliefs and philosophy behind this manga and just can’t gel with it.
A piece of media can still be a masterpiece if it has a messy plot and some two dimensional characters. It feels like Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak exists to fix parts of Stardust Crusaders and that’s the least interesting and most uninspired approach to storytelling I can imagine. Art is magical because it’s deeply personal to its creator and allows us to connect with them on some level. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is such an incredible series because of the passion and personality that Araki pours into it. None of that genuine spirit is in Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak and that’s a disappointment.
Final Verdict: Passion > Performance
Ultimately, I enjoy Fujiko’s Bizarre Worldly Wisdom -Whitesnake’s Miscalculation- more than Crazy Diamond’s Demonic Heartbreak. Even if the former is a skeezy mess and the latter more technically sound, I’ll take an authored piece of media over a J. J. Abrams-style puzzle box approach to JoJo’s any day of the week. Fingers crossed Pt. 9 or the next set of Stone Ocean episodes drop soon, because I am desperate for more JoJo’s material from the people who know it best.