Analyzing the Music in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a little different from other series in that it is a series which actively switches it’s settings and protagonist. A character’s journey would have a start and eventually an end, with other character replacing his predecessor’s role as the main character of the series. So far, the anime series have adapted three parts, each featuring a different protagonist-Phantom Blood, Battle Tendency and Stardust Crusaders.
Now that the fourth part, Diamond Is Unbreakable is airing in the current season, I wanted to do this before watching it-analyzing the music for each previous parts of Jojo and why they made the series so great. Indeed, aside from their wacky natures, over-the-top actions, stupidly cool poses, iconic characters, cultural references and thousands of memes, another element which definitely contributed to the series’s reputation is it’s music. More than just being great music, all 3 parts of Jojo are composed by different music composers, and their different musical styles fit each part’s extremely distinctive settings and atmospheres to a tee.
Part 1: Phantom Blood
Aforementioned, each different parts of Jojo has a different atmosphere and Phantom Blood reminds me of a super exaggerated soap opera. Set in 1868, Phantom Blood has a sort of Victorian gothic mood, and the OST did an excellent job in capturing the setting’s atmosphere.
The entire music composition for Phantom Blood used a classical, orchestral approach; with heavy usage of strings, brass and orchestral percussion. Matsuo Hayato is known for composing various anime and video game soundtracks including the likes of Hellsing Ultimate, The World God Only Knows and even Final Fantasy, so this type of orchestral approach is something he’s a veteran at. Powerful, even blaring brass instruments blew their way mercilessly through the vampiric battlefield and extremely emotionally-charged melodies etched into your heartstrings during the more slower-paced orchestrated songs. Like a master manipulator, Matsuo Hayato managed to compose a diverse set of orchestrated tracks to suit the different scenes in Phantom Blood.
Intensifying, moody orchestral tunes set the landscape behind the first arc of Jojo and they nicely accentuated the ridiculous, over-the-top and dare I say, bizarre adventures of Jonathan Joestar.
Part 2: Battle Tendency
Battle Tendency tossed the series’s initial tradition and culture. Gone were the classically orchestrated tunes and the high-class mood of Phantom Blood, as we welcome a new era of electronic-influenced music and a new protagonist whose a rebel against tradition and honor.
First and foremost, Battle Tendency reflects change. Set in late 1930s in New York City, the series now follows Jonathan’s grandson, Joseph, a cunning young man who as compared to his more honorable grandfather, would scratch, claw, cheat and do anything to win. And reflecting that rebellious change in altitude too, the OST now oozes energy and spunk. Composed by Iwasaki Taku, the man has a few other anime OSTs under his belt which include Noragami, Akame ga Kill, Kekkaishi, Black Cat and GetBackers; so one thing’s for sure, he’s no stranger to composing songs for shounen anime. Additionally, as he’s also composed songs for Gurren Lagann, he definitely knows a thing or two about being over-the-top. The music composition now feels a lot more contemporary, with some of it’s more iconic tracks electronic in nature, for example, Overdrive which would frequently appear during some of the anime’s more adrenaline-pumping moments (so adrenaline-pumping that it would even strangely urge you to pose stupidly cool-like covering your face with your hand, breathes in and shout “HAMON!”… wait what? You mean it’s only me? OH SHI-), and the super epic-sounding Avalon during this arc’s ultimate climax.
With orchestra switched to dubstep, Battle Tendency aforementioned, reflects change, both in it’s character and it’s music. While a totally different mood, Battle Tendency also did a fine job in bolstering the ridiculous and over-the-top nature of Jojo, even more so than Phantom Blood.
Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
Battle Tendency showed us that the world of Jojo is ever-shifting. Now following the shoes of Kujo Jotaro, the young Japanese delinquent who would later travel all across the globe to save his mother, a journey which would force him to confront his family’s fated rival.
Set in 1980s, it’s no brainer that some of Stardust Crusaders more iconic songs are jazz. Perfectly reflecting a post-modernized Japan where jazz music culture has already stick it’s roots quite firmly within Japanese music culture, quite a few songs are jazzy in nature; with the most obvious example Stardust Crusaders itself, named after the very same arc-the very iconic song which has like a thousand of alternative arrangements in the anime. Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with Kanno Yugo’s works outside of Jojo so I can’t say how much his other works have influenced his works on Jojo, with the exception of Psycho-Pass which also has a few jazzy/funky soundtracks so I guess he is definitely no beginner in such genres.
Earlier, I said Part 2 reflects change but Stardust Crusaders really feels like a totally different beast, and the music also definitely helped emphasized that feeling of change. Instead of fighting his opponents with energetic dubstep, Jotaro now beats his opponents with cool, jazzy soundtracks in the background, befitting his cool, stoic demeanor-which really brings a swagger to the anime unlike any other.
The soundtracks in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is amazing, because more than just being excellently produced music, it is as if each part’s musical style is perfectly tailored to suit their respective settings. This is another thing which makes an anime OST great, in the sense that an anime has incredibly identifiable music-something which Jojo really gets, resulting in 3 different parts within the series which almost look and sound like 3 different anime.
I haven’t started watching Diamond Is Unbreakable at the time of this post, but I can only pray that it keeps up with the musical sense that the series had been displaying so far. What do you think of the music in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure?