We made it to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Volume 32! Given the fact that those three handsome devils up there turn up most frequently on promo images for Part 4, I’m gonna assume we’ve pretty much met our entire main cast at this point. And who are these fabulous well-coiffed teenagers? I’m glad you asked!
Has Joseph Joestar’s genes and ability to pull off wily schemes that should in no way work yet somehow do.
Koichi Hirose (u dont need to remember)
A boring teenager from a boring suburb who shows some interesting promise.
A libertarian. Sorry, constitutionalist conservative.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Chapter 294
Chapter 29 of Diamond is Unbreakable
Yukako’s Love (Part One)
Translation: Invincible Trio
We open on a well-composed set of panels with lots of great eye-directing going on, leading us down into the speech and then off to the left. Looks like Josuke and a friend are walking to or from school.
“…So, that Hazamada guy…doesn’t know…anything about…”
I really like this set of panels as an introduction to this chapter. The separation of the top panel with the bottom panel creates the effect of a pan down without actually using a narrow vertically oriented panel (So I don’t end up needlessly repeating myself, if you’d like to see more on how comic books recreate cinematic effects, refer to my Art of Dragonball series.) We don’t know who this is, but their speech is halting – we get this not just from the liberal use of ellipses but also from the speech bubbles themselves. They’re like puffs of smoke. You get the sensation that a greater amount of time passed between the words in the second and third bubbles than the other ones because of the literal distance between them on the page.
“The ‘Electricity Guy’ that killed my bro?!” (I’m guessing Okuyasu is using aniki here; I’m curious about why “electricity guy” is in quotes, so maybe in the original dialogue Okuyasu used some sort of interesting nickname?)
The speaker is Okuyasu! He was speaking haltingly about the murderer of his brother. This is a great bit of character building because it shows us that this is a very emotionally fraught issue for Okuyasu without delving into an inner monologue. This is a good choice in that it keeps the pace of the story moving but also because Okuyasu’s relationship with his brother, and thus his feelings about his brother’s death, are very complicated and I’m not sure a teenage boy like Okuyasu would realistically be able to articulate exactly how he feels when mature adults in real life have struggled to recognize their own emotions coming out of similar situations. At any rate, this is great exposition ’cause it not only gets us up to speed on how Okuyasu’s been doing, it shows us more of his personality: he’s a guy with a lot of emotions simmering underneath who tries to have some restraint but can’t completely hide how he’s feeling.
Heh, and Josuke is Okuyasu’s emotional opposite in this panel here. Not only does he look pretty relaxed, check out how much he’s talking. That’s words words words right there.
Josuke and Okuyasu are talking about the intel Josuke and Jotaro tried to get from Hazamada after he got the shit beaten out of him in the previous chapter. Oh, yeah, so how is Hazamada doing these days anywa-
AAGHH! Holy shit! Well, that fucker deserved it. Anyway, looks like Hazamada doesn’t know shit about the stand user who killed Keicho and tried to intimidate Jotaro on the phone. He does mention that he believes that stand users are drawn to each other so it’s inevitable that more will cross paths with Josuke. (I knew that already by virtue of this being a shonen manga!)
I like how Araki often shows his protagonists from the emotional point of view of the villains – as downright scary motherfuckers. You don’t see that too often in manga, probably because it invites you to sympathize with a “bad guy.” I like it though – it makes both the heroes and villains a bit more complex. At any rate, Hazamada was pretty much useless as far as intel goes, except for the detail that the user of Red Hot Chili Pepper is out to get Jotaro, which we kinda knew already.
Transitioning out of that flashback, we return to the streets of Morioh. Okuyasu has spotted something interesting! I like the shift as we pretty much literally jump into Okuyasu’s point of view.
“Hey! It’s Koichi…”
This is a great little panel. Okuyasu is happy to see Koichi out and about. Josuke notices Koichi’s emotional state right away. It’s such a small moment, but it shows us more about who these characters are. Okuyasu, despite seeming tough, is actually very friendly, and Josuke, despite being a teenage boy, is actually extremely attuned to the emotional states of others. (He noticed that Koichi was nervous from across the street.)
Okuyasu begins to call out to Koichi when he sees something shocking!
I like how Okuyasu’s look of shock wouldn’t be out of place in a scene in which someone got dismembered or something.
Holy shit, Koichi is meeting a hot girl! You can tell he was expecting her to arrive by his expression. He’s not shocked at all. Heh, and I like the use of screentone here to make her look like she’s glowing.
Oh, that’s nice, Koichi is meeting a girl. Guess Okuyasu and Josuke will keep walking and meet up with Koichi later, right?
You can tell from Josuke’s surprise when Okuyasu pulls him behind the corner that he never would have decided to spy on Koichi’s date of his own initiative, but now that he’s in on the scheme you can tell he’s enjoying the shit out of every moment. This is such a great depiction of high school bffs. Ahh man, I wish Okuyasu were my friend, we’d have all kinds of excellent adventures.
Okuyasu let’s Josuke know that the girl is Yukako, one of his classmates, and laments not having a pair of binoculars. (I should have known a libertarian would have hoped to externalize the cost onto someone else!)
The girl begins to speak to Koichi. She was the one who invited him out! When I see the way Koichi is drawn, given the way Araki plays fast and loose with Jotaro’s size in relation to various objects, I take it to mean that Koichi is not literally half the height of the rest of the cast. The way I see it, his features which would stand out the most in real life have been exaggerated. So I believe that Koichi comes off as being a few years younger than he really is – he probably looks like he’s 13 or so but not like a literal elementary school student. On the flip side, Yukako here looks WAY older than Koichi despite being the same age. The way I interpret that is that we’re supposed to be seeing Yukako the way the cast sees her. And the cast is made up of boys who probably don’t have any girls among their close friends. So she seems impossibly mature and uh, “developed” as a way of showing the distance between them. Koichi and Yukako are both 15-16 and if they existed in real life wouldn’t look vastly different in age but have had their features exaggerated here to emphasize the gulf the main characters feel exists between them. So we’re meant to share the characters’ surprise – why would a hot chick like Yukako ask the boyish Koichi out on a date?
As a side note I’m not crazy about how often this happens in comics (girls are amazing unattainable creatures far removed from we normal people, aka boys, amirite?) but it works for this story. (This is the one arc I’m going into having already read the whole thing because of the Duwang cold reading shennanigans I got up to. Full disclosure!)
There’s some fun Loony Tunes-esuqe humor here as Okuyasu and Josuke scurry around to get a front-row seat of what appears to be an ordinary date and Koichi and Yukako somehow don’t notice.
As Koichi and Yukako chat, it becomes apparent that Koichi doesn’t see this as a date at all. He isn’t even entertaining the idea – he thinks Yukako has invited him out in order to ask him a favor. She denies wanting anything from him. On the contrary, she wanted to let him know that she liiiiiikes him!
I like that the idea that a cute girl like Koichi is more stunning to Okuyasu than to Koichi himself.
Josuke helps Okuyasu contain his outburst. I love how even with his mouth covered you can tell Okuyasu is making some kind of grimace by how the muscles on the right side of his face (our left) are bunching up enough to cause him to squint on that side.
This is an interesting moment! Araki often uses a black background in panels that show a character’s inner thoughts in order to isolate the thought from the scene playing out for all to see. While he avoided showing Okuyasu’s inner thoughts early on in the chapter, he opts instead to make Yukako’s explicit. I suspect he chose to do this to keep readers from barking up the wrong tree and assuming that Yukako is faking her love for Koichi. That would be the most likely explanation, so the fact that we basically have an author’s note saying “no really, she means it!” actually makes the story more intriguing, not less. More proof that “show, don’t tell,” should never be treated as the prime directive of storytelling. (I also have an entry in The Art of Dragonball on that theme if you want to explore that in greater detail.)
Hm, and Josuke, who could tell Koichi was nervous from 100 feet away, doesn’t look terribly shocked. On the contrary, he looks calmly pleased. “Whoa, whoa! Didja hear that, Okuyasu? No way, didn’t see that coming, huh? Koichi!” He clearly thinks Yukako is sincere, which further highlights the very interesting twist that Yukako is genuinely in love with Koichi.
As for Koichi himself, he needs a moment to process everything.
And he decides that he’s cool with this.
This expression is pretty interesting! He looks half-crazed. I guess I can best describe it as a “greedy” look. It’s the kind of look you’d draw on a character who just discovered a cache of diamonds or something. It’s worth noting here that Koichi’s reaction here demonstrates that he doesn’t consider himself capable of getting a girlfriend as pretty as Yukako under ordinary circumstances. He doesn’t consider himself to be much of a catch. Yukako does though, and she explains that recently she’s noticed that Koichi has been a lot more confident and that he’s got a winning smile. Confidence really is the sexiest trait a man can have, I’ll back Yukako up on that one. Confidence, and having a car.
Yukako takes Koichi’s hesitation not at disbelief of his good fortune but as a polite rejection. She seems to believe, unlike Koichi and Okuyasu, that Koichi is such a catch that another girl has gotten to him first!
Heh heh, Okuyasu has a humorous meltdown out of his envy for Koichi. Aww, poor guy. Looks like he’s always wanted a girl but has never had one. I guess spending his whole life in social isolation helping his brother attempt to create a stand user to kill their father didn’t leave much time for romance. I bet Okuyasu is hilariously awkward around girls that he likes.
Yukako demands to know whether or not Koichi returns her feelings. While he’s flattered by her advances, he can’t bring himself to be dishonest – he isn’t in love with her because he barely knows her.
The panel that’s zoomed in on her face is pretty interesting. It shows that this question is more than just a girl fishing for affirmation and compliments. This is serious business for her. Also by cutting off part of her face she takes on a sort of spooky aspect, making her even farther removed from our Everyman Koichi here.
Check out as Koichi struggles to come up with the “right” answer, he has the debate with the teacup rather than Yukako. I take that as implying that he’s afraid to actually look up at her while he figures out what to say.
Suddenly Yukako switches from serene perfect waifu to scary horror movie abomination. She actually gets dark circles under her eyes and everything! And check out how BIG she looks compared with Koichi. Yiiiikes!
She then switches back to waifu mode as she bursts into tears. Koichi’s expression says it all.
What the Christ?!
Okuyasu, having become emotionally invested in the proceedings, is similarly stunned.
As Koichi starts to disengage from the shock that had gripped him following his very interesting “date,” he takes a sip of his drink. (This first panel here is hilarious both for Koichi’s look of terror and for the fact that it shows us that Koichi has been holding that pose since Yukako’s outburst.)
Unfortunately, his drink is now full of hair.
WHAT THE CHRIST?!
“That chick…can’t be…” a stand user? Come on Josuke, this is Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Of course she’s a stand user.
This chapter is fabulous for its solid character building all around. While I’m never very fond of the “lol crazy women, amirite?” stereotype in any media, I do like that the mystery set up in this chapter is not “why is this chick pretending to like Koichi,” and instead is related to the air of menace we feel around Yukako. The fact that we do get a peek inside her inner world also keeps us from writing her off completely as an unknowable crazy bitch. I’m pretty excited about covering the rest of this arc as it unfolds.