Let’s Read Diamond is Unbreakable! Yukako’s Love (Part One)

Let's Read

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!

Josuke Higashikata

ScreenHunter_207 Apr. 20 17.09

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)

ScreenHunter_208 Apr. 20 17.09

A boring teenager from a boring suburb who shows some interesting promise.

Okuyasu Nijimura

ScreenHunter_209 Apr. 20 17.10

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.

Enhance!

“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?

 Okuyasu…

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.

Postscript:

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.

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Let’s Read Diamond is Unbreakable: Surface V

Let's Read

Holy crap you guys I’m so so so sorry for the delay. This Let’s Read is still important to me and fun for me and I really appreciate everyone’s patience. To make up for it, please enjoy this picture of me posing at SXSW, which is what I was doing instead of writing this entry 

I’m posing here with notable IRL shounen anime protagonist Michael A. Zekas, Voiceover Talent, who provided standout performances in Slam Fighter II and #Everest.  You should play those games right after you finish reading this Let’s Read!

JJBA Chapter 293
Chapter 28 of Diamond is Unbreakable
Surface V

Translation: Invincible Trio

Jotaro reads the newspaper while seated at a bench at the main plaza of the Morioh Station.
The composition here is interesting because it very strongly leads the eye to the white space on the left side of the panel, the opposite side that the audience should be reading in. The framing is so strong that it’s surely deliberate. I have a few theories on why this was done: first, to increase tension by forcing the reader to read opposite what seems comfortable, and second, to create a sense of expectation – the empty space feels, well, empty, so the scene feels incomplete. From Jotaro’s point of view this is surely the case, as he’s waiting for Josuke. From our point of view, we agree – Hazamada and Surface will be arriving any moment now.

Wanna point out that Jotaro is also comically large in relation to the bench here. Araki has been playing fast and loose with Jotaro’s relative size for ages now, but he’s doing so not because he hasn’t got a model sheet or doesn’t care – it’s more important that we see Jotaro as a man living in a world that wasn’t made to accommodate his size () than we try to work out how big anything is relative to his height, which is a “known” quantity due to character bio pages and the like.

So yeah, not a new observation, but yes, Jotaro is larger than life. Not only does he have neato powers that most mortal folk don’t have, he’s the protagonist of the previous story, so he’s “large” in the lore too.

Meanwhile, Josuke and Koichi are following Hazamada from a safe distance, sight unseen. They happen upon the aftermath of the hyperviolent scene that took place at the end of the previous chapter. (That delightful scene in which Hazamada brutalized some dudes for comparing him to a cricket.)
“He’s doing whatever he wants with your impersonation!” Koichi’s sweating bullets here (also appears to be leaning diagonally for some reason.)

“Yeah he sure is…” Josuke says looking mildly inconvenienced. “What do we do with Hazamada now, I wonder…” Koichi expresses incredulity that Josuke doesn’t seem to be worked up at all.

Koichi explains – with a slickly drafted visual aid – how Hazamada will arrive at the station and encounter Jotaro.

It’s always interesting to see how Araki combines storytelling through symbols (stuff you aren’t supposed to take literally, like Jotaro’s size relative to the bench) with storytelling through worldbuilding (this map here implying that Morioh has a stable, internally consistent street plan.)

At any rate, Josuke’s definitely rockin’ the

He then puts an arm around Koichi and begins to relate to him (but not us!) what will surely be a cunning plan.

We cut to Hazamada and Surface – Hazamada asks Surface if they’re being followed but Surface hasn’t seen any sign of Josuke or Koichi.

They suddenly hear the sound of a train coming. Hazamada lets Surface know that with the fastest path to the station blocked by the passing train, they’ll have to take a detour. They hurry off towards their alternate route.

AAAAahh Koichi did it!

I actually didn’t expect that. Nicely done!

From the pedestrian bridge above the street he had just scampered from, Hazamada spots Josuke and Koichi dashing across the train-free tracks and on towards the station. While this would make anyone do a double take, we are once again treated to signs of a deeper freakout on the part of Hazamada.

Meanwhile…

Heh, I like this scene transition – it has a lot of impact. We just immediately get all up in Jotaro’s face. It’s almost startling. It leaves the impression that Jotaro didn’t watch Josuke and Koichi approach, he just looked up from the paper and suddenly noticed them.

While he’s not aware of the severity of the danger he’s in, he’s waiting on some critical intel, so he was probably somewhat anxiously awaiting Our Heroes’ arrival.

Koichi and Josuke get Jotaro caught up on the day’s events as Hazamada arrives looking dead tired.

Damn, he looks like a fuckin’ zombie. Well, so driven over the edge that he seems to have lost his humanity. He looks crazy enough to do all kinds of fucked up shit. (Narratively, these panels raise the stakes.)

Incidentally, this is hilarious:

As Josuke gives Jotaro the full story, he nonchalantly grabs a pen from Jotaro’s jacket.

Uh ohhhhhhhhh

”Why the hell am I holding a pen?” wonders Josuke. “Why did I….take this pen from Jotaro’s coat pocket?!”

Jotaro seems kind of…not concerned. Particularly after hearing what Hazamada can do. And Koichi too, what the hell? I thought he was being set up to be reasonably perceptive!

But for Hazamada to be controlling Josuke again with Surface, he’d have to be somewhere nearb-

Oh shit.

Whoa,

Looks like Surface can control Josuke’s facial expressions. Don’t think I need to explain why that’s unsettling.

As Josuke fights Surface’s control, Hazamada takes the time to have a nice internal monologue. Fuck it, I ain’t typin’ that shit out.

This manga is so fucking good.

Hazamada’s insecurity led him to mistreat those biker guys which led them to return the favor, which led to him failing to succeed at his goal – the goal at this point having shifted away from any kind of practical villainy and into attempting to assuage his deeply set insecurity.

Hahaha, Josuke seems calm but he’s avoiding Jotaro’s gaze. This implies to me that he was pretty sure they were fucked. Koichi’s drowsy expression here makes me forgive him a bit since it seems to imply that the last several pages happened over the course of like, maybe two seconds.

Our eyes are invited to linger on this panel by its size and spare black background.

Looks like that blow to the noggin’ was enough to disrupt Hazamada’s ability to project his stand power.

The two biker guys explain that Josuke healed them and told them where Hazamada was heading. Ahh, so this was Josuke’s plan this whole time! I retroactively change my interpretation of his dodging Jotaro’s glance from “I didn’t have a plan and thought we were fucked” to “I was depending on an extremely risky gamble to survive this and I thought it didn’t work out and we were fucked.” Heh.

Oh yeah so then they presumably go on to beat the shit out of Hazamada.

Well, all’s well that ends well, right Josuke?

“Well, guess I’ll just break his doll-thing too. It’ll make me feel better.”

A few Dora Dora’s and Surface is in pieces.

Meanwhile…

Postscript
Damn this was a really well-written story. Great themes, great art, and we get a lot of really great moments that show us more facets of Josuke and Koichi.

So, thoughts on this arc now that it’s wrapped up: in short, I thought it was great. Once again, in this arc, I would argue that the real protagonist is Hazamada. Why? Josuke and Koichi don’t really face any dilemma on a personal level. Hazamada is the one who has to grapple with whether or not he can resist taking the kind of self-destructive action that shields him from confronting his flaw (crippling insecurity in this case.) Josuke is pretty much the same person at the end of this story as he was the day before. What is nice about the fact that Josuke and Koichi didn’t really change in this arc is thatour understanding of who they are gets to change. What I mean by that is, this arc allowed us to refine our picture of who these guys are by putting them in some novel situations. We knew before that Josuke could be cool under pressure, but after this story we now have a clearer and more specific idea of how that reflects on who Josuke is as a person. A lack of character growth isn’t bad if the story still allows us to see new facets of a character.

Because Hazamada was the character who was under the most pressure emotionally, I can’t help but compare him to Keicho. Not only was Keicho also someone who would rather behave in a self-destructive pattern than confront their own flaws, Keicho was also undone more or less as a result of his own choices with little direct action by Josuke. I’ll be curious to see if this ends up being how most enemies in this series end up getting taken out. If so, that’s pretty zen – Josuke defeats his enemies by redirecting their momentum back at them. Still, I kind of hope that that isn’t the case as in both this story and Echoes Josuke seemed so cold and detached that he stopped feeling like a teenager to me, which is a shame because I thought Araki managed to strike a pretty good balance between having him seem wise beyond his years and keeping his behavior age-appropriate.

Lumberjack Bonanza

I’ve always loved the way Araki draws blood and gore. Just look at that hit Hazamada takes: the way the blood just soars out of him when he gets hit by the helmet manages to be both comically absurd and deadly serious.

Moltrey

Koichi using Echoes on the train track was the moment Part 4 went from having a sizeable chunk of my interest to having my full attention. Koichi’s little sound effect turtle baby being a critical part in winning this exchange was such a great change of pace from Part 3 and got a good “Fuck, I did not think of solution, but it 100% totally works” out of me. Some good shit compared to how Echoes’ introduction chapter was resolved.

Also Josuke clinching this fight not through any beatdown of his own, but kindness through helping those bikers is cool for thematic and character reasons

Lumberjack Bonanza

Yeah, I really like how helpful Echoes is fighting Surface, in really clever and creative ways. It’s such a step up from the introduction. I know I was pretty obtuse the last time it got brought up but introducing it by having Koichi essentially shout his way to victory still doesn’t sit right. It just seems so… inelegant.

Moltrey

It is pretty rough, but I still appreciated the application of his power going from Making A Man Lose His Mind to Making His Mom Believe Him. I honestly didn’t see much use of Echoes past driving people crazy.

Momomo

I would say that’s a pretty damn useful power that would work on literally any human if Koichi really felt like doing it.

The way he won was more about him having the confidence to stand up to a weirdo and assert that he is, in fact, strong (and also a good boy). It wasn’t just Koichi yelling at the top of his lungs in defiance.

Dias

I stand (heh) by my original statement about Echoes – it is kinda broken.

Hobgoblin2099

Now see, this was a much better outing for Koichi and Echoes. I have to notice, though, that he didn’t go Super Saiyan while using Echoes this time around.

Okuyasu Nijimura

I like that chapter a lot because it’s definitely scary and all but has subtle comedic moments that work well. The pen grab is just really funny to me somehow.

Johnny Joestar

the next little bit is definitely going to be interesting in terms of koichi getting some characterization. that and what went on in the events of surface are good at pointing out that he exists as more than just a walking infodump, which is definitely necessary since he starts things out as being the speedwagon of morioh.

Butt Ghost
Xibanya

I always wonders if the bottom panel here inspired early Persona boxart

Moltrey

Before the Part 4 anime was announced, there were some mock Part 4 anime screenshots that I was never sure of the source of. I saw some say they were from David Pro people, but in hindsight that seems dubious. Either way, one of them was from this fight and it owned.

Josuke Higashikata

100% not David

Hobgoblin2099

Pretty good for a fake, though.

 

I agree with everyone else, Echoes was way more fun in this story than in the one in which Koichi was the star. Go figure. I did think the one misplaced thing in this arc was Kobayashi’s appearance as Koichi’s manservant, but I’m pretty interested to see if that has some kind of narrative payoff at some point.

Ah, and with that out of the way, that means we can move on to an arc I’ve been looking forward to for a long time! While I get started, everyone please enjoy this extremely serious video. I know I posted it before several months ago, but damn it it’s good enough to watch again!

Play #Everest!

Esoteric
Play my new game #Everest!  And if you like it, vote for it to win the Community Choice award by Midnight CST 2/17/16!

A lot of people were asking me, you know, “why? Why do you wanna do it?” And that’s-that’s a really common mindset to have. It’s easy to ask “why?” But you know, I’ve always been the kind of person who looks beyond that and says “why not?”

Download

System Requirements:

Microsoft XNA Runtime 4.0
Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0

About the game

Your objective is to get the highest score possible by taking pictures at landmarks. Each landmark is worth more points than the ones than came before them, but the real way to rack up a high scores is by taking photos with lots of zany bullshit. Only your highest scoring photo per landmark is used to calculate your final score.

Get Outfitted

You can’t take any more than what you and your three teammates can carry between the four of you. With inventory space limited, bringing one item means leaving another. #Everest is a game of opportunity costs. you must balance your selection of the props that will get your selfies to earn the most likes with the equipment needed to survive the trek to the next great photo op.

Be unique…ish! Change up the colors of your gear and play as either a dude or a lady.


Troy
Voice of Michael A. Zekas


Tori
Voice of Manuela Malasaña

Make your mark

Time waits for no mountaineer in the unforgiving altitudes of the mountain locals refer to as “The Holy Mother.” Take too long trying to get the perfect selfie and you won’t be able to make camp before temperatures plunge at nightfall, but make sure you don’t lose your cool because if you forget to pack anything back up, it will be lost on the mountain forever.

There’s no garbage collection service on Mt. Everest. Carry your trash with you or dump it on the mountain. It’s your choice.

Post Your Selfies

The player character will be posting to their fictional in-game social media accounts throughout the game, but you can choose to post the pictures you take in-game to the player character’s real twitter account, @HashtagEverest or connect your own twitter account and post to it through the game! How’s that for meta?

Ziggy Starfucker’s Guide to Chilling on Mt. Everest

  • Make sure each character has enough food, half rations reduce your health/stamina regen and running out completely will slowly deplete your health
  • Most status ailments will go away after enough rest. Having a medical kit in someone’s inventory will help, resting at landmarks and especially the camps will help too
  • Having a sleeping bag for each character and a tent for the whole party increases health and stamina regen while resting
  • Having lots of crazy and heavy junk in your photo will get more likes and comments. Make sure you retrieve your junk before leaving the photo screen
  • Water bottles aren’t necessary but prevent any chance of dysentery. Having a water treatment kit in someone’s inventory reduces the chance of dysentery but doesn’t prevent it
  • Wearing goggles greatly reduces the chance of snowblindness and retinal hemorrhaging, but wearing shutter shades for your photos gives more likes
  • Climbing around bottlenecks will probably get someone killed, but having climbing harnesses and ascenders equipped reduces the chance. Having fixed lines in someone’s inventory and an icepick equipped on at least character helps further
  • Traveling at night reduces movement speed and increases chance of hypothermia. Try resting at landmarks until daybreak
  • You can get a rough estimate of your travel speed by looking at the walking animation speed of your party
  • Blizzards inflict damage and increase the chance of hypothermia and snowblindness unless you rest at a landmark with a tent or at a camp
  • Prevent/heal hypoxia with a breathing mask and oxygen bottles. By default oxygen use is disabled so you don’t burn through your bottles at lower altitudes

Let’s Read Diamond is Unbreakable: Surface (Part 4)

Let's Read
Why hello there, posters surmounting illiteracy! Have I got a Let’s Read for you!


JJBA Chapter 292
Chapter 27 of Diamond is Unbreakable
Surface IV

Translation: Invincible Trio

Josuke and Koichi run as fast as they can to try to get to Jotaro before Hazamada does. The perspective in this panel here drives home that they have quite a lot of ground to cover.

Unfortunately, they have no idea where Jotaro is.

In their haste they don’t notice Kobayashi lying in the tall grass, still knocked flat from his encounter with Hazamada and Surface.

He appears to be dazed but conscious – possibly aware enough of his surroundings to be very confused about seeing two Josukes running by.


We cut to Surface-as-Josuke walking in front of Hazamada some distance away. There are five high school girls in shot and all of them are calling flirtatiously to what they think is Josuke. OK yep, this panel pretty much confirms it – Hazamada is hella jealous.

“Why the hell do you get all the chicks to say bye to you…?”

“I’ve…never had a girl say bye to me, my whole life…heh! There’s only ugly bitches in this school anyway…”

Oh dang my theory from the last chapter was totally correct! By the way, since more than one person has asked me privately – the only chapters I’ve read ahead are Yukako’s love 1-3. If something I predict comes true it’s less that I’m great at guessing and more that Araki does a good job of foreshadowing future developments without beating the reader over the head with them.


A girl gives Surface a love note intended for Josuke and Hazamada FLIPS HIS SHIT. He snatches it away and rips it up.

“What the hell is the difference between you and me…?”
“Huh?”
Check out Hazamada’s lack of balance and how all his limbs are bent and contrast with Surface-as-Josuke standing straight up. This visually communicates Hazamada’s internal unbalance (and if you wanna read more about this, I wrote about it in my Art of Dragonball series.)

“What the hell can be so different?!”

idk man, he’s a punk, you’re a massive goth, he’s exotically half white and you’re the Japanese version of wonderbread, or maybe it’s because he has a healthy level of self-esteem and you’re an insecure goon? I mean I could go on…

“Who cares about that right now? Now’s not the time to be lagging around, you know?” This bit is kinda interesting – Surface having this kind of will independent of Hazamada. I’m taking this to mean that aside from being obedient to Hazamada, Surface takes on the exact personality of whoever it is copying at the time.

“Wha–you think you can talk to me like that?!” Hazamaza says looking like a cornered animal.
“What do you mean, ‘like that’? This is how I talk, remember?” Surface says in, yeah, a pretty Josuke way. Hazamada can’t take this anymore and socks Surface in the jaw.

OH SO THAT’S WHERE THIS PART OF THAT DUWANG VIDEO COMES FROM.


“you OK reatard I am wood. Stupid.”

OK this whole scene here is interesting as hell from a character standpoint. In the words of Strongbad, Hazamada needs some serious clown care, man. Dang, wearin’ that gothy shit all bishonen with the long hair, but insecure to the point of self-destructive instability. What this kid needs is a fat blunt.

AHA holy crap, Hazamada in his internal monologue says he had Surface turn into Junko, the girl he likes, so he could “have [his] way with her” but she got on his nerves and he “couldn’t fucking do anything.” Do you guys realize what that means? If Surface has to be obedient to Hazamada, then it’s not like Surface-as-Junko could refuse to boink Hazamada but I bet she laughed at his dick or something so he wasn’t actually able to perform. Haaaahahaha….

Hobgoblin2099

It must be awkward when the physical manifestation of your soul mocks your size down there.

“Aren’t there any nice people in this world? Damn it…” Oh jeez this the very image of an entitled shut-in loser.

Hazamada steadies himself for a second on a parked motorcycle as he walks down the street, leaving behind a handprint on its freshly polished surface as well as some blood – he busted his hand pretty good during his little tantrum. A reatard indeed.

The bikers see this and the one who owns the motorcycle gets pretty peeved that this random kid just undid the his bike’s fresh polish job and he resolves to beat the shit outta Hazamada.

Not really. Maybe it was a good pun in Japanese?


Well anyway, the next thing that happens is that Surface busts the back of the other biker’s skull in holy fuck!

Oh yeah and check out Surface’s eyes here! They’re totally blank and creepy. Does that mean Hazamada is making Surface do something that Josuke wouldn’t ordinarily do? Or is it just to add some extra discomfort to this hyperviolent moment?


Wait, I spoke too soon. It just got creepier.

Hazamada has Surface restrain the motorcycle owner’s arms. He then takes out a box cutter, weapon of choice of maladjusted Japanese schoolkids, if you’ll recall 4chan’s Nevada-tan obsession from a decade ago.

He elbows the now helpless biker guy in the mouth – looks like he may have broken the guy’s nose and possibly knocked a tooth or two out.

He then approaches with the box cutter

note the framing of these shots – the object, then the biker’s fearful reaction. Very classic horror movie composition. Hazamada’s face is removed so the approaching disembodied hand with blade seems more fearsome since it is visually divorced from a human identity.

Hazamada then sticks the box cutter in the guy’s mouth holy jesus fuck he’s gonna like give him a glasgow smile or something holy shit holy shit.

This surprisingly brutal turn of events is interrupted by the high-velocity arrival of shards of glass, which Surface catches looking like some sort of evil owl. (“Most owls can turn their head 270 degrees in both directions. This owl can fuck itself in all directions.” )

Wait, who do we know that likes throwing stuff? It’s Josuke!

Hazamada looks worried for a moment but quickly composes himself. He directs Surface to take control of Josuke again. But much to his surprise, the glass shards Josuke threw before start forming into a bottle around Surface’s hand. Damn, that’s clever!

“That piece of glass that the copy caught…I didn’t throw it ’cause I wanted it to hit you.”

“I threw it so I could ‘fix’ it into its original shape.”

And with that, Surface’s right hand is fuckin’ dismembered as the bottle completely reforms. Nice!

“Well, looks like it’s time to hide…”

Hobgoblin2099

That trick with the glass bottle and subsequent hiding was a genuine Joseph Joestar moment.

Moltrey

The best part is Josuke and Koichi could’ve totally just kept running and passed them while they were distracted, but they didn’t cause Josuke wanted to be a dick. The classic Joseph Joestar move.

Blockhouse

I love that Josuke’s plan is to just fuck up Hazamada’s plan and walk away, letting the whole thing sort itself out

ascalapha odorata

I’ve been waiting for that bottle moment with Surface, it’s just so great. I liked Crazy Diamond before and all but that particular move is what made me decide that I really, REALLY liked Crazy Diamond.

And Hobgoblin’s right, that sort of trickery is exactly the sort of thing his dad would be super proud of.

Surface picks up the hand in the bottle and tells Hazamada that it won’t turn back into a hand again. Whoa, that’s pretty serious. But Hazamada seems to not be missing any appendages himself, so I guess damage to Surface doesn’t sympathetically affect Hazamada in the manner of other Stand/Stand User pairs. Interesting.

Hazamada reorients himself on his goal of getting to Jotaro before Josuke, but this time his motive is slightly changed! Previously he wanted to get to Jotaro first because, well, if he didn’t his chances of being able to kill Jotaro would be significantly diminished. Now? He wants to get to Jotaro first because he specifically doesn’t want to lose to Josuke. The difference is subtle but significant.

We end on a panel showing Jotaro arriving at the station.

Postscript
Some of the earlier chapters in this arc had some dodgy art, but this chapter has had some of the best linework I’ve seen in Diamond is Unbreakable yet. This whole chapter was great! Didn’t end with a little doodle though, so I’ll just repost that really cool set of panels from before.

awww, yiss.

Moltrey

These Let’s Reads still real good. I recently read through pieces Part 4 again in color, and oh man am I excited for this anime and further Let’s Reads.

Here’s that two set of panels, but in color.

Agent Kool-Aid

I really like the transition from Hazamada talking to Surface and getting berated by it to the series of panels with him having surface absolutely destroy that biker and setting him up to do even more. It gives a sense that even if Surface is able to take on a personality of its own it’s still, ultimately, a stand. When let to act on its own it takes on a more ‘human’ appearance, but the second you see it directly taken control of to defend its user it suddenly shifts to a much more menacing figure that properly fits the marionette underneath. The poses it strikes seem unnatural and the blank eyes really give the idea that at that moment it has mentally checked out. i don’t think you ever see Josuke use any sort of chopping strike at any point, so if the thing had copied every one of Josuke’s mannerisms it sure wasn’t using them at that time.

It’s a really nice shift from Hazamada being pointed out to be the creep that he is, to him being absolutely goddamn cruel and dangerous. the reader can get a sense of both of those sides in a short period of time and it really comes off as natural given the circumstances.

ascalapha odorata

I started typing a post about how it sort of ups the ante in terms of mean teen Stand users but it really doesn’t, that’s nothing new, so I don’t know what it is about it that’s striking but I think maybe it’s the cruelty that makes it especially striking? Hazamada is fucked up AND he has a Stand. Eesh.

Agent Kool-Aid

I think part of it is that instead of just having Surface absolutely fuck up the dude (which he could do), he personally gets up in there and uses a boxcutter to start slashing at his gums. That personal touch makes it all the more vicious. He has the power to more or less vaporize someone using this wooden puppet thing, but nah, he’s going to get up in there and start digging at his mouth with a knife. what the fuck, Hazamada.

Let’s Read Diamond is Unbreakable: Surface (Part 3)/What’s the deal with stands?

Let's Read
“I finally got this so-called ‘stand’ ability…Not everyone gets to have one, you know?” Hazamada says through Surface. “Kinda makes you want to live a more dangerous and successful life than the average guy, don’t you think?”

Well, they say the best way to see a person’s true nature is to give them power.

JJBA Chapter 291
Chapter 26 of Diamond is Unbreakable
Surface III

Translation: Invincible Trio

Surface continues its attack – it forces Josuke to dig even deeper at his eye with the pencil. Josuke’s response to this is pretty badass.

The writing here is a bit vague but I think that Surface is telling Josuke that he’ll stop his attack if Josuke promises to skip town with Jotaro. Otherwise I’m not sure what Surface is getting at here.

“Even if you struggle, you gotta give up some time, Josuke!”

Josuke struggles to keep from stabbing himself in the eye, and then apparently falls over.

I have to confess that to me the speed lines with the sound effect make this look a bit comical.


Josuke falls forward (spurting blood!) then falls again (?) as Hazamada has a private thought.

Hazamada discusses this most recent turn of events with Surface.

“Did you squash it?” Hazamada asks. “It made a nice sound. If he didn’t sever any nerves, he’ll be lucky to see again…if he’s lucky that is.” Invincible Trio, surely there was a more elegant way to word that.

“Well, he’ll be knocked out for a while, anyway…looks like we can get rid of Jotaro in that time. The name of the hotel that Jotaro’s staying in is…uhhhh…”

“It’s ‘Morioh Grand Hotel.’ Hey, pick up my shoes!”


Hmmmm interesting. So Surface appears to have a will independent of that of Hazamada. (I suppose perhaps it picks up the personality of whoever it is impersonating at the time? I wonder if it can even move when it’s not taking anybody’s form. Can it take Hazamada’s form?) Additionally, looks like Hazamada can’t actually see through Surface’s eyes as I had originally assumed – I figured he could use it for scouting like Kakyoin used Hierophant Green. And then Hazamada had to tell Surface to pick up his shoes, which would imply that he can’t control his stand through his will alone, although it does appear that Surface is obedient to him. So I’m wondering to what extent Hazamada can control his own stand. If he doesn’t give it orders in battle then how does it know what to do? Was Surface making Josuke stab at his own eye because Josuke had heard Hazamada made his friend do that so Surface actually picked the idea up when he imprinted on Josuke? So if Josuke hadn’t thought Hazamada would attack his eye, maybe Hazamada wouldn’t have attacked his eye. rly makes u think, doesnt it?

OK so I had to glance at this again because my first thought was that we were seeing a cross section of the inside of Surface’s head and that we were looking at machine parts – but then I realized we were seeing a sound effect that Echoes put on Surface (since Hazamada is also a stand user, why didn’t he see this?)


Posting whole page because the panel transitions are nice. We realize we’re surveying the scene from the POV of Echoes – and since echoes seems to be speaking for Koichi does that mean Koichi can use Echoes like Hierophant Green?

Also AIDS? wtf.

Hobgoblin2099

I was going to write up something profound about how this was a better outing for Koichi’s Stand abilities than the previous arc, but now all I can think about is that Josuke’s school apparently has a cabinet full of AIDS.


But yep, looks like Josuke didn’t stab his eye out after all, Koichi just fooled Hazamada into thinking he did! (wouldn’t it be obvious because Surface didn’t stab his own eye out? I’m probably overthinking this.)

Bad Seafood

No because he didn’t actually stab his own eye out. Surface just creates an initial copy, it doesn’t mirror damage taken or anything.

But if it didn’t stab its own eye out then how could it make Josuke do same? If it didn’t make a motion that would cause that to happen, how could Hazamada think Josuke made a motion that would cause that to happen?

ChaosArgate

Josuke had the pencil, not Surface. As long as Surface’s hand moved close enough to its eye, it could probably be fooled into thinking Josuke popped his own eye.

Bad Seafood

Josuke “Stabbed” his own eye out with a pen. Surface wasn’t holding a pen, he just brought his fist up to his eye.

OH!

yeah I totally noticed that….I was just testing you guys….hahahaha…. LOOK A DISTRACTION!

Josuke rushes to Koichi and we get some expository dialogue explaining what happened.

So Koichi didn’t spend more than a moment with a zillion broken bones, he’s “just” sliced up from busting through a pane of glass. Looks like a job for Crazy Diamondman!

Something about this whole exchange is morbidly amusing to me.

Ahaaaaa so that’s why Koichi was a focal point of this earlier panel!!

MEANWHILE…

Dang if my tablet weren’t broken I’d be drawing lines on this shit. Oh well. Look at the lines and where they point and think arty thoughts! Also this panel is boring. BORING! Which is good. We just got out of a scene that was tense as fuck. Araki’s dialing down the intensity so he has the space he needs to jack it up again.

Koichi and Josuke talk about their game plan. Because of how thorough Surface’s copying was, right down to personality and speech patterns, they can’t think of anything they could tell anybody that would help them distinguish Josuke from Surface-Copying-Josuke. I guess Koichi forgot about the screw that he explicitly noticed in the previous chapter.

“What creeped me out the most wasn’t the face, though. It was the fingers…you see your fingers a lot more than you see your face, right? I could tell that he had me copied, right down to my fingerprints.”

“This is pretty damn bad…even Jotaro’s not going to be safe if that copy gets anywhere near him!”

You can tell Josuke really does believe Surface to be dangerous by how he’s sweating. Again this whole bit is kinda expository and not that exciting, but Araki is setting up the narrative questions from which the tension will rise: “can Josuke and Koichi get to Jotaro before Hazamada does?” “If Hazamada gets to Jotaro before Josuke and Koichi, will Jotaro be able to tell that Surface is an impostor?”

Josuke makes a beeline for the nearest phone booth – wow, after Stardust Crusaders looks like JJBA goes back to being a period piece! – and he dials the hotel Jotaro is staying in.

Side note:

 


Curses, foiled again!

Koichi’s expression and placement in this panel cracks me up. Also, guys, how is this shocking? If Surface-as-Josuke can think of anything Josuke would and the first thing Josuke thinks to do is to call Jotaro, then it doesn’t seem at all surprising that the line is busy. Really at this point if I were Josuke I’d tell Koichi to start spitting ideas at me and then use the least bad one.

Still, this stunning revelation gives us this neato panel:

I really like the art here. This is just a damn cool portrait of Josuke being shocked as fuck.

Josuke asks Koichi how many other phone booths there are at school – OH I GET IT ‘cause for Hazamada and Surface to be calling Jotaro they would have had to place the call pretty much immediately after leaving the locker room which means they must still be on campus. Koichi rattles off a list of phone booths scattered hither and yon. Man so they could be all sorts of places. Upon realizing this, Josuke looks excited as fuck:

MEANWHILE…

Once again Araki uses a zoomed-out aerial view to establish a scene transition.

Surface-as-Josuke tells Jotaro to come to the Morioh Station ASAP, saying that he’ll fill in Jotaro on the details about another stand user he learned about from Kobayashi. Jotaro tells him that he’ll be there in 15 minutes. Surface hangs up and he and Hazamada exchange shit-eating grins.

Hey that’s pretty scary! At no point did Josuke or Koichi mention Kobayashi or the photo within earshot of Surface or Hazamada so I guess Surface was tapping into Josuke’s memories to come up with what he said to Jotaro. So in an indirect way I suppose that makes Hazamada capable of reading people’s minds.


And unfortunately Jotaro leaves before the real Josuke’s call goes through. Nice perspective/eye-guiding happening in that panel with the phone by the way. Man, none of this would have happened if they had cell phones. I’m now imagining Jotaro and Josuke running around with those massive vintage 1993-era cell phones that Araki had to have been aware existed at time of writing. Fan artists out there – you know what to do.

Josuke calls the front desk to ask them to look out for Jotaro, but Jotaro is already walking out the door by the time Josuke is able to speak to the concierge.

AW YISS KOICHI MAKING PLANS! Go get that copy!

MEANWHILE…

HA oh my this panel. Hazamada gothing it up while seeing all the girls cooing at what they think is Josuke. (Hmm, also his posture reminds me of the posture Surface first had after taking Josuke’s form.) I’m also thinking about Hazamada’s earlier comment about how stand users are basically better than other people. I read once that people with low self-esteem see the world as being full of people who are superior or inferior to themselves. Calling it now: Hazamada is insecure and before he had a stand he resented people he saw as more successful than himself.

Kobayashi, still skulking around for some reason (checking out the girls?) spots Surface-as-Josuke and Hazamada and sprits over to them.

I like how he’s eager to find out what happened. I wonder how much of that is from wanting more juicy gossip.

But wait!

AH!

Ahh yes some nice tense stuff here since you KNOW Kobayashi’s gonna get attacked so you just have to bite your nails until the comic reveals to you how.

Wait for it….


Check out that double chin. Hazamada confirmed for resentful loser.

MEANWHILE…

The girls from before spot Josuke and Koichi heading off campus. “Why are you coming out of school again?” asks one. “I thought you just left,” says another.

Ha ha ha, I hope this is as silly in Japanese as it is in English.

Postscript:

YF-23

About Surface having an will independent of Hazamada’s, I think about this that it might also be that Hazamada, being new to the whole Stand business, does not himself fully understand that he does not need to communicate with his Stand like it’s a different person. I think that might’ve been my initial reading of this back in the day when I read part 4.

Momomo

I thought Surface was just an automatic stand, and did whatever he felt like. Since Stands are like manifestations of the user’s personality, it’s just a way of showing Hazamada is really weird.

Agent Kool-Aid

surface introduces the concept that stands can sometimes have their own personality and converse with the users among other things. ultimately they’re at the whims of the user, of course, and can be banished or told to do things as the user wishes.

Davinci

What about Anubis?

ascalapha odorata

I started tapping out a long post on my phone involving that before the app crashed so everyone’s spared my garbage words but yeah, Anubis is similar but it’s not totally the same as Surface, right?

Surface is still actually tied to one entity, Anubis is a weird fuckin deal. Surface definitely sets up the possibility of Stands that have their own developed personalities. I mean Stands sorta had something like that thus far I think but not to a point where Star Platinum’s actually talking to Jotaro instead of just doing what Jotaro says.

Agent Kool-Aid

anubis is what it is because araki still didn’t know what all stands would be like. it’s a special case because technically it’s its own user. or something. i don’t know. surface is an introduction to how ‘normal’ stands can function like most others yet also have the ability to talk and whatever else. almost being their own character independent of their user, but only present when the user wants them to be around.

alcharagia

anubis’s user was a blacksmith who infused his stand into an evil murder sword and so the stand survived his death

Agent Kool-Aid

I personally don’t include the stands from stardust crusaders that much when talking about stands as a whole. Arc 4 is when the concept starts coming together and becomes integral to the series, and there’s even still some fleshing out in arc 5 from what I remember.

Aurain

Part 3’s Stands being pretty vanilla makes sense though. It’s never going to reflect too well against future parts with Stands because at the time the mere concept of Stands was a new thing. From the start of the part compared to a little later in, the concept of Stands changes from being a sort of extension of Hamon and requiring good breathing to function properly to them not being remotely related to it at all.

It’s quite clear throughout the entirety of Stardust Crusaders that Araki had these ideas mulling around for more interesting and dynamic stands and we do see some of these come to the fore by the end of Starust Crusaders, such as either D’Arby, Ice, Mariah, Oingo & Boingo, but it’s probably a case of it being too much to soon for those style of stands to be showing up from the very beginning of SDC.

Compare that to the beginning of Diamond is Unbreakable even up to the point where we’re at with Xibanya’s read through and we’ve got a protagonist who from the outside has a power besides punching things (and has turned a guy into a rock), Star Platinum with full access to The World, The Hand, Aqua Necklace (sort of like Geb+), Bad Company, The Lock, Echoes and Surface. They’re all wildly varied compared to how we see the first couple of Stands used in SDC because we all know what Stands are and the rules for them so it’s free reign from having it established already.

I see SDC’s pre-egypt Stands as largely dull concepts myself in the same way that Phantom Blood gets the same sort of “bad rep”. It’s not quite as good because it’s new, but it’s still pretty damn good anyway.
My favourite SDC stands are the generic punchghosts anyway (The World and then Star Platinum, personally) even having said all this. Simple is great sometimes.

RubberLuffy

The first three Stands we see in Part 3 are just basic psychic powers with avatars. Telekinesis, pyrokinesis and clairvoyance. You can maybe extend this to Kakyoin having possession/mind control even though that’s dropped almost immediately. It’s probably why they’re so vanilla, because I bet that was just the base idea that he moved away from pretty fast.

ascalapha odorata

I mean I always sort of think of it as “the guy who was manipulated and controlled by DIO might not wanna go for mind control anyway once he’s free” but just resent it when it’s said it’s utterly dropped because this always comes up when it’s being used as proof that hierophant green sucks. Which it doesn’t.

Aurain

Kakyoin is the least good [Stardust Crusader]

Note: Aurain’s username currently displays as “Josuke Higashikata” and I’ve maintained it here as Aurain so that post attribution remains clear.

ascalapha odorata

Please fucking ban Josuke Higashikata

Waffleman_

He’ll just use Crazy Diamond to restore his account.

ascalapha odorata

D-Trick observes Día de los Reyes Magos instead.

Slam Fighter II v.1.4.1 – Best Christmas Ever Edition!

Esoteric
Michael A. Zekas, Voiceover and QA Talent posted:

‘Sup, broskis, and ho, ho, ho!

Here’s the latest update to Slam Fighter II, v.1.4.1, now with some new features; lots of polish; a touchingly tear-jerking ending for D-Trick; and a sweet new calibration wizard to help make your game’s timing on fleek — both the Soviet-issued Tandy you’re desperate to replace and the gaming hot rod on its way in Santa’s bag! (Sorry, dogg. Spoiler.)

Don’t throw shade at your family and friends with a fruitcake. Show them you love them with smacktalk and chestnuts roasting on a fiery ice burn. Our gift to you. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all the Holiday Love from the Dogpit.

Let’s Read Diamond is Unbreakable: Surface (Part Two)

Let's Read
When we rejoin our heroes, we see Josuke and Koichi looking at a Josuke-copy emerging from the locker of the stand user they were investigating. It appears that Hazamada’s stand power allows him to turn the large wooden artist’s manikin into other people.

JJBA Chapter 290
Chapter 25 of Diamond is Unbreakable
Surface II

Translation: Invincible Trio

I like how this full page spread lets us really linger on this most recent turn of events. What we’re seeing is disturbing not because of its appearance in itself, but because of what this means.

“Looking at yourself…it does weird stuff with your mind, you know? It’s kind of creepy…” Josuke says looking vaguely disgusted. I love this little bit of characterization – that something that scratches the surface of a sort of deep philosophical topic crosses Josuke’s mind like that.

The stand begins to approach Josuke and Koichi with a posture that evokes Frankenstein’s monster – standing rigidly but with shoulder’s slumped and head titled down. Oh yeah, but do check out the balance in everyone’s posture. The stand is standing up completely straight, basically vertically, parallel with the left and right panel borders. Josuke is standing up mostly straight, but Koichi is leaning at an angle. We can intuit right away that Josuke is calm and Koichi is thrown off. As for the stand, through its body language – arms straight down, back hunched, it is clear that this isn’t Josuke. There’s also another difference – looks like the stand has a screw between its eyebrows.

I’m going to include the whole page here because it’s another example of that slow zoom technique Araki likes to use (the one explored in depth in the chapter where Aqua Necklace killed Ryohei.) This page manages to ramp up tension significantly in only three panels.

First panel: note here how the front of the stand is in shadow, like it’s being backlit. This is one technique for setting mood that comics can take advantage of much better than films – if you stop to think about it, it’s not realistic for the lighting to be like this, but since we’ve already accepted that the extremely unrealistic world of the comic is real (unrealistic in the sense that the real world is not made of black and white illustrations on a 2d plane) instead of being jarring, this lighting creates an air of menace. If the lighting had shifted this dramatically in a film, there would be a much higher risk of breaking the audience’s suspension of disbelief.

Second panel: check out the speed lines (and the jagged GO GO GO GOs) — normally that would help us feel like this character was swiftly approaching, but we don’t have any visual indicators in the character’s outline, so there’s this weird conflict in that the background makes us sense motion but the character appears to be stationary. Instead of speeding towards us, WE are zooming towards the stand. That with the dutch angle creates an uneasy feeling that we’re on an uncontrollable collision course with this creepy entity.

Third panel: the screw is rather visible in the second panel, but by breaking it out here, it helps us understand that the characters have also noticed this, since this whole sequence is playing out from the heroes’ point of view. It’s almost like a double take. So we’re like “aaaaa here comes the creepy thing …and what is THAT?”

The stand starts to speak, and Koichi’s inner monologue lets us know that the stand’s manner of speech is exactly like that of Josuke.

It’s pretty much mandatory at this point that Koichi make this remark, seeing as we can’t literally hear the characters’ voices. In terms of narrative function, while Josuke himself could have said “wow, he talks just like me,” the fact that he hasn’t is an element of how he’s being characterized in this encounter – at this point he’s not surprised at all that the stand copied his manner of speech; from his reaction I bet he had anticipated (based on his earlier disquiet, maybe even dreaded) that this would probably be the case from the moment he realized the stand had turned into a Josuke-copy and his reaction shot here is communicating something like “damn, this is bad.”

Koichi lets us know via inner monologue that aside fromt he screw, he can’t tell Josuke apart from the stand copying him. (Again, this is mandatory.) I also wanted to point out that among this functional exposition, Araki has also managed to include some fun characterization for Koichi. “It’s just like those quizzes you see in magazines…’Find seven differences between picture A and B, find all of them and submit your answer!’ …finding all of them makes my head start to hurt after awhile, but…” Hahaha, I just love this. When I was a kid I did use to read Highlights Magazine and Disney Adventure (I’m assuming that the magazines Koichi is referring to are similar in nature) so this is telling us that Koichi likes to read that kind of magazine for fun – particularly since this implies that he does this kind of activity regularly. It’s cute.

The stand starts talking about…something. OK, I’m not sure how to summarize it because I’m not sure how much of what the stand is saying seems sensible or recognizable to the target audience, so I’ll just copy it.

“‘Widget’…You’ve heard of it, right? That thing that’s in ‘Paman’…that copy robot! Looks pretty useful…don’t you think that it would be nice having one of those?” Nice shot of Josuke looking unsettled here.

“Hey Koichi…what is this guy talking about?” Josuke then puts on a look of petulance, one that I’m coming to recognize as an expression he wears often. “What the hell is ‘Paman’?” This seems to bug whoever is controlling the stand. There are some notes here indicating that these are well known things, so is this like someone in the states claiming to have never heard of Spiderman or something? Or is it that the stand user is a geek talking about geek things and Josuke, not being a geek, naturally doesn’t know about this weeaboo…uh, comic book nerd shit. In other words, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be unsettling because the stand is saying the kind of thing Josuke would say down to the subject matter or if it’s just unsettling because it’s speaking in a jocular manner with Josuke’s voice. (By the way, can anybody confirm whether or not the stand’s “great” here is Josuke’s “gureito!”? )

PeaceDiner

Nah, it’s definitely more of the first one. Perman (Paaman) is a famous kid’s manga made by the guy who did Doraemon, serialized in both the late 60s and early-to-mid 80s, so it’s something most that I’d think most Japanese kids would know about.

“…You don’t know ‘Paman’? There’s a guy in Japan that doesn’t know what ‘Paman’ is? Oh great! No way, you can’t be serious…Jeez, now I don’t want to even talk to you! What the hell did you use to watch on TV when you were a kid? It’s like you grew up in a different dimension! You ever eaten bisco before? Heard of the B. B. Queens? Huh?”

“Shut the fuck up! I’m the one that’s gonna be asking questions here!”

Wow, I think this is the most pissed off I’ve seen Josuke when his hair wasn’t involved. In hindsight, it makes his earlier remark “Looking at yourself…it does weird stuff with your mind, you know?” more than just a throwaway pseudo-philisophical line – it implies that this whole thing has been really unsettling to Josuke and that he’d been keeping it together up to this point (as Josuke’s modus operandi appears to be maintaining a cool head at all times) but this last thing was just too much. “What the hell are ya trying to pull by turning into me!?”

Although now I’m wondering wtf was going on with Josuke claiming to not know what “paman” is and how this bothered the stand user. Is it that Josuke actually does know and was pretending not to in order to try to make the stand user feel dumb? Or was he just being petulant? It’s sort of interesting to look at that as a tactical move in light of the fact that it seems that having an evil twin really bugs Josuke.

The stand raises its right arm and Josuke suddenly finds himself forced to raise his left – in other words, looks like his body is now under the control of the stand and it is forcing him to mirror its movements.

lol so what would happen if the stand turned around, would Josuke then switch from holding his left arm up to his right? what if the stand started controlling him while standing at a 45 degree angle? …OK this isn’t actually important, while it would make more sense for the stand’s body parts to correspond to Josuke’s body parts, it is more clear visually for Josuke’s controlled movements to mirror those of the stand, and for the purpose of this story, communicating the broad idea (the stand can force Josuke to copy its movements) is more important than the granular details of how that’s actually happening.

The stand explains what I just above, that Josuke will be forced to copy its movements. (Weird line here: “I’m the kind of copy doll that people don’t want to have.” Oh, OK….? So then what kind of ‘copy doll’ do people actually want to have? I’m assuming this is a translation issue and that instead of copy doll the stand said ‘artists’ manikin’ or something.) However shit then gets real as the stand forces Josuke to start applying pressure to his face with his fingers, creeping dangerously close to his left eye…

The stand then pulls its arm back suddenly with enough force to bash in the door of a metal locker, forcing Josuke to strike Koichi with that same amount of force. Damn!

Note here that the entire action shown in this first panel here happens at the same time as what happens in these following panels, but this is yet another technique comics can do that doesn’t really translate well to anime or film. All this stuff happens in like a second, but the medium allows it to be drawn out without getting silly (as often seen in anime where you’re just left screaming “that punch took 30 seconds to land, why didn’t you get out of the way?!?”)

As soon as Josuke’s arm starts being pulled back, he knows he’s about to strike Koichi – not only does the fact that Koichi, not Josuke’s arm, is the focal point of this panel make that clear, the next panel, which feature’s Josuke’s emotional state at this point, drives it home. And of course we get the panel in which Josuke tells Koichi to get out of the way.

The point of drawing out this moment is to ratchet up the tension here – and in fact this whole sequence shows some really really amazing tension-management. (is tension-management a term? I will now make it a term, because Araki does it all the time, as ya’ll have seen me point out repeatedly in past entries.)

This whole moment where Josuke strikes Koichi has so much impact () because like a stage magician, Araki drew misdirected our attention. When we first see the stand force Josuke to raise his arm, we might be asking “hm, will the stand user force Josuke to hurt Koichi?” but then the stand makes it seem like it’s about to force Josuke to dig his own eye out. Since we already know that the stand user is willing to force someone to do that, we’re asking “will the stand force Josuke to dig his own eye out?” The stakes are pretty high – oh, man, I don’t know about you guys, but I always squirm when watching anything in which a character’s eye is threatened – but yeah, tension goes way up because we’re like “aaaaa Josuke’s eye aaaaa!

So then when the stand suddenly yanks its arm back, at first tension then drops down, like, ah, the stand user was just playing head games, he was fucking with Josuke! Until we realize, oh shit…! Like a roller coaster the level of tension once again goes up, but this time something different is at stake. In this manga, we know that Josuke can heal others, so there’s not a terribly great amount of tension to be had from supporting characters’ being in danger of getting injured, so most tension has to ride on danger of injury to Josuke, who can’t heal himself. But now the tension is riding on “will Josuke seriously hurt Koichi” when we know that Josuke himself would be distressed to have been forced to injure his friend.


Fuuuuuuuuuck!

“I heard 5 or 6 bones break with that one…”

Once again, the force that smashed that locker door — that’s the force that smashed Koichi’s mandible.


Appreciating Araki’s restraint here. Most shonen comics would have the hero making it explicit via inner monologue that hurting their friend made them unhappy. Which is like…ya, no shit?

Dang, really, this is the most pissed Josuke has been when his hair hasn’t gotten dissed.

Josuke summons his punchghost and tries to channel his anger in a productive way (into the stand’s face) but Crazy Diamond’s punch whifs.

Like Star Platinum, looks like Crazy Diamond has a pretty short range, so all Hazamada’s stand has to do is stand just outside the bounds of where Crazy Diamond can be and go “neener neener” like an asshole.

Aside: I’m assuming that Hazamada is seeing and speaking through his stand the way Kakyoin could see and speak through Hierophant Green. I’m fascinated by the idea that whatever tones/inflections that Hazamada uses in his regular speaking voice are being translated into the tones/inflections used by whoever his stand is copying.

Crazy Diamond flings a mechanical pencil at the stand, but the stand catches it. “This doll stand’s name is ‘Surface.'” Oh, OK. Surface catches it. “I’m pretty proud of my speed, you know. Your stand and Jotaro’s Star Platinum might be stronger than I am but…” Oooooh, so Hazamada knows about Jotaro, eh? And how did that happen?

lol at Surface’s expression as he tosses the pencil to Josuke.

Ahhh, once more beautiful tension-management! From the panel with just the pencil in hand, we know what’s about to happen. And Josuke does too!

I think I explained in either a previous Let’s Read or in JJBA vs Dragonball that for tension to work, we have to have a good idea of what’s at stake. The point of the friend/eyeball anecdote was not just to set up this guy as a petty psycho, but also to prime us to anticipate eyeball poking shenanigans. Yeah, without that specific anecdote the art here would still create that tension, but the exposition shows us that Hazamada has the cojones to go through with it.

As Surface starts forcing Josuke to dig into the skin right below his right eye, Hazamada explains through his stand that he wants Jotaro to leave town or Hazamada may try to kill him. Hazamada says he’s aware that Star Platinum can stop time but that he believes Surface to be a match for it. (jeez, it was a fuckload of trouble for the Stardust Crusaders to figure out what The World did and now it looks like everyone and their dog knows about Star Platinum’s time stop. But I suppose not everybody can keep a secret as fabulously as DIO.)

Hazamada goes on to tell Josuke (via Surface) that “since the real you is in the way, I’m gonna have to ask you to stay put for awhile! I have to be the only ‘Josuke’ who approaches Jotaro…”

Josuke has a moment of shock/anxiety and then spots Hazamada being a creeper just beyond the end of the row of lockers. Josuke then puts on his battle face (calm seriousness) and remarks “Hazamada…this stand…is dangerous…”

“Doesn’t change the fact that I’ll kick his ass, but…”

Postscript:

Hobgoblin2099

We’ve only scratched the surface of the types of Stands that show up in Part 4, but I do like how this guy could pose a legitimate threat to Jotaro.

In terms of ability, Jotaro would win hands down if he knew what his opponent was ahead of time. But would he expect ‘Josuke’ to attack him fatally while his guard was down? It’s a good way of making a new threat without making DIO look like a chump in comparison.

Viola the Mad

Oh man, this arc.

I liked this arc a lot, even though I found it a little silly (for reasons I’ll go into later). It’s good to see you back, Xibanya!

Agent Kool-Aid

I really like you pointing out koichi talking about those magazines. It was a detail I definitely missed before due to glossing over it and it really does add onto his character a bit. I also don’t blame Josuke for being so wigged out. A body double would be eerie as fuck, especially since in these scenarios there’s like a 99% chance it’ll be evil.