Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond in Unbreakable – Chapter 1 (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

The most popular teen in school seems to have supernatural or at least extraordinary talent. As he learns how to use these and more about himself, he is called upon to help save a fellow high schooler and his small town from unexplained evil.

Based on the hugely popular manga by Hirohiko Araki, the screenplay for this live-action adaptation (there is also an anime series) was written by Itaru Era and directed by extraordinary director Takeshi Miike. The film here is a good adaptation of the manga and anime (from what others have said as this reviewer is not familiar with the source material unfortunately) and one wild ride of a film. It’s a typical Miike film in that it is completely nuts, insane, and fun. He takes this story and adds his personal touches, with his usual tonal shifts and sometimes seemingly random gore and blood. Here Miike crafts a crazy film that absolutely works and is as enjoyable as anything he’s made while possibly being more accessible given its subject matter and almost family-friendly tone. Of course this is only almost family-friendly as there is a lot of violence, some blood, and the occasional gore. It may not be little kid friendly, but it’s definitely older kid friendly and a good introduction to Miike for (almost) the whole family.

As this film is a manga adaptation that had already been done as an anime, the casting was important to bring each beloved character to life with the right feel and the right tone to them. In the titular character of Jojo or Josuke Higashikata is Kento Yamazaki who gives the character this air of unbreakable teenager arrogance. He plays his character this way when in public, but softens him up a bit at home which creates a multi-dimensional teenager who is easy to root for even after he’s been a bit of a butt. He is captivating and has charm and wit that work great here. Playing against, or with, him and shining as an opposite of sort but not an opponent is Ryûnosuke Kamiki as Koichi Hirose the newcomer to town who is innocent and quite adorable. He plays his part earnestly and shows great talent in the wide-eye child discovering things he never thought possible. These two have the most memorable performances, but this does not mean the rest of the cast is not good. The ensemble here is talented and shows it, which is a testament to the casting choices made and the directing by a master.

Also needing to be talked about are the special effects. Most of the effects here are CGI (***mild spoilers ahead***) as the characters such as Jojo and his enemies as well as a few others have Stands which are videogame like characters they can project and have do their fighting for them. Each one of these is interesting to watch and is very well done. The CGI play with water that starts early on in the film and goes on for a while on and off looks fantastic, showing the CGI is not always an annoyance or terrible and it can truly enhance a film.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable is a great film with fantastic special effects. It’s quite a ride and greatly enjoyable, especially with a crowd that really gets into it. It’s definitely a Miike film, but also a rather accessible one where many people who may not know his work or like his usual genres might very well become fans after seeing it. The fact that the full title includes “Chapter 1” seems to indicate that there is more to come and that is a great thing as this one is entertaining, fun, and completely insane.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 13th to August 2nd.