One of my favorite manga, the martial arts/psychic powers/vampires/Occidentalist action-adventure epic Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, has been newly released in the States by Viz. For those who haven’t read its Wikipedia entry, it has a complicated publication history — Viz published the middle portion of the story in the 2000s and I was the editor — but now, thanks for the recent television anime, they’re finally releasing the very first part in all its glory. I’m happy to see it in English, particularly since the early parts of the story were so long deemed unpublishable thanks to its outdated hyper-masculine art style, its over-earnest storyline and its long buildup: it’s not until about 200 pages have passed that we finally see some Victorian-Era vampire action!

For all its flaws, I love it, though. With a relatively expensive release price of $10.99 per digital volume combined with its “totally ’80s” style that invites modern readers to read it ironically, it fits the description that a friend gave it, as a “hipster manga”. But it’s a truly weird and unique mashup of influences, the art improves dramatically as it goes on, and it’s unbelievable that Hirohiko Araki, the creator, was able to craft this multigenerational beat-’em-up epic (it spans the 1880s to the present!) which has run more or less nonstop for nearly 30 years now in Japan. I do wish the Viz edition had a better English rewrite: sure, it’s one thing that the classic vampire line “The blood is the life!” is translated back from the Japanese as the blah “Blood is life!”, but it’s hard to convince anyone not to laugh at it when characters say things like “Your agitation and hatred are abnormal!” Still, for imaginative gore and madness and a completely strange manga take on Victorian Britain (by way of “Fist of the North Star”), it’s amazing. I hope they continue to release the rest of the series.

NEXT UPDATE: Wednesday!