Though “Weekly Shonen Jump” is delayed this week, Shueisha’s monthly publications such as “Ultra Jump” and “V Jump” are forging ahead strong. Arguably, the most notable series to come out of the former every month is “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Jojolion.”
On that note, “Jojolion” chapter 96 has just released, both answering questions readers have been having for months, and deepening those mysteries further still.
Starting out on the cover page, we see a frog’s eye view of Josuke with his body turning away from the camera, staring off at multiple images of the head doctor with his back turned, floating in the sky. Josuke is activating his Stand ability from his pointer finger, ready to strike, yet, in the background, there’s nothing but blue skies and a peaceful Morioh neighborhood.
This cover screams a sense of foreboding yet juxtaposes it alongside what the reader would relate to something peaceful. Furthermore, the multiple images of the doctor with his back turned, nearly surrounding Josuke, represents the terror the doctor’s Stand ability imposes. While all seems peaceful, the doctor’s ability is looming, and there’s nothing you can do to stop the calamity.
To me, the meaning of the cover page only becomes clear after reading this chapter, and with all the subtle hints that riddle the coming panels, I’d recommend giving this chapter two reads.
Moving into the content, Araki shifts gears from what we’ve been following in the last few chapters and brings us back to Mamezuku Rai, the “Jo-bro” of “Jojolion.” Last we saw him, he’d sheltered Josuke so that they could enact their plan to get closer to the head doctor, but this time we see the fallout of that. Araki does a fantastic job here of presenting the intelligence that goes into these Stand battles, and furthermore expertly lays out for the reader the difficulty of battling against the head doctor’s stand.
There hasn’t been a single final villain in all of “JoJo” whose had a long range type Stand ability, though these are the ones that tend to have the most bizarre abilities of all (if you don’t believe me, go check out “Bohemian Rhapsody” from “Stone Ocean”).
Some readers may find this to be a disappointment, as we aren’t going to get a huge brawl as we have in the past, but the process of solving how to fight against such a powerful, tricky Stand, is half the fun of “JoJo.”
I think having such a cerebral type of Stand battle fits this part of the series perfectly. Memezuku’s scene in the first part of the chapter highlights that in an amazing way, and it even ties into what comes next.
The chapter proceeds into checking back in on Yasuho and the Higashikata family, but doesn’t spend as long on them as it did in the previous chapters.
Firstly, Araki starts sprinkling in more hints that lead the reader to question what they previously thought about the main villain, even after getting more explanation from Mamezuku’s analysis. So, right after getting some questions answered, Araki still finds a way to deepen the mystery further.
On top of that, he’s input a lot of weird interactions with a character named Tooru, and this chapter isn’t free of that. Araki is leading the reader to heavily question Tooru, his words, and his motives, and I’ve never been so suspicious of him as I am now. Specifically, Araki’s use of dialogue this chapter is frighteningly intentional, and is the main source of the mysteries.
And finally, there’s the Higashikata scene that plays off what the previous two built. While I’ve been getting a little tired of the chaos in the Higashikata house, this chapter made me feel like everything that’s happened there is worth it.
Joubin is the definition of a character with gray morality, and to see his perspective on the events as they unfold takes the reader to a place they haven’t seen in JoJo before. Most the time we see the villains as generally evil, though perhaps there is some wiggle room for debate — maybe. “Steel Ball Run” changed that a little bit, but I think everyone would still agree Funny Valentine was an evil guy.
Yet, in “Jojolion” the motives of the villains, being Joubin and the head doctor from the reader’s perspective, are gray, and in the case of the latter unclear. With this part of the series falling into the mystery genre, mirroring part 4, I can’t say there’s been a “JoJo” part that has executed its portrayal of the villains so well in terms of character.
Joubin views the protagonist as an enemy to his family, and will protect his family at all costs, even if he must kill his own father. So, while he does evil things, the way Araki continues to portray Joubin causes the reader to still sympathize with him based on his motive. That seems to be the point of the tail end of the chapter.
This chapter makes the reader analyze every single line of dialogue and then go back to reread what happened. If the cover page is only truly understandable after a first read through, the story’s content needs even more digging to fully understand just how many layers of complexity there are.