JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, is… bizarre. And the fourth arc, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, carries on the crazy. What you might not expect is the abrupt, horrifying, and truly heart-rending death of a major character. Well, actually, you might, but this one is different.
[Note: This article contains major spoilers for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable.]
In episode eighteen, Josuke Higashikata and his friend Okuyasu Nijimura met the young junior high Stand user, Shigekiyo Yangu, a.k.a. “Shigechi.” After a brief conflict involving a five million yen lottery ticket, the boys become friends.
That friendship is short-lived, however, as there is a serial killer lurking in the town of Morioucho where the protagonists reside. In episodes 22 and 23, Shigechi has the misfortune of crossing paths with the killer, Yoshikage Kira, and is disposed of in the way that Yoshikage has disposed of all of his victims ever since his own Stand ability manifested: He’s blown up.
Yoshikage’s Stand, Killer Queen–because author Hirohiko Araki loves naming his characters after bands and albums–has the ability to turn anything it touches into a bomb. When Killer Queen activates said bomb, anyone touching it explodes from the inside out, fragmenting into dust and leaving no evidence of any crime. When trying to escape Yoshikage, Shigechi seeks the aid of his new friends, Josuke and Okuyasu. Just as he’s about to warn the two, he grabs the knob of the door to the room the two are in. Unfortunately, Yoshikage has already turned the doorknob into a bomb and detonates it, deleting Shigechi from existence.
Now, this isn’t the first time a character has died unexpectedly in this series. It’s not the first horrific death either. But Shigechi’s death is very different from any of those other deaths. I read the story back when the original manga was being published in Weekly Shonen Jump, and it really impacted me–more so than any other event in the series. The JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime series has always been excellent at recreating the original source material and watching the anime brought back those same feelings of shock and horror.
Shigechi was not a perfect little peach. When it came to money and his possessions, he was miserly and petty. But at his heart, he was a good kid. He was somewhat socially awkward and slow, but he cared for his family. While he did clash with Josuke and Okuyasu due to his aforementioned miserly attitude regarding money, he considered them friends and people he looked up to.
More than anything, though, Shigechi didn’t deserve to die. Shigechi wasn’t in the battle of Stands for any particular reason. He had no overarching objective or motive like other characters. He didn’t get involved knowing he’d be risking his life. That wasn’t what he signed on for. That’s what made his death different. He was just a kid who’d gained an ability.
There’s been plenty of death in the series before. Characters have been dismembered, beaten to death, voided from existence, vaporized, and met all manner of horrible fates. But every character who died did so knowing that it was one of the risks. Sure, there were innocent bystanders from time to time, but those characters were more set pieces and plot devices than actual characters. Shigechi’s death was not only unwarranted. It was just plain cruel. We’re even given a glimpse of the aftermath as Shigechi’s tortured soul sails screaming into the afterlife.
He didn’t deserve it.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.