Image source: 映画『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険』公式 on Twitter

In the year of its thirtieth anniversary, there is finally a live-action movie based on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure—part 4 to be exact—and one that promises to be the first of a series of films that covers the entire story. But a single change to the original story at the end of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 had my mouth agape in the theater, for it shakes up the entire rest of the adventure.

When I sat down to watch JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1, I had a lot of burning questions on my mind. How would Stands look in a live-action film? Would there be easter eggs in the background teasing fans of what’s to come? And how much of the story would “Chapter 1” even cover?

The answers to those questions turned out to be “they look fine,” “you betcha,” and “to the end of the Nijimura Brothers’ arc in the manga.” In that regard, the movie closely mirrors the anime adaptation of Diamond is Unbreakable which aired in 2016: That version covered the same material in five 23-minute episodes, which is about the same length as the live-action film.

However, it is how the Nijimura brothers’ tale ends that upends the tea-table on the rest of Diamond is Unbreakable.

[Spoilers from here on out, for both the original story and the live-action film.]

Image source: 映画『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険』公式 on Twitter

Diamond is Unbreakable is unique among JoJo story arcs in that it takes place entirely in one (fictional) Japanese town—so as characters come and go, they have links to one another. For example, Josuke and Koichi meet Toshikazu Hazamada, who later leads Koichi to meet manga artist Rohan Kishibe, who has a connection to the deceased spirit of Reimi Sugimoto, who was killed by the primary antagonist of the story, Yoshikage Kira. And the heroes only meet Kira because a young boy named Shigechi makes friends with Josuke and Okuyasu before inadvertently stealing Kira’s sandwich bag.

Contrast this with Stardust Crusaders (part 3) or Stone Ocean (part 6) or any other JoJo arc where a new villain appears each week and is rarely seen again.

Due to this interconnectivity, I have been wracking my brain for an entire year since the live-action film was announced, trying to figure out how many movies it would take to tell the entire Diamond is Unbreakable story and how many characters could theoretically be cut for time. All of my assumptions were based on the idea that the central story with its series of allies and villains would remain intact, while superfluous encounters like the Italian restaurant or the evil pair of rats could be left out.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 upended all my expectations by changing how Keicho Nijimura meets his end: Instead of Red Hot Chili Pepper appearing and killing him, it is Sheer Heart Attack: The long-range secondary bomb of Yoshikage Kira. A mid-credits sequence teases this further with shots of Kira’s house, his collection of nail clippings, and a severed hand inside a sandwich bag clutching an arrow.

Image source: 映画『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険』公式 on Twitter

The live-action JoJo movie has plenty of changes, some of which were inevitable in adapting the manga to the silver screen. But by rushing to introduce the main antagonist in the first chapter, it throws off an entire series of events that were to follow. No Red Hot Chili Pepper means no showdown at Morioh Harbor, which occurred when the elderly Joseph Joestar, Josuke’s father, came to town.

Does this mean Josuke will never meet his dad? The movie goes to great lengths to deepen his bond with his grandfather/proxy father figure Ryohei, and his mother Tomoko still seems smitten with Joseph. Bringing Joseph to Morioh without Red Hot Chili Pepper would require a completely new entrance, and potentially a new conflict timed with his arrival, while leaving him out would omit some emotional scenes for the Higashikata/Joestar family.

There’s also the character of Yoshikage Kira to consider: what does this new ending mean to his motivation?

In the manga and anime, Kira desperately wants to “live a quiet life.” He kills women out of compulsion but he is never impulsive—he avoids conflict whenever possible, and he goes to great lengths to hide from the heroes even when his powers would give him a distinct advantage were he to go on the offensive. Yet in the movie, he attacks four Stand users and flees with only one dead. Why would he take such a risk? What does this mean about his relationship with Keicho Nijimura (which did not exist in the manga or anime)? If Keicho was looking for a Stand user to kill his misshapen father, shouldn’t Kira with his explosive powers have done so?

In a way, this ending change is the most exciting part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1. With the full manga and a complete anime adaptation readily available (the former is cheap in any used book store, the latter is streaming in its entirety on Japanese Netflix and Crunchyroll abroad), shaking up the story is what makes the live-action film unique. The promise of a narrative remix goes a long way towards convincing me to return and see future chapters. Well, that, and I can’t wait to see who gets cast as Rohan.

The live-action JoJo movie, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Chapter 1 is currently in theaters in Japan with a global release in some form on the way.

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