Bear with me a moment here, this is a difficult thing to talk about… I’ve… been watching a lot of anime this year. “A lot” for me, of course, is basically just any value higher than zero. Still, it’s a thing that’s been happening with an alarming frequency. And it’s all Netflix’s fault.
First I watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and its two film follow-ups, which I kind of hated. I don’t know. I guess you had to be there. Then I watched Devilman Crybaby, which was unbearably dull until the last three episodes where it went bonkers and I really got into it. Now I’m going through JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. This seems to be currently “in” with the internet nerds everywhere, but it’s not really landing for me.
I want to like JoJo. I really do. The premise – generations of heroes carrying on an eternal battle against immortal foes – is certainly interesting to me. It smacks of Castlevania, but without the gothic theme and Universal Monsters. Jojo‘s battles are usually cool, with neat twists and flashy magic powers and all that stuff you’d expect. Plus, the art! It’s a little weird, but I think that’s what I appreciate about it. Great visual style. Lots of panache. And the ending theme is “Roundabout” by Yes, which is an excellent way to make sure your show always ends on a good note.
But then there’s the exposition. I kid you not, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure is roughly 90% exposition by volume. You could probably condense and entire story arc into a single episode if you cut out every instance of a character over-describing what’s happening. It’s bad. It’s really bad. And it’s making the show so hard for me to really get into. I’m a couple episodes into the second story arc (with the pillar man), but I don’t know if I care enough to keep putting up with it. Word on the reddit is that it gets better, but my time is precious and I’d prefer to squander it on something I can really dig.
Looking at the bigger picture, the exposition problem is one of the major things that’s kept me disinterested in anime in general. I think it generally stems from Dragon Ball Z, which was hot when I was younger, and I wanted to like it, but got annoyed because it was mostly just the characters endlessly describing whatever was going on. Or endlessly grunting as they charged up special moves. To be honest, I don’t know if this really is a problem with anime in general, but it seems like it gets parodied a lot, so maybe I’m not just making things up? I remember Shaman King having the same problem, but I can’t be sure. If it did, I somehow managed to get over it because I was completely fascinated by the lore of that one.
Anyway, I think my point stands: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure sure seems like the kind of show that I would like, but in practice, it’s got one major flaw that really turns me off. I wish I could push past it, but every time friggin’ Speedwagon opens his mouth, I shout at the screen “Show, don’t tell!”