The Surprising Influence Sherlock Holmes Had On JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Hirohiko Araki has been delivering the absolutely bizarre adventures of folks named JoJo since 1987. Across a number of series, fantastic protagonists with magical powers named after classic rock bands get into all sorts of trouble. There's truly nothing like "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" — you haven't lived until you've seen a high-schooler who looks like a full-grown adult triumphing over a baby with fangs in a dreamworld.

Every new iteration of "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" — there have been eight parts of the anime to date, with an ninth part starting soon — features a new hero nicknamed Jojo, a unique setting, and odd spin on magical combat. From a conflict against ancient vampires just before World War II to a murder caper in a small Japanese town, the series has been everywhere. The first "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" began all the way back in 19th century England though, a hint at the surprising series that inspired Araki in the first place.

The World's Greatest Detective began this Bizarre Adventure

In an interview with the Japanese magazine Kotoba, Araki said he wouldn't have started "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" if it wasn't for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic literary detective Sherlock Holmes. His very first manga series was "Cool Shock B.T.," a mystery manga that stuck closer to Doyle's detective serials. Sherlock Holmes was also the inspiration for the first "Jojo" setting, with the series taking place in 19th century England just like 1887's "A Study in Scarlet" and the other early Holmes stories.

Doyle's writing helped Araki learn how to compose his own stories and characters. "What makes Holmes great is that he may be a genius, but he's also clearly a jerk," Araki told Kotoba, as translated by AnimeNewsNetwork. "I've often thought that one of the conditions for being a hero is loneliness. When push comes to shove, a hero has to be able to fight and solve a case by themselves, otherwise you can't call them the hero. You wouldn't even be able to say that they suit the role of protagonist of a series."

While having a lonely, proactive jerk is a good recipe for a protagonist, Araki did concede that a supporting character like Watson is key as well. He insisted that the characters playing off one another is where a story's real effectiveness comes from. Araki explained:

"Actually, it's even harder to depict the ultimate side character in the form of Watson than it is to depict the protagonist. Holmes is complete as a character, so the question becomes how will he and Watson face off with each other? I believe that the perfect story has charismatic characters and a style of storytelling that conveys their charisma."

Reaching into a Stone Ocean

Inspired by "Sherlock Holmes," Araki's grand tale began as "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. The first part ran for 44 chapters, becoming the "Phantom Blood" arc after the fact. While the series has always been successful in Japan, its popularity grew with the anime adaptation of the same name produced by David Production. The first season adapted the "Phantom Blood" and "Battle Tendency" arcs, and the second kicked off an adaptation of "Stardust Crusaders," one of the most beloved arcs in Japan. The simulcast of "Stardust Crusaders" on Crunchyroll is what really blew up "JoJo" on an international scale.

The latest arc, "Stone Ocean," is currently airing on Netflix. This arc features Jolyne Kujo, a young woman who finds herself trapped in prison for a crime she didn't commit. There she comes into her own special powers and seeks to find out more about the conspiracy that's targeting her family. The first part of "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean" is available on Netflix, while the second part is coming Fall 2022.