Being born and raised in America, I always enjoyed learning how the influences of other countries effected my favorite music and TV shows. Cultures in both Latin America and Asia have impacted different forms of American art including music, fashion, and even television. However, that led me to think about how the United States has been able to influence other cultures across seas.
American music stands out when it comes to its diverse style and voice over the past years. The “Free American” persona is a phenomenon widely observed through the lens of foreign countries, often appreciated and admired by artists alike. This results in many other cultures referencing American music within their own works of art. My favorite example of American music references in foreign media is through the anime JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki.
What is Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure?
I’ll be completely transparent with you, the plot to this show is one of the most confusing concepts to summarize. This article would turn into a book series if I had to go into even the slightest of detail. The main takeaway from this show is that it follows the lineage of the Joestar family as they face evil with every protagonist introduced. There are currently 8 parts, 6 of which have animated adaptations that are available to watch on Netflix!
What has drawn my attention to this series is the vast amount of references within the show. The creator, Hirohiko Araki, combines different elements in religion, fashion, and most importantly music, to push his story to a wide spread of readers. Everyone loves a good reference. Being able to recognize where an artist draws their inspiration from connects the audience to the content. What Araki specializes in throughout JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is creating iconic characters who resemble or take the names of well known American music figures and songs!
American Music is a Jojo’s Reference?
Araki’s genius shines brightly through his diverse cast of detailed-heavy characters. Almost every character in this series references American music, focusing on 70s and 80s rock n’ roll. What makes Araki’s connections to American music stand out is how he fully ties the character to whichever song or musician he links them to. His cast and designs personify his interpretations of American rock through the lens of a Japanese listener. Hearing about his love for American music and seeing how it reflected in his artwork greatly deepened my appreciation for Araki. Additionally, it’s also fun to find the references to music that I haven’t even heard of before!
One character that perfectly represents Araki’s ties with American music is the female protagonist, Jolyne Cujo. Her name comes from the Dolly Parton hit “Jolene” released in 1973. However, the real music connection comes from her powers that she named “Stone Free” after the Jimi Hendrix track. Jolyne struggles to escape prison after being wrongly accused of murder, and she uses her newfound strength to find a way out. Her attitude and strong will reflects the optimistic and powerful message behind “Stone Free.” The unwillingness to give up and push forward is embodied through the strong female lead, something that hasn’t been truly embraced within Eastern media.
Circling Back to America
As JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure grew more popular in Japan, it began to catch the attention of anime fans in the United States. Fans enjoyed catching the references to American classics as they followed the story of the Joestar family’s fight against evil. It almost comes full circle where American music influenced Japanese media that became popular back in the states.
What I found hilarious is how many of Araki’s references had to change due to American copyright laws. This meant names of different characters were slightly altered to avoid lawsuits. My favorite example would have to be Spice Girl changing to Spicy Lady!
It’s always fun to figure out how America’s music leaves its impact on fans across the world! I’ll forever love JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure for its complex story and amazing taste in rock anthems. As fans wait for the ninth part to release, there’s no telling what songs will make headlines in Araki’s writing!