Last month, we explored the meanings behind the terms, “feminine” and “feminism.” This month the OWLS bloggers will explore the concept of masculinity. We each have our own definition of what it means to be masculine and we will explore our definitions using “masculine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “masculine” or show signs of a masculine persona. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing men that supported us in our lives as well as sharing some of our experiences growing up as a man or knowing men who struggled with the masculine identity.
Be a Man!
Have you ever heard of someone say “be a man” or “act like a man”? What does that mean? Usually, people think that being a man means act tough and show people that you are strong. In people’s perspective, people think being a man means being a leader or standing out and showing off some bravado. In media such as cartoons, movies or music, you easily see this in men and displaying something says “masculine”. In cartoons, you see this male protagonist characters like Tarzan or Hercules where the main character is showing off the physical appearance like muscle mass. In movies we have actors who play as superheroes and show off being strong or being a protector of the defenseless. Heroes like Captain America and Thor are examples of being a masculine hero. They appear very strong in leading people and they do most of the fighting. In anime we kind of see that as well similar to these Western characters such as someone like Goku from Dragon Ball or Luffy from One Piece. However, there are some characters that appear to “manly” but not as typical heroes you would expect to see. Some of these masculine characters can actually be related in terms of realistic approach. Even though the logic of anime like having energy powers or stands is false, it’s the characters personality and appearance that can be logical. Before we begin, let’s talk about the anime subject I am going to use as background:
Background: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures (according to Wiki)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures is a series created by the manga author and illustrator Hirohiko Araki. The series is published and owned by Shueisha Weekly Shonen Jump, the same company that owns Dragon Ball, One Piece and other titles. Viz Media owns the rights for the books and the anime. The manga was created in 1987 in Japan and was heavily based on another Shonen Jump title called Fist of the North Star. The series first made it’s debut in the anime world as an OVA created by studio A.P.P.P. which focused on Part 3: Stardust Crusaders in 1993-4. In 2012, David Production Inc. decided to do the JoJo anime starting from Part 1 and all the way to the current series which is Part 5.
The story follows a complex story line where the protagonist changes based on generations. There are currently eight parts of the series, but parts seven and eight are alternate worlds with a different storyline. Overall, JoJo Bizarre Adventures is a series which focuses on JoJo character and pits them in a world where they must stop evil from taking over the world. For the sake of this post, I am going to focus on parts 1-3.
Part 1: Phantom Blood – This story focuses on the beginning tale of the Joestar family which stars Jonathan Joestar in England 1800s. Jonathan was born and raised in luxury in his a rich household and everything was normal. Unfortunately, life forever changed when his father adopts a young man named Dio Brando and makes Jonathan’s life a nightmare that is filled with constant bullying. Years passes as Dio gives up his humanity and uses an ancient item called the stone mask to transform himself into a vampire for power. Jonathan trains himself and seeks out on a adventure to stop Dio’s evil plans.
Part 2: Battle Tendency – Taking place after Part 1, Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar is living a normal life while traveling in America in 1932. However, things changes for the worse when he has to fight against an ancient evil that is awakened and plots for world domination. These mysterious creatures are called the Pillar Men and these odd men wants to obtain power and bring doom to Earth and mankind. It’s up to Joseph and his friends to faces these ancient life forms.
Part 3: Stardust Crusaders – The story focuses on a Japanese delinquent named Jotaro Kujo who is the grandson of Joseph Joestar. Jotaro learns that there is an “evil spirit” protecting him and he finds out that this spirit is called a stand. Stands is a person’s manifestation of an invisible partner with special powers. Jotaro’s life gets even bizarre when he finds out that his great-grandfather’s (Jonathan) enemy Dio is back and wants to complete his quest to destroy all the Joestars. To make matters worse, Jotaro’s mother has a stand too but she is weak to control and unless Jotaro and his friends kill Dio, she will die. Jotaro, his grandfather Joseph and his friends must travel to Egypt in order to kill Dio.
Now that you got the main plots for three separate stories, I am going to talk about the main character’s personality in regards to masculinity.
The Manliest Joestar
Jonathan Joestar – Gentleman Masculine
Jonathan displays masculinity in a more civil way and makes it a goal be a great gentleman. In the anime/manga, Jonathan puts his family, his honor, and his friends first before his own. Even if his enemies appear formidable, he doesn’t plan to stand back and run and away. If he sees someone in danger, he is willing put himself out there to defend the weak. Even if he fights a thief in a dangerous town, he will spare them because he sees the good in people. In regards to his family honor, he is willing to put his life on the line to help his father. This JoJo displays a “heroic” masculinity. He is willing fight and train himself for protecting people for the greater good.
Joseph Joestar – Jokester Masculine
Same last name, but different personality. Unlike Jonathan where he was more of a gentleman, Joseph is both a jokestar and a hot head. Whenever he faces enemies, he tends to play around with them and do cheap shots with his hamon. In a way like Jonathan, he does care about others and will fight regardless. He will fight corrupted cops to protect an African-American kid and he will save a random girl from a crazy vampire. He will fight to save the world against the ultimate life form. However, he doesn’t fight fair and he likes to toy with his enemies like playing tag. sneaking in traps or even predicting his foe’s words. The Joestar bloodline still runs his family and his version of masculinity is not like his grandfather. His methods may be unorthodox but he knows what is right and wrong.
Jotaro Kujo – Brute Masculine
Even though he has a different last name, he is still a Joestar. Definitely not like his great-grandfather Jonathan nor grandfather Joseph, Joseph is not a gentleman and he shows off his masculinity through his actions and harsh tone. Jotaro will fight anyone regardless of gender, handicap or basically anyone, nothing personal except for Dio. Jotaro is the kind of guy that will take care of your problems, but he doesn’t want anyone getting his way. It’s mention in the beginning of the story, he has gotten into fights with people that wants to hurt him and he beats up teachers that looked at him wrong. He also mentions he doesn’t see himself as a good guy but he can’t stand people using others for his own benefits. Jotaro is also known to be rude to women including his mother and calls her annoying. However, he does have a soft spot for her when he life is at risk from the villainous Dio. Jotaro decides to save his mother and fight an immortal vampire. In regards to masculinity, he does fulfill some kind of heroic personality, but his actions reflect differently. He is aggressive and has zero tolerance for any kind of people; he is sort of like the Hulk or Drax of the Joestar.
Masculinity – Which JoJo is the best Masculine character?
Out of these three masculine protagonist, which JoJo does a better job on displaying that manly persona? To be honest, in my onion, there is no correct answer. I looked up the definition of what it means and it just mentions displaying characteristics of a man such as being tough or showing off strength and vigor. These JoJo characters display it in a different way. Jonathan masculinity shows us that anyone can be a strong man that can fight and be respectful. Jonathan tolerated with Dio’s abusive behavior from childhood and after seeing him threaten his own father and people, Jonathan will stand up and fight for what is truly right. Ignoring himself, Jonathan fights for others. Joseph masculinity shows that us that people can be tough but also have fun doing it. Joseph relies on trickery and then once he sees his enemies’ guard down, he strikes them down. He doesn’t tolerate bad behavior either. Disrespect his friends or his grandma Erina, he will fight and make sure you regret it. Joseph is not a gentleman character, but he does display some sort of characteristic when dealing with conflict. Jotaro is someone that definitely does not show off anything civil or skulduggery but gets down to business. He maybe a brute and troublemaker, but when it comes to helping people he holds dear, he will do anything to protect them. He doesn’t go out and say” I need to protect you because I care about you”, instead he relies on action and he gives a tough, cold personality that shows that you should not mess with him. Overall, Jotaro is may look like a bad guy, but he’s not a “bad guy” (a quote from Zangief from Wreck-It Ralph).
To make a long story short, there is no exact model of what does a masculine character look like. What makes JoJo Bizarre Adventures interesting is how each main character shows off their personality. Even though I only focused on three main characters, they did show masculinity in their own way. You can be a gentleman like Jonathan, you can act tough and goof off like Joseph, or be stone cold but have a golden heart like Jotaro. We have our own version of being a man. We have our own bizarre adventures, it up to us to use our own “stands” to display our masculinity.
Even though I am done with my post, there is still more to talk about masculinity from the OWLS. Go check out Megan’s post in her blog Nerd Rambles. Her post is on April 21st.