The Hidden Links Between Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Metal Gear

Walker Jesse looks at the links between Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Metal Gear … wait, what?

Fantastic things happen when Japanese creators are inspired by Western media, with the Metal Gear franchise and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure being two of the most popular examples.

As a fan of both series, I think there are striking – or at least very entertaining – parallels between the Metal Gear games and the mainline Jojo’s series. Come with me on a deep dive into the duality between two otherwise unrelated bodies of work, while looking out for the massive spoilers for both franchises along the way. Also, as a courtesy before you read, if too many of these comparisons come across as haphazard coincidences for you, I’d like to simultaneously apologize and ask you to just enjoy the ride instead of taking this as gospel, while asking you to just do me a favor and be cool. Come on man, this is supposed to be a fun article. Just be cool for like five minutes.

Phantom Blood is Metal Gear Solid

The 36 Chambers of both franchises, these titles have the honor of marking the beginning of their respective creator’s most famous series. While Araki had written manga before Phantom Blood, just as Kojima had made games before Metal Gear Solid, with the influences of both Araki and Kojima’s previous works appear in these respective first titles, this is where it all really first starts to take form.

Both entries have the more dubious distinction of not being the most popular choice in their respective series, with neither PB nor MGS being the typical go-to fan favorite entry. While this certainly doesn’t make them bad, they may seem a little dated for new fans of each series. The more basic story in Phantom Blood, while still having some pretty crazy moments like the death of Danny and Dio’s outlandish behavior, does seem tame to other Jojo’s parts in terms of scope and audacity. A reverse of this is true for Metal Gear Solid where the story is actually still pretty enjoyable for fans and newcomers alike, but the early 3D era takes its toll on the gameplay, leaving the controls to be a bit of a pain in the ass that can prevent people from really engaging with MGS.

Whatever these gripes might be, dedicated fans have nothing but reverence for these titles and for good reason. This is where it all starts, and if you want to really explore what the big deal is for either series, this too is where you must start.

Battle Tendency is Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

If Phantom Blood and Metal Gear Solid built the car, Battle Tendency and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake were the first to take it for a spin. Both titles are as amazing now as they were back then, holding up absolutely rock solid under modern scrutiny. Both entries also set the tone for their respective series in many ways and can be considered a type of “ground zero” due in part to introducing many of the mainstay tropes and themes that people would grow to know, love and expect from their respective franchises, while taking their predecessors to the extremes without quite breaking the mold.

Battle Tendency introduces Joseph Joestar, who is the quintessential JJBA character that sets the tone for the rest of the series both in terms of humor and how fights are conducted, an influence that is still maintained up to and including the most recent Jojo’s series. There’s also a huge expansion on Hamon in Battle Tendency, as well as depth of story with the death of Caesar and the potential planet shattering danger of the pillar men. This radical change holds true as well for Metal Gear 2, where the game basically takes every single thing from the original Metal Gear and runs with it. MG2 introduced the now commonplace story beats of war and nuclear weapons, as well as adding massive expansions to the stealth gameplay from the original Metal Gear.

Both BT and MG2 have taken the greatness of their forefathers and made it something timeless. They’re entries that even newer fans of both franchises can start with if they so choose because they’ve aged like wine.

Stardust Crusaders is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

This is the layup of the list. Stardust Crusaders and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater define the modern popular idea of their respective series to the point where I doubt you need an explanation.

The comparisons are so easy you’ve probably made most of them in your head already. The most obvious one is this was the first step for both franchises into superstardom. The ridiculous nature on the whole of the plot of Snake Eater, the introduction of stands in Stardust, the appearance of iconic characters in each series (Jotaro, Naked Snake/Big Boss, Old Joseph, Eva, DIO post-Phantom Blood,) the list literally just goes on.

This is where both series went from being famous to household names. Stardust Crusaders and Snake Eater essentially rebooted their selected franchise into something that took the increasingly ridiculous nature from the last entries and turned them alchemy like into something completely new that we now just take for granted as how it has always been. If you’re wondering “What’s with Snake always checking women out during cutscenes” or “Why do so many Joestar’s after Jotaro have repeated battle-cries?” this is where you’ll find your answer.

Diamond is Unbreakable is Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

A successful left turn where new concepts are married to old standards and it’s done damn well. You like Jotaro and Big Boss? They’re back, so you’re comfortable. However, here’s Joseph’s illegitimate son Josuke who’s like Jotaro and Joseph but also either Beavis or Butt-head. And in Peace Walker, here’s Huey who’s Otacon’s dad. Also Paz, who’s a totally new character. And Okuyasu who’s Josuke’s best friend that starts evil but becomes a featured character. Oh and the villain in Peace Walker is The Boss but not REALLY The Boss, like how in Diamond is Unbreakable the villain is David Bowie but not actually.

Kidding aside, Diamond is Unbreakable and Peace Walker are where things get experimental and it’s largely a success. We go from literally exploring the entire world in Stardust to having a story predominately take place in the small town of Morioh in Diamond where many issues are localized instead of grand adventures. While this isn’t the first time that Metal Gear has taken place in one location, much of Peace Walker takes place in Costa Rica when it isn’t on Mother Base which is a far cry from the massive Russian adventure in something like MGS3. Josuke and Okuyasu are dumbass teenagers so they get into dumb shit. Big Boss is running his own show now, so the gameplay has changed to reflect that with the base management from Portable Ops making another appearance.

This is a cool entry in both series and can carry a special weight with long-term fans. Peace Walker was first launched on the PSP which wasn’t exactly the most ergonomic console in the world. Similarly, Diamond is Unbreakable first appeared on the internet in the form of the Duwang scans, which were translations for Diamond done by a Chinese student as a project for his English class. Both of these initial releases were suboptimal (though Duwang has a special place in many fans hearts) but the creativity of both products shined through for two truly unique entries.

Also Rohan is there.

Vento Aureo is Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain

The black sheep. By no means bad and in many ways an improvement, however, at their worst, both Vento Aureo and Phantom Pain feel as though they’re related to the series in name only. Vento Aureo itself dropped much of what people loved about the older Jojo’s entries and made a hard push for being a very button-down battle shonen. Similarly, Metal Gear Solid 5 took a step back from the stealth-focused gameplay of the other Metal Gear games and took an open world approach which is quite different from any of its predecessors.
Different definitely does not mean worse, and in many cases Vento Aureo and Phantom Pain both have selling points other entries can’t really claim. The gameplay in Phantom Pain is pretty incredible, both in terms of the number of ways you have to approach the missions and the smooth refinement of the base management to where it sits at an all-time high. Vento Aureo has phenomenal stand design, easily some of the best in the series and as a straight battle manga, it works very well. However, the lack of faith to older entries in both series can leave longtime fans feeling betrayed.

Giorno is easily the most forgettable Jojo in the series. His identity as Dio Brando’s son is flimsy at best with his only connection to Dio being a wallet-sized photograph of the famous villain in his pocket. His stand, Gold Experience, is incredibly broken and makes all of his fights extremely uninteresting (and this is before he even gets Gold Experience Requiem, one of the most powerful stands in the series.) This all adds up to make Giorno a really bland protagonist which is not common in Jojo’s, and this faux pas is made all the worse by Bruno Bucciarati feeling way more like the main character. Phantom Pain makes a huge departure from the Metal Gear franchise by prizing gameplay over narrative, with Venom Snake being a predominantly quiet protagonist and the majority of the story being told through cassette tapes as opposed to cut scenes, which are a mainstay of the later Metal Gear franchise entries.
Both entries also share the golden raspberry of having the weirdest plot in relation to the other entries in their respective series. Vento Aureo is never referenced again in any other Jojo’s work, where when the entire universe gets reset in Stone Ocean we never even see what Giorno is doing considering that GER can turn any action “back to zero.” MGS5 has an odd plot already, and the ending is a super out of place twist that was created for the sole purpose of tying all the games together, even if it’s literally tying in one of the oldest possible Metal Gear games with all the strength of a wad of bubble gum.

Also, they both are Part 5 in their respective series.

Stone Ocean is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

The Deadly Premonition of both Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Metal Gear respectively. You either hate it or it’s probably your favorite entry, Stone Ocean and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty get wet and wild.
All the weird stuff from both series has been boiled down to a powerful, concentrated entry that takes what were already kind of tongue in cheek weird franchises and drops them off in whacky land. This is the polar opposite of Ventuo Aureo/Phantom Pain in that it caters to people who love how completely asinine Jojo’s and Metal Gear have been from the start.

We got ghosts in the White House coming out swinging in MGS2. We have Jotaro’s illiterate daughter, Jolyne, serving a 15-year sentence for a crime she did not commit at Green Dolphin Prison in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in the foul year of our Lord 2011 to start off Stone Ocean. Solid Snake is here and the headband he is wearing gives him infinite ammo in assumedly whatever weapon he is currently wielding. The prison priest, Enrico Pucci, apparently knew Dio Brando and is going to use the bone of Dio’s finger to create a green baby that has absorbed 36 souls from prison convicts so he can evolve his own stand after reading it 14 specific phrases. Liquid Snake from Metal Gear Solid 1 has possessed Revolver Ocelot’s body through his transplanted arm. Meanwhile, in Stone Ocean, we’re at the Kennedy Space Center where Pucci is looking for the perfect gravitational effect to give him the power to reach Heaven, all of which was apparently outlined in Dio’s diary. Then Raiden and Solidus Snake, who is the genetically superior clone of Big Boss and who ran for president of the United States and won, have a sword fight on top of a mech in front of essentially the entire world. And then Pucci, after making the world go so fast people no longer make mistakes, is killed by a ghost and the entire world essentially goes back to normal but everyone has different names.

It just goes, and you’re either ok with that and along for the ride or it’s simply not for you. Another interesting similarity between Stone Ocean and Sons of Liberty is both protagonists are as divisive as the games on which they’re based.

Steel Ball Run is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

The My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy theory that if you go big enough, you truly cannot fail is put to the test here and is proven again to be correct. This is where the wave crashes and rolls back. If you diligently read every Jojo’s part from start to finish, if you stuck out every Metal Gear game from start to finish, this is the payoff. It is the culmination of everything that has been built upon and established in both franchises up to this point, and for fans, it’s the ultimate reward.

They’re both amazing entries even if you’re not a fan and this is your starting point into the Jojo’s or Metal Gear, but if you stuck the entire ride out from the start there’s nothing else like it. The years in the making that it takes to really take in every minutia of Metal Gear Solid 4 and Steel Ball Run that comes with having followed either or from the first entry and then getting to see it all paid off I can only assume is a truly one of a kind experience. There are throwbacks to almost every Metal Gear game in the series, complemented by fantastic gameplay that lets you approach through stealth or action while still keeping the similar feeling of previous Metal Gear games. Steel Ball Run not only manages to have a fantastic story in its own right while also bringing a massive step up in art for an already gorgeous series to the table, but it does this with such loving attention to detail in regards to the previous Jojo’s arcs.

While making references and callbacks to your older work ranges from cute to tiring, MGS4 and SBR are love letters to lifelong works. This game, and this manga, both represent the apex of everything Araki and Kojima set out to accomplish with Jojo’s and Metal Gear as we know them today, and it’s so god damn satisfying to be a part of. When Big Boss shows up at the end to talk to Solid Snake after what everyone thought was a suicide attempt, and when Diego appears with The World at his disposal in a glorious two panel spread, there’s a sense of closure for fans that is unmatched, and only truly understandable after that time has been put in.

Jojolion is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Where do we go now? Both Jojo’s and Metal Gear as we know them are over. What’s that next step? What could the future look like? For Araki, it’s a detective novel about a guy with four balls, and for Kojima it’s a future where Raiden is a robot samurai who single-handedly fucks up a Metal Gear Ray in the first minutes of the game and then also kills the president who was super badass because he played football in college and had nanomachines.

This is for people who either are so sold on the base concept that they would have checked out Jojolion or Revengeance no matter what they were called and for die-hard fans of both franchises that they’ll look into it no matter what. Both parties will be rewarded with incredibly unique experiences. Araki has never really told a story like in Jojolion and it only gets better with each chapter, while Revengeance is a phenomenal character action game that’s not only another beautiful feather in Platinum Game’s cap but actually tells a rather enjoyable Metal Gear story even though it gets pretty buck wild.

While I’d definitely consider myself a Jojo’s fan over a Metal Gear fan, its fun to see the coincidences between the two beloved Japanese franchises that are inspired by Western works. Oh, and before you ask, Baoh is Metal Gear MSX. Just for all of you playing at home.

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