Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan: What Is the JoJo Anime Spinoff Coming to Netflix?

Netflix has licensed the four-episode anime OVA series Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan and is set to stream it globally in Spring 2021. This series is a spinoff of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. The story follows the mishaps of Kishibe Rohan, the eccentric mangaka and Stand user of Heaven’s Door, on his various journeys to find new inspirations for his manga.

The anime is based on the manga of the same name, which JoJo creator Hirohiko Araki initially drew as a one-shot manga back in back in 1997. Araki slowly expanded the series, which has two full volumes published as of 2020. The episodes are produced by David Production by much of the same staff as the main JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime series. The Japanese voice cast also remains the same as Diamond is Unbreakable’s main cast, with Takahiro Sakurai reprising his role as Kishibe Rohan. The OVAs were never officially released outside of Japan.

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The Japanese name of Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan is Kishibe Rohan wa Ugokanai, and its literal translation is "Kishibe Rohan does not move." This refers to the fact that, despite being the title character, Kishibe Rohan does not move the events of these stories forward forward, more like an eyewitness rather than the main character. His Stand ability, Heaven’s Door, grants him the power to read and change other people’s thoughts like a book, acting as a very convenient plot device that allows Rohan to find out the stories behind the characters he encounters. All the stories within Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan are one shot short stories independent from one another.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure already touches on horror tropes, but Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan is even more fully situated within the horror genre, mixing psychological horror with paranormal events. Each story starts off innocuous enough, but they eventually turn into something horrifying yet thrilling to watch. The characters are not entirely likable, but audiences cannot help but become entangled in their respective quandaries. The creepy and tense atmosphere will have your palms sweat and muscles strained even after the episode is over.

The series’ story connection to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is tenuous, so even people who have never read JoJo will have an easy time following the stories. It helps to understand how Rohan’s Stand Heaven’s Door works, but it's the only Stand that shows up throughout the series.

Other Diamond is Unbreakable characters such as Koichi Hirose, Okuyasu Nijimura and even minor characters like Mikitaka Hazekura and Akira Otoishi will occasionally show up as Rohan tells his stories. JoJo fans will be sure to get a kick out of seeing these familiar faces. There are also small Easter Eggs to the overall JoJo series, such as a character who wears a “SBR” T-Shirt (Part 6 of JoJo is Steel Ball Run). But again, knowing JoJo is not a pre-requisite to watch this series.

It is best not to expect this series to be like a typical JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episode, which usually involves intense Stand battles using complex strategies. Instead, it makes sense to treat this more like an animated The Twilight Zone . The series imparts wise commentaries while scaring its audience, usually in a twisted, but very Araki-esque way.

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