The new anime OVA Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan has recently just come to Netflix, but some viewers may be surprised that the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure spin-off doesn’t have a proper ending. The reasoning behind this is not only due to the img material, but also due to the unusual production process behind it.
Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan is an OVA, which stands for Original Video Animation. It’s a term used for anime specifically made for home video releases. Rather than a full series that is aired on television over the course of many years, like the original JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is, an OVA is more like a miniseries consisting of a handful of episodes meant to stand alone as one complete product. The practice became extremely popular in the 80s and 90s thanks to VHS tapes and in Japan it is still widely done even with the rise of streaming services like Netflix, who acquired the rights to stream Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan.
Despite an OVA’s normally self-contained nature, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan‘s plot seems all over the place, and lacks a definitive ending. While this could be a turn-off for some viewers it may actually prove to be to the series’s benefit. The protagonist, Stand-powered manga artist Kishibe Rohan, was a supporting character in part four of the extremely popular manga and anime JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure entitled Diamond is Unbreakable and the OVA is directly based on a spin-off stand-alone manga about his adventures after the ending of part four. Artist/writer Hirohiko Araki has since published chapters sporadically since 1997 and even from the beginning, the chapters were seemingly out of order, as the first ever chapter published was labeled as episode 16 of the series. That said, the fact that the manga itself had this chaotic shape – and no continual flowing plot – meant that the anime was bound to follow in its footsteps, explaining the lack of a conclusive ending.
On top of this, the anime hasn’t been adapted in the same order as the manga itself was published in, although the four existing episodes are in the manga order in Netflix’s version of the anime. The first episode was based on chapter five and was released in 2017, the second on chapter two and released in 2018, and the last two were based on chapters sixteen and nine and were released together in 2019. While there is no real overarching narrative to the episodes – making this less of an issue than it would otherwise have been – it could still potentially add further confusion for anyone attempting to understand the series’ structure.
This said, the standalone nature of the episodes – plus the fact that they are generally unconnected to both JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and each other – can actually make them more accessible to new viewers who may be checking out different anime on Netflix. Not only that, but it also means more episodes can be produced at potentially any time, which can be an exciting prospect for fans both old and new. There are still chapters of the manga that haven’t been touched yet, so the lack of a definitive ending can actually be seen as a promise that even more Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan could be right around the corner.