The caprese salad pictured above isn’t the first time that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has offered a plate of delicious food. It’s also not the first time this particular JoJo’s arc has played around with horror tropes specifically using food. Diamond is Unbreakable‘s premiere episode opens with a cheesy morning radio talk show and a carefully prepared breakfast to set up a 90’s pop aesthetic before turning to horror, juxtaposing a bleeding hand and a perfect table setting.
This latest arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s anime adaptation continues to excel in confined spaces. Small-town suburbia and JoJo’s don’t initially seem like they would be a perfect marriage, but this more mundane setting allows for manga author Hirohiko Araki’s creativity to shine through in the form of individual characters’ stands while series director Toshiyuko Kato and Naokatsu Tsuda breathe life into protagonist Josuke Higashikata’s surroundings with a muted, almost sour color palette that creates a claustrophobic feeling worthy of a horror film. No one Diamond is Unbreakable episode uses the horror setup, confined location, or plays with audience expectations quite like the series’ tenth episode “Let’s Go Eat Some Italian Food!”
Preceding Okuyasu Nijimura and Josuke’s discovery of a new Italian restaurant in town is Koichi Hirose’s run-in with Yukako Yamagishi. Diamond is Unbreakable thrives on turning every day occurrences to ghastly, affecting, and occasionally disgusting clashes between stand users — the milkman is a serial killer in disguise with a stand, the school loner who hates everyone has a stand, the new neighbors have stands, the girl that likes you might kill you with your stand if you don’t love her back, and so on.
These setups have taught both Josuke and us as viewers to regard everything as an imminent threat. When I walk into a horror movie, I expect the horrific parts but I don’t know exactly when they’ll happen. It’s up to the movie to either create enough tension that they come as a surprise and actually scare me, or at least entertain me throughout the movie. Diamond is Unbreakable has trained us to perceive every seemingly ordinary person as another stand user in disguise, creating no small amount of tension as we wait to see what sticky situation Josuke and company will get caught up in next and, more importantly, how they’ll get out of it. “Let’s Go Eat Some Italian Food” plays with this idea and then pulls a bait and switch for incredible comedic effect.
Unlike the majority of episodes prior, “Let’s Go Eat Some Italian Food” starts away from the peppy voice of disc jockey Ken Harada and Morioh radio. Instead, it starts with a traditional and obvious horror setup — a man in an inexplicably dark kitchen sharpens his knives and grins menacingly before spattering what is presumably blood everywhere. There’s even a pan over to a snarling caged animal and a window revealing an ominous purple night sky.
This cuts quickly to Okuyasu complaining that he’s hungry before he and Josuke stumble upon a sign for a new Italian restaurant in town, conveniently located right next to the cemetery. Given what he’s witnessed in the previous few arcs Josuke, and us as audience members, are already on edge. We’ve been told that stand users are drawn to each other, and every encounter that Josuke and company have had with other stand users has been negative — Angelo killed his grandfather and then tried to kill him, Hazamada tried to kill both Koichi and Josuke, Okuyasu and his brother Keicho Nijimura tried to kill Koichi and Josuke, Yukako trapped Koichi in her house and then tried to kill him, the list goes on. It’s no wonder that Josuke views house chef Tonio Trussardi as a threat. Based on the horror movie opening that presumably starred Tonio in his kitchen, so do we.
Visual framing also goes a long way to make the restaurant appear cramped and Tonio menacing. Tonio looms over the table at times while other shots are taken from the table itself, looking up at Okuyasu as he eats. After Okuyasu consumes the food, one of the ailments that he identified to Tonio at the beginning of their exchange is gruesomely cured — losing a giant ball of skin to correct his stiff shoulder, and cavity-filled teeth popping out of his mouth onto the dining table only to be replace by fresh, healthy teeth.
Each dish is carefully prepared to target Okuyasu’s health complaints, but the horrifying manner in which they are cured only lends itself to this episode’s unsettling atmosphere. Josuke barges into the dimly-lit kitchen after Okuyasu doubles over in stomach pain, only to witness Tonio feeding his dog a taste of Okuyasu’s intended main dish. The dog’s insides promptly burst out of it’s mouth as Tonio swiftly threatens Josuke, knife in hand. Okyuasu ends up devouring the main course and his stomach bursts out in similar fashion to Tonio’s dog, while Tonio yells at Josuke that he’ll make him pay for . . .
. . . not washing his hands.
“You seriously only wanted to feed Okuyasu good food?”
“What else could a chef ask for? That’s what I live for. That’s all I hope for.”
-an exchange between Josuke and Tonio, Diamond is Unbreakable, Episode 10
The menacing shots of Tonio and his cuisine, playing on our pre-existing knowledge of Morioh’s stand users, and the horror-movie style opening were all in service of this one joke. Tonio makes Josuke pay for defiling his kitchen by forcing him to scrub it by himself. It’s a fantastic subversion of both our and Josuke’s expectations, once again reminding us that not all stand users are out to get Josuke and friends while reiterating Diamond is Unbreakable‘s visual horror trappings.