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Annotated Anime: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 2-3

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Walk Like An Egyptian

Well, we already knew that the first episode of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders was quite alright, but it's a sad reality of watching these kinds of programs that you can't just rely on the pilot alone to tell you if all the kinks have been worked out.

It takes time - and more episodes - to reveal whether a studio's front-loaded all of its budget into the first episode looking for a good first impression, or how well the storytelling handles, in the case of being an adaptation, the transition to being animated. And other such questions.

It's the same thing with Stardust Crusaders, really. Did David Production's time off give it the strength to overcome the three-episode rule?

The answer is a resounding "yes". As far as production values go, even in its more quiet moments Stardust Crusaders matches the best moments from the first two parts. The poses and characters still look as static as ever, but look detailed and well-drawn in every frame that matters.

It's won't be the the smooth, gif-friendly animation overload that you can extract from the likes of Wizard Barristers or Space Dandy, but the impact is all there, and the old panels from the original manga are enhanced by David's combination of sound effects, voice, and color.

It even feels more experimental, even, for as a story, Stardust Crusaders is a lot more serious than either Phantom Blood or Battle Tendency were. Whereas the exploits of Jonathan and Joseph - especially Joseph's - were delivered as rollicking adventures, the tale of this latest JoJo leans more heavily on the "bizarre" aspects of the proceedings.

The introduction to JoJo's first adversary, Noriaki Kakyoin, almost feels like parts of a slasher flick or a horror movie, as his Stand, Hierophant Green, injures JoJo through paintings, then creepily possesses an unfortunate nurse to stab some poor slob in the eye with a fountain pen. The otherworldly nature of the Stands themselves, particularly Hierophant Green, just underscores how gross it all is. 

The thriller aspect of the deal is further solidified as JoJo performs impromptu, Stand-powered brain surgery, followed by a Stand-powered version of those scenes in CSI where a dude looks at a picture on a computer screen, then says "Enhance!" and then suddenly all the details are impossibly clear. In fact, there's quite a bit of almost procedural-like storytelling here, too, with flashbacks explaining the threats they face, new objectives gleaned from seemingly inconsequential details, and the knowledge that if the heroes don't find the bad guy and stop him, more people are going to die.

By "more people", we of course mean Holly, Jotaro's almost unbearably pleasant mother, whose Stand is killing her like one of those babies that leeches too much nutrients from the mother while in the womb. And in the background, all the while, is Dio, shrouded in darkness. He's fully aware that JoJo and crew are coming, and they're aware of him. If there's one thing that's not in doubt during Stardust Crusaders, it's that Dio. Must. Die.

That said, if the storytelling's mostly thriller-esque, the story itself is pure "fight show". In episode one we were told the villain (Dio), in episode two his threat was made manifest (via his mind-controlled lackeys), and in episode three we got the quest and its time limit (Go to Egypt and kill Dio before Holly expires). The shift to Stands as a power source has also made it both necessary and appealing to start cataloging a database of the characters and their different Stand powers. It's telling that the commercial break "eyecatch" frames show a character, their Stand, and both their names onscreen. You never needed to do that when all anyone could do was weird Ripple Martial Arts Magic.

For better or worse, you can see even see in this show the kinds of fight-manga tropes common in later series like Bleach, Naruto and more. Except of course the difference here is that it was Stardust Crusaders that helped pioneer those tropes and archetypes to begin with. 

JoJo in particular is the prototypical "delinquent hero", a punk with a heart of gold that does whatever he says he'll do, and no bad guy can stop him. Compare Jotaro's resolute badassery with Joseph's clever cocksure manner, and you can see the path that led to characters like Ichigo, Naruto, and more.

Of course, the humor and sense of fun is still in Stardust Crusaders, despite being a definitely more serious show. It's in old Joseph's transition from the trickster of his youth to a grumpy old codger in his dotage. It's in what I want to believe is a parody of Nisemonogatari's toothbrush scene. And it's in the sight of four grown men, built like brick sh*thouses, all turning to the camera like they were models in a fashion spread.

And then it transitions to "Walk Like An Egyptian" from Bangles.

That's the JoJo I know and love, three episodes in.

 


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



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