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Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episodes 34-35

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Always bet on JoJo

What is this, a gambling anime?

Actually, scratch that. The better question is: Why are two episodes of a battle anime portraying the drama of gambling better than a number of actual gambling anime?

Of course, the correct answer is: Because the battle anime in question is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and our main character is up to bat. Yes, Jotaro is the man to take on D'Arby - that's his name, not "Obie" or "Barbie" - master of the Osiris Stand and a guy with a gambling problem.

Well, it's not much of a "problem" per se, for D'Arby, as he's never lost, and tends to win the souls of his opponents. But that's when he's facing normal people and confirmed mooks like Polnareff and old Joseph in games of "Bet on a cat's whim" and perhaps the most sober, high-stakes, dramatic round of Whiskey Pong ever conducted.

Naturally, D'Arby isn't playing with a full deck - he's playing with several, all very carefully stacked against the heroes. What's surprising about the episode, though, is just how little the actual Stands come into play in this round. 

Ultimately, both Osiris and Star Platinum serve more as narrative devices than the true backbone of the encounter. Osiris, in its ability to take a person's soul once they've conceded the bet, even mentally, demonstrates what's at stake. Star Platinum and its hyper-sensitive perceptions make any kind of normal cheating impossible, a fact demonstrated by its breaking of D'Arby's finger when he attempts some crafty sleight-of-hand.

Other than that, though, the entire fight is mental, fought not with psychic powers but psychological gambits, and of this, Jotaro leverages his strongest character trait - his unbreakable stoicism - and turns it into the Ace in the Hole against D'Arby's foolproof cheats.

In essence, Jotaro plays the bluff of the century, raising and escalating the stakes by betting his soul, Avdol's souls, and pretty much everyone's souls but the dog's, frightening D'Arby into thinking his cheats have been undermined. His fear is so utterly palpable that it literally ages him, turning his hair from white to elderly gray and basically driving him mad with anxiety. It's kind of amazing, to say the least, and a refreshing reaffirmation as to why, exactly this Jotaro Kujou fellow is the "JoJo" in this arc.


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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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