Anime Discovery PLUS+ Issue 8: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure — Stardust Crusaders Part 2

Tonight, I’ll be capping off my look at Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, as we conclude the story of Stardust Crusaders with “The Egypt Arc.” The gang is back together and pissed at hell, ready to take down one of the most conniving, insidious villains in all of Japanese media. The stakes higher than they have ever been and the new enemies are more powerful and abnormal than what we’ve been shown. This is how one of the most memorable stories of the genre concludes for now, as Jotaro, Joseph, Avdol, Kakyoin, Polnareff, and the newly anointed member Iggy, fulfill their destinies.

Series Director: Kenichi Suzuki

Series Composition: Yasuko Kobayashi

Screenwriter: Yasuko Kobayashi, Shogo Yasukawa, Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, Shinichi Inotsume, Kenichi Suzuki

Original Author: Hirohiko Araki

Character Design: Masahiko Komino

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Animation Production: David Production

Licensed by: Warner Bros.

Streaming: Crunchyroll

Synopsis: After a month of fighting off waves of enforcers and stand-using assassins, the Joestars and company have finally arrived in Egypt. As the group moves towards closes in end to their final destination, they must fight DIO’s last set of supernatural hitmen “The 9 Egyptian Gods” with powers more devious and deadly than they would have ever expected. Jotaro only has two weeks left before his mother Holly succumbs to her illness, but he must also slay DIO before his astonishing new powers corrupt the rest of the world.

Part 3 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is deservedly iconic thanks to the incredible build up and climax of this entertaining arc. Araki is no short supply of creating ideas from menacing to downright wacky as the Egyptian Gods all have distinctly unique traits. What I can give this season credit for is the way the DIO is evolves as this twisting, godlike presence that makes everyone scared about what he is able to accomplish. No matter how strong a character is, you don’t know how they will compare to DIO until he makes his grand physical appearance in the final stages of the series.

What doesn’t work so well is the constant switch between serious and light-hearted tones between every other episode. My two favorite secondary villains, the D’Arby Brothers, are perfect examples of the subtle oeuvre of the show where the most intense situations can come just from judging and eyeing your opponent. But after every step of plot progression, the characters have to fight sillier antagonists like the Oingo Boingo brothers whose interactions are done purely for comedy rather than ratcheting up the drama or giving characters some much needed development.

I was also gravely disappointed that I never got to see all six of the members of this group fight as a unit. Everyone gets split-up and divided in a way that is relatively unsatisfying. Just as we meet Iggy, something had to happen where Kakyoin had to be taken out of most of the story. This was done much better last season with Avdol, whose disappearance worked as great motivation for the group with an incredibly triumphant return (and one of my personal favorite moments of the series.) As righteously satisfying seeing Jotaro “Ora ora ora” down his opponents time and again…it makes me wish Araki did more with everyone else. It’s very comparable to if Superman fought all of the Justice League’s enemies.

You made a mistake, fighting the main character

 

Now I will admit, I came into this particular season knowing how certain events were going to play out and I knew who was going to die. As I love so many of the side projects of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure from the future series to the surprisingly great fighting games, I was exposed to several major ending points. I won’t spoil what happens exactly, but I never got that element of surprise I imagine everyone else got coming into this series blind. What’s good for you to know is that I still felt the emotion tied to how Stardust Crusaders comes to a conclusion, but this series still has many of the same issues of the author’s previous work.

Once again, Polnareff gets so much screen time and is involved in so many villain fights, eclipsing Avdol, Kakyoin, and Iggy all at once. As the tension is elevated with the group getting closer to DIO, the comedy comes off as really forced in particular fights where danger is literally everywhere. Most of the episodes in the first half hit the exact same beats, usually with one or two of the protagonists get separated from the group to fight a mysterious stand-user. So the rest of the cast is left twiddling their thumbs trying to find the missing people or waiting for their next form of transportation to arrive. Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency never had these issues by having one central protagonist, but I imagined Araki could have created some good side plots for the others.

Thankfully, the whole series pays off with the end bosses of the series: Pet Shop, Terrance D’Arby, Vanilla Ice, and DIO himself. Every conflict including these characters is done masterfully. From the brutality of Iggy’s fight with Pet Shop to D’Arby’s devious trickery, the series gets phenomenal just like in Battle Tendency when Joseph had to start fighting the pillar men. The final four episodes are an incredible climax to everything we have built up to after all three seasons of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. And what makes it beautiful and powerful is how Jotaro’s character development reaches a perfect end-point.

Jotaro has always acted as the stoic, hard-nerved, badass who keeps his brow furled during every single fight and inconvenience. He gains a significant amount of dimension during the second half because of the efforts of the surrounding characters. Avdol and Joseph convey that Jotaro’s tough-as-nails attitude is what makes him the best hero to deal with all the villains throughout this marvelous journey. This is incredibly effective upon noticing that Araki’s biggest inspiration for creating Jotaro was Clint Eastwood. If you don’t believe me, imagine how our protagonist would react in the stories of films like High Plains Drifter or Dirty Harry. The ending meshes these character ideals so phenomenally well and makes the entire series worth watching.

Yare yare, punk.

The Egypt Arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders ends on a brilliant, triumphant note that defines the mature shonen genre. Yet, just as before, I can’t help but notice that there is a struggle setting up all the different characters to get to our ultimate destination with so much of the early half of this season feeling empty. I know in future series’; the Jojo lineup gets a whole lot bigger, so I hope the others can reach levels beyond what was done in Stardust Crusaders. Overall, the entire series was a worthwhile ride and I’d recommend it for those wanting a stunningly macho and visceral experience.

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is currently available on Crunchyroll and is licensed by Warner Bros. The original manga is ongoing, written by Hirohiko Araki and published by Ultra Jump/Viz Media.

For more of Scott’s work, you can find it on the website One of Us, especially his recent review on the newest Ghibli film “When Marnie Was There”

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