This is review number four hundred and forty two. This anime is part of the Winter 2015 lineup and it’s called Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Battle in Egypt. It’s a twenty four episode anime where Dio returns and he battles an emotionless GAR character. Let’s read on.
The anime follows a group of Stand users led by Jotaro Kujo who goes on a world tour to save his mother from a generational curse brought upon by Dio, a one hundred year old vampire who resurrects to once again rule the world. The only thing standing in his way is the Jojos themselves. After going halfway through the world, Jotaro is now in Egypt where Dio is rumored to hide. It’s finally time to finish a hundred year old story with a classic clashing of two fists.
Taking the Pants Off
Let me start by saying that Battle Tendency is my favorite arc among the Jojo series. Even though I’ve only seen three so far, the second Jojo probably had the wildest story since it played little gimmicks on its readers. It was Phantom Blood’s premise expanded to feature more immortals, more fighting and a more elaborate use of the ripple technique. The arc ended with a fight on top of a f*cking volcano. It was awesome. I doubt the succeeding Jojos can really follow it up. I was convinced when I saw the first season of Stardust Crusader. It felt like the series peaked at Battle Tendency then relaxed on the following arcs. Stardust Crusader is the most popular Jojo arc though, and I’ve always wondered why. I’m pretty sure it’s not because of its epic story, because well, Stardust Crusader is super gimmicky. It was one stupid gimmick after another. I was actually determined to find out why, and I can only ascertain that a lot of people were introduced to Jojo with Stardust Crusaders with the help of Shounen Jump’s rising popularity. When you look at the lineup Stardust Crusader debut in, it was populated by the typical juvenile 80s crap like City Hunter and Kochikame with a lot of gag series in between. With DBZ and Saint Seiya as staples, action was always a thing but injecting comedy is also a big influence. It does feel like Battle Tendency was not received positively by the generation, so Hirohiko Araki rehauled the series and made it more fun.
I already shared my hatred for the third arc on my first review of the series. I remember totally hating it from the Jojo character to the use of Stands. They even turned the awesome hero of Battle Tendency into a goofy sidekick. I am actually still not sold on having GAR characters just standing around while their GAR summons fight for them. Joseph Joestar fought a dude that literally couldn’t be killed and you follow that up with a fight with an orangutan? Seriously? I think I finally understand the appeal of the third arc though. Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency are certainly “epic” stories about two generations of Jojo battling vampires. Stardust Crusader is actually a more relaxed, cartoony, and a comedic take on the story. It’s no longer “epic” but it finally decided to hang with the cool kids. It was finally a “Shounen” story. It took advantage of its weekly setup, made battles more inventive and responded to readers as the story was being shaped. Hol Horse appeared three times in this arc, and you can bet the generation of readers loved his ass. More importantly, it felt like Araki himself just decided to have fun with his story. This is a guy that wouldn’t allow an anime adaptation because Speedwagon wasn’t featured as much, but I think he just toned down his intensity with the following arcs. This was evident when the second season of Stardust Crusader opened with a farting dog being thrown to a blind man to stop his water hand from killing people. Epic, no. Shounen, yeah maybe.
The third arc isn’t really bad in any form. In every aspect, from characters to the fights, they are all really good. I am just super biased since I finished an arc with a Nazi cyborg character in it. Now that’s epic. Anyways, Stardust Crusader might not have epic moments, but it was unique in other ways. The biggest example is the unique fights people have with their stands. The first season featured a fight with a baby, a rumble in a hotel room and the aforementioned orangutan one. Each fight is memorable in their own right since I still remember them even though I hated this arc so much. The second season continued the unique fights and made them even more interesting. Now, I say unique fights but they are also stupid gimmicks. I would prefer a long drawn out battle spanning five episodes than one that ends in one episode and these gimmicks fights does restrict the Shounen formula. This was evident in the first season, since you can’t really do much with a fight with a baby. Despite that though, the entire thing is entertaining and really engaging. I soon realized why. The fights were never the focus. Araki spent more time introducing the characters than the fight they will have.
Gods of Egypt
In the previous two arcs, epicness is achieved through big moments. One of Joseph’s friend died by having a giant cross crush him to death. I love that death scene, but I don’t really remember much about the dude that died. He was a guy with Indian feathers, I think. That’s the problem with the first two arcs. It didn’t really have memorable characters. Stardust Crusaders weirdly fixed this imbalance by taking points away from the fights and putting them in the characters. This is how we got impossibly stupid characters like Oingo and Boingo. The gimmick fight is an absolute filler of a chapter, but, you know what, these characters persist. These bastards even got their own theme song in the anime as if their anime debut has been long awaited. Wait, was it? Boingo showed up once, and I honestly couldn’t forget him. He just had so much presence and long lasting appeal that I hate the fact that I can’t forget him. You can tell Araki is also just taking a piss with the entire ordeal making the series a little bit self-aware. Actually, the first two arcs suffered for being too damn serious. “Oh my god! He turned his hand into a squirrel and it is lured another squirrel, His hand is now eating the squirrel.” With no ounce of self-awareness, that dialogue was uttered by a character in Battle Tendency. I think Araki himself understood the entire thing is too serious, so he made the characters more fun and engaging. While he might’ve never expected them to be memorable, they kinda persist. Hol Horse is an example of this.
For me though, the biggest sign of Araki himself accepting the ridiculousness of his series is when he dubbed one character as Vanilla Ice. Now, a lot of Jojo characters are named after bands. Oingo Boingo is an 80s new wave band. The main baddie in Battle Tendency is named Cars after the rock band. ACDC is also a villain in the second arc. And then there’s Vanilla Ice, who was already a joke in the 90s, and this name was given to the super serious dude that ultimately becomes the last henchman the characters fought before Dio. I can forgive a character named after Mariah Carey, but just full on Vanilla Ice is just insane. I had to laugh at the entire thing, and I bet Araki himself had fun with it. The fight with Vanilla Ice might be short and unexciting, but you can bet Vanilla Ice will persist as a character.
I’m still not a fan of the Stands. It’s still stupid and gimmicky, but I do love the inventive take on their powers. Most stories will just have characters shooting fireballs or a strong fist attack. The Stands for the second season are a lot more imaginative. Ok, yeah, they’re also extremely weak and stupid, but they were unique enough to make you keep watching. In fact, you’ll never know how much the typical fight will be twisted so much it won’t look like a fight anymore. We have Stands that can make people magnetic, some that can read minds and some that can predict the future. It’s really fun to know how much promise each power has. The power to predict the absolute future is a big one for me, because there are just so much possibilities for it. BUT this is a more relaxed arc of the Jojo saga so you can’t expect immortal vampires killing Nazi scientists in an underground facility. No, most fights are really kinda “Tom and Jerry” inspired. They are super cartoonish and some are very juvenile. One fight had a character poop in a bath tub. I am not kidding when I say that. Battle Tendency had a chariot race against a complete immortal and Stardust Crusaders had a character poop in a bath tub to avoid being strangled. It’s insane like that.
The ones about making people magnetic had a scene like this:
And the one with the power to predict the future….belongs to Boingo. Have you heard him laugh? I feel like this entire arc is just a giant meme at this point.
Now, there are still some wonderful diamonds among the rough though. My favorite Stand battle happened in the second season involving an old man and a whisky glass. It was still cartoony, but I was so engaged I stayed up late just to see its ending. Another great fight involves a cow and a barber, and it gives you an idea how much potential is eventually lost by the cartoony approach of the story. Still, I wouldn’t really call these fights disappointing. Hell no, they’re good. If were to be disappointed then it happens at the giant fight of the Stardust Crusader Arc.
There was one fight that I truly wanted to witness. In fact, I was so interested in it before I even know Jojo existed. I always played as Dio in the All Star Jump games, because he is stupidly fun. He was arrogant and he yells “it’s useless” when he attack. Actually, I don’t know Jojo but I know of the iconic Ora Ora Ora Muda Muda Muda exchange, because a lot of shows reference it. I think going back all the way from the 90s, this scene was parodied and referenced several times. I was insanely hyped for the confrontation when I first watched the first season. The generational Jojos in one fight is incredibly promising, and Dio reborn as a better bad ass made me drool. The journey to the fight is long and tedious, fun and stupid, but you can bet it’ll be as iconic as it was build up to be…..not. Yeah, after I saw the first season I kinda realized this show won’t really give me what it promised. If it was still an “epic” Jojo then no doubt we’d see Joseph fight Dio first and lose in epic fashion before the Ora Muda exchange happens. Unfortunately, this is the Shounen Jojo so prepare to be underwhelmed.
The fight is super short and extremely disappointing. It’s actually the longest fight in the arc, but also the least fun. They build up Dio so much and then he turns out to be a mid-boss at best. This is the ultimate killer of the Stardust Crusader arc. It featured the least interesting rivalry among the three generations. While I savored every reference, call back and lore built up by the three generations, I still kinda wanted more from the fight itself. Dio just feels like a character with endless potential and he honestly seemed weaker in this arc than his first outing. I mean, I finally experienced the iconic Ora Ora Ora Muda Muda Muda thing, but it’s honestly not enough. Is this really the legacy of the popular Stardust Crusader arc? It just features awesome characters involved in disappointing fights? Certainly we could’ve atleast made this fight more impressive. It’s frustrating. I love the Dio character, but he turns out to be just awesome in how he looks and not in how he fights. Araki should learn from Oda who can make a guy in a mankind mask super engaging both in character and in fighting. Or maybe Araki just stuck to the cartoony aspect for a reason. Eh, I don’t care. I’m just glad I finished this arc and move on to the other Jojo stories.
Tsuda, Suzuki and David Production
I don’t know much about Naokatsu Tsuda, and most of his work is episode directing. In fact, this might be his biggest project so far and he has since directed the other Jojo anime after this. Knowing Araki’s anal tendencies, I bet the studio just hired a director that’ll animate Araki’s stuff and not clash with his style. Episode directors are mostly hired to do a job, and I think Naokatsu Tsuda is hired for the same reason. Just adapt the thing and earn your pay check, and that’s fine. Believe me, people will love him for bringing Jojo to life. The same goes for the series director, Kenichi Suzuki. He oversees the entire Jojo series, and you can bet he was hired to do that specific job and nothing else. I would’ve loved to see a talented director take a crack at this series, but I doubt any changes would’ve been allowed. Although, I would love to see a Parasyte adaptation for Jojo wherein every panel is adapted but done ten times better in the anime. David Productions is a really mild studio, and I think Jojo is the best thing they got. Though I still remember how awesome it is that they were able to nab the adaptation of a twenty year old classic. It’s thanks to David Production that the weird revival of old titles was possible since Berserk soon came after and Nurarihyon after that. Wouldn’t it be cool if the obscure Shounen Jump titles are revived, like Hell Teacher Nube or Black Cat?
Sight and Sound
Character design is very GAR and a lot of them look alike. It still looks incredibly stupid how some characters are overly muscular for no reason. I am not a fan of Polnareff’s design in general. He has big hulking shoulders exposed over his shirt and it just looks dumb. Although I think that was what Araki wanted to achieve. We have characters like Vanilla Ice sporting hearts in their design for no good reason. I do love how Araki tries to make some characters different by giving them unique hairstyles. Dio is a good example, since he goes super saiyan at some point in the show. As much as I hate Polnareff’s design, I hate Jotaro’s design even more. He wears a school uniform with chains on it. I don’t understand. Overdesign seems to be a problem for Stardust Crusader since I never noticed them in the previous arcs. Now to be fair, the design is a piece of an outdated past. Shounen Jump characters really just look stupid like that back in the 80s. City Hunter also has the same GAR style and I just never learn to like it in general. I do love how Araki poses his characters and show off their muscles. It’s not much but they become larger than life like that. Since this anime also thrives on its characters, the design does help add to the self-awareness of it all. Some characters are designed to look stupid on purpose. Just look at Oingo.
Animation is decent. It brings the manga to life amazingly. I don’t need to see the original source. I know when an adaptation is sticking close to the original. I still love how those murderous intent of the characters float over in manga sound effects. I also still love the gore of the series. I just love how insanely graphic the entire thing is. Random people are beheaded, crushed to death and one was impaled on a pole. The gore is still censored though, but that’s alright. I actually enjoy how not excessive the gore is, since the previous two arcs use it as overkill. I still remember how one enemy entered a guy’s eye then exploded him on the inside. Battle Tendency is really my favorite arc. Anyways, fights, while short, are really fun to watch and I love how crazy it can be at times. Reactions are the best for this series, since facial reactions are funny with the GAR style. The use of CG is also smart, since 360 camera shots and sudden zooms are employed to really display the emotion of a scene. I like that small touch.
The anime’s OP is “JoJo – Sono Chi no Kioku: end of THE WORLD” by JO☆STARS～TOMMY, Coda, JIN～. Jin Hashimoto was the dude that was referenced in Jinsei. I didn’t know he do anime, but he does a lot of narrating for tokusatsu shows. Anways, Tommy did the 1st OP, Coda did the 2nd and Jin did the third. Since the third arc is a generational story, all singers are brought in to do the fourth one. I love this OP. It’s so epic in the song, the animation and the way the characters are presented. I also love the small changes it has when the sausage party of heroes eventually reaches Dio and battle with him. The anime’s ED is “Last Train Home” by Pat Metheny Group. This damn song is a death flag and I hate it. It’s a somber instrumental song and it just kinda tells you the gang won’t all the coming home alive. In fact, if you go to the youtube video of the song, it spoils who dies in the group since only Jojo fans appreciate this obscure song. I’m not old enough to appreciate who the Paul Metheny Group is. I love the song though. It’s not country enough, but also not sad enough. It’s the perfect feeling when you watch Stardust Crusader.
7/10 “It’s exciting and simple crazy fun, but it achieved that by toning down the action and potential the story has.”
If you saw the first season, then it’s only right to see the story til the end. It might not be an intense story but it is still very good. The twists are engaging, the action is fun and the characters are all memorable. If you love the classic Shounen setup then this anime is exactly for you. If you love some imaginative fights in your anime, then you’ll like this as well. Really, just watch the show for its sheer dumb fun. You won’t regret it. I recommend it.
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