Did this season “Stand” to deliver?
Based on the ongoing manga series by Hirohiko Araki, the 3rd story of this arc, takes place in 1987 where Joseph Joestar’s half-Japanese grandson a tough as nails delinquent named Jotaro Kujo locks himself up from harming people believing to be possessed by an Evil Spirit only for Joseph to help him discover that it’s actually a superpower that needs to be controlled called a “Stand”. As the story unravels, Jotaro discovers that not only do other Stand User’s Exist, but an old enemy from the Joestar family’s past has returned from his 100-year imprisonment to wreak havoc on the Joestar family once again…
As a story, “Stardust Crusaders” despite taking place in the 80’s is widely considered to be one of the most popular and Iconic storylines within the Manga franchise’s history. But at its core, it is more than just a classic adventure filled with bizarreness, As it takes 3 episodes in before it picks up to Team Joestar being gathered to their Journey to Egypt in the first half of the show. And the Journey itself is an experience like no other in terms of creativity and scale since the motivation is mainly to save Jotaro’s mother who’s slowly dying by Dio due to a curse tied with the Joestar bloodline that Dio uses to his advantage. While the fight scenes themselves are brutal & violent, they do emphasize a gamut of emotions. Sometimes in-between or after a battle, and doesn’t shy away from animal cruelty if the creator wants to emphasize how evil specific characters are, which helps give weight to some if not all the battles. But to give levity where it’s needed, the show has always combined comedy with drama and blended them together in a way no other show before or since has.
The Animation Team known as “David Production” have famously captured the essence of the Manga along with Araki’s distinctive style and attention to detail that’s become Iconic in itself and the Music is also surprising as they often go the extra mile to use 80’s tunes such as “Walk like an Egyptian” from the Bangles or “Last Train Home” from the Pat Metheny group. Since the Jojo franchise would famously reference or use the names of songs, singers bands or albums, localized translations of Jojo in other media such a video games would understandably change character names here and there for copyright reasons. But part of what helped Stardust get an identity of its own aside from the concept of Stands, would also be the fact that many of these Stands are named after Tarot Cards and Egyptian Gods which helped to some degree leave a lot of its original translation untouched.
Sometimes, the show would often operate on a structured “Badguy of the week” which is easy to follow, at times but will occasionally break the dynamic when necessary or change things up in other ways. Also, the names and locations they visit whilst on their route to find the murderous Dio. The only time where you could possibly get lost is The Sun episode as not much is known about their whereabouts. The action amazingly fits in the right places. It isn’t like Bleach where the protagonist instantly gets his ass whooped, trains hard and goes back to win in the rematch like an overused Rocky Montage. For JoJo, in general, its all about figuring the enemies weakness, Heck, one of the more popular enemies in this arc is all about gambling and poker, or a terrifying falcon with the power to manipulate Ice. it’s another great reason why JoJo excels in its uniqueness.
The voice cast also does a fantastic job with English Dub voice acting veteran’s such as Matthew Mercer of Attack on Titan fame capturing Jotaro Kujo’s gritty tough as nails attitude, while Richard Epcar is equally great as an older version of Joseph Joestar who’s performance always had a roguish Bruce Campbell like a charm. But I’m sure the biggest complaints hardcore fans will have is that fact that specific characters of different ethnicities don’t always speak their proper accents which could’ve helped give them more personality. Joseph, for example, is supposed to be an immigrant from England, While Jean Pierre Polnareff is supposed to be French. But at least Patrick Seitz is back reprising Dio Brando in an over the top performance that captures his awesomely sinister glory. I was also more surprised at the excellent guest voices some episodes would have such as Voice acting legend Cam Clarke who masterfully Dubbed the underhanded gambler Daniel D’Arby.
If I had any other major complaints, It’s that sometimes a filler storyline within the episode while funny or entertaining on a certain absurdist level doesn’t always lead anywhere. And the biggest one and I previously stated this long ago, but if you’re going into this blind without watching Season 1, there’s a lot that isn’t properly explained in “Stardust Crusaders” such as Dio’s history with the Joestar family, and why he was such an evil vampiric bastard because the story assumes the viewer has already watched Season 1 to put the pieces together.
Many Years ago during my teens, I purchased a copy of a 2-D Playstation fighting game from Capcom called “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” at my local Toys R Us at the time which was my Introduction to this crazy franchise. What I would never have imagined years later, is that Jojo would make a massive comeback into my life in the form of a new Anime adaptation of this series that not only respects the Manga’s source material but renewed my love for the franchise and left me wanting more.
At the time of this review, a new English dubbed Jojo storyline is set to premiere. And with David Production still working on future anime adaptations of upcoming Jojo storylines and with its popularity growing thanks to the Internet, I hope fans around the world will keep supporting this franchise full of weird, brutal & fantastic stories for many years to come.