JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Episode 1 – The Man Possessed By An Evil Spirit
It’s been 364 days since we last saw a full episode of the new “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” anime…364 days too long if you ask me. Season 1 of the anime – which covered the events of both the “Phantom Blood” and “Battle Tendency” storylines – ended last year on the 5th of April and now, a year later on the 4th of April 2014, we’re gifted with the first episode of by far my favorite “JJBA” storyline; “Stardust Crusaders”.
Set three generations after “Phantom Blood”, “Stardust Crusaders” follows the story of a young man named Jotaro Kujo as he joins up with his estranged grandfather (Joseph Joestar) and a band of rambunctious oddballs to take down an ancient evil, one that brought adversity and death to his ancestor many, many years ago…Dio.
You don’t have to worry about the whole story right now though because, seeing as you’re reading this, you’ve chosen to follow it alongside me as I recount and give my thoughts on every episode week by week. Let’s go on an adventure of our own, we may not be the Joestars but we sure can live vicariously through them!
A Man Possessed.
“Your son is quite the oddball.”, possibly one of the most understated sentences of all time. Holly – mother to Jotaro and daughter to Joseph – is met with some terrible news, news no mother wants to hear; “Your son has been taken into custody”. Another day, another brawl and, like always, Jotaro Kujo is at the very center of it but this time things turned out a little different. After taking on a group of weapon-wielding thugs and sending each and every one of them to the hospital, Jotaro gets locked up for the night. Don’t worry though, it was in self defense…maybe.
The strange thing about this instance is that, once he was allowed to leave the station…he straight up refused to saying something along the lines of “I can’t leave. I’ve been possessed by an evil spirit”, one he thinks will hurt other much like they hurt those thugs which doesn’t entirely make sense to me…if I was a “Bancho” with the power to “crush balls” and “break ribs” (as the professional police officers put it) I’d embrace it body and soul but I’m not Jotaro Kujo, I’m just a simple dreamer. Jotaro, still refusing to leave the jail cell, proves to the police officers and his mother that he is truly a man possessed.
Taking a handgun from one of the officers (using his “evil spirit” powers) he attempts to commit suicide by firing off a round into his own head but it doesn’t “take”, the spirit catches the bullet before it can make contact and Jotaro continues to live. Not only was this scene entirely too bad-ass for someone as excitable as me to handle but it was also extremely well-animated and gave off perfect vibes of both confidence and terror. David Production have done a great job at making the series look dark and gritty, the way this scene was animated was nothing but perfect and I cannot imagine it being done any better. Holly, seeing her son and his “outer demon”, reaches out to the only person she can think of that could possibly do something to help the poor young man; Joseph Joestar, her father and the former savior of the known world.
An Old Dog With New Tricks.
Coming to you live from New York, it’s Joseph Joestar! He’s not going to win the “grandfather of the year” award but he gets points for jumping on the first flight to Japan after he heard the news of his grandson’s new “powers”. Not seeing each other for quite a long time, Holly and Joseph hug it out before heading straight to the local police station to sort out this troubled team. A click of the fingers and they’re off…alongside a mysterious companion of Mr. Joestar.
Finally, after all these years, grandfather and grandson come face to face, unfortunately it is under these circumstances and there’s not enough time for a proper introduction. There were a lot of great shots in this scene, with the best ones having Joseph and Jotaro “fronting” on each other to show just how “bold” they are. Certain visual imagery, like that within the image above, worked extremely well to compare the two, showing both the difference between them and the overall similarities of Joestar men. I also think, Jotaro being Jotaro and Joseph being Joseph, getting up in each others faces was to also show a sign of respect even though all they did was badmouth each other.
We definitely see Jotaro’s sense of honour and respect later on in the episode where a certain character turns away from him and Jotaro refuses to fight a man with his back turned but we’ll talk about that a little later on in the article. Joseph realizes he cannot get through to his own grandson, the boy refuses to budge so he calls in a little help from his enigmatic, Arabic friend; Mr Muhammad Avdul.
My Friend and Confidant; Avdul.
Having no choice left but to use that of extreme force, Joseph calls upon his mystic friend to not only “help” Jotaro out of the prison cell but to also show him just how devastatingly powerful a honed Stand ability can be. Avdul being the gentleman he is, looks to Joseph for permission to use said extreme force, Joseph permits and the event that will inevitably lead Jotaro to come to terms with his new powers begins. Summoning his Stand, “Magician Red”, Avdul strikes Jotaro with blazing hot whips of flame, pinning him against the wall and sending the young man into a panic! The cell begins to heat up and so does Jotaro, now comes the chance for pure instinct to kick in. Fight or die, Jotaro. This scene, in my opinion, came out of nowhere. Not that you couldn’t see it coming, that you could see from a mile away, I believe it was simply the way it all went down.
The scene went from being slightly tense to being life-threatening in a mater of seconds and I truly hope the rest of the series follows this way of scene transition, there’s nothing worse than an action sequence that takes twelve minutes to start up. We were shown that “Stardust Crusaders” doesn’t entirely like the “chit-chat”, they just wanted to get down to business and, boy…business was booming. I would like to say something like “the animation quality jumped” but, to be entirely honest, the entire episode hosted some of the best animation I’ve seen of late, even the non-action scenes. What it did do is raise the intensity, that paired with the already brilliant animation just made for one hell of a condensed action scene. Jotaro starts to hit “boiling point”, quite literally, and has to do something to break free from this fiery grip.
The “evil spirit” goes from being Jotaro’s curse to his greatest asset in a matter of seconds as it materializes between him and “Magician Red”, breaking the grip and beginning some “return fire”, so to speak. The tussle goes on for a little bit more but ends with Jotaro seemingly getting the best of Avdul. Breaking the cell bars and using them almost like short spears, Jotaro lunges at Avdul who quickly (and literally) turns is back on the young man. Jotaro stops in his tracks…he won’t fight a man with his back turned, which is the kind of honour and respect within Jotaro I was speaking of earlier. People get the wrong idea about Japanese gongs, be it the “Yakuza” or just juvenile delinquents, there is a level of respect within them that is actually quite paramount to their overall personality. The holding cell is hot, broken, flooded, everything you could think of but Jotaro’s out of his cell. Avdul got him out like he said he would, now comes the true adventure.
A True Joestar, You’ve Become.
Jotaro has finally been freed, both from the misconception of his new abilities and from the physical cell he refused to step foot out of, now..well, now it’s time to grab some coffee and have a nice little talk about just what the hell is going on. Grandpa decides to take the family to a local cafe where they’re going to have a talk about past evils, the fate of the Joestar family and what Jotaro’s destiny entails which…is actually killing that “past evil”. Fans of the series get a nice recap of the events of the past season in this final scene of the episode. I didn’t entirely mind it even though I watched the last season and know about the story. It gave me joy knowing that someone, somewhere out there can pick up the series from this point in time and not feel entirely lost.
They series did the recap well I though, it threw in a small at the very beginning of the episode that explained something called “Dio” may or may not have killed an entire fishing boat’s men and escaped into modern society but now, at the very end of the episode they went into a little more detail just so audiences know exactly what’s going on and, really, a good sense of what to expect. Joseph explains to the small group that Dio is a monster of a man that needs to be eliminated and he believe that, with Jotaro’s help, they may actually be able to get rid of him once and for all. I think this episode was perfect as one that serves to set up the rest of the series. We were introduced to the main cast – obviously there’s more to come but I honestly don’t believe they’re as important as Jotaro, Joseph and Avdul – and we were introduced to the overarching plotline which is; get strong, kill “Dio”. Throughout the twenty minutes we had with these characters, we also gained a lot of insight into the type of characters they are, think about it deeply and you’ll already know the character types of the three without them outwardly defining it to us.
I’ve been excited for this series since last year and it seems as though, judging from the very first episode alone that my trust in the series has been well-placed. With brilliant animation and a truly adventurous story that will takes audiences around the world as these men fight off evil in all its forms, how could you say no to it? I’m already in high anticipation for episode two where, if you watched the preview, you’d know we will be introduced to what looks like a “one-time enemy, forever friend” character named Kakyoin who attacks Jotaro while under the evil influence of the mighty Dio. Lock yourselves in for that one.