JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Episode 10 – The Emperor And The Hanged Man Part 1
Welcome, friends, to week ten/episode ten of the ongoing “Stardust Crusaders” anime impression series. Before we begin I have to issue quite a real “spoiler alert”. Episode ten seems to be where the story truly begins, with the majority of it being very serious rather than goofy which we all know is what “JJBA” likes to do.
“The Emperor And The Hanged Man Part 1”, unlike the episodes we’ve seen in the past, has a great deal of substance and a level of gravitas the likes of which we’ve never seen before. It is the beginning of a new sub-arc in the storyline and features a scene made to impact the audience so I ask that you go and watch the episode before reading my thoughts on it. You wouldn’t want to ruin it for yourself.
Jotaro, Joseph, Kakyoin, Avdul and Polnareff finally make it to Calcutta. The odd thing about it is most likely that they weren’t attacked along the way which proves that locomotive travel is the safest option if you’re ever being hunted. I’m not sure how accurate “Stardust Crusaders” is when it comes to it’s portrayal of other countries but as soon as the group arrive they’re swarmed with people looking to sell to them or steal from them, either way all they wanted was some foreign cash which may or may not be true of Calcutta. I’ve never been so I can’t comment.
They escape to a local restaurant for some peace, quiet and possibly some traditional Indian food to calm their nerves. The strange thing about the restaurant; Jotaro openly likes it…possibly the weirdest thing to have happened in this series as of this episode. Creeped out by a happy Jotaro, Polnareff decides to head to the bathroom to powder his nose or “take a crap” as some cultures say but there he finds nothing but trouble as he discovers a pig trying to escape through the bottom of the toilet bowl.
It’s a whole thing, better you watch the episode to see how truly strange this particular scene was. I don’t know whether or not Indian toilets are built over pig pens as a “waste management” strategy and, to be honest, I don’t think want to know. Unfortunately that’s not the most shocking thing Polnareff comes across in the toilet. While washing up in the basin he happens to catch something in the reflection of the mirror that makes his spine tingle.
Looking back at the window, he sees nothing. Maybe his head isn’t quite in the right place right now. Turning back around to wash up, he notices the strange figure again but it’s moving, no, climbing in through the window! Glancing back once again, he sees nothing but he needs to make a move, his life has been too dangerous up until this point to do nothing, something I was very impressed was written into this scene. He remembers Jotaro talking about a mirror-based “Stand” and quickly smashes the one above the basin. He runs back out to the table where he informs the rest of the group who look at him oddly despite being aware of the situation at hand.
Despite the silly start to the episode, the coming scenes were dealt with by the characters somewhat realistically which restores my faith in the writing of the series. I love the character of Jotaro but, for the most part, this series has just been episode after episode of nonsense and I was actually starting to get sick of it. Episode ten, this episode, brought me back. It gave me faith that this can be better than it’s predecessor. Polnareff knows, thanks to Rubber Soul from last week’s episode, that the man who killed his sister is the user of “Hanged Man”; a “Stand” only visible in reflections.
He dashes out of the restaurant in a panic, ready to find the man behind the murder but the streets are far too crowded. You could feel Polnareff’s heart rate start to build as he looked around for some sort of sign. Between the music and the high-grade animation, this seen was very compelling; a “Stardust Crusaders” character showing the slightest bit of emotion! We hadn’t seen this since Joseph’s lashing out all the way back in episode two. Regardless, it was quite the sight and a very good start to the impactful second half of the episode.
Revenge: A Truly Selfish Act
Polnareff sets out to go on a search for the man with the two right arms alone but the rest of the group, especially Avdul, greatly disagrees with his plan. The two get into a fairly heated argument when Avdul calls Polnareff out for being selfish after he exclaims that he’s only travelled with the group to fin the killer of his sister.
It’s understandable as to why Polnareff is feeling this way; he’s scared, he’s angry, he’s got a lot of pent up rage he needs to unload on “Hanged Man” and the one that is in his face right now is Avdul so he gets the brunt of it. Each of the two make fairly good points for both their sides and Avduls devotion to his new friends is clear when he explains that he doesn’t want Polnareff to fall in battle against this enemy, that it is safer to go as a team and that this is not the right way to go about it but Polnareff just wont listen.
Instead, he lashes out against the mystic, bringing up the time he ran away from DIO in fear rather than staying to fight. It’s amazing how “real” this scene got, I finally felt a sense of empathy while watching “Stardust Crusaders” and I can only assume the other watcher felt the same. More harsh words are thrown around and Polnareff storms off, hell bent on destroying the man who took his sister from him.
The Emperor And The Hanged Man
The audience is met with the sight of a beautiful sunset over an unnamed desert as a clearly foreign man and a local woman ride across the horizon on an elephant, which was somewhat of natural occurrence in India at the time. The man and woman express their love to each other though it is clear the man is simply saying what the woman wants to hear. After practically quoting a Bon Jovi song, the man rides off leaving the woman behind to wonder what her life could have been like if this mysterious man would have married her. The man, on the other hand, is thinking everything but that as he comes across a fellow drifter and the man you will all soon know as Centerfold.
Hol Horse (the man on the elephant) and Centerfold (the man with the two right hands) chat like friends, indicating they’ve met in the past and have probably hung out like at least a hundred times. A cobra attacks them at the perfect moment, allowing them both to show off their “Stand” abilities while also looking super cool. The two then decide to head off into Calcutta to finally do what the rest of DIO’s men couldn’t; kill the Joestars…and their friends.
Something He Couldn’t See Coming
Polnareff begins his search for the killer by asking locals about a man with two right hands but comes up dry until, well…until it starts to rain. No pun intended. With the short downpour comes the two men who will send the crew into a state of shock no culture could even get close to. We’re shown a glimpse of two people walking into town but by the time Polnareff turns around to look we’re met solely with Hol Horse basking in the glow of the sun who’s just wiped away the rain. Polnareff questions him, once again asking abou the man with the two right hands but this time with a little more aggression in his voice.
The two quickly get to a place of hostility; Hol Horse knows who Polnareff is and he knows he’s to be killed, Polnareff on the other hand…he’s suspectful but not fully aware of just who Hol Horse’s partner is. “The gun is mightier than the sword” exclaims Hol Horse in an attempt to bait Polnareff who’s already been separated from the group. Polnareff bites, he sends “Silver Chariot” to attack Hol Horse as the cowboy shoots at him. “Silver Chariot” seems fast enough to block a speeding bullet but now when that bullet can be manipulated to reach a target no matter what. The round zooms past “Silver Chariot” and heads straight for Polnareff who is saved by Avdul tackling him out of the way.
The bullet curves upwards and seemingly well out of lethal range. Avdul and Polnareff then have a “heart-to-heart” while we watch as the other group members scour the city to find the fight. Avdul confronts Hol Horse, ready to do battle alongside Polnareff who isn’t strong enough to do it on his own…big mistake. Using the puddle as a reflective surface, Centerfold dispatches “Hanged Man” and pierces Avduls back which takes diverts his attention as the bullet from earlier speeds back around through the air and hits Avdul right between the eyes. His death is instant and rocks Polnareff who watched as the whole thing happened.
This episode, even though it was always just a little different, took one hell of a turn with the death of Avdul. Kakyoin reaches the fight too late and is left only with the Avdul’s dying image. He runs to the body and even makes reference to a typical Shonen trope but the man is gone. He breaks down, unable to fully comprehend what just happened. Polnareff, on the other hand, sticks to his “tough guy” facade and blams Avdul for getting himself killed but his true emotions overwhelm him and the episode ends with Polnareff in tears. Not much more can be said about this episode apart from that it was the best we’ve seen so far. It was full of emotion, great animation and gravitas. It has restored my faith in the series but unfortunately it was done through the death of a main character.