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It’s been almost 30 years since Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was first serialized in Shonen Jump Magazine, and, apart from Part 3’s OVAs in the ’90s and early 2000s, the entire series received its long overdue anime adaptation in 2012. Now Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, gets its update into modern format, and, much like its predecessors, follows the original manga almost to a “T”.
After the long and arduous quests of the first Jojo, Jonathan Joestar, and the second, his grandson Joseph Joestar, this third installment follows Joseph’s grandson, Jotaro Kujo as he and Joseph team up, along with Mohammed Avdol, to defeat their family’s original nemesis, Dio Brando, who now has his head surgically attached to Jonathan’s body. Because of this, new powers awaken within our heroes manifesting into psychic projections called a “Stand”. Along the way, other Stand users like Noriaki Kakyoin and Jean Pierre Polnareff, who were under Dio’s mind control, join the heroes in their endeavor.
More Testosterone than an MMA Fight
If you’re looking for rounded, energetic characters, then you probably have come to the wrong place. The majority of our characters are pensive, straightforward people that are solely focused on defeating Dio. The exception to this is Joseph Joestar, who retains his exuberant nature that he had in Part 2: Battle Tendency, and Jean Pierre Polnareff who acts as a moderate form of comic relief when he’s not getting his face punched in.
The amount of masculinity that went into the character design, albeit retaining the original look from the manga, reminds me of something built out of the Unreal Engine; giant men that are built like freight trains. In addition, with Jotaro and the others not being huge conversationalists, it gives a completely new meaning to the term “strong, silent type”.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing, you just won’t get any Oscars out of them. In the end, though, it’s not about their characters, this series is your standard shonen story so their goal is defeating Dio, not searching their souls for the true meaning of friendship.
“There’s No Business like Show Business”
Much like the first two story arcs, the third arc continues to live up the series’ title of “Bizarre Adventure”. First it was vampires and zombies, then it was ancient beings searching for immortality and cyborg Nazis, and now it’s psychic powers, this story certainly does get bizarre. Unfortunately, the one thing that’s more bizarre is the storytelling.
Keeping up with the motif of its predecessors, Stardust Crusaders has one glaring flaw, exposition that even Disney itself would call “cringe worthy”. Minor characters literally tell us what’s going on as it’s happening. This was one of the reasons I couldn’t stand Speedwagon in the first two arcs. While this style works better in a panel-by-panel manga, it’s completely unnecessary in animated form.
In this third arc, it seems that almost anyone who isn’t involved with the current fight was forced to succumb to this expositional curse. I mean, we can see that Jotaro punched someone in the face, or that Avdol is melting something, we don’t need to be told that. Putting aside the fact that shonen series usually are cut and dry, not much deeper than a bowl of potato chips, the charm it presents is in its action.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Action, that’s what this series is about. Every episode has the heroes deal with a new threat with each one taking their turn. Episodically done all the way, right up until the eventual confrontation with Dio. Jotaro and the others display combat prowess and creative tactical thinking, much like Joseph in his prime during Part 2.
Each fight is intense with the heroes overcoming the strange, and unfamiliar powers of each Stand user, forcing them to think outside the box. On top of that, the series takes advantage of its new visual medium by sprucing up the animation by using filters and whatnot, giving a new graphical breath of life into an old still-frame manga.
If you’re looking for a riveting show with detailed characters, then you’ve taken a wrong turn, try the other path, but if you want an action-packed adventure with unbelievable powers, then this is the right show for you. But, if you want the full back-story, then start back at Part 1, Phantom Blood, to learn the truth behind the Joestar family and their relationship with Dio Brando.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is broadcast on TokyoMX in Japan and available to stream on Cruncyroll, as well as Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency.