Welcome to the fourth installment of Tesla Reviews JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Today I’m still looking at the third and most well-known part of JJBA: Stardust Crusaders. I found the first half disappointing.
Though the visuals and sound kept getting better and better, it lacked the depth of Part 2 (Battle Tendency). It was much more like Part 1 (Phantom Blood). Unfortunately, where Phantom Blood had a lightning-quick pace, Stardust Crusaders had meaningless fights against filler villains taking up the majority of the screentime.
Since I won’t have to go into too much detail on Stardust Crusaders, this article will likely end up much shorter than the last one. Let’s get into it! Does Stardust Crusaders improve with its second season – Battle in Egypt?
At the end of the first season, the Crusaders took their first step into Egypt. They did a bit of reminiscing over their battles along the way from Japan, and Season Two starts right where Season One left off.
A helicopter from the good guys’ crew shows up, and it brings a new teammate! Iggy, with the Stand The Fool joins the Crusaders.
Iggy is an odd one. He immediately gets off on the wrong foot with Polnareff, which gives a look into the dog’s quirks. He likes biting people’s hair (and farting while he does it), he’s angry and independent, and the only thing that can calm him is coffee-flavoured chewing gum.
Iggy is another character in the vein of Kakyoin – a character with a good amount of depth and complexity, but which isn’t explained until way later. In about the last third of the Season, he’ll become sympathetic and you’ll want to root for the little bugger. Until then, he’s just sort of there. He follows the Crusaders, but they don’t pay much attention to him and vice-versa.
While Polnareff and Iggy are having a silly little Stand fight, one of the pilots delivers some crucial information – Dio was spotted in Egypt with nine remaining followers.
This shocks the Crusaders. The Stands are named after the Major Arcana of the Tarot, and they’ve defeated everyone except The World, which they decide is probably Dio’s Stand. This is some amusingly meta reasoning. The tarot naming convention wasn’t even complete until Avdol named Jotaro’s Stand, so why do they all trust it so much? Hell, Holly’s Stand doesn’t have a name. Maybe it’s The World.
Not to mention, they only saw a few Stand users die in the first season. They could easily all be the same assassins that the Crusaders didn’t injure enough to be out of the fight.
In actuality, they’re all new characters, with Stands named after nine Egyptian Gods. And immediately, we see the first problem with Battle in Egypt… it’s exactly the same as the first Season. The Crusaders need to get to Dio and have to fight a bunch of Stand Users in two-part episodes to get to him.
That makes the recommendation portion of this post very simple. Did you like Season One of Stardust Crusaders? Then watch Battle in Egypt – you’ll like it too.
Here’s one difference between Season One’s Stand Users and the Egyptian God Stand Users – they all have really unorthodox fights. Back in Season One, a number of the fights boiled down to one of the protagonists taking a lot of deadly attacks without dying, and then beating the crap out of the enemy. Here, most of the opponents are defeated by outsmarting their gimmicks, with ‘beating the crap out of them’ as the reward at the end instead of the main battle itself.
These guys also feel like they have a bit more depth to them than a lot of Season One’s villains. The D’Arby brothers in particular are fantastic and have really entertaining battles.
In addition to the fights being more interesting, the anime’s production value feels like it skyrocketed.
The music went from very impressive to ridiculously impressive. Nearly every filler villain has their own background music, and it works perfectly. The sexy magnetism woman gets hilarious porno-sounding music. Jotaro’s climactic poker fight against one of the D’Arby brothers has his own theme mixed into a really tense song. The Oingo and Boingo brothers get their own background music that feels like it came out of a Saturday morning cartoon.
The background music goes to new heights in the fight against D’Arby the younger, who plays video games. The two video games showcased have their own music – their songs flow wonderfully from NES-era title music to dramatic, pounding ambiance.
I cannot stress enough how good the music is.
The visuals aren’t quite as improved. In fact, there are a few scenes where you can tell the animators weren’t giving it their A game. In particular – a scene in the older D’Arby fight where D’Arby’s lip flaps don’t even come close to what he’s saying, and a few scenes in the penultimate arc where they were clearly rushing to have more time for the finale.
The finale, though, is worth it. The final battle against Dio is amazing. I actually preferred the old OVA’s writing more than the anime’s, but the anime is accurate to the manga and has the best of the best music, voice acting and visuals.
Unfortunately, Battle in Egypt still carries some of the problems Season One had, and a few get even worse.
The gross-out factor gets ramped up to stupid levels. Iggy’s introduction shows off his hilarious(?) character trait of farting in Polnareff’s face. Polnareff himself wins a fight by kicking poop into his opponent’s face. This, of course, is just what I want to see while watching a show about people with psychic ghosts fighting a vampire.
(Note: this is not actually what I want to see while watching a show about people with psychic ghosts fighting a vampire.)
Another notable moment happens right before the climactic battle with Dio. Now perhaps the exact line varies with which subtitles you watch, but Joseph has a line that is approximately “It felt like someone shoved an icicle up my ass!”. Thank you, Joseph; you saved the tense scene from actually having emotional impact.
There’s also a couple episodes of crude sex humour, but it’s combined with cringe comedy. It’s the kind of thing that makes you look away from the screen for a bit, but you’re still laughing. So that’s not really a complaint.
Another problem that gets ramped up is the odd and inconsistent censorship. I never brought up censorship in my previous reviews because it wasn’t too ridiculous. In Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, some black shadows got pasted over some really gratuitous violence. This normally fit in fine. The scenes where this happened were normally already shadowed, so it didn’t look out of place.
In Stardust Crusaders, violence censorship is pretty much gone. A lot of the damage is done to Stands and then transferred to the user, so there are few times when horrific enough things happen to humans to be worth censoring. (Dogs and cats, though…)
So why am I bringing up censorship now? Jotaro, a high school student, smokes. Apparently, showing underaged smoking is something that doesn’t fly in Japan.
It’s pathetic, really. I understand that laws are laws and they had to do something, but the censors in Battle Tendency were way better than this. I refuse to believe that this was the best that the people working on this show could do.
Here’s another thing that bothers me. You know what isn’t censored? Little kids’ penises.
I get that Japan isn’t as paranoid about pedophilia as America and Canada. The attitude seems to be “there’s nothing sexual about a little kid being naked”, and okay, I can agree with that. But when Polnareff, an adult man transformed into a child is naked, having his penis washed by an attractive woman, and Polnareff is clearly pleased for what his adult mind and the audience recognize as being sexual reasons, maybe it’s time to censor his penis?!
You probably figured out what I was going to rate Battle in Egypt after the halfway point – it gets a 7/10, just like Season One. It has amazing moments. It has amazing production values. It’s a decent season of action scenes. But all of the flaws from Season One are still here, and it’s not the worthy successor to Battle Tendency we all wanted.
I’ll give the manga side a 5.5/10. For the most part, I suggest watching the anime over reading the manga.
So, with this, I’ve reviewed all of the parts of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that have received anime adaptations. But there’s still more to do! I hope to write an article about the Stardust Crusaders OVAs. I also want to write something about the dubs – I mentioned them briefly in my Phantom Blood review, but there’s much more to talk about.
And of course, there are Parts 4 through 8 that could use a review, even though they’re manga-only right now. Until then, thanks for reading these reviews!
There’s one reason for your review, Stardust Crusaders. One simple reason – you really pissed me off.