IT’S TIME TO D-D-DUEL; JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Episodes 12-13

 JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - 13 [3B4DB5F9]_Jan 11, 2013 9.36.01 AM

Cactus blankets! Crossdressing! Hair shields! Dramatic Poses! Nazis saving the day! Oh my, JoJo has stepped up its game even further, hasn’t it?

illegenes: There’s no doubt about it – Jojo is simply pure, 100% fun. There may little depth to it, and we could almost liken it to a very stylish version of Dragonball Z, but the execution is aces and these two episodes – if not the entire show so far – have proved  just that.

For starters, I’ve really warmed up to Joseph, even though he has much more of a jock personality than his predecessor. His moments of comedy are much more brighter and enjoyable than Jonathan, who played the noble but tragic hero. He also has some great qualities to him  other than his snarky intelligence – specifically, the whole “I’ll determine myself as to whether this is an fiend or friend” dialogue when he was trying to figure out the Pillar Man. Even Stroheim had his redeeming moments, as he blew himself up to stop the Pillar Man from getting away. Not that this manages to cover up that one problematic moment with women again, but this wasn’t as bad as the previous episodes, so it was more of a twinge of unease rather than a disappointment that was a hinderance to my enjoyment.

I think what really made these two episode stand out however, was the dramatic and intense battle between the Pillar Man/Santana and Joseph. One of the most exciting things about JoJo is how unpredictable it can be despite being full of typical cliches. We had more dramatic poses, villains (and heroes) speaking aloud their plans and thoughts, and constant mockery, but whereas these things would be trite in another show, they’re a source of great amusement in JoJo. It’s a blast seeing how Joseph correctly predicts what his enemy is thinking next, even if it’s ridiculous! And in the same way, it’s also hilarious to see Joseph crack some horrible jokes to break the tension when it’s needed. Plus, the fight scenes in this show aren’t just pure entertainment – they do serve a purpose! The fight between the Pillar Man and Joseph wasn’t just a battle of brawn, but will and mindsets. What stood out to me was when the Pillar Man told Joseph that he was a “Defeatist” – something I think we’ll be getting a bigger picture of when Joseph goes to train next week. But it also marks a serious flaw in Joseph: his hubris and laid back nature. I’m pretty sure Wendeego knows what’s up, but I’ll wait for the surprise myself….

o h

Notes:
– Mind you, the Pillar Man’s ability is creepy as fuck. Talk about using the powers of Flubber for evil.
– There were a lot of censored scenes in this fight, which is understandable! I just hope that they become uncensored in the Blu Ray/DVD release. Censors can sometimes take away the enjoyment and real horror of a fight *cough cough Blood C cough cough*
– If there is one thing David Production has really been on top of – well, I mean they’ve been on top of this series overall – it’s the color palettes. Usually I’d give this award to Bee Train for shows like .hack//SIGN or Phantom; Requiem for the Phantom, but David Production has been amazing when it comes to those certain scenes (you know what I’m talking about here) and paralleling the intensity and drama of the show with such a clash of vibrant colors.
– I may be one of the few, but JoJo‘s second OP is just so good, you guys. Even better than the first. There’s a sense of James Bond-ness to it with the trumpets and ‘coolness’ and the color use and silhouettes are just absolutely breathtaking. That said, I’m quite glad they didn’t take away the ED, because Roundabout makes for a perfect lead-in every time.

wendeego: After the first arc’s inconsistent censorship, I have to be impressed with how far David Production is taking Santana’s rampant creepiness. It’s one thing to turn people into the living dead and shoot poison beams out of your eyes, but projecting yourself inside other people and blowing them up from the inside is on a whole new level of ick. Much of the violence in Jojo is so over the top that it crosses the boundaries of disgust and becomes merely hilarious, but something about Santana’s body contortions and power over his flesh and bone is more immediately terrifying in anything than the first arc of Jojo, outside of maybe Dio feeding a baby to his vampire mother. What’s even more impressive is that both the writers and the animators of the show are able to sell Santana and his abilities as a legitimate threat, in a way that nearly exceeds Dio’s, despite the fact that he is ultimately a stepping stone to the arc’s Big Bads. He might ultimately be less charismatic than the villain of the first arc, but the fact that his powers are a clear escalation of Dio’s (rather than merely being able to suck blood, Santana can suck people) marks him as potentially even more dangerous. It’s a nice change from countless shonen where the villains becoming more powerful just means the energy balls they can throw around become larger: in the Jojo-verse, villains become more powerful as their abilities become more flexible. It’s a key difference!

I’m not so surprised that Stroheim, the women-hating, possibly psychopathic Nazi from earlier episodes, turns out to be a pretty good guy in Episode 13, because of course I’ve already read the manga and knew this from the start. That said, despite comparing Battle Tendency to Indiana Jones in earlier posts, I have to say that Jojo is far kinder to its obligatory Nazis than the latter. That doesn’t mean that the Nazis are exempt from having their faces melted off by powers beyond their comprehension, but as Stroheim proves, that doesn’t mean those Nazis don’t have friends, loyalties and even children of their own. It’s a radically different vision from what generally pops up in Western media, though I wouldn’t rest much importance on it. Maybe an argument could be made that Japan has less of a problem humanizing the Nazis in their media than the United States, but that would probably require significantly more research than I’d be willing to do in a post about HUMAN EATING MEGA VAMPIRES

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jojo’s extended battle with Santana in episode 13 beats out every other shonen battle this year. It just kept going and going, only increasing in craziness and buoyed by a villain who just refused to die. That said, there’s still a dozen more episodes of Jojo to go, so keep in mind that from here on out things are just going to keep getting better. Battle Tendency’s only just begun! If David Production keeps this up, we’re in for something legitimately great.

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