EQUUS FERUS VAMPIRUS; JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE EPISODES 21-22

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 21 - [B0DF2682]_Mar 17, 2013 4.08.46 PM

ILLEGENES: SUNGLASSES! CHARIOT RACES! VAMPIRE HORSES! ETERNAL YOUTH, OH MY!

[THE INTERIOR OF THE ABANDONED HOTEL IS SHOWN]

[JOJO AND LISA ARE STANDING NEAR THE CROSS GRAVE OF CAESAR, LOOKING FORLORN AND DEPRESSED ABOUT THEIR COMRADE’S RECENT DEATH. JOJO WIPES A TEAR OFF HIS FACE AND DRAMATICALLY BEGINS TO BEAT HIS FISTS INTO THE CRACKED GROUND.]

JOJO: CAESARRRRR, DOUSHITEEEEE!!! [HE CONTINUES TO WAIL FOR A GOOD 10 MINUTES]

[LISA LISA COLLAPSES WITH A SIGH, HER MAJESTIC SCARF FALLING TO THE FLOOR. SHE IS CAUGHT BY JOJO AT THE LAST MINUTE AS THEY EMBRACE, WEEPING TEARS FOR CAESAR WHILE HIS BLOOD OOZES FROM UNDERNEATH THE CROSS. THIS CONTINUES FOR ANOTHER TEN MINUTES.]

LISA LISA: I NEVER KNEW A KINDER SOUL….OH CAESAR, MY BELOVED STUDENT!!! [RAMBLES ON, DAMSEL-IN-DISTRESS-STYLE]

WELP, NOW THAT CAESAR’S DEAD, OUR HEROES TAKE THEIR TIME TO SPEND A GOOD TEN MINUTES MINUTES CRYING AND DRAMATICALLY BEATING THE GROUND WITH THEIR FISTS- OH WAIT, I’M READING THE WRONG SCRIPT. BECAUSE JOJO DOESN’T AFFORD TO BE STEREOTYPICAL. THERE IS NO TIME FOR MANTEARS, NOT UNTIL THE END WHEN WE CAN PROPERLY CRY WHEN CAESAR CAN BE AVENGED.

THIS IS HOW WE RIPPLE MASTERS WERQ IT, THIS IS HOW WE ROLL.

I THINK WHAT MADE THIS TWO WEEK’S EPISODES PRETTY SPECTACULAR TO WATCH WAS THE AMOUNT OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT (AND SLIGHT MONOLOGUE) EACH PROTAGONIST RECEIVED. WHEREAS WENDEEGO WILL GET TO TALK ABOUT JOJO AND HIS IMPRESSIVE PROGRESS IN EPISODE 22, I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT LISA LISA FOR A SECOND, AND NO IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE I’M HER GREATEST FAN. IT’S MORE TO DO WITH:

DEAL WITH IT. LISA LISA IS THE SECOND BADASS MOTHERFUCKER WOMAN TO RULE THIS TOWN, AND SHE DOES IT WELL. (WE ALSO KINDA KNOW WHY SHE’S SO BADASS – SHE TAKES AFTER HER ROLE MODEL AND TEACHER, GRANDMA ERINA! BUT THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT.) LISA LISA IS TOUGH AS NAILS, AND SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO GET ANGRY. WHEREAS JOJO CAN STILL RELY ON A SOMEWHAT LAID BACK ATTITUDE, LISA LISA IS PRETTY FUCKING FURIOUS THAT HER BEST STUDENT IS DEAD, AND SHE’S ON FOR SOME REVENGE. BUT SHE DOESN’T FORGET TO REIGN IN THOSE EMOTIONS WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT. I’M SPECIFICALLY TALKING ABOUT THAT POINT WHEN SHE MANAGES TO BLUFF HER GLASSES OUT OF A VERY INTENSE ARGUMENT WHEN SHE COMES FACE TO FACE WITH CARZZZ AND WHAM. EVEN JOJO HAS A CERTAIN NUMBER OF TRICKS, BUT WHEN HE’S OUT OF THEM, HE USUALLY BACKS OUT. BUT HERE, WE SEE THAT LISA LISA ALSO HAS SOME TRICKS OF HER OWN; ENTER THE TIME BOMB BLUFF!

WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT THIS IS THAT BOTH CARZZZ AND WHAM HAVE HEARD A NUMBER OF BLUFFS AND RIDICULOUS STUNTS FROM JOJO, BUT NEITHER OF THEM HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN LISA LISA IN ACTION. THAT’S WHAT GIVES HER THE ADVANTAGE, AND SHE CLEARLY KNOWS IT, BECAUSE IT TURNS OUT THAT THE GAME GOES IN HER FAVOR WHEN THEY REALIZE THAT LISA LISA ISN’T SOMEONE TO BE FUCKED AROUND WITH. HER DEMEANOR CLEARLY SHOWS THAT SHE’S NOT OKAY FROM CAESAR’S DEATH, AND THAT SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN. WITH THE STAKES HIGHER THAN EVER, IT WOULD ALMOST MAKE SENSE THAT SHE WOULD PUT A TIME BOMB NEAR THE GEM. AND SO CARZZZ AND WHAM FALL RIGHT AT HER FEET – AS WE ALL DID, WHEN WE FIRST GLANCED AT HER. (OR I DID, I DON’T KNOW.)

DIS GURL AIN’T TO BE FUCKED WITH

HOW ELSE IS LISA LISA SO GREAT THOUGH, YOU ASK? I COULD GO ON: LET’S ALSO NOT FORGET THAT LISA LISA IS ANCIENT. SHE IS SO PERFECT THAT AGE IS AFRAID OF HER. AKEMI HOMURA IDOLIZES HER AND PROBABLY HAS A POSTER OF HER IN HER ROOM. I HEAR HER HAIR IS INSURED FOR 1 MILLION DOLLARS. BUT NO REALLY, IT’S JUST SO REFRESHING TO HAVE A LADY LIKE LISA LISA IN A DUDE-POPULATED SHOW WHO CAN TOUGHEN UP WHEN THE TOUGH GETS GOING. FLEXIBILITY (BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY) IS A TRAIT THAT MAKES YOU WIN THE GAME IN JOJO, AND WE’RE ASSURED LISA LISA HAS IT. THE ONLY QUESTION IS: CAN SHE BE THAT AWESOME ENOUGH TO BEAT CARZZZ FACE TO FACE? IT’S A TOUGH QUESTION – NO, IT’S NOT REALLY. LISA LISA IS MOTHERFUCKING BADASS. AND I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO HER BATTLE MORE THAN EVER (AND SO SHOULD YOU, FRANKLY SPEAKING).

WENDEEGO: YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT.

ONE OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FACING A SHONEN MANGAKA IS PACING. IT’S ONE THING TO PLOT OUT AN ARC, TO COME UP WITH ONE OR TWO REALLY GREAT IDEAS. BUT IT’S ANOTHER THING WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTED TO WRITE AND DRAW YOUR SERIES INDEFINITELY. THE BATTLEFIELDS OF SHONEN MANGA ARE LITTERED WITH THE CORPSES OF THE DEAD. TITE KUBO, THE AUTHOR OF BLEACH, WAS REDUCED TO RETELLING PRETTY MUCH THE SAME PLOTLINE OVER AND OVER AGAIN AFTER THE ABOVE-AVERAGE SOUL SOCIETY ARC. AKIRA TORIYAMA WAS MADE TO DRAW VOLUME AFTER VOLUME OF DRAGON BALL BY THE SUITS OVER AT SHONEN JUMP UNTIL THE GAG-RIDDEN INSANITY OF EARLY DRAGON BALL BECAME THE PROGRESSIVELY BLASTED WASTELAND OF DRAGON BALL Z. DEATH NOTE WENT DOWNHILL RIGHT AFTER THE DEATH OF [SPOILER] AT THE SERIES’S HALFWAY POINT. PUTTING OUT SHONEN IS A TOUGH JOB, AND WRITING GOOD SHONEN WEEKLY REQUIRES EITHER OUTRAGEOUS PLANNING ABILITIES (SEE: ONE PIECE) OR ALMOST BOUNDLESS IMAGINATION. IN OTHER WORDS, THE ABILITY TO CONSISTENTLY TOP YOURSELF WITHOUT EVER RUNNING YOURSELF INTO A CORNER. THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES OF SERIAL STORYTELLING, AND THE REASON WHY SERIAL NARRATIVES SO OFTEN RUN AGROUND.

SOMEHOW, JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE IS ONE OF THE LONGEST-RUNNING SHONEN MANGA EVER PENNED, AND IS ALSO ONE OF THE FEW SERIES TO CONSISTENTLY TOP ITSELF IN EVERY INCARNATION. WHAT BEGAN IN PHANTOM BLOOD IS EASILY SURPASSED IN BATTLE TENDENCY. BOTH STORIES FEATURE RIPPLE MARTIAL ARTS, VAMPIRES, MUSCLE-BOUND MEN AND CRUELTY TO DOGS, BUT SOMEHOW THE SERIES CONTINUES TO ESCALATE IN EACH INSTALLMENT WHILE STILL FINDING MATERIAL FOR THE NEXT THAT THE VIEWER HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE. SO HOW DO YOU TOP “THE SURPRISE IS GRENADES?” JOJO’S DRAG-OUT BATTLE WITH SANTANA? THE AWAKENING OF THE PILLAR MEN? CAESAR’S DEATH? THE ANSWER IS A MOTHERFUCKING VAMPIRE HORSE CHARIOT RACE. BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT? IN ANY OTHER SERIES THIS SET-PIECE WOULD BE ALMOST UNFATHOMABLY RIDICULOUS, BUT THE AMAZING THING HERE IS THAT THE WORLD OF JOJO HAS BEEN SKETCHED IN SUCH A WAY BY THE AUTHOR THAT IN COMPARISON TO EVERYTHING THAT HAS COME BEFORE, A VAMPIRE HORSE CHARIOT RACE IS TOTALLY NATURAL. UNEXPECTED, BUT BRILLIANT.

JUST LIKE THE BATTLES PROCEEDING IT, THE CHARIOT RACE IS A BATTLE OF WITS. IT’S AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN JOSEPH, THE UNDERDOG, AND WHAM, SLAYER OF CAESAR AND A NOBLE WARRIOR DESPITE EVERYTHING. AS I’VE WRITTEN EARLIER, JOJO’S FIGHT SCENES THRIVE ON TRICKERY, WHETHER THEY BE IN THE HANDS OF JOSEPH OR THE AUTHOR HIMSELF. THE GENIUS OF THE CHARIOT RACE IS THAT THE SCENARIO IS SO COMPLETELY IMPLAUSIBLE THAT THE AUTHOR IS ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING HE WANTS. JOSEPH TAKES THE HAMMER FROM THE FIRST WEAPON PILLAR, WHAM JUST UPROOTS THE PILLAR. AMAZING! WHAM FIRES CROSSBOW SHOT AROUND THE ARENA AS IF HE WERE PLAYING A GAME OF BOWLING, JOSEPH BOUNCES IT AS IF HE WERE PLAYING POOL. BRILLIANT! VERY LITTLE OF THIS IS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE BUT THEN AGAIN, JOJO CARES ONLY AS MUCH ABOUT PHYSICS AS IT NEEDS TO FOOL YOU INTO COMPLACENCY. LATER MANGA LIKE HUNTER X HUNTER OR FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST PUT A GREAT DEAL OF EFFORT INTO BUILDING CONSISTENT RULESETS OR LIMITS OF POSSIBILITY, BUT THE GENIUS OF JOJO IS THAT IT TAKES THESE TOTALLY BATSHIT IDEAS AND THEN TAKES THEM TO THEIR ABSOLUTE IMAGINATIVE EXTREME. THE CHARIOT RACE SETPIECE IS MEMORABLE NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT’S A VAMPIRE HORSE CHARIOT RACE, BUT BECAUSE THE EXECUTION IS ON-POINT AND CONSISTENTLY STELLAR.

OF COURSE, THIS SEQUENCE COULD ONLY HAVE BEEN AS GOOD AS DAVID PRODUCTION’S DIRECTION, BUT I THINK THEY DID A PRETTY GOOD JOB HERE. THAT SAID, THIS MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TIME IN A WHILE WHERE THE CHEAPNESS OF THE PRODUCTION REALLY STOOD OUT. A NUMBER OF THE CHARACTERS LOOKED OFF-MODEL THIS EPISODE, AND THERE WERE QUITE A FEW STILL FRAMES. I ALMOST WISH THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO ENGINEER A LITTLE ANIMATION BUMP HERE LIKE THEY DID WITH CAESAR’S DEATH, JUST TO TRULY GIVE THIS INSANITY JUSTICE. THAT SAID, JOJO’S OVERALL VIBE IS PRETTY B-MOVIE AS IT IS, AND THE SERIES CONTINUES TO NAIL THE VISUALS FROM A STYLISTIC STANDPOINT, SO I’M NOT TOO WORRIED. THERE’S ALSO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY’RE SAVING THE BUDGET FOR THE FINALE (AKA: THE OTHER MOMENT IN THIS SHOW I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR FOR A LONG, LONG TIME) WHICH WOULD BE EXCITING. SO WE’LL SEE.

THAT SAID, IT’S CLEAR THAT DAVID PRODUCTION ARE CONTINUING TO POUR THEIR HEART AND SOUL INTO THIS. EVEN IF THEY’RE FATED FROM THE NEXT SEASON ON TO PRODUCE INFINITE ANIME SEQUELS TO HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNIA, I’M GLAD THAT THEY DID JOJO JUSTICE. BRING ON THE NEXT EPISODE!

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