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The boys.

Stardust Crusaders – Review

Overview

Al’s comment: I don’t like anime. I find it overtly difficult to imbue many elements of emotion in the often outlandish situations. Like in Dead Rising, where Frank West can be dressed up as a French maid  while holding his dying best friend in his arms. The situation and substance is there, but it’s execution is what often is off-putting. This also applies to many Western animations or cartoon content. I still enjoy Western content more, but this is one exception.

A surprise rise in relevancy has breathed a new life to a 20+ year old manga within the last decade. An ingot of solid gold that could only be polished by erosion over time.  Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is in the midst of a renaissance appealing to a whole new generation of fans for a growing medium and form of storytelling. Though the previous two parts are strong in their own ways, the reason why Stardust Crusaders holds a special place is because it succeeds in doing many a difficult and rare feats. Embracing in its over-the-top style, aesthetic, exaggerated imagery of masculinity and having a more interesting set of supporting characters over the protagonist by design!

It is a pinnacle of buddy stores and the perfect embrace of the narrative medium.

Across za Warudo : Stardust Crusaders Review

The Story

The plot is laid out quickly (and this review is spoiler free). The protagonist’s (Jotaro Joestar) mother is ill and the only cure is across the globe. If Jotaro doesn’t find the cure fast enough, she will die. The story itself is nothing to write home about, there are many of the expected and tried tropes and themes explored like death and redemption. There are also enough sidelines to develop many characters digging deep into their thoughts and philosophies. Particularly in the first 10 episodes when the Stardust Crusaders are all well introduced and gathered for their journey.

Polnareff doing a flip or some shit, I’m not even too sure. Source, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Wiki.

The plot is generous with twists and turns where often episode structures and arcs follow classic anime pacing and tropes. Like having multiple episodes dedicated to a singular character’s introduction/battle so that they’re able to provide background, conflict and resolution. Wherein some plot points seem impossibly ridiculous to overcome by the protagonists, but then a further more ridiculous solution is found.

Al’s comment: Though seasons 1 and 2 are good, their exponential gain is delivered at best in this season.

Characters

This is where Startdust Crusaders particularly shines. Presented to the viewer are the most colorful, overtly personified and extremely beautiful men as part of the Crusaders. Each one has their personal motifs for being part of the Crusade, but are willing to help out the others.

Al’s comment: Imagine this like the shot from the original Predator where Arnie and Carl flex while doing their bro-hand-shake. These characters are that moment personified.

This notion of wild color in personification is taken further by their Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh Monster Card esque Stands. These sSands vary in ability and usefulness where they start broad and are immediately showcased to how specific they have the potential to be and inevitably become. I.e. one may grant a user super speed wherein the other may allow a user to learn of someone’s location every time they destroy a photo camera.

“We had a good time, didn’t we?” Source, tvtropes.

Color encompasses the central character Jotaro. Who is the most bland in the group. Comparable to a bowl of oatmeal where Jotaro serves as the quiet and explained base. As oatmeal is improved by its colorful additions of fruits, nuts and chocolate (if you’re on a cheat day) Jotaro greatly grounds all his companions to create a cohesive flow and buddy structure. He is a boring protagonist, his perspectives, motifs and personality are announced and aligned early which gives room for other characters like (even returning ones) to develop further.

Al’s comment: I’m comparing this to Breath of the Wild. At the beginning you are given all the tools you need to survive and overcome every situation and obstacle respectively. The beauty in that game (beyond the limit of your imagination and understanding of the in-game rules) is how those tools react in different scenarios. Stardust Crusaders personifies that.

This in turn creates an amazing buddy dynamic. Like the momentum of moons orbiting the planet, there is a flow and expectation for some moons to eclipse and create a wonderful visual spectacular.  All of which revolving and showcasing on the planet that the moons are trapped in orbit of, casting light and shadow for all to see.

Aesthetic : Visuals, Sounds, Soundtrack and Score.

The aesthetic of Stardust Crusaders allows for the doubling down of the overtly-exaggerated elements of the series and anime as a whole. As everything becomes more and more bizarre, colors shift to an odd negative/pseudo-Wario/Waluigi-esque display. This is done subtly so when the viewer realizes, the situation is far gone (this is a trait that carries from previous seasons).

The soundtrack is jazzy, funky and momentum driven as the Crusaders move closer and closer to their goal. It’s particularly pleasing for the hard electric guitar of the main theme to play prior to them overcoming their enemies. Almost like a setup relaxing the viewer just when all hope seems lost. This is then followed by the anime cliché lengthy monologue explaining how they have won, their foes have lost and what they will do. Fortunately the theme lingers long enough for that, allowing horns to bleed in as more and more ridiculous mental gymnastics highlight their enemies’ flaws. It’s truly a work of art.

Even the Stands that occupy this world are visually jarring and good reflections of their abilities in tandem of those who use/abuse said abilities.

Conclusion

Al’s comment: I don’t like anime. I like cartoons, I like visuals, the importance of it cannot be understated to me. I like Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and whatever the East/West mish-mash hell Avatar TLA and the Legend of Korra classify as. But this… this ascends beyond that.

Araki had hit a sweet spot decades ago. Ahem, the sweet spot was not meant for it’s time with the success it had even back then. The ideas just needed to marinate and find their own presence in the homogeneity of modern anime and content as a whole.

My internal conflict about posting a review for anime, personified by characters on the show. Source, Quora.

Very rarely is there success in having the protagonist be the most tame and grounded person in the story. Very rarely are there Gordon Freeman levels of universal liking to this. The characters (heroes and villains), the premises and the overall whacky nature of Stardust Crusaders is why it is worth watching. The tone, premises and promises appear all throughout every element that is seen, read and heard.  This was lightening in  a bottle back then but it did not have the charge it needed to glow as brightly as it does now.

I recommend this to: People who enjoy manga/anime, people who enjoyed Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, people who enjoy buddy movies, people who enjoy adventure movies and people who like a large quantity 20-30 min episodes.

I do not recommend this to: People who don’t like manga/anime and people who don’t like masculinity or their masculinity questioned.

Al’s abstract: I have been questioning my sexuality after watching this, I rate this 20893021904 shit eating babies out of 10.

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