Recap: Jojo learns the way of the Ripple from the mysterious Will A. Zeppeli, and begins the quest to defeat Dio for good.
The highlight of this episode is, of course, the newcomer: Barone Will Antonio Zeppeli, crazy Italian top hat man and master of the Ripple, a form of magical martial arts that is diametrically opposed to the vampiric powers of the stone mask. In a world of highly flamboyant characters, Zeppeli is perhaps second only to Dio Brando himself. At any rate, he imparts his knowledge to Jojo through a shonen training montage, and our manly trio begins a bizarre adventure to search for the still-alive Dio.
While I said last week that Jojo was really kicking off, this is probably where it actually starts going – the beginning of Act 2, as it were. There’s a clear villain, the hero is training his magic sparkly powers, and the journey has begun in earnest. We get at least three or four named attacks this episode, and that is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to silliness. Practically every feat performed with the Ripple after this point is going to get its own name and manly shout, and more than a few will have a bullshit explanation that Araki probably made up on the spot.
And yet I can’t bring myself to care. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure remains perhaps the most entertaining show this season.
With this episode, we meet the glorious Barone Will A. Zeppeli, a fabulous Italian man wearing a checkered top hat who manages to be one of the coolest and craziest characters in a show literally saturated with cool and crazy characters. This is a man who punches frogs so hard that the boulder underneath them splits in two, while golden lights twinkle everywhere in what could possibly be the most fabulous attack in Japanese media if Stands didn’t exist in the later Jojo arcs. With Jojo mastering the art of the Ripple, a special technique designed to kill vampires, the stage is set for the battle between Dio and Jojo. We get to see it in action when Jojo must kill a vampire Jack the Ripper (just play along here) while holding a glass of wine (keep playing along). Should he spill a single drop, Zepelli will abandon Jojo. It’s all quite insane and ridiculous but a glorious sight to behold nonetheless.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a world where crazy abilities and explanations are the norm, aided by absurd exposition coming from even more ridiculous characters. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I must admit that after the mini-climax that was the defeat of Dio last week I’d expected a lull in the story, and I think it’s fair to say that this is a considerably slower episode than #3 was. What I didn’t bet on though was that the…well, the ‘bizarre-ness’ would hit whole new heights. I’m not sure what to make of Zeppeli – his introduction tries for charmingly eccentric but comes off as a little hurried instead. He also indulges in one of my least favourite habits of throwing very large chunks of exposition into the story very rapidly, and I found a lot of what he says about the ‘Ripple’ rather confusing, though I’m not sure if this is bad writing or bad translation. All I know is that it’s basically solar-powered martial arts, which is pretty awesome, so that’s OK then. I also appreciate this probably would have been a little less egregious in the manga, where walls of text are more acceptable. It seems pretty important, but I wish there had been a more elegant way to integrate it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was such a rapid return to the main plot. I’d totally anticipated Dio lying low for a few episodes but instead he’s right back, looking more and more like a Super Saiyan porn star than ever, and creating vampire Jack the Ripper, as you do. The delightful silliness that has made JoJo so much fun to watch so far reaches all new heights here. I completely lost it at Zepelli’s wine-buzzsaw attack, particularly as he actually says ‘pew pew pew’ as he launches them and as ever the contrast between the hyper-masculine dialogue and the reality of what is actually happening on screen (hiding yourself inside a horse for example) is so much fun it makes up for the slightly wobbly structure of this episode. I do wish we’d get a bit more of a chance to develop the JoJo/Erina relationship, which is less than a footnote at this point, but I suppose if you had to cut something, that’s it. The show is also becoming slightly more recognisable as a traditional shonen fighting story (arch-enemy, training montage, crazy new power etc) but there’s still so much overflowing oddity that it remains a constantly surprising pleasure to watch.