Recap: Jojo finally confronts Dio.
The first arc reaches its climax as Jojo and friends at last invade Dio’s lair and confront the main vampire. As you may have surmised from their quick introduction only last episode, the fellow Ripple users are basically cannon fodder – Dire gets himself offed in seconds, though his disembodied head pulls a hilarious trick with a rose, while Straits and Tompetty fight the zombies so Jonathan can have his confrontation with Dio. The fight itself is the same type of silly we’ve come to expect from JoJo, what with Dio still holding full conversations while his entire upper body is bisected. It runs a bit slow and there’s not a lot of actual animation, but it still manages to be entertaining.
After defeating his nemesis, Jonathan Joestar deserves a vacation, and we’ll be seeing that next week. Unfortunately, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure knows that this isn’t actually the end of Dio – there hasn’t been a single “ZA WARUDO” yet, and there still won’t be for a quite a while. Thankfully, I hear the anime has been confirmed for at least five seasons, so we should reach that point eventually.
This is pretty much everything you could hope for from a climactic episode, plus additional man-headed dog. He’s been relegated to the sidelines for a few episodes, so it’s an absolute pleasure to see Dio back in the spotlight, giving imperious speeches about roses and leching over teenage girls with all the gravitas and dignity of a drag queen on cocaine. The bit where Peggy slaps him is a pretty great ‘You go girl!’ moment and his retribution, locking her in a room with a snake headed demon, demonstrates Dio’s dastardly dickishness perfectly. JoJo’s entrance, by throwing an anvil at said demon, is absolutely priceless and perhaps the most Loony Tunes moment of the show yet. I absolutely lost it laughing. With the brother and sister reunited, it’s pretty wise all the Poco stuff is wrapped up quite quickly, as it’s essentially a precursor for the major showdown to come.
I had my doubts going into this week whether the show would be able to satisfactorily pull off the JoJo/Dio confrontation in a single episode, but having seen it done I think it’s probably for the better. The fight itself is great, although not the most dynamic thing in the world – though they disguise it really quite well, the lack of actual animation does begin to wear a little. There’s an awful lot of talking too, but then that’s the fun bit and the dialogue is so outrageously silly you really can’t complain. Kudos too for not skimping on the violence – I honestly thought Dio was done when he gets the classic anime finisher of being brutally bisected, but instead seeing him fit his face back together was pretty great. Basically, the fight itself is only OK, but the sumptuous presentation and general hot-bloodedness lifts it up.
Even if I didn’t know roughly what happens next (and the preview totally spoils it) you’d be a fool to think Dio was gone, but as a ‘fake’ death scene it’s pretty dramatic and it’ll be interesting to see if any explanation is given for his recovery. Regardless, it’s an exceptional episode, a fine climax to the first generation of Joestars and an excellent end marker for the show’s first major plot arc. Next week it’s likely we’ll see the final fate of JoJo #1, and maybe a glimpse into the future.
The first arc comes to a close with the climactic clash between Dio and Jojo (and his new found friends who serve to be cannon fodder 10 minutes after they’re introduced). I gotta say, as a fan of the manga, the adaptation of the first arc, Phantom Blood, has been a wild ride. In fact, I might even enjoy the anime version over what I read in the manga just because of how enthusiastically the anime has embraced Jojo’s crazy antics. Watching Dire’s utterly absurd rose trick was quite possibly one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen in a while. Sure, the animation this episode might have been a bit on the scarce side, what with the numerous dialogues interspersed between the fight, but it’s always a pleasure to watch Jojo’s characters go nuts.
I guess you could say that what Jojo lacks in technical accomplishments, it makes up in its bombastic enthusiasm and presentation. At this point, I suppose it isn’t even a spoiler to say that Dio will make his return. Overall though, it’s been immensely fun watching Jonathan Joestar and his motley crew, and I look forward to the conclusion of this arc and the beginning of the even crazier second part.