JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Episode 9 (End of Phantom Blood)

Because all vampires have tentacles that sprout from their severed necks

Recap: The Phantom Blood arc comes to a close as Dio mounts a final attack on Jonathan.

Iro’s Thoughts:
Dio is one tenacious bastard, managing to survive the Ripple by decapitating himself and remain alive thanks to his vampiric powers. He and Wang Chung ambush Jonathan and Erina on their honeymoon, making his best attempt to be menacing despite being a disembodied head in a jar. Still, Dio somehow ends up as a more effective fighter in this state, making full use of his crazy vampire eye beams to cripple Jonathan in an instant. It’s kind of funny that vampires having eye beams doesn’t even register on this show’s weird scale at this point.

Unable to use the Ripple and with the entire ship turned into Dio’s slaves, Jonathan sacrifices himself to destroy his most hated enemy. He uses his final breath to force Wang Chung to blow up the ship, and drags Dio’s head down along with him into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Erina manages to escape with an infant, as well as Jonathan’s unborn child inside her womb. The Joestar family line will live on, and they’ll continue to get mixed up in all sorts of bizarre adventures. In fact, we get a peek at an ominous pillar deep in the jungles of Mexico…

jojo9pillarmen

So, while it’s the end of one tale, we’re starting another this next episode, one yet more bizarre than the first: the Battle Tendency arc, starring my personal favorite character of the entire series and Jonathan’s grandson, Joseph Joestar. Look forward to it.

Zigg’s Thoughts:
This is a really weird way for the first arc of JoJo to close out, mostly because it’s the episode of the show where the main gimmick – ludicrous over the top silliness – doesn’t really quite work. At a basic level, this is a quite dark chapter about the death of our hero and our villain doing some really, personal messed up things to him, his wife and a boat full of people. But then we also have Dio as a Futurama-style head in jar, shooting lasers from his eyes. It’s a little difficult to reconcile such wildly different moods, and as a result this episode often feels a little bit unsure of itself, not a trait that has marked JoJo in the past.

Having said that, it’s a pretty decent goodbye to our original hero. I’d criticise the extremely brief sendoff given to Speedwagon and the other supporting players if it weren’t for the fact that A) Most of them weren’t that important anyway and B) We’ll probably see most of their descendants somewhere down the line. It’s also kind of weird to see Erina back so suddenly, and the fact that she’s just a convenient excuse for a happily-ever-after ending is barely concealed, although she does show some decent courage by disobeying JoJo’s orders and instead following him to the hold.

jojo9marriage

JoJo’s death itself is surprisingly touching, despite the fact the show doesn’t really have the emotional vocabulary to express it properly (JoJo still has his ridiculous internal monologues while bleeding to death for instance).  I think it might be because we’re so unused to shonen heroes actually dying (Dragon Ball does not count) that it’s rather alarming to see one do so.  For pretty much the entire show, JoJo has been an unstoppable mountain of a man. Even when he’s been threatened with death, I’ve personally never felt like he was in danger. It’s not even the death you’d have expected – he’s not going toe to toe with some epic god of evil, but bleeding out in an exploding ship, although he does get to take his arch rival with him. Being able to kill your heroes is one of the advantages the multi-generational JoJo tale has and for a show that’s majored in epic camp there’s actually a surprising amount of pathos to be wrung from the scene, particularly if you have any knowledge of what’s to come.

This episode isn’t the best of JoJo’s run, and I hope that’s an issue that the story will grow into as we go along – how can you give us greater emotional investment without sacrificing the silliness? It’s been a blast though, and as we move into Battle Tendency I’m excited to start the story anew. The King is dead, long live the King.

jojo9stab

Gee’s Thoughts:
With this episode, we come to the riveting, sad, and utterly absurd conclusion to Jonathan Joestar’s story. I suppose it’s just typical Jojo, for something dramatic to stand side by side with ridiculous insanity. On one hand, you have Jonathan giving his life to stop Dio and save his beloved wife.  On the other, you have Dio’s head sitting in jar while flying around with neck tentacles while shooting vampire eye beam lasers.

Despite all this, it’s still a touching end for our hero, worthy of manly tears. Here we have  man who up til now, was believed to be unbeatable and unbreakable. A man who spent his entire life either being tormented by Dio or fighting and struggling against his forces of evil. In the end, Jonathan never gets his happy ending, but that’s what makes him such a great hero. He never stop fighting, even when he’s been crippled by vampire eye beam lasers on a burning ship being attacked by zombie vampires.

jojo9diojar2

Regardless, it’s a good sendoff to the original Jojo hero and I eagerly anticipate Battle Tendency, where we shall all finally meet the second (and some say the best) Jojo, Joesph Joestar.

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