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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: April 4, 2014 - September 12, 2014
// review by Matt

When I look at an anime series in depth, there are going to be spoilers. If at any time during this review you are interested in watching the show you are reading about, please stop immediately and begin watching.

The bromance of five burly muscled men on a road (sea and air) trip around the world in thirty days — this is the season where the "Bizarre" moniker is not only truly earned but also worn like a damn badge.

When I started watching Stardust Crusaders I was very disappointed. Not only was there a sudden disregard for parts of the series canon (how could Erica escape in the same coffin DIO was found in?) but also how could these magical pseudo-scientific tarot card-inspired superpowers have manifested suddenly with seemingly no explanation? The answer to both is simple: this is what JoJo's Bizarre Adventure wants to do, and it does what it wants.

The story begins with Jotaro, the grandson of previous season protagonist Joesph, refusing to leave a police containment cell because he has a, quote, "evil spirit possessing him". Joseph still being the gung-ho madman we loved in Battle Tendency hears about Jotaro's behaviour and is having none of his goddamn nonsense, so he flies to Japan with his new friend Mohammad Avdol to force Jotaro to leave his cell even if it means killing him.

Joseph and Avdol manage to get Jotaro to leave his self-imposed containment by convincing him that the evil spirit is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it is a "Stand", a representation of a person's power and spirit, that acts as extension of themselves.

Joseph reveals that DIO is alive. and he is likely to send assassins after the Joestar family bloodline: himself, Jotaro, and Jotaro's mom Holly. The first assassin is a strapping young man named Kakyoin who attempts to murder Jotaro at school by possessing the nurse. Things get out of hand, but ultimately Jotaro manages to subdue Kakyoin and eventually even persuade him to help them find and defeat DIO.

Other great characters include the tactical gunman and opportunistic dick Hol Horse, and my personal favourite from the season, Jean Paul Polnareff, the Jean-Claude Van Damme-alike who's always trying to woo the ladies. Not all characters are equal though, as a lot of the "villain of the week" characters are boring as hell, but they have cool stands. That's the trade-off: enemies with the coolest powers are often the least developed in Stardust Crusaders.

Craziness is this season's specialty, to put it mildly. A pig sticking its head out of the toilet and licking you where the sun opts not to shine, two guys bonding by urinating together, forcing a baby to eat baby food with a bit of its own waste stirred in, the world's coolest secret handshake, an ape reading Playboy magazine, and a possessed doll that makes Chucky look like a Tickle Me Elmo. Even though the show has changed significantly since Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, it continues to impress me time and time again with its ridiculous nature.

Currently, all versions of the show you can find online (including the official stream on Crunchyroll) are censored with big black smudges whenever gore, exposed wounds, or nudity are shown. At some points the censorship was so apparent that I was tempted to stop watching entirely until the uncensored Blu-Rays hit the market, but the English language Blu-Rays are a long way off. Suffice it to say, as disappointing as it is to see entire chunks of the screen covered in black censoring smudges, I'd still recommend watching the show. It's just wholly disappointing to not be able to appreciate the awesome gore seeing as Battle Tendency and Phantom Blood exist in their uncensored forms on Crunchyroll.

Stardust Crusaders rewrites the rule book, or should I say it did, when the manga was current, like, twenty years ago. It's great to see the story revived for new audiences such as myself, in HD, animated using new computer animation and 3D techniques. It brings the story to life with its distinct look and feel that is so quintessentially JoJo.

I cannot recommend Stardust Crusaders highly enough. I look forward to watching the Egypt arc fairly soon and seeing DIO get his just desserts for good.


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