Part 3: Stardust Crusaders

February 27, 2018

Part 3 begins with a time and location change, taking place in 1989  Japan. In another stark change, Jotaro Kujo subverts JoJo tradition in several ways. First of all, Jotaro is the first JoJo protagonist to actually be from Japan, the son of Joseph’s daughter and a Japanese businessman. Secondly, Jotaro is the first in a long line of Stand users in the Joestar lineage, Stand being a physical representation of your fighting spirit, often used in battles. Third, and most important, we meet Jotaro during a stay in jail.

On the surface, Jotaro is the classic Japanese delinquent archetype, cold, violent, and quick to anger, wearing an all black, modified school uniform. Where Jotaro differs is in the fact that this is just an act. To a certain extent, Jotaro is an angry person, however, Jotaro is not as cold as he presents himself. Jotaro is a character who closes himself off from others, in order to protect them. His stay in jail was for this reason, he had recently discovered his Stand, Star Platinum, an incredibly strong, fast, and precise Stand, with no particular ability, and was locking himself away until he understood it well enough to control it.

Photo by William Whelchel
The main group featured in Stardust Crusaders, Back row, left to right, Jotaro, Kakyoin, Avdol
Front row, left to right, Polnareff, Joseph, Iggy

Jotaro is, in reality, very kind and intelligent, and this shows through in his actions. In one episode, upon learning that the enemy he had defeated was under mind control, Jotaro risked his own life to save his foe. When prompted about why he went so far, Jotaro simply replied “I don’t know, myself.” Jotaro also has a hammy side, as he idolizes Clint Eastwood, and often makes goofy one liners with a completely straight face.

Compared to the preceding parts, Stardust Crusaders has the largest main cast, with a group of 5  consisting Jotaro’s party, but to allow for this the secondary cast is very small, with only 2 to 3 recurring characters outside of the party.

The first character to appear in the part other than Jotaro is his mother, Holly Kujo, whose sudden illness is the motivation for her son and her father Joseph Joestar, returning cast member, and a main character of the part. As early as the first episode we are told of Stands, that Joseph and Holly have developed them as well as Jotaro, thanks to the return of Dio, who stole Jonathan Joestar’s body, and awakened the Joestar families’ Stands. Unfortunately, due to Holly’s gentle nature, she cannot control her Stand, and it begins consuming her life energy. By stopping Dio, Holly’s Stand would return to being dormant, and cease to be an issue.

This is primarily told to us by Avdol, an Indian Stand user who despises and fears Dio, thus ventures to rid him from this world. The first two enemies they encounter turn out to be brainwashed by Dio, and join the party after being rescued. The first is Noriaki Kakyoin, a polite and intelligent young man who helps on the journey out of gratitude for those who saved him, shortly followed by the second, Jean Pierre Polnareff, a passionate and masculine Frenchman who vowed to avenge the death of his sister, and pay Dio back for using him. About halfway through the part, a Stand using dog named Iggy joins the party, much to his chagrin, as he hates people and wishes to be left alone.

Joseph in part 3 is shown to be significantly matured, although he still has a goofy side. Joseph works as the navigator of the group, and plans out the routes they take, in addition to his comic relief role. Avdol is usually very serious, and provides sage advice, knowing the most about Stands. Kakyoin is generally pleasant and congenial, and displays a wide array of knowledge. Polnareff is hasty and reckless, getting himself in trouble quite often. Iggy runs off from the party for most of the battles, and enjoys pulling pranks and terrorizing them when he is around.

Dio, the opponent they must face once again, awaits them in Cairo, Egypt, and sends various assassins to impede them on their path. While the minor villains are still for the most part lackluster, the element of Stands adds a layer of intrigue to the battles themselves, helping, but not alleviating the boring characters.

Stands are physical manifestations of one’s fighting spirit, themed first after the Tarot, and later after Egyptian gods, and often come with powers from the simplicity of punching, to something as convoluted as transfering your pain onto someone else. Jotaro, as mentioned above, wields Star Platinum, a Stand that has excellent speed, power, and precision, but works at a short range and possesses no special ability. Joseph and Kakyoin have Hermit Purple and Hierophant Green, respectively, both of which can be extended as long tentacles, with Hermit Purple having powers related to technology and information gathering, and Hierophant Green having a wide ranged projectile Emerald Splash. Avdol’s Magicians Red controls the power of fire, Polnareff’s Silver Chariot wields a rapier and boasts incredible speed, and Iggy’s The Fool can glide, and reform itself with sand, making him very useful in Egypt.

The introduction of Stands changes the flow of combat. Battles in part 3 and beyond focus on discovering the abilities of the opponent’s Stand, and finding weaknesses therein. This change allows for more variety, as every Stand has a different ability.

There are two major villains in part 3, the first being Dio, as well as Enya, the user of Justice, an old woman who taught Dio how to use his Stand, and is seen assisting him for the part. Dio’s Stand, The World, is an important mystery that the protagonists have to unravel before they have a chance to defeat him. Without knowing The World’s ability, the heroes will sure fall before him.

Dio as he appears in Stardust Crusaders, with The World

Over the almost hundred year span of time Dio has been alive, he has grown much more contemplative and philosophical. Dio has two primary goals, the first being to destroy the Joestar bloodline, which feeds into this larger goal of overcoming his fear. Dio fears the possibility that someone could possibly be powerful enough to defeat him, and this fear has driven him to isolate himself. The Joestars are the first targets for him, because Jonathan had proven himself before, and his relatives are bound to be dangerous as well. Part 3 Dio is even more dangerous than Dio from part one, and his calmer demeanor helps contrast this. Dio does much musing in part 3, about philosophical thoughts such as the meaning of contentedness, and this makes him interesting to watch.

Stardust Crusaders makes a satisfying entry in the JoJo’s franchise, with fun battles, endearing characters, and Dio’s fantastic return. Unfortunately, Part 3 suffers the most from the monster of the week format, as much of the journey is spent simply travelling, with no major plot events happening until the end. The climax absolutely fantastic, and the final confrontation with Dio is one of the best fights in the series, showcases all of the series’ dramatic strengths, while most of the journey highlights the comedy.

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