WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Last week was the finale to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, an adaptation of the manga by the same name. It’s honestly kind of hard to describe it to anyone who has no knowledge of the series because its title is so apt: it’s very bizarre. Hopefully some of you are already familiar with it but for the uninitiated, I’ll do my best to sum things up.
Technically, Stardust Crusaders is the third part of an even larger story – the previous two parts had already received anime adaptations of their own, detailing the adventures of Jonathan Joestar and, later, his grandson, Joseph Joestar. While both were very entertaining, they were arguably build-up for Part 3, which is considered the defining point of the series due to its establishment of Stands, manifestations of spiritual power that the main characters can summon, each with their own unique abilities – a trait that remains throughout the rest of the series.
Set in the late 1980s, Jotaro Kujo, the grandson of Joseph Joestar, believes that he’s been cursed by an evil spirit. Joseph arrives with his friend, Mohammed Avdol, to tell Jotaro that the ‘spirit’ is actually his Stand (later named Star Platinum), something that both Joseph and Avdol also possess. Joseph reveals that the reason behind both him and Jotaro gaining Stands is because of the return of Dio Brando, the arch enemy of Joseph’s grandfather, Jonathan.
Fully explaining Dio’s deal would require a couple of paragraphs to itself so here’s the essentials. Dio turned himself into a vampire and tried to kill Jonathan. During their battles, Dio ripped his own head off to avoid being completely killed. They later fought on a ship, the ship caught fire and sunk, Jonathan died, Dio attached his head to Jonathan’s body and hid in a casket he had brought with him (I told you this story was bizarre).
Anyway, the casket had been inadvertently retrieved and Dio now walks the Earth once more. Since he now has Jonathan’s body, when Dio got his Stand, so did Jotaro and Joseph due to them sharing the Joestar blood. Dio being around is already a bad thing (dude’s kind of got world domination plans and wants the entire Joestar lineage dead) but Holly, Jotaro’s mother and Joseph’s daughter, has also gained her Stand but due to her sweet nature and lack of fighting spirit, it worked against her, making her terribly ill. Avdol theorises that if Dio is not killed within 50 days, Holly will die.
And thus begins a race against time as Jotaro, Joseph and Avdol travel all the way to Egypt in order to confront Dio and destroy him for good. Along the way, they must battle all manner of enemy Stand users that have been hired by Dio. However, they also gain a few allies: Japanese high schooler Noriaki Kakyoin, Frenchman Jean Pierre Polnareff and anti-social dog Iggy.
Now that we’ve got that long intro out of the way, let’s cut to what this article is really about: the best moments of the anime. Granted, there are loads of awesome moments throughout its 48 episodes but I’m only going to share six of them; one for each of the main protagonists. So let’s Stand Proud and get things started.
1. Iggy vs Pet Shop
I’ll be honest, I did not like Iggy at all during the second half of the show. Not because of his selfish attitude per se but because he was so unhelpful. Iggy spends a good chunk of his appearances doing absolute bugger-all, refusing to help anyone. I get that he was pissed about being dragged into a fight that wasn’t his concern but it ended up making him really unlikable. He would’ve abandoned the team during their fight against N’Doul if Jotaro didn’t force him to help and he outright ignored Joseph and Avdol when he saw them being attacked by Mariah. All in all, I really could not care less about Iggy… until he ran into Pet Shop.
To put it bluntly, Pet Shop was terrifying. Within moments of meeting him, he brutally murdered a guy, killed two fully grown dogs and ate their eyes. Not only that, but he seemed to possess a great deal of intelligence, judging by the fact that he smiled (I’d like to remind you that he’s a bird). Any disregard I may have had for Iggy was instantly gone. I didn’t like him but I certainly didn’t want to see him killed, especially by someone as psychotic and powerful as Pet Shop. That, and he sort of went out of his way to save a young boy from being killed; possibly the first decent and selfless act he’s ever done.
Despite calling this bit ‘Iggy vs Pet Shop,’ it wasn’t so much as a fight. It was really Iggy just trying to survive as he fled from Pet Shop. In my opinion, Pet Shop had one of the most powerful Stands – Horus, capable of summoning ice, usually very large and pointy icicles. We saw him practically decimate a car earlier; God knows what he could do to Iggy if he cornered him. At one point, he did, causing Iggy to actually lose a leg.
By the end of it, Iggy was trapped at the bottom of ocean, using his Stand to form a sand dome over him so he wouldn’t drown. As he lay there, hoping Pet Shop wouldn’t find him, I actually found myself feeling sorry for him. He didn’t want to be here; he didn’t swear to defeat Dio like any of the others, didn’t want to put his life on the line. He just wanted to live his life and now he was stuck at the bottom of the ocean and missing a leg. And to make things worse, Pet Shop found him, freezing Iggy’s sand dome and trying to crush it.
Things really looked hopeless for Iggy. Even when he tried to dig down and make a tunnel to escape, Pet Shop was somehow already down there waiting for him, ready to fire one last icy attack from his mouth. But it was at that point things turned around.
Iggy, in a last ditch attempt, allows his sand dome to be crushed; the air pressure pushes him forward and he chomps down on Pet Shop’s beak, breaking it and causing the bird to, basically, implode. As painful as it was to watch, it was still incredibly satisfying. Iggy had spent two episodes running from this thing and, finally, he manages to not only deal a savage blow but instantly finish it. With Pet Shop dead, I felt at ease and was relieved that Iggy managed to survive.
I chose this battle for the list not just because that freaky-ass bird got killed but because Iggy was not only actually doing something for once, it made me care for him and I like it when stories manage to make me feel for a character I’ve disliked for a while.
2. Avdol’s return
Avdol’s death came as a real shock to the system. It wasn’t just because he was a main character but because it happened so early; midway through the first half of the show. I never saw it coming and, for a short while, I had trouble believing he was gone, especially since he would still appear during the opening and ending credits. What was even more shocking, though, was when he came back.
Yeah, turns out he wasn’t dead. While the circumstances surrounding his survival were a bit cheap (apparently, he was meant to stay dead but the author of the original manga, Hirohiko Araki, got so much demand to bring him back that he eventually caved), the way it was done still managed to be awesome.
Polnareff has just encountered a supposed ‘genie’ who will grant him three wishes. Polnareff, after wishing for gold to make sure the genie is telling the truth, decides to bring back his dead sister and Avdol. They’re both resurrected but are now clay dolls/zombies that just want to feast on Polnareff; the Avdol one even blaming Polnareff for his death – just to add fuel to Polnareff’s already guilt-ridden conscience.
As Polnareff lies there, resigned to his fate, the real Avdol appears out of nowhere, utterly decimating his fake. Even the ‘genie’, now identified as the Judgement Stand, can’t believe it. What follows is Avdol physically and verbally wrecking Judgement and his user, Cameo (even turning his own catchphrase ‘HAIL 2 U” back at him as “HELL 2 U”).
It’s kind of hard to describe why Avdol’s return was so great. It’s thanks to the combination of great music, great drama and Avdol’s own personality – he exudes so much confidence during this scene and all of his lines are just superb. When he and Polnareff find out that Cameo is hiding underground, with only a straw poking out of the ground to breathe through, Avdol takes a bizarre amount of delight in taking a piss down the straw. It’s just so unlike him that you can’t help but laugh out of confusion. It’s truly a scene that words cannot do justice.
3. Kakyoin defeats Death 13
Death 13 was easily one of the most terrifying Stands that the group encountered. It was essentially Freddy Kreuger; it only existed within a dream world he could manipulate that people entered if they fell asleep while in proximity of its user – an eleven-month old genius baby called Mannish Boy. Whilst in the dream world, you are subjected to all manner of torture that Death 13 can dream up before he kills you. If you die in the dream, you die for real, plus any physical damage you take replicates itself in the real world. And if you somehow manage to wake up before Death 13 kills you, you’ll forget everything that happened.
Kakyoin is the first one to be exposed to the dream world and, after Death 13 attempts and fails to kill him, he soon figures out its user’s identity. Only problem is that the group agreed to take the baby to a hospital in exchange for a plane, which Kakyoin caused to crash during a panic-induced state whilst asleep. As a result, they suspect that he’s going crazy, and even he begins to suspect it, until he notices a message he carved into his arm during the dream: BABY. STAND.
Unfortunately, no one believes his claims and when he summons his own Stand to attack the baby, he’s promptly knocked unconscious. When the rest of the group go to sleep, they find themselves trapped in the dream world and at Death 13’s mercy, since they can’t summon their Stands.
The tables quickly turn when Kakyoin appears and sets his Stand, Hierophant Green, on Death 13. Turns out because he summoned his Stand before falling unconscious, he could bring it into the dream. With it attached to Death 13’s back and strangling him, Death 13 used the clouds to form a hand that took his scythe away to cut through itself and Hierophant Green, since Death 13 only consists of a head and arms; it’s non-existent body concealed by its cloak. Kakyoin falls to the ground, supposedly cut in half.
Except not. He was just kidding. Hierophant Green had already turned into its string-like state and had entered Death 13’s body, effectively taking control of it and no doubt giving the baby the biggest scare of his short life (since Stand users can feel what their Stand feels).
The following morning, everyone has forgotten the nightmare except for Kakyoin, who quietly informs the baby that they will drop him off at the nearest hospital but should he ever approach the group again, Kakyoin will punish him. And to demonstrate, he scoops up some of the baby’s poo and mixes it in with the baby food that Joseph made… which Joseph immediately feeds him.
I think what I liked so much about this moment was that Kakyoin was essentially battling Death 13 alone. He had no back-up, no support and was forced to rely on his own initiative. That’s not to say that Kakyoin can’t handle himself, but your mind enters a different state when even your own friends don’t believe you. He wasn’t sure if he trusted himself for a while. Death 13 was a Stand that you would forget all about if your survived the encounter, yet Kakyoin beat him single-handedly. That deserves major props.
4. Polnareff kills Vanilla Ice
If you asked most fans what their favourite Polnareff moment was, most of the time they’d probably say when he killed J. Geil, the man who murdered his sister. While that was a fantastic moment, I would honestly pick his defeat of Vanilla Ice. Don’t get me wrong; J. Geil was a cowardly piece of shit that deserved everything he got but the encounter with Vanilla Ice was much more intense.
Whereas J. Geil was cowardly and would probably flee the first chance he got, Vanilla Ice was loyal to Dio. Like, obsessively loyal. He cut his own head off to prove his worthiness (Dio used his vampire blood to revive him). Not only that, but he possessed a stupidly overpowered Stand called Cream, which could devour itself and its user to become a void, invulnerable and capable of disintegrating anything it touches (only downside is that it can’t see where it’s going).
Vanilla Ice established his power when he swiftly killed Avdol (for real this time), and instilling pure fear into both Polnareff and Iggy. Despite their best efforts, they struggled to fight against Vanilla Ice. Even stabbing him through the brain did nothing and Polnareff and Iggy were left badly injured (the former lost the tip of his foot and two of his fingers and the latter received a violent and brutal physical beating from Vanilla Ice himself).
When it looks like Polnareff is about to die, Iggy uses the last of his strength to pull him out of harms way, allowing Polnareff to use his Stand, Silver Chariot, to seemingly down Vanilla Ice with a well placed sword to the head. Sadly, Iggy dies and Polnareff can do nothing but lament that he’s just lost two of his best friends. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Vanilla Ice gets back up. I was almost screaming “Oh really?!” But Polnareff notices too… and wrecks him.
What’s so great about this scene is that Polnareff isn’t a gibbering wreck or screaming with rage. He’s completely calm but you can still feel the rage he’s emitting. It shows how much he’s matured throughout the course of this journey and after Avdol and Iggy’s sacrifices, he’s not going to let himself die now.
As for Vanilla Ice, he’s pissed and makes a lunge for Polnareff but Polnareff has figured him out. Silver Chariot breaks down a door into an adjacent room, allowing a ray of sunlight to come through and immediately disintegrate Vanilla Ice’s arm and one of his legs, revealing that he has been turned into a vampire.
Polnareff proceeds to mock him, demanding he do something impressive. Vanilla Ice lets out a roar and Polnareff, in probably the calmest he’s ever been, just says “Go to hell.” Silver Chariot then casually taps Vanilla Ice on the back, causing him to lose balance and fall into the sunlight, instantly dying.
This scene was just so god damn satisfying, especially after such a one-sided conflict. Vanilla Ice did the most damage than any previous enemy by killing two members of the group and witnessing the hot-headed Polnareff so calmly defeat him left a big impression on me. It was the perfect way to end a fight with such a powerful opponent and I hope to never forget it.
5. Joseph outsmarts Mariah
I was kind of disappointed with how Joseph didn’t get many awesome moments of his own but it’s understandable. He was the protagonist of Part 2 and he got to be awesome there; I don’t think Araki wanted Joseph to overshadow the new protagonist, Jotaro. That being said, he was still an incredibly entertaining character and he did get a couple of moments in the spotlight, such as his battle against Mariah.
Mariah’s Stand, Bastet, resembles an electrical outlet and she placed it on a nearby rock. Joseph curiously (and stupidly, I might add) touches it, which results in him becoming magnetised. Before he knows it, all kinds of metal objects are being attracted to him. It starts off small with buttons and bottle caps but it soon grows to bicycles and cars. Eventually, he will be crushed under all the metal. To make matters worse, Avdol is later affected and the two start being attracted to each other.
They soon encounter Mariah herself, and Joseph realises that she has to remain within a certain range of them for her Stand’s power to work. So, he and Avdol devise a pincer strategy – one of them attack from the front, the other from the back. Unfortunately, more and more metal is sticking to them, forcing them to the ground. Mariah even cuts some high-voltage power wires so that they’ll attract and electrocute them, which they are barely able to defend themselves from.
Joseph begs for his life but Mariah, despite admitting an attraction to him, refuses to let him live. To her shock, Joseph states that she has now lost. He then lets go of the drain he’s been holding onto, allowing himself to be attracted to Avdol and vice versa… crushing Mariah between them.
It was both painful and hilarious to watch, as Mariah had been taunting them throughout their entire encounter. She’s just so flabbergasted and it’s always great to see a character lose their composure. The best part, though, is that Joseph explains his plan to her after she’s clearly passed out from having two slabs of metal crush her (she survives, by the way, but with a lot of broken bones). While Joseph may be a lot older, this showed that he was still as cunning as ever and that he shouldn’t be underestimated despite his often goofy nature.
6. Jotaro vs D’Arby Elder
Jotaro has probably had the most kick-ass moments throughout the show’s run. His epic beatdown of the scumbag that was Steely Dan, beating up Alessi despite being turned into a seven-year old and, of course, defeating and killing Dio. But my favourite Jotaro moment is probably his battle with D’Arby Elder.
D’Arby is a gambler who loves to win via any means necessary. And his Stand, Osiris, could take the souls of those he has beaten and turn them into poker chips for him to keep. So far, so douchebag. When he confronts the group, he manages to take the souls of Polnareff and Joseph by winning bets with them. He admits to cheating but his philosophy is that if you’re not caught cheating, it’s your opponent’s fault for not realising.
Avdol is suitably pissed. Jotaro, on the other hand, calmly takes a seat and challenges D’Arby to a poker game. D’Arby is confident since poker is ‘his’ game but Jotaro warns him not to cheat, breaking two of D’Arby’s fingers with Star Platinum when he tries to deal the cards. They instead get a nearby boy to deal the cards so it’s a fair game.
Using chips to represent the souls of Polnareff, Joseph and Jotaro, the game begins and Jotaro loses the first hand. Unbeknownst to Jotaro and Avdol, everybody in the café works for D’Arby, including the boy. No matter what happens, Jotaro will always get a terrible hand. He has already lost the game. So how does Jotaro ultimately win? With possibly the biggest bluff in history.
When the second hand is dealt, D’Arby is confused when Jotaro refuses to check his hand, stating that he’ll play with the ones he has. D’Arby’s confusion turns to annoyance, which soon turns to shock when Jotaro not only raises his entire soul, but also the souls of Avdol and the currently hospitalised Kakyoin. D’Arby starts to doubt, despite having four kings in his hand. Despite all the odds in his favour, Jotaro’s confidence shakes him.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Jotaro has a cigarette. He didn’t even move. Suddenly he has a drink. Star Platinum is known for being incredibly fast, and with this level of speed, D’Arby wonders if Jotaro has managed to swap his cards without him noticing.
Refusing to give in, D’Arby matches Jotaro’s bet with the rest of his chips and is about to call when Jotaro stops him, reminding him he has the right to raise. But what else could Jotaro possibly have to bet? Simple: his mother’s soul. And Jotaro claims that the only thing that D’Arby can bet that matches that is the secret of Dio’s Stand. D’Arby promptly freaks. If he loses and reveals what Dio’s Stand is capable of, Dio will kill him. Jotaro must have an amazing hand if he’s this confident. But D’Arby refuses to go down and makes the call. Or at least he tries.
He becomes so terrified at the possibility of losing that he has a breakdown worthy of being in an Ace Attorney game and falls unconscious, freeing all the souls he had taken. It’s then that we finally get to see Jotaro’s hand. It’s pure garbage.
D’Arby had it. He could’ve taken the entire team out in one fell swoop. But thanks to Jotaro’s amazing poker face, he genuinely thought he could’ve lost something he had complete control over. Most of Jotaro’s victories ended with Star Platinum repeatedly punching the crap out of the opponent. It almost made you forget that Jotaro is actually really intelligent. This moment is possibly my favourite moment in the whole series; a victory won not with fisticuffs or super-powerful lasers attacks or whatever – just with words.