On the First Day of Anime: Trying to Understand the Mojo of a JoJo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Stardust Crusaders)

I’m participating in Scamp’s 12 Days of Anime again, and with enough time on my hands before the big finals week I should be able to squeeze out all of my posts this time. Additionally, unlike last year, I’m starting early with my drafts. Whatever that means.


A lot of things had to change in order to fit into the new, more formulaic structure of Stardust Crusaders. Part 3 is a departure from plot-driven antics in favor of a rather maligned “Monster of the Week” format. Despite this I’ve enjoyed my time watching this show for the merits that this particular part of the saga has offered to me, but to understand how effective the format is, we have to talk about how the main character fits into this story.

Jotaro Kujo is by no means an emotional person, and thus he comes off as the least interesting one. Whether it’s an inability to express his emotions or just simply being incapable of having them, none of the genuinely fucked up situations that Jotaro finds himself in elicit anything from the guy other than a hardened stare and a metric fuckton of punches. By comparison, the rest of the cast is far more colorful, far more ready to react outlandishly to their gross, bizarre, and exceedingly deadly situations, which only seem to escalate with each episode. As a result, Jotaro’s companions are far more interesting to watch than Jotaro. So why does he exist in this universe if he’s so uninteresting as a human being? What’s the point of him having his spotlight from time to time if there’s very little that’s worthy of the spotlight?

Maybe a JoJo’s personality serves as contrast to how the world works in each part. I mean, Jonathan stood out from the the scum and villainy of his contemporaries because of his undying sense of justice and honor. Joseph, too, pulled his way through the overbearing seriousness and intensity of its main cast with a uniquely crass and cunning personality. And now what’s the style we have to work with in Part 3? Stands. The very idea of a Stand allowed for the story to explore all of the fucked up and bizarre ways you could have powers in the JoJo universe, and with those powers came an amazing number of manic personalities tied to them. Because of them, everything feels crazier than usual, which is a lot easier to accomplish with the JoJo universe than you might think thanks to a more forgivable animation budget and the inherent unbelievability of Stands. In that confusion, a main character can go one of two ways: we can either relate with him or want to be him.

Jotaro, in this case, fits more as a person I would rather become in the JoJo universe. You are free to proclaim this to reek of self-insert tendencies, as all shounen protagonists do, but Jotaro happens to fit in with what I’d rather be like if I were to live in the JoJo universe. He’s calm, collected, and intense. Coupled with the most powerful Stand and a variety of cheesy one-liners, it’s not surprising to think that Jotaro is the coolest of the JoJos we’ve seen so far. There’s a very good reason why the ora ora and the yare yare are so iconic even to this day. His calmness, too, provides contrast to his surroundings. While opponents boast and troll with barely-contained laughter and tongues sticking straight out, Jotaro’s reserved attitude is something that I at least relate to more.

Unfortunately, this is not so much a bad thing about him as it is the only thing about him worth mentioning. His primary motivation of saving his mother from her own Stand serves more as an excuse for the plot rather than an opportunity for character development, as it easily gets lost in the midst of the zany Stand battles with each successive episode. But it’s not like anyone seriously came into this show thinking that they were going to get some quality storytelling, right? All that really matters with JoJo and his ilk is the wacky and gory antics the next episode is going to sic on us. And with something as persistently routine as Stardust Crusaders, sometimes all you really need from your cast is to be cool. And Jotaro manages to do this sufficiently even when he’s not as emotional as his predecessors.

Addendum

  1. I think I’ll skip out on images this time around.
  2. Regardless of what I feel about the shift in genre, JoJo Part 3 mostly succeeds at what it aims to do, with the usual (if considerably more tame) artistic style.
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2 comments

  1. ganymedeelegy · · Reply

    I know I’m probably not contributing much by saying that Jotaro becomes quite a complex character later on. And by later on, I mean in Parts 4 and 6. He appears in both of those, and Part 6 really cements him as, well… well-written. Even though that might be hard to believe.

    1. It gets better, I swear!

      Well I sure hope it does!

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