JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Episode 23

by Jacob Chapman,

Just when you think Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is done being sentimental, it goes in for a second round of sweet, squishy feelings. This time it's all about Jotaro, and how soft his heart is under all that grizzled muscle.

After coming down from the high of Avdol's return, Stardust Crusaders isn't going to hit another peak so quickly, so this is one of the slowest episodes, taking place in a cozy submarine drifting along the ocean floor. Polnareff remarks that it's been a while since the gang was all together and could just relax and bond as friends, so the first half of the episode is spent doing just that. Grandpa Joseph checks in on his wife, the crew takes turns steering the sub, and all is well for several miles of sea floor.

Unfortunately, this brand of upbeat tranquility isn't well-suited for Jojo's, so when the next enemy stand explodes onto the scene, it elicits shouts of terror from our heroes but a sigh of relief from the audience. As is usually the case with villainous stands, The High Priestess seems like the worst foe to face when trapped inside a submarine. The gang should probably just avoid vehicles altogether. Curse that 50-day time limit!

Despite only picking up in its second half, this episode has some of the most fluid animation seen thus far in Stardust Crusaders. The High Priestess' nature as a mineral-based metamorph keeps it sliding and sliming all over the submarine, warping into and out of objects even while under attack, and necessitating some finesse in the often-stilted animation of the show. It's a sharp contrast from the panned stills and flapping lips that make up most of the rest of the episode, but slower pace or not, there's never a dull moment in this show. The first half is carried by great vocal performances and a fun surprise appearance by Grandma Suzie Q, but it's actually a slow moment in the otherwise action-packed second half that forms the heart of the episode.

Joseph, old or young, is one of the most beloved Joestars for his flamboyant and devil-may-care personality, but he's not without his flaws. His decision to lie to his wife about the fast-approaching death of their own daughter, convinced that only the men should bear the burden of truth, may pit the audience against him somewhat. (This probably wasn't the original intent, but Jojo's is steeped in dated chauvinism, so it's values warp slightly to modern viewers.) Jotaro's reaction to the situation, however, has aged more gracefully, and betrays the contemplative and sensitive soul beneath his gruff, two-word exterior. (Or is yare-yare only one word, really?) He doesn't go so far as to spill the beans to Grandma, but unlike his predecessor, he realizes the importance of reassuring her, allowing her some emotional honesty even if complete honesty is outside his comfort zone. It's a lovely, tender moment shot and paced beautifully in the middle of some real Red October disaster, and along with the fight against the High Priestess, saves the episode from being too tranquil for its own good.

With another decimated vehicle behind them, the Stardust Crusaders are finally headed for Africa, but there are rocks and metals aplenty in the water surrounding them, so I don't think they're done with the High Priestess just yet. We'll all just have to wait patiently for part 2 of one of the final tarot fights. (Next stand theme: Egyptian gods!)

Rating: B+

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.

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