The first arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has ended. While the whole thing didn’t quite have the same presence as the first three episodes, all in all it’s one of the best straight-up shounen fighting anime stories I’ve seen. The pacing was nigh-perfect, covering every expected beat in such a story without any unneeded chaff. If anything, one could argue that the climax came too soon and said fight was a bit rushed, but I’ll take “I wish this fight lasted more than half an episode” over “So why did it take three episodes for two dudes to finally throw a punch?” Leaving the audience wanting more is far superior to leaving the audience exhausted and/or bored.
The back-end of the first arc, where JoJo and this gang track down Dio in some remote coastal town, has some genuinely great moments. That fade-in to the closing song when Zeppeli confronted his fate was sublime. It’s as if Roundabout was created for that scene, and everything else in its history is merely a side effect of its need to exist for that moment of animation. The way the series rolled with its twists in history was pretty awesome as well. While I loved the actual flashback detailing the tragic fate of two fictional knights under the sway of Mary, Queen of Scots, what made that moment all the more perfect was how JoJo knew of these guys’ existence. This wasn’t some forgotten part of history, explaining why such men didn’t exist in real world history. The series went out of its way to have JoJo know of their tale, as this was something taught in history classes. Little moments like that which fully accept historical twists add to the flavor of the series. This isn’t a matter of secrets being withheld from the public, thus allowing for alternate histories to exist in the background. This is a matter of the world as a whole being different. It’s a relatively insignificant difference in the grand scheme of things, but its such touches that make the world of this story that much more interesting.
And I gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting that ending. I knew JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was a generational thing, with each arc revolving around a different member of the Joestar family, but I didn’t realize the first significant family member died, with his heir either being a baby left orphaned during his final battle with Dio or descended from said child. That adds an extra dimension to this generational conflict, since the family line is born out of the violence beget by JoJo’s rivalry with Dio. By his zombie minions killing that child’s mother in front of JoJo and Erina, it’s as if Dio gave birth to this line of heroes. Had Dio not gone so far as to turn people on board the ship into zombies, the line may have ended there with JoJo’s death. Given the fact that (spoiler) Dio comes back in a later story arc, you could say Dio sealed his fate with his arrogance. It’s a slow boil that won’t come to pass for another century, but there you go.
Also, there was decapitated head cradling. While I appreciate that tender moment between JoJo and Dio, where they both reflect on their relationship as the boat burns around them and they’re both condemned to a watery grave, it isn’t quite as awesome as the head cradling moment from the X movie. Dio was in full control of his fate. He could have chosen to strike at a later date, maybe someplace that isn’t quite as confined as a boat at sea. Maybe he would have succeeded if he wasn’t so impatient.
With X, Kamui and Fuuma never had control of their fate. The instant Kamui chose to be a Dragon of Heaven, the powers that be twisted fate so that Fuuma became a Dragon of Earth. He never had a choice in the matter. And once those roles were determined, Kamui and Fuuma were destined to fight to the death. One of them had to die, and regardless of how things played out it was gonna be pretty damn tragic. So when Kamui is crying and cradling Fuuma’s head, it has a bit more oomph to it. Someone’s head was gonna be cradled. That’s what fate wanted and that’s what fate was gonna get.
Dio didn’t have to become that tragic football.