What They Say:
Set decades after the fall of the Pillar Men in “Battle Tendency”, “Stardust Crusaders” chronicles the journey of teenage Jotaro as he enters the deadly world of supernatural powers called Stands, physical manifestations of destructive internal power. Reluctantly guided into the conflict with Dio by his grandfather Joseph Joestar, Jotaro’s focus become clear when the life of his mother, Holly Kujo, hangs in the balance. While Jotaro’s powerful Stand Star Platinum exists as a towering, armored physical extension of himself, Holly cannot release hers and Dio’s strange connection to the Joestar’s bloodline has made the condition fatal.
To save Holly, Jotaro and Joseph form an alliance with dangerous men all dedicated to destroying the evil Dio Brando. Their quest will take them across continents and into conflict with Dio’s own allies, the world’s most vicious assassins and murderers.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded with the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show is an action-heavy one with some creative use of sounds through the motions within the show and that gives a lot of scenes a pretty good design to it. The forward soundstage design is solid with the way the Stands move across it with various powers or just the characters moving to and fro, giving it a good wide sense as it unfolds. There’s some solid impact to it, though not as much as a 5.1 mix designed with that intent, and overall it connects well. The music side of it is strong, especially that closing sequence song for me, and there’s a good warmth to the sequences while the background material is good. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-four episodes of this set are spread evenly across four discs. Animated by David Production, the show has a great look to it with some really strong design work both in character designs and backgrounds while also employing a fantastic sense of color design. There are some really striking sequences right from the start with the sky and clouds with the look and color and it just ramps up more as the cast moves into the series and the action gets underway. The visual design is definitely distinctive in all the right ways and it captures the style of the manga really well while adapting for the medium. Colors are solid throughout and the high-motion sequences look great with no breakup or noise to be had throughout.
The limited edition release for this set is pretty great for fans we get the heavy chipboard box that opens from the side. The look of it mirrors a lot of what the manga volumes look like and getting an illustration style front cover of Jostar is pretty good with its color design here and the black background. The back of the box goes for more color with his Stand taking center stage and throwing more orange color into it all. Within the box we get a thick Blu-ray case that holds all the discs for the show and provides a cover that works more off the Japanese covers with Jostar front and center set against a blue and black background. The back cover is pretty traditional with a thick summary of the premise, several shots from the show, and a good breakdown of the format and extras for the set. Also within the box we get a really nice pair of postcards in an oversized form as well as a fantastic squarebound booklet that breaks down each episode with a couple of pages. It’s in black and white inside but it conveys a lot of good material.
The menu design for this release keeps things simple with a diamond checkerboard pattern as the background with a lot of it hidden under darkness. The center is dominated with the logo that includes the Stardust Crusaders name while below it we get the navigation. This is fairly simple for each set with the usual breakdown and episode selection submenus while the last disc gets an extras submenu. Getting around the menus is quick and easy and there’s not much to do here beyond setting up the show and getting into it. The navigation works well both as the main menu and the pop-up menu during regular playback.
The extras for this release are fun as we get some interesting and amusing interviews with the English cast as they talk about their characters. We also get a look at an art gallery for the release and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first season (that I haven’t seen) landed in 2012, this one landed in 2013 and was part of a larger run of forty-eight episodes, the first half of which is here. Prior to this extended anime run (which has a new season starting right about now in Japan) I had seen only the couple of OVAs produced years and years ago, out of order, and with none of it making any sense. Starting with the second set may seem a little problematic but it’s more of the modern side of things as it works with a largely new cast and moves the main storyline forward, so you can jump into this set without the first and get a lot out of it. There’s enough nods to the past to fill in the basics but that’s more trappings than meat when you get down to it as the main storyline here is its own driver.
The series takes place in 1987 for the bulk of it but opens in 1984 as a fishing boat has found a treasure that turns out to be their doom as it was a casket containing a powerful man known as DIO, an evil as hell immortal that was put down into the sea as a way to try and contain him for as long as possible. Dio’s return has him setting up shop in Cairo, Egypt over the next few years as he collected a range of people with special abilities called Stands, which is basically a variety of crazy powers that are tied to the visual ideas behind tarot cards for most of them. Dio’s intent isn’t exactly clear within this set beyond being the big bad and he has very little screen time overall, no more than a few minutes when you get down to it. It’s his operatives that get most of the time as they’re spread out across the world and provide for layers of protection to slow down the group coming after him.
That group is headed up by Joseph Joestar, the grandfather of Jotaro who has a strong Stand of his own. Joseph and his family line have been dealing with Dio for some time but it’s been realized that the bloodline is tied together in a bigger way as Dio has corrupted Jotaro’s mother Holly, quite possibly one of the best anime mom’s ever. She’s been put out of commission because of Dio’s ability to impact her and that has Joseph and Jotaro setting off to find Dio and stop him, putting an end to a family problem for once and all. It’s a simple enough setup but one where Joseph knows that they can’t just fly there (beyond the fact that he himself has crashed three planes already) because it would put a lot of other people in danger thanks to Dio’s operatives that have no care. What would be a twenty-hour plane ride ends up becoming a thirty-day trip.
The journey from Japan to Cairo is one that brings along a few additional players on Joseph’s side as he brings Avdol as a longtime friend and we get Kakyoin, another high school student like Jotaro who was actually under Dio’s control from afar but freed early on. Another one caught up in it all is a young man named Polnareff and that forms the core of the team with these five men. It is a very manly show though it does bring a few women into play. Holly is the main one and we get some with other Joestar family members later on in the season here as Joseph has to deal with calling in some favors. Holly is a big one early on but the main one we deal with for several episodes is a young woman named Holly who ties her star to the group as they get their journey underway. It’s comical having all this big and bulky men together with some swagger mixing with such a small girl, though thankfully it avoids anything really sexual for the most part and the guys kind of cringe of even thinking of her that way since half the time they forget that she’s even a girl.
Beyond the character introductions, the bulk of this season is the journey itself. And each leg of the journey has them dealing with a different Stand user as sent by Dio. That means we get a lot of creative battles thanks to this humanform Stands that act out but there are some creative ones that go beyond it with suns, mirrors, and so forth. There’s some fun to be had with most of them since they force Jotaro and his group to come up with creative ways to deal with their opponents that often involves spending time just trying to determine what the Stand power is itself and who the wielder is. It does get weird from time to time and the time spent with the baby that has a powerful dream Stand is definitely weird. Particularly since we get several scenes with poop that even includes eating some poop. It was amusing to see the guys deal with having the infant and not knowing what he really was and they avoid really dragging it out too far in the end. There’s a lot of variety to all the Stand users and their abilities and while everything is largely soundly defeated there is a good sense of how well it serves in training Jotaro and the rest in surviving this newly opened world to them.
This first half of the series is all about the journey whereas the next half is called the Battle of Egypt, so things presumably kick up into higher gear there. As a journey series, you can naturally find similarities to shows like Saiyuki but this one plays in with the growth of the characters and the bond well, while also actually reaching their destination in just about a month. There may be a lot of familiarity in terms of concept here but it’s the execution that really makes it excel. The character designs are divisive for some but they come across with a sense of power that fits well for a property of this nature. They’re distinctive and that standing out against the pack just adds to the appeal. I really loved the animation with this property as it’s very distinctive and has some really great design choices to it so that even though it works through a familiar plan I was drawn in by that angle. Viz Media put together a great release as we get a solid dub, a fantastic package for the limited edition, and a great encode. Definitely a big win for longtime fans wanting what looks to be a pretty great adaptation of the manga.
Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Ending, English Cast Interviews, Jojo’s Bizarre Fandom, Art Gallery
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Running Time: 576 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.