The first 3 episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure are some of the best anime I have ever seen. The remaining episodes in that first arc really didn’t capture the same feeling. At it’s worse, Jojo’s resembles Dragonball Z where the battles are merely 2 people standing across from each other, yelling about how powerful they are until finally the main character powers up enough to beat the villain. It’s still fun in its own way, but there’s something different about the earlier episodes in that arc. Something more human about the characters. Well, exaggerated human that is.
The comparison I’d make with those first 3 episodes of Jojo’s is Gankutsuou. A crazy colour scheme and directorial style that highlights the drama and exaggerates the actions and dialogue of the characters. Both are set in a re-imagined European setting with larger than life characters and plots that are essentially big old soap operas with families and betrayals with a hint of the supernatural thrown in at the end. Dio may indeed still have been a dick, but he still felt human in his own dickish ways. He was resentful towards his embarrassment of a father which has bred distrust and self-determination deep into his psyche, but he was still afraid of being incapable of succeeding and panics when he thinks Jojo has the upper hand in one of their fights.
This part of Dio is key when it comes to his rather dramatic transformation into a vampire. Getting shot by a platoon of policeman only to stand up with a big auld WWRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY kinda indicated that he had gone beyond human. But having a man survive bullets is a bit of a boring way to show how invincible he is. Dio has super powers now and can deflect bullets, whoop de doo. The moment for me that really sealed Dio’s transformation into this creature beyond human was his attempts to catch Jojo in the burning mansion. Jojo had used a chandelier to leap up to the second floor and presumably out of Dio’s reach, particularly since the stairs were collapsing.
You know what makes the Terminator such an effective frightening villain? It’s because it never stops. No matter what you throw at it, it will doggedly pursue you no matter what gets in its way and no matter how many parts of it falls off. When Jojo beckoned Dio to come face him in the upper floors, he didn’t do some kind of elaborate ninja technique to parkour his way up there. He just dug his foot into the wall and started walking straight up it as the mansion burned around him, as though he was on a leisurely stroll to the shops. That was the moment in my mind where Dio had completely crossed the threshold from human to monster, and it was a surprisingly simple yet brilliant way to convey that.