Some of you all hyped this chariot battle between Joseph and Wham, and though I like to keep my expectations at a reasonable level, I couldn’t help but look forward to this fight. Suffice to say, I did not experience much disappointment (and basically all of my disappointment as usual springs from the show’s animation being unfortunately limited, to put it kindly).
I love that, from the start, the battle is framed as Joseph’s brains versus Wham’s brawn. It’s not that Joseph isn’t brawny, or that Wham doesn’t use his strength in intelligent ways, but that’s the strength each has compared to the other — Joseph has to trust that he can fight in a way Wham hasn’t seen in 12,000 years of combat, while Wham has to trust that his sheer power will be enough to overwhelm the upstart Rippler. Right from the start, Joseph works to unnerve Wham by upsetting his desire for an honorable battle. It doesn’t totally throw Wham off his game, but I think it has him respecting Joseph a bit less. It’s not by a huge amount; however, it’s subtle enough that Joseph is able to use his parlor tricks when Wham least expects it.
Such as right here! Joseph’s foot on the rein is the little detail I overlooked while watching this for the first time, because, like Cars, I was focused on Wham getting the jump on Joseph and hitting him with his hurricane. (By the way, we can’t sleep on the power of that hurricane. Even though Joseph redirects the brunt of the force toward Wham, there’s still enough left over to fling Joseph to another chariot and cause enough damage to convince Cars that Joseph is down for the count. That is a terrifying power!) I cheered a bit after this chicanery was revealed, mainly because Cars is such a smug asshole in the initial aftermath. Seeing his confidence briefly broken is quite satisfying; shattering the wine glass on the ground is the cherry on top.
Also, I’m not the only one who laughed upon seeing Wham with that blank look on his face and his arms flapping about, barely attached to his body as his chariot continues around the track, yes? He’s an honorable prick, but a prick nonetheless. Just as it’s satisfying to see Cars knocked down a peg, it’s as gratifying to see Wham finally take Joseph totally seriously. I honestly forgot all about Wham’s horn (and I don’t remember if it was mentioned before how Wham uses it), so it was a great surprise to me to see Wham jab out his eyes so that he could rely totally on feeling while fighting Joseph. I wondered how Cars could know that Wham jabs out his eyes to battle when he gets serious, but since they can restore lost limbs and such, I imagine the Pillar Men can either regrow their eyes or pluck another person’s eyes to replace their own.
Makes me wonder what other warriors in the past could have driven Wham to gouge out his eyes! What if there were other Pillar Men, and Cars, AC/DC and Wham ended up at the top through sheer attrition. This isn’t really stuff that needs to be explored at all; it’s just neat to wonder about.
This right here is the moment of the episode for me, though. The trick Wham uses against Joseph is pretty ingenious, but seeing it turned back against Wham — with all of Joseph’s needling and the return of his predictions — is glorious. I actually did a fist pump when this happened! So wonderful. And then there’s more when Wham blasts his fucking arms at Joseph and prepares his ultimate death move! This fucking show, man. It makes me feel like such a little kid. It should be illegal for any one series to be this much fun.
And there’s so much more. The vampire peanut gallery is endlessly amusing; it really reminds me of a wrestling crowd, with Wham playing the beloved face and Joseph playing the conniving heel. This is sort of like in late ’90s WWF when Bret Hart had turned heel and was hated in America, but would be hailed as a hero in Canada. It’s a nice way to have the audience get behind Joseph all the more, since he’s in such a hostile environment. The back and forth between Lisa Lisa and Cars is quite fun, too; it’s a good way to prime us all for that fight, which I expect to be pretty damn cool.
I will say, though, that I was disappointed to see the appearance of Awful CG in this episode. JoJo is not an especially well-animated show most of the time, but the art and general design of the series is almost always on point, which makes me more forgiving of it. The ugly CG chariot riders are unacceptably bad, however. I get enough of that whenever AKB0048 launches into a dance sequence. Yuck.