Takehito Koyasu as an evil, hissing vampire is kind of the best thing ever. I love how he’s usually so stoic in his performances, but when he goes over the top, he goes WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over the top. I think even Norio Wakamoto was telling Koyasu to dial it down this episode. So wonderful.
It’s astounding how quickly this is moving. I have no idea exactly how quickly this anime is moving through the material, but come on — it’s episode 3, and Dio is already a near-immortal vampire. This feud has already come a long way from Dio kicking JoJo’s dog and planting a kiss on Lady Erina. Now Dio is decapitating folks from Scotland Yard, draining their blood and other such unsavory things. Vampire Dio — with his hair all spiked and crazy like a Super Saiyan — is already amazing. One of the little details I love is that you see the breath Dio expels and nothing from the other characters. It immediately marks him as cold and inhuman, along with his moe moe fangs.
I also like how this episode in its own way emphasizes the smarts of the characters along with the brawn. It nicely avoids the old cliche of “Oh, [insert hero here], I just want to repent for the way I tried to poison your father; please, just let me make amends AHAHAHAHAHA JUST KIDDING, I TRICKED YOU,
GOKU JOJO!!!!!” with Speedwagon coming out of the shadows and dressing down Dio and revealing him as the lying bastard he is. It’s kind of hilarious how thoroughly Speedwagon verbally destroys someone he barely knows, though it’s understandable that he’d meet his fair share of liars and cheats on the streets and be able to spot one a mile away. Every idealist hero could probably use a buddy like Speedwagon as a healthy shot of much needed skepticism every so often. Plus, as a bonus, he comes with a hat with a razor brim.
When JoJo actually fights Dio, he battles with some solid intelligence, too. He can be forgiven for fighting a vampire head on at the beginning, because who among us wouldn’t assume that a spear would totally wreck someone’s day, especially when thrust by a hulking 19-year-old? Going for the brain isn’t exactly a dumb idea, though the fact that the bullet to the skull did exactly jack shit to Dio is probably a big hint that that’s not going to work unless he straight up destroys it. But once that doesn’t work, JoJo takes advantage of Dio’s arrogance regarding his newfound power and lays a decent trap. The plan doesn’t work solely because JoJo doesn’t have enough information about Dio’s abilities. Vampire stories are much older than Dracula, but that’s around when the popular conception of that creature really spread, and it feels like that is being exploited here — the audience knows what Dio is and what he can do, but JoJo and Speedwagon are facing an unfathomable entity.
Maybe it’s just me, but I had a nice time taking note of what Dio could do and trying to see what could actually hurt him. All we really know is that sunlight is an instakill. There isn’t any time to scamper into the shadows while the vampire’s skin melts away or something; just a bit of sunlight, and bam! Dead. Also, it looks like a lack of blood probably won’t kill Dio, but it will hamper his healing if episode 2 is anything to go by (the dude Dio experimented on grows noticeably younger and stronger while draining Dio’s blood). He can survive pretty much anything thrown at him as long as he can heal — even the heat and light of flame are nothing. Who knows if we’ll see Dio turn into a bat or a gaseous cloud or command an army of vampires or something down the road.
Also, as a last note, I bet someone more learned than me could write a decent post about why it’s Dio who becomes the vampire — he’s the outsider to the Joestar clan, the one born in “low” circumstances who looks to infect the purity of a “true” noble family. As silly and goofy as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Dio is characterized as he is and given the type of background that he has, only to become a vampire (a creature that has a mountain of symbolism behind it).