I see Dio Brando has already taken to his new position of evil cult leader.
This is basically the training episode, and it is about as well done as a training episode can be. You’ve got the introduction of a mentor (Will A. Zeppeli, who has a fucking AWESOME name, as seems to be the norm with this series), the introduction of a new power system (Ripple, which seems like a basic martial arts thing except it uses shoujo sparkles to heal people and can turn wine into razor-sharp discs of death), and a midboss character for the hero to conquer as a bar to master his new powers (vampire Jack the Ripper). This episode has that clear, basic form of the training arc, but it’s infused with the typical JoJo craziness, and it is therefore awesome.
It’s tough to get the pacing of a training arc down right — go on too long and the audience is liable to get bored while the hero is making preparations for battle. However, go too quickly, and you run the risk of it being a bit unbelievable and convenient that the hero learns all this awesome stuff in such a short amount of time. There’s no ironclad rule, though; it all depends on what the audience is able to accept from the show and its characters. With how the series presents JoJo and how it paces the learning process and how JoJo is able to practically apply what he has learned in an actual battle, though, it was easy for me to swallow how quickly JoJo is able to master the basics of Ripple. The story makes it clear that JoJo has an innate strength within him; it doesn’t feel forced at all. And the lessons Zeppeli imparts upon JoJo are a quick way to get across what the Ripple system is meant to evoke. Perhaps it goes by a bit too swiftly, but that’s really the one complaint I can make about this episode — and it certainly isn’t game breaking or anything.
ALSO, GUYS, VAMPIRE JACK THE RIPPER. Now that I think of it, the only other bad part of this episode is that Vampire Jack the Ripper is vanquished so quickly. I suppose he has to be to show JoJo’s mastery of the Ripple, but still, IT’S VAMPIRE JACK THE RIPPER. That concept alone is good enough to carry an entire episode on its own. At least we get the moment where he plants a horse’s head onto a coach driver and then bursts out the body of the other horse. A+ 10/10 would watch again. If you have a story where you can take one of the most notorious mass murderers in history and turn him into a vampire, you know you have a good story.
Yet again, though, the one bad part of the episode is all the censorship. Having all those black blobs and shadows show up during all those crazy violent moments is seriously distracting. I recently finished both the 1993 and 2000 JoJo’s OVAs, and um, the story definitely does NOT get less violent. Especially during the 1993 OVA, there would have been a giant black square on the screen at numerous points. It’s something we’ll have to deal with a lot from now on, since I doubt it’s going away, but that doesn’t make it any more tolerable.