JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s second season is the best place to start with the legendary anime

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s second season is the best place to start with the legendary anime

With over 153 episodes spanning across four seasons, the most intimidating part of approaching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure for the first time is knowing where to start. To the layperson, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure may come across as impenetrably, well, bizarre. Based on Hirohiko Araki’s supernatural fantasy adventure series of the same name, David Production’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime adaptation has run for several seasons since it first premiered back in 2012, each with their own unique premise and cast of characters. With the first 12 episodes of the fifth season — JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean — set to premiere on Netflix tomorrow, viewers new to the series understandably might feel a bit lost when it comes to wading into the wacky, hyper-violent, and occasionally spooky misadventures of the Joestar family.

Luckily you don’t need to worry with JoJo: Each season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure tells a relatively self-contained story, with only a handful of characters reappearing through one-off cameos or as supporting characters to each season’s main cast of heroes. That means you could conceivably jump into the series during any season — even technically Stone Ocean — at the risk of only missing only a handful of details here and there. But if the question is which season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure should you watch to either prepare for Stone Ocean or see if you like the show at all, you can’t go wrong with Stardust Crusaders, the adaptation’s second season.

Based on the third story arc of Araki’s original manga, Stardust Crusaders is commonly regarded as the most popular arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure for the fact it being the only arc to be adapted into an anime with the 13-episode OVA (original video animation) series directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo and Hideki Futamura prior to David Production’s own adaptation of the arc in 2014. It’s also the first arc to introduce the concept of “Stands”; think of it as a “guardian spirit” that functions as an extension of the life-force of a particular person (called a “Stand User”) that amplifies their fighting abilities in a way that is unique to them and them alone.

Image: David Production

Some people, like the members of the extended Joestar family, are born with the innate ability to summon a Stand of their own, while others must resort to more potentially life-threatening means in order to manifest a guardian spirit in the form of a Stand. Stands have been a major recurring concept across all subsequent arcs of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, including the new Stone Ocean. In each arc, a different member of the Joestar family is forced to confront a nefarious supernatural adversary, oftentimes either in the form of (or tangentially related to) the family’s vampiric nemesis DIO.

Stardust Crusaders follows the story of Jotaro Kujo, a high school delinquent who inadvertently manifests a powerful Stand known as Star Platinum. Under the wing of his grandfather Joseph Joestar, Jotaro learns that the awakening of both his and Joseph’s own Stand is in response to DIO, who swore a lifelong vendetta against the family since becoming the adversary of Jonathan Joestar, Jotaro’s great grandfather and the protagonist of the first season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Phantom Blood (hang in there — I know this is a lot, but it’s important). Having stolen the corpse of Jonathan’s body and attaching his own head to it, DIO manifested a Stand known as “The World” that had the power to halt the passage of time around him. Using this ability, DIO began to amass followers as he plots to take over the world. While Joseph and Jotaro are able to keep their Stand abilities in check, Jotaro’s mother’s life is threatened as her Stand power begins to invasively leech off her own life energy. With no other options, Jotaro and his grandfather must embark on a journey to Egypt in order to draw DIO out of hiding and kill him once and for all in order to save Jotaro’s mother.

Image: David Production / Kamikaze Douga

Though the first 26-episode season of the David Production anime, which covers the “Phantom Blood’’ and “Battle Tendency” arcs of the original manga, is awesome and has tons of memorable and exciting characters and fights, the core qualities of the series that most fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure know it for arguably don’t begin to fall into place until Stardust Crusaders. Aside from the introduction to the Stands, Jotaro Kujo is one of the series’ most iconic protagonists and a recurring supporting character in both Diamond is Unbreakable, the third season of the anime which follows Jotaro’s illegitimate half-uncle Josuke Higashikata, and the forthcoming season of Stone Ocean.

The supporting cast is filled with eccentric and likeable characters from Henry Jones Sr.-esque Joseph Joestar, including the fire-wielding fortune teller Mohammed Avdol, the fencing martial artist Jean Pierre Polnareff, a Stand-wielding Boston Terrier named Iggy, and Jotaro’s former enemy-turned-friend Noriaki Kakyoin. Plus, the season boasts some of the most formidable and strange enemies in all of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, from an acid-spewing stag beetle with a projectile Xenomorph-like tongue named Tower of Gray or a sentient ape Stand User with the power to bind themselves to any object while enhancing their own strength — including a cruise ship.

I’d really recommend that you watch every season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (it really is that good of show) while also noting that you can drop in anywhere and the show is more-or-less understandable to anyone going in, Stardust Crusaders is perfect not only for anyone who wants to catch up on the best-known chapter of the Joestar’s generational feud with DIO but also for those who want more information on the backstory of Jolyne’s father, Jotaro Kujo. Each season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is as wildly idiosyncratic in terms of its characters and premise as it is largely consistent in terms of its sheer hilarious and often horrifying absurdity. If you’re looking for just the right season to decide whether or not to dive headfirst into the world of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Stardust Crusaders is highly recommended.