Welcome, dear reader, to Toonami History, a brand-new series of articles that will focus on the history behind many of the great anime that air every weekend on Toonami. My name is Michael Watson (@nubguy), and I will be your intrepid host for the duration of our voyage. I love history and have a passion for writing and research, so get ready to dive deep into the past and explore history and cultures from around the world that have been used for creative purposes in modern-day anime. The series of articles will focus on the anime shows that have aired on Toonami, such as Ghost in the Shell, Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia. Each article will talk about the people, places and events in anime that, together, make up a representation of the diverse cultures and histories of our world.
For those not familiar with me or my work, you may have seen me as nubguy on the Funimation forums, where I host a snack buying guide for the anime Dagashi Kashi. The guide breaks down all sorts of awesome Japanese snacks and where to buy them, so be sure to check it out if you have a sweet tooth! I am also the co-founder of Wikid Publishing, a manga and comic publishing/distribution company based out of California. We currently publish a variety of popular indie comics creators and are releasing new series all the time. You can check out our Twitter @wikidpublishing or our website at https://wikidpublishing.wixsite.com/comics for more information, or head over to the Wikid Publishing Digital Storefront where you can buy print comics, posters, merchandise and more. You can also follow my personal Twitter account @nubguy where I post all about anime, manga, movies comics and TV shows.
I am very happy and excited to be one of the newest members to the Toonami Squad, joining the team as a writer, bringing you some Toonami History articles on all your favorite Toonami anime, so check back again later for more Toonami History! We are starting our journey through history with the incredible JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders, a globetrotting anime that utilizes history and culture to great effect! As a note of warning, there are major spoilers in this article for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders, as well as minor spoilers for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Battle Tendency. The first article is one that is very special to me, not only because of the amazing anime it covers, but because it was this anime that originally inspired me to write a series of history articles centered around Toonami anime. The spark of creativity that gave me the idea just might surprise you!
When I first came up with the concept for the Toonami History articles, I was watching an episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. During the episode, Polnareff is shocked to find a pig’s head sticking out of the toilet he was just using. As the patron explains the reasoning behind the pig, I was both struck with the hilarious nature of Polnareff’s reaction, but also the strange nature of the whole scene. It made me wonder, is this “shit” real, so to speak? I had to know! I quickly did some research and was shocked to find that pig toilets were, in fact, real. Something I had instantly taken as being insane and merely a joke was a real-life historical and cultural fact, and it was right there in the episode! I continued my research, learning all about where these pig toilets were used and the history behind their creation.
As crazy as this silly gag was, it got me thinking that this anime is full of history and culture, just waiting to be cracked open and shared. Part of the allure of the anime is its globe-trotting nature, however, some might not realize how much love and care was placed into making each locale authentic, respecting the culture of the country’s depicted on screen. Despite the fantastical nature of the show and action, it is set in the real world with locations and characters that evoke the feelings of what it’s like to visit these amazing exotic countries. From Japan to India to Egypt, and everywhere in between, our intrepid heroes braved new lands and unfamiliar cultures to save the life of an innocent woman, as well as the entire world at large.
The legacy of the Joestar family is long and storied and began long before Jotaro ever stepped foot in Egypt. In the late 1800’s, a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Joestar, Jotaro’s great-great-grandfather, became entangled in an epic struggle with the fate of humanity on the line. The struggle between Jonathan and Dio Brando, the undead vampire, fell into legend, and began a cursed legacy. This struggle, started by ancient evil masks, would plague Jonathan’s descendants for years to come. In the end, Jonathan and Dio plunged into the ocean, presumably dying in the rough currents. However, the hard-fought peace Jonathan and his friends struggled to obtain was not to last.
In the next arc of the show, we were introduced to Jonathan’s grandson, Joseph Joestar, whose clever wit helped him fight one of the deadliest threats humanity ever faced. The Pillar Men, a trio of god-like beings, who created the masks that gave DIO his unholy abilities, threatened to bring the entire world to its knees. Joseph and his friends managed to stop the Pillar Men but they paid a high cost to achieve it. It seemed like the horror of the masks would end there with the Pillar Men’s defeat.
After DIO’s apparent death at the hands of Joseph in 1889, he was thought lost to the dark waters of the sea, a darkness never to return. However, this was not to be, and DIO’s coffin would one day wash ashore near the African coast, not far from the Canary Islands, where Joseph put DIO down all those years ago. At the bottom of the dank ocean, DIO’s undead corpse waited for nearly one-hundred years, his evil machinations waiting to be unleashed onto the Joestars. Stardust Crusaders picks up in 1987 and follows the globe-trotting adventures of Joseph’s delinquent grandson, Jotaro Kujo.
The anime begins in Japan, as we zoom past the famous Tokyo Tower, seen in many different anime, and get our first shot of the city of Tokyo. Google describes Japan as “an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples. Shinkansen bullet trains connect the main islands of Kyushu (with Okinawa’s subtropical beaches), Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and Hokkaido (famous for skiing). Tokyo, the capital, is known for skyscrapers, shopping and pop culture.”
When the anime starts in 1987, Japan is a rising global superpower who is ready for more. The NY Times stated that, “during the post-World-War-II era, the Japanese economy often lived up to its Homeric epithet: the Miracle Economy. It rose from the ruins of the war to become the world’s second-largest economy. By the mid-1980s, America and Japan accounted for a staggering 40 percent of the global economy. Picture Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone belting out ‘We Are the World’ in some fancy karaoke bar in the Ginza.”
“Then, in 1986, Japan shifted into overdrive. It was a time of super-easy credit, frenzied financial speculation, and blistering industrial expansion. During the second half of the 1980s, the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s compass seemed permanently stuck on north. Between 1986 and 1991, Japan had expanded by roughly the equivalent of France’s gross domestic product, then $956 billion. Japan was also outshining the United States, whose consumers bought most of its products and whose military provided its protection. In fact, its rise seemed to coincide with America’s slide.”
As we zoom in further and further, we find a young seventeen-year-old Jotaro who has just been thrown in jail for assaulting four men. However, Jotaro claims that he is possessed by some sort of spirit and shoots himself in the head to prove that fact. As the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun, it is caught by a mysterious purple hand that appears to materialize out of nowhere. This strange form would be our first encounter with entities known as stands. The main story gets underway and Jotaro Joestar, his grandfather Joseph, as well as their companions, Avdol and Kakyoin leave for Egypt to stop DIO’s plan to kill Jotaro’s mom, Holy. After an initial stand battle, they leave for the airport.
As the crew leave Japan for Egypt via plane, the adventure truly gets underway. As Jotaro and company begin to make their way to Egypt, the evil DIO (the artist formerly known as Dio) is informed by Enya the Hag that his greatest enemies are heading his way to kill him and end his murderous legacy. In an attempt to stop Jotaro’s crew in their tracks, DIO sends his best assassins to dispatch Jotaro and his friends, each assassin a deadlier stand user than the last. Each stand is based on something, but most of the stands on display in Stardust Crusaders are based on cards in the tarot deck. Most everyone has heard of tarot cards, and Stardust Crusaders makes excellent use of these cards by associating many of the stands with a tarot card. Even Jotaro’s stand, Star Platinum, is based on the tarot card known as The Star.
According to thetarotcard.com, the Star tarot card represents “hope, inspiration, creativity, calm, contentment, renewal, serenity, spirituality, healing, [and] positivity.” In a way, this describes Jotaro himself, the calm, coolheaded brawler whose creativity in the face of incredible odds gives him an advantage that few can match or predict. The website further states:
“You will be feeling very serene and in tune with the universe as The Star is a card of spiritual connection. The Star is a very positive omen. It is the period of calm and stability that follows the storm that was The Tower. The Star indicates that you have come through your tough times with a renewed sense of yourself and the world around you, you are full of calm, well-balanced energy and you are open to healing the wounds of the past. Whatever mental, emotional, physical or spiritual issues you were experiencing are now behind you and you are ready to embrace what your future holds. Trust that the universe has a plan for you and trust the feeling you have that everything is going to be OK. You will be feeling confident in yourself and people will like you for who you are with this card in your Tarot reading.”
After fighting with a stand user named Gray Fly, whose stand is Tower of Gray, their airplane pilots end up dead, and Joseph (whose track record for landing planes is spotty at best) has to emergency land along Hong Kong’s coast. It is interesting to note that the Tower of Gray is based on the tarot card The Tower, which was above described as being the storm that the Star card was meant to calm, bringing about a new stability.
The JoJo Wikia states that “a Stand is an entity psychically generated by its proprietor, generally referred to as a Stand User. It is viewed as a physical manifestation of the User’s fighting spirit. A Stand generally presents itself as a figure hovering near the user and possesses abilities beyond that of an ordinary human, which, depending on the Stand User, can be wielded for good or evil.” How Stuff Works states that, “According to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, ‘The most powerful sources of information come from within; the Tarot [card deck] aids in coming in contact with one’s Higher Self.’” In this respect, the stand is a literal manifestation of that “Higher Self” and its connection to the user. It is for this reason that many of the stands are named after tarot cards.
There is a total of 78 tarot cards, which are further categorized into 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana represent large karmic and spiritual forces, while the Minor Arcana embody the small challenges and triumphs we face every day. The themes and meanings behind the cards directly influenced the creation of the many stands seen in Stardust Crusaders. For example, looking at the previously mentioned stand, Tower of Gray, based on the tarot card The Tower, we can see that the tarot card had a big impact on the character and his role in the story.
Biddytarot.com describes the meaning of The Tower card when in an upright position as “Disaster, upheaval, sudden change, [and] revelation,” while when in reversed position, it means, “Avoidance of disaster [and] fear of change.” Certainly, Jotaro’s plane ride to Egypt is thrown into disaster, upheaval and sudden change as the pilots are murdered and they are forced to fight for their life high in the sky. Forced to make a landing that nearly takes them out for good, the group is given the revelation that DIO has sent his top assassins to murder them before they can get anywhere near Egypt. This encounter is but one example that we will see where the tarot cards and their meanings play a big role in the anime.
Having been thwarted by DIO’s minions, Jotaro’s group is forced to take an alternate route to Egypt through Asia. After safely landing the jumbo jet on the ocean, and being saved by rescue teams, the crew arrives in Hong Kong proper, and we finally get a good view of the city in all its glory. The narrator describes the city thusly: “Hong Kong Island! Kowloon! The New Territories! With more than 235 islands in the area, the view of the area at night is known as the ‘Million Dollar View.’”
Google lists Hong Kong as an “autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China. Its vibrant, densely populated urban centre is a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline.” In fact, the city contains the most skyscrapers of any city in the world. Hong Kong is an extremely wealthy city, with research indicating that one out of every seven Hong Kong citizens is a millionaire. Hong Kong is what is known as a special administrative region, which is the reason that Hong Kong’s economic and political systems are completely different from those of the rest of China.
South China Morning Post states that the “best time” in Honk Kong had to have been the “1980s. [As] Hong Kong grew incessantly… everyone made money despite the 1987 crash. The city moved seamlessly from being a manufacturing hub to a financial centre as the former moved to China. The population averaged 25, with the energy of youth, eager to study and learn. There was never a shortage of work and employees would walk out of one job into another with a decent rise.” It was during this time that Hong Kong was synonymous with wealth and luxury.
In an article from BBC, one woman who grew up in Hong Kong in the 80’s said that in that time, everyone focused on their own work and lives, and people were contented. She further stated that it was a peaceful time in their society, where people were polite and courteous, and “everything was so much more secure.” The woman stated that there was simply no need for anything to be politicized. In contrast, she stated that the current state of Hong Kong society is much stricter, and that “people are now a lot more on edge, quick to voice their protests and fight for their rights.” Whether this is truly a good or bad thing is up to the reader’s interpretation.
Despite the new setting, it doesn’t take very long for Jotaro, Avdol and Kakyoin to stumble upon a local street vendor selling food. The Hong Kong Traveler raves about these types of Hong Kong street vendors, saying, “Hong Kong street food and the hopping Dai Pai Dongs are legendary. Dai Pai Dongs are the bustling street food stalls that are found throughout all of Hong Kong’s neighborhoods. The sizzling dishes, the clatter, the aromas, the crowds… Dai Pai Dongs and the street food hawkers are one of Hong Kong’s best food experiences. There is the seafood, roasted meats, dim sum, stir fries, noodles, snacks, all types of food ‘on a stick,’ sweets and desserts…”
These types of food stalls are underground affairs, the kind of place with no name and no set location. Go to a Dai Pai Dong one night and it just might not be there the next night. Often, multiple Dai Pai Dong kitchens will utilize the same space, and the line between where one ends and the other begins becomes indistinguishable. For some examples of the street food you might expect to see while wandering the alleys and byways of Hong Kong’s bustling cityscape, Check out this Times article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/travel/article/hong-kongs-best-street-food-find/
The vendor in the episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure offers them dim sum and rice porridge. Kakyoin points out to Jotaro that, “unlike in Japan, rice porridge is a staple food in Hong Kong.” However, I am not sure “hot cola” is a staple anywhere. Kakyoin decides to order his rice porridge in “the popular way, with pork and a century egg.” For those of you who don’t know, a century egg is a chicken, duck or quail egg that has been preserved in a saline solution anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The Huffington Post states that this saline solution is generally made from “clay and salt, but can also include ash, quicklime and rice hulls.”
This process transforms the egg that we are used to seeing into an entirely new creation. The yolk of the egg becomes “creamy, [with a] cheese-like texture.” The egg whites are also transformed, becoming a “dark-colored jelly.” I don’t know about any of you, dear readers, but there is no way I would touch an egg that looked like this, whether it is supposed to or not. Century Eggs can be eaten as dish by itself, however, it can also be paired with pickled ginger root or rice porridge, such as that which Kakyoin ordered from the street food vendor.
If you think that they look disgusting, the smell is sometimes described as being even worse. The Thai name for Century Eggs is khai yiao ma, which translated into English means “horse urine eggs.” The name comes from a long rooted “misconception that the eggs are made by soaking in horse urine — a belief that is held due to their pungent odor.” Why anyone would choose to eat this is beyond me, but, hey, whatever floats your boat, right?! The origins of Century Eggs date back to the Ming Dynasty in China, where it is said that a “a resident of the Hunan province supposedly discovered duck eggs left in a pool of slaked lime and decided to try them.”
Later, the gang heads to a more formal sit-down restaurant where they are confronted by the strange Frenchman, Polnareff, later to be revealed to be controlled by one of DIO’s flesh buds. As we would come to learn, Polnareff became one of Jotaro’s closest friends and staunchest allies. The menu lists exotic dishes, including one with shark fins. Speaking the local language, Joseph expertly orders them a ton of food while everyone watches in confusion. The food is brought out to them and they are more than a little bit surprised at what they see. Kakyoin comments that the food is “rather different.” The cooking styles of these Chinese dishes must be prepared in ways that are unfamiliar to their Japanese diets.
However, after trying all the different foods on the table, they mutually agree that it is actually quite delicious. This leads us to a really valuable lesson when travelling to other countries, which is to leave your expectations at the door and be ready to try something new, often putting yourself out of your comfort zone in the process. It truly is the best way to take in another culture that is foreign to your own. Trying new food like Jotaro and his friends did lead to them finding new and interesting dishes to enjoy. This applies not only to food but to trying new experiences as well.
As seen in the image above, the food in Stardust Crusaders is detailed and intricate, the artists paying close attention to the foods’ realism. The anime series’ director, Kenichi Suzuki, focused on creating an accurate and authentic portrayal of Hong Kong, trying to make the locales and people of Hong Kong as “true to life” as possible. The studio spent an enormous amount of extra time working on the realistic food, however, for Kenichi, this type of attention is absolutely necessary to make the food look both authentic and delicious. These historically accurate depictions of 1980’s Hong Kong and the food eaten by its people are the beginning of the series extensive use of history and culture when visiting new cities and countries.
Food isn’t the only historical and cultural aspect of Stardust Crusader’s Hong Kong adventure. In fact, there is a famous historical site used as a battle grounds for the fight between Polnareff (controlled by DIO’s flesh bud) and Avdol. Polnareff reveals himself as one of DIO’s assassins, bringing out his stand, Silver Chariot, to fight Jotaro and the rest. The Silver Chariot stand is the embodiment of The Chariot tarot card, which represents, “Control, will power, victory, assertion, [and] determination” when in the upright position. Before squaring off against Avdol’s stand, Polnareff leads them to a location known as the Tiger Balm Garden. However, what you may not have known is that the Tiger Balm Garden is a real location in Hong Kong that has an interesting history all its own.
Built in 1935, the Tiger Balm Garden was created by a Burmese Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist by the name of Aw Boon Haw, and his brother, Aw Boon Par. The brothers made their money selling an incredible curative balm called Tiger Balm. It is for this reason that the name of the gardens is the Tiger Balm Garden. However, the garden’s more formal name is Aw Boon Haw Gardens, named, of course, after its creators, the Aw family. The entire garden was built for around $16,000,000 Hong Kong Dollars, which is roughly $2,000,000 US dollars in today’s market. However, this is not the only Tiger Balm Garden that existed in China. In fact, there were three different Tiger Balm Gardens in total. The garden in Hong Kong was the original, however two more locations opened to help spread the word on the family’s Tiger Balm products.
It is funny to note that the Gardens were closed and reopened as an amusement park in 1985, three years before the start of Stardust Crusaders. So, they just missed the cutoff point! The Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong would later be renovated once again, this time becoming low income housing for the community. Despite the gaudy decorations of the gardens, they depict scenes of Chinese legends and history. The website zolimacitymag.com calls the gardens “Hong Kong’s lost Chinese fantasyland.” As previously mentioned, the garden was made primarily to promote the Tiger Balm they sold, which was an ointment made from “camphor and menthol… meant to ease pain and inflammation.”
The theme parks that eventually opened at the gardens were also run by the Aw family, and they infused the parks with a sense of “cultural identity. The vision for the parks was to promote Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian morality – all the while promoting the Tiger Balm product.” In this way, their brothers felt that they could help people connect with their traditional heritage in ways for which they believed modern society was losing an appreciation. One visitor commented on the strange decorations he saw during his visit. “The freakish and stern faces of many of the characters made the experience more like a trip with Alice in Wonderland, where not everyone Alice met was friendly,” writes Nicolson. “Some scenes of sculpted animals were fun and carefree while others were menacing. Benign images of Buddha sat beside vile scenes of purgatory.”
It is no wonder why this location was chosen for this scene in Stardust Crusaders. What better place to have a crazy stand battle than in an insane amusement park that is both welcoming and menacing at the same time. A strange place filled with bizarre imagery fits the motifs of the show quite nicely. As the brainwashed Polnareff leads Jotaro and his team into the gardens for a fight, Joseph looks around at his surroundings, and only manages to say, “What is this place?” Kakyoin comments that the Tiger Balm Garden “exists along the hillside of Hong Kong’s Tai Hang Road. Its unique taste and appearance make it number one among Hong Kong’s bizarre zones.”
The director for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Naokatsu Tsuda, said that “We initially wanted to create a 3D model of the Tiger Balm park in Hong Kong; it soon proved to be too complicated, with an unacceptable value for money. Thus, we’ve backtracked toward the standard 2D backgrounds.” Where did all the money go on the budget, you ask? Naokatsu further stated that, “Since the first episode, the omnipresence of fights tends to wildly increase the number of animation frames. This episode holds the record of around 15,000 drawings. Just like in the first one, this is because of Magician’s Red flames. It reminded us that fire also burns through animation frames (laughs).”
Speaking of Avdol’s stand, Magicians’s Red, let’s take a quick look at his stand and its corresponding tarot card. We see that Magician’s Red is based on The Magician tarot card. Biddytarot.com tells us that the meaning behind this card is “Power, skill, concentration, action, [and] resourcefulness.” Basically, Avdol in a nutshell. Again, we see that the stands, their associated tarot cards, and the users themselves are strongly interconnected when it comes to meaning and personality. Which makes perfect sense, given what we learned earlier, in that, the tarot cards represent our inner connection to our higher, or truer self. In other words, the deepest connection to our souls, of who we truly are inside.
The Hong Kong section ends with the group discussing their next move at the Port of Hong Kong, a sprawling hub located in the Kowloon Peninsula near the South China Sea. Construction on the massive network of container line services began in 1970, nearly 20 years before the start of Stardust Crusaders. “The Port of Hong Kong is one of the busiest container ports in the world. In 2009, around 205,510 ships including ocean-going vessels and river trade vessels arrived at the port. The port handles 89% of Hong Kong’s total cargo throughout.” Ultimately, Jotaro’s company decides to leave from Singapore by boat and head to Singapore, inching ever closer to their destination.
We have now left Hong Kong for the shores of Singapore, a three-day-voyage the only thing standing in the way of a safe arrival. After an eventful journey during which they face the ship captain’s stand, Dark Blue Moon, an aquatic type stand that is based on the tarot card The Moon. The Moon represents “Illusion, fear, anxiety, insecurity, [and the] subconscious.” The card can also denote one having a bad experience involving water. How fitting then that this mer-creature be the type of stand we see on display. The stand Dark Blue Moon is not only based on the tarot card, but it is also based on the 1934 song “Blue Moon,” a classic song by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.
A funny little nod to pop culture can also be seen in the name of the rogue captain. In Japanese, the characters name is Captain Tennille, a reference to the 70’s musical duo Captain and Tennille. Even in the English dub, the reference holds true, despite a name change from Captain Tennille to Captain Dragon, as the real name of the musician Captain Tennile is Daryl Dragon. This name pun is yet another example of the creator’s love for music and pop culture.
The mangaka, or manga creator, of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki, was very keen on putting in references to history and pop-culture. The strange poses the characters take on in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure were heavily inspired by exactly that. Araki used the poses of theses Greek statues while drawing and creating JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, taking inspiration from their unique forms. Many of the famous statutes are very muscular and are standing in odd stances that look quite strange to the untrained eye. A good example is the Renaissance statue David, whose pose can be seen on some of the characters in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. “JoJo’s pose,” also known as JoJo Dachi, has become quite famous around the world, being imitated in many different mediums.
Another source of inspiration for the poses in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, as well as for the clothing, was European fashion models. Araki, the mangaka, used a variety of fashion illustrations as references when creating JoJo’s characters, including artists Antonio Lopez and Tony Viramontes whose work has appeared in popular publications, including Vogue. According to medium.com, Much like the poses, the clothes that certain characters wear are references to fashion shows, kink catalogues, and haute couture. There’s so much overlap, Araki actually collaborated with fashion house Gucci!”
In fact, DIO’s iconic pose in which we see his back turned to us and his hand is poised to strike menacingly. Shown below, Araki borrowed this design directly from fashion model whose image appeared in a magazine. “DIO’s most well-known pose was inspired by a model in Jean Patou’s Couture Collection.” This shows a great example of how Araki would draw directly from popular European fashion models.
It wasn’t just the original mangaka, however, that imbued the series with pop-culture references. The creators of the show may have had some fun with the color choices used in certain scenes of the show. For example, one theory says that the scene shown below is an example of how the color scheme was inspired by the Marilyn Monroe series of paintings created by the famous artist Andy Warhol. Looking at these two images side-by-side, we can see that it definitely looks like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was paying homage to Andy Warhol’s work.
Masterworksfinearts.com states that “Andy Warhol created three Marilyn Monroe screen print portfolios in 1967, a few years after the actress passed away in 1962. The portfolio of 10 screen prints was one of the first prints Warhol printed and distributed through Factory Additions, New York. The name of this company references to Warhol’s studio known as ‘The Factory.’” No matter the form it takes, art, music and pop-culture have a huge impact on the designs of both characters and settings.
A good example is the Renaissance statue David, whose pose can be seen on some of the characters in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. “JoJo’s pose,” also known as JoJo Dachi, has become quite famous around the world, being imitated in many different mediums. Greek statues were based on the idea of contrapposto, an Italian word which means counterpoise. In counterpoise, a figure is shown with its weight mostly on one foot, with the arms and shoulders twisting off-axis from the legs and hips. This type of pose at once conveys both a calm, relaxed demeanor as well as an intense, serious tension. Greek sculptors were interested in how body language could convey human emotion and pathology.
Getting back to the series proper, we see the group escaping from the deadly ship and its deranged captain. After bombs blow up the ship, Jotaro and the rest escape via life boats and eventually they find an abandoned ship that they board. This new ship isn’t any better, as they soon learn that they are in way over their heads, going up against an Orangutan stand-user, and its enormous stand, the entire ship itself! Battling for their lives once again, Jotaro, Joseph, Avdol and Kakyoin take down the stand and find their way to Singapore. Finally, we reach the mainland and get our first glimpse of Stardust Crusaders’ rendition of Singapore, as we continue our way towards Egypt.
Just as Hong Kong was described by locals as having a prosperous time during the 1980’s, RememberingSingapore.org likewise similarly categorizes Singapore during the 80’s as a “golden era.” Furthermore, “It was a period of stable economic growth and peaceful society with racial and religious harmony. Inflation was low, as seen in the relatively cheap HDB flats, public transport or vehicle ownership. The manufacturing sector was on the rise, attracting foreign investment and providing plenty of job opportunities for the Singaporeans. With their incomes on a steady rise, the middle-class was contended in starting small families. Social tensions between locals and foreigners were almost unheard of.”
Jotaro and company check into a fancy hotel in Singapore and decide to take the night off and figure out what to do next. While staying at the hotel, they get into another stand battle, this time with a man by the name of Devo the Cursed, whose stand, Ebony Devil, is based on the tarot card, The Devil. The card, in upright position, represents “Bondage, addiction, sexuality, [and] materialism.” Bondage is literally on display in this stand, as we see the stand bound to Devo himself. Apparently, Ebony Devil’s sadistic behavior was based on the doll Chucky from the classic horror films of the same name. Ebony Devil’s physical appearance, however, was based on a famous type of Sardinian doll, known as a “bronzetti.” This particularly well-known piece is called The Warrior and can be seen in the image below.
A theme of these cultural sections of Stardust Crusaders is the food and drink that the local people serve and enjoy, and this situation is no different. The Joestar squad find themselves in front of an ice cream stall, ordering themselves some chilled coconut juice, served in actual halved coconuts. Although coconut juice and water are huge in the United States, they’ve also been popular drinks in Asia for a very long time. The website lankacoconutgrowers.com concedes that coconuts have traditionally been consumed in Asia and South America, and these countries continue to produce 90% of the world’s coconut production. Coconut juice is a refreshing, healthy drink that natives of Southeast Asia find especially cooling during the hot and humid summers.
Leaving the ice cream stand, Jotaro is nearly murdered by an imposter Kakyoin, who reveals himself to be Rubber Soul, a stand user whose stand is Yellow Temperance. The tarot card behind this stand, naturally, is Temperance. This card’s meaning is “Balance, moderation, patience, purpose, [and] meaning.” However, in this instance, the stand Yellow Temperance has more in common, personality wise, with the reversed Temperance card, which denotes “Imbalance, excess, [and] lack of long-term vision.”
Rubber Soul, who had disguised himself as Kakyoin, launches his attack against Jotaro in the cable cars that travel through the air. As we see the fight progress, we get to see another historical location that exists in real life.
The One Faber Group reports that “the Singapore Cable Car is one of the most sophisticated cable car systems in Asia. Established in 1974, it is the only cableway both into and in Sentosa. Today, the Cable Car Sky Network consists of more than 100 cabins arching over almost 5 kilometers on the Mount Faber Cable Car line and Sentosa Line.” There are amazing views to see as the cable car travels through the sky. “Fly high above the hill from Faber Peak Singapore, through a skyscraper and cross the harbour on the Mount Faber Line before landing in Sentosa Island. Along the way, look out for the dolphins down below at Resorts World Sentosa’s Adventure Cove! Then journey over the jungle, sand and sea on the Sentosa Line which will take you to dozens of attractions on Sentosa, also known as the State of Fun.”
Despite the historical accuracies of these aspects of the anime, it wouldn’t be JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure without a strange twist or turn. The anime’s director, Naokatsu Tsuda, revealed, “For the sky of Singapore, we tried to slide in several characteristic scenes where it was colored in pink around the end of the fight. It apparently pleased Daisuke Ono who was playing Jotaro, since he came back to the subject several days later, ‘By the way, the pink sky was really a good idea.’ I am delighted that he’s spotted our colorization JoJo-style.”
The group leaves Singapore aboard a train heading for India, the enormous South Asian country of more than one-billion people. India in the 1980’s was experiencing good economic growth, with Yahoo News reporting that the “growth increased to 5.8 per cent and was exceeded by only eight out of 113 countries. Only after the growth accelerated in the 1980s, was there a significant downward trend in poverty… A point to note here, however, was that although GDP growth did pick up by almost 6 per cent in the 1980s, it was driven mainly by a massive expansion in the country’s fiscal deficit.”
“The growing structural imbalances in the economy – the current account deficit climbed to over 2 per cent of the GDP by the end of the 1980s and inevitably culminated in a severe balance of payments crisis in July 1991. It was this balance of payments crisis that forced India to procure a $1.8 billion IMF loan that led to the adoption of a major reform package and acted as a ‘tipping point’ in India’s economic history.”
As soon as Jotaro, Joseph, Polnareff, Kakyoin and Avdol disembark from their ship onto the soils of Calcutta, India, they are bombarded by young Indian boys asking for tip money, begging the foreign travelers with no shame. In the background, the loud noise of car horns and busy traffic can be heard. Adult men hound the group at every corner, offering to carry their bags or perform any other small task for money. One elderly man offers to give Kakyoin a tattoo, trying to flatter Kakyoin into giving him some money by saying that Kakyoin is “so pretty.”
As the onslaught of people continue to harass our heroes, Polnareff accidentally steps in a big cow pie, yelling out, “I stepped in cow shit! Damn it!” Meanwhile, Kakyoin complains that somebody has already stolen his wallet, even though they’ve been there for less than five minutes. While all this is going down, Joseph continues to refuse the services of the various men looking to perform odd jobs for tourists. And where is Jotaro during all this? Why, of course, he is being pestered by a group of small boys, all harassing him for spare change. Nearby, a taxi stops for a cow, which is considered a sacred animal in India.
Everyone in the group is shocked, surprised by how crazy and overwhelming the whole situation is, suffering heavily from culture shock. Joseph shouts, “A-Avdol! Is this India?” Avdol just turns back at them, and smiles broadly, saying, “See? Isn’t it a great country?” Laughing heartily, Avdol continues, “This is what makes the country so wonderful!” The anime’s director Naokatsu commented on this episode, stating, “Here’s an episode I particularly appreciate. There’s a real change of scenery when we arrive in India. Thus, it’s naturally directed by Kato (laughs). He employed himself to portray this busy and full of life India.”
At an Indian restaurant, Avdol introduces the group to Chai tea, admitting, “This is chai. It’s delicious… A popular drink in India. A sweet drink made by boiling black tea, sugar, and ginger with milk.” Indian chai tea is called Masala chai and contains Indian spices that add extra flavor to the tea. Check out these recipes to make your own Indian chai tea yourself, just visit https://foodess.com/authentic-indian-chai-tea-recipe/ and https://www.aspicyperspective.com/how-to-make-chai-tea/ and finally, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-milk-tea-masala-chai-355421.
Avdol reassures everyone that, “It’s just a matter of getting used to it. Once you get used to it, you’ll see how wonderful this country is.” To everyone else’s utter disbelief, Jotaro says, “I like this place. It’s pretty great.” It is at this point that Polnareff asks to use the restaurant’s restroom, which leads us to the next part of this article, which we all knew was coming sooner or later. Well, it is now that time.
According to Wikipedia, a pig toilet, or a pig style latrine, “is a simple type of dry toilet consisting of an outhouse mounted over a pigsty, with a hole or chute connecting the two. The pigs consume the feces of the users of the toilet, as well as other food.” Talk about a shit eater! Pig toilets were a big part of rural China for a long time, and although they are scarce in modern times, they can still be found in parts of the world, especially in “remote northern provinces.”
In the episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that shows the pig toilet in action, we get a crazy moment played for comedy that sees Polnareff fleeing from the bathroom in terror, clutching his pants as he goes. Who could blame the guy though? That would probably scare the hell out of anyone! The situation that led to the pig’s head sticking out of the toilet is that they built the pigsty too high in elevation, the bottom of the sty not far enough from the floor of the restaurant. This allowed the pig to reach out of the toilet’s opening into the open air, searching for its next “meal.” Poor Polnareff, he just can’t catch a break.
While in India, Jotaro and the rest go up against two different stand users. One, a cowboy by the name of Hol Horse, whose stand, Emperor, is based on the tarot card The Emperor. This card stands for “Authority, father-figure[s], structure, [and a] solid foundation.” The team also takes down J. Geil and his stand, Hanged Man, based on the tarot card, The Hanged Man, which means, “Suspension, restriction, letting go, [and] sacrifice.” The group defeats these stand users before boarding a bus going to Varanasi, a city that lies along the banks of the Ganges river in India.
According to the series director, Naokatsu, the city of Varanasi, also known as Benares, was given extra care and attention. He expressed his feelings on the city’s depiction, concluding, “There’s a certain melancholy exuding from the sacred city of Benares. This is kind of the storyboard and the director of this episode Satoshi Osedo’s personal touch. A real treat.” On a more comedic note, the series director laughed, joking that the Pillar Men would be sad to see how far Joseph Joestar has fallen, as he struggles to catch his breath running around town.
The group leaves India, driving to the country of Pakistan via a country road, dirt and sand in all directions. The series director, Naokatsu, again commented on the cultural setting used for the episode, which takes place almost entirely in the car on the way to Pakistan. Naokatsu stated, “The action takes place at the Indo-Pakistani border, and we had applied an exclusive filter to this Episode 13 in order to underline the particular atmosphere of this mountain step.”
They finally arrive in Karachi, a city described by Google as “…the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh. It is the most populous city in Pakistan, and sixth-most-populous city proper in the world. Ranked as a beta world city, the city is Pakistan’s premier industrial and financial centre.” All around the world, we see accounts of natives looking back at the 80’s as a time of prosperity, a veritable golden age where life was at its best. It is interesting to see such a phenomenon spread in such diverse places across the globe.
It seems that Karachi experienced a similar change in the late 80’s and many of the citizens recall fondly good times in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even the 70’s. However, one thing is clear among the comments on these articles, is that the 80’s is where it all went downhill, particularly for Karachi. One citizen cites the rise of “car lifting, purse snatching and target killing,” asking, “Will Karachi ever be the same again?” Some citizens claim that the rise of Islamic extremism in Karachi, as well as the rest of Pakistan, had something to do with the higher rate in attacks and other illegal activities. One commenter pleads, “We still long for a just, polite, fun Karachi.”
According to DAWN news, Karachi was “once the thriving economic hub and entertainment capital of Pakistan. A city that still remains to be the country’s economic nerve centre, as well as perhaps Pakistan’s most liberal and secular conurbation [(“an extended urban area, typically consisting of several towns merging with the suburbs of one or more cities.”).] But it is also one of the most crime-infested cities in the region. Many see the violent eruption of ethnic riots of 1986 as the starting point from which Karachi never really managed to recover.”
As Jotaro and the others try to get their bearings in this disorienting country, they arrive at a type of location that seems to be a favorite of Stardust Crusader’s author, which is to say they go and have some of the local food and drink. Really, what better way is there to do it? Part of the fun of travelling to foreign countries is indulging in exotic cuisines which you might normally never try. It shows you the types of foods and ingredients that are favored, as well as what is local and good. So, Jotaro’s group find themselves at a staple in Pakistan, a kebab stand. Kebabs have a deep history both in Pakistan and India, tracing “back to myriads of both Asian and African cuisines. The word kebab means ‘to roast.’ The term can also be referred to as a meat patty mixed with spices.”
“Pakistan is one of those Asian countries where people crave for spice rich cuisine. Traditional food in Pakistan naturally possesses a wide range of spicy kebabs. Pakistani cuisine is rich with various kinds of scrumptious varieties. The kebab has a vital place in true traditional Pakistani cuisine.”
One type of kebab, seen above, is called a Chapli Kebab, and it is extremely popular in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often, the meat in this kebab is beef or chicken, “with loads of ingredients like salt, onions, tomatoes, green chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, lemon juice, eggs, cornstarch and coriander leaves.” There are wide variety of kebabs that utilize different meats, ingredients and spices, as well as various cooking styles and sides.
Returning once again to the magical realism that is evoked in the world and backgrounds, we see the same fantastical sky which is colored in a most unrealistic manner. Listening again to the series director, Naokatsu, we learn more about the reasoning behind this particular style choice. “This action is taking place in Karachi, Pakistan. We put a pink sky, but this time this was the base color for every scene. The strength of this episode is to allow itself this pink sky without giving any impression of disharmony. By the way, when Komino was praised for the Episode 9 sky, this episode was already done, so it’s him trying to repeat this particular success (laughs).”
While in Karachi, they get into another stand battle, this time with Steely Dan and his stand, Lovers, based on the tarot card The Lovers. This card symbolizes “Love, union, relationships, values alignment, [and] choices” in the upright position, and symbolizes “Disharmony, imbalance, [and] misalignment of values” in the reversed position. Jotaro is forced to do Steely Dan’s bidding because of his stand’s controlling power. Jotaro must do demeaning and humiliating acts for Steely Dan’s sadistic pleasure.
Helping to stop Steely Dan’s manipulation is Kakyoin, whose stand, Hierophant Green, is based on the tarot card The Hierophant. This interesting card represents “Religion, group identification, conformity, tradition, [and] beliefs.” However, in the reversed position, this card means “Restriction [and] challenging the status quo.” Google defines a hierophant as “a person, especially a priest in ancient Greece, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles.”
The United Arab Emirates
The next stop on our “whirlwind tour” is a country located in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, which is a federation made up of seven different emirates. Wikipedia tells us that an emirate is “a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Arabic or Islamic monarch styled emir. It also means Kingdom.” In the image below, notice that just as that last location made use of an unrealistic pink sky, this one shows a dramatic brown sky, emphasizing the fact that this is a hot desert setting.
Jotaro, Joseph, Kakyoin and Polnareff rent a car in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. “[Its focus on oil exports and commerce is reflected by the skyline’s modern towers and shopping megacenters such as Abu Dhabi and Marina malls.” They begin making their way out of Abu Dhabi, heading to a small village known as Yarpline. In contrast to Abu Dhabi, the sprawling city that is the second most populous in the United Arab Emirates, the tiny Yarpline is but a settlement in comparison to the massive city of Abu Dhabi. In fact, as far as my research can tell, there is no real village called Yarpline. It is most likely a made-up place that is based on the real villages that are present in the United Arab Emirates.
Getting back to Abu Dhabi, Luxos.com reports that “Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and is the largest Emirate taking up 80% of the country’s landmass. Traditionally it’s more conservative than Dubai as it has a more regimented legal system and is deeply rooted in tradition. It’s the richest of all the Emirates and holds nearly 10% of the world’s known oil supply.”
As they drive through Abu Dhabi, Polnareff comments that, “Every house we see is like a mansion.” Joseph agrees with him, adding, “Indeed. All the houses around here would cost 3 or 4 billion yen in Tokyo.” That is about 30 million to 40 million US dollars. Holy crap! That is insane! I guess if you want a mansion, move to the United Arab Emirates. Joseph continues, “Apparently, this is the norm for the people here. Just twenty years ago, this was all desert, but thanks to massive profits from the oil crisis, this place grew into a dream-like city.”
It turns out that to get to this remote mountain village, our company of intrepid adventurers must take camels across the desert where they will then board a Cessna plane that will take them to the distant community of Yarpline. Using the camels as a mode of transportation allowed for the show to have several funny moments utilizing the animals’ strange nature. Polnareff, as usual, complains profusely, crying out, “I’ve never ridden a camel before.” Joseph just laughs heartily, and reassures Polnareff by proclaiming, “Leave it to me. I know them very well. I’ll teach you how to ride. Just sit back and relax.”
One of the camels blows a hot, foul breath onto Polnareff, who freaks out and yells, “I-It stinks!” Tears pouring down his face, Polnareff desperately sprays the camel with some sort of deodorant spray. He also can’t figure out how to get on the camel because the animals can grow between 5.9 ft and 6.6 ft tall. The huge beasts are also not the most cooperative, making it difficult to mount and control a camel. Joseph proceeds to act like he knows exactly what he is doing, by trying to tell everyone that all you have to do to get on is to make the camel sit first. However, Joseph fails to do so, and the two begin struggling with each other.
Finally, Joseph gives the camel an apple and it begrudgingly bends down to get the offered snack. Joseph takes this opportunity to jump on, then claims that you just need to understand the mind of the camel to understand how it all works. Joseph finishes off his bragging with a maniacal laugh. Joseph make an interesting point, however, about camels that many people might not know, which is that “camels don’t walk like horses. The front and back leg on the same side move forward together, so they sway a lot.”
After a few more falls on the camel, Joseph manages to get the hang of it, and the team is ready to make their trek through the desert to Yarpline village. The anime’s director, Naokatsu, stated that the camels presented a unique problem for his art and animation teams. Naokatsu remarked that “the dromedaries were a challenge, nobody among us had drawn these before. So we mutinously watched Lawrence of Arabia, just like Joseph, three times and even more. One difference: we didn’t fall asleep (laughs).”
After travelling to several different locations, including a tiny island in the Red Sea, as well as the Red Sea’s dark ocean floor, Jotaro’s team finally arrives at the coast of Egypt. They move into town and start planning their mode of attack as they inch ever closer to DIO and their ultimate goal. The narrator informs us that, “Egypt [is a] a nation that is 97% desert. But, thanks to the blessings of the Nile, beautiful, fertile green spreads all the way down its river banks. As well as the culture of the ancient Egyptians, Egypt is also home to Persian, Greek, Roman, Muslim, and Arabian cultures. It is a blended nation.”
Google tells us that “Egypt, a country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, dates to the time of the pharaohs. Millennia-old monuments sit along the fertile Nile River Valley, including Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx as well as Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs. The capital, Cairo, is home to Ottoman landmarks like Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities.”
National Geographic revealed that “the first people to live on the banks of the Nile were hunters and fishermen, who settled there over 8,000 years ago. They learned to grow crops and raise animals, and they began to build villages and towns. They traded with their neighbors and learned to sail boats. By 3000 B.C., a civilization was established. Around 3100 B.C., the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were unified under a powerful king, later called a pharaoh. These kings built huge pyramids, temples, and other monuments. They also conquered other lands.” The pharaohs ruled Egypt for more than 3,000 years, their rule reaching far and wide. However, the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt fell into disarray and eventually was taken over by the Romans and later the Ottoman Empire.
Much later, “Egypt and other neighboring Arab countries fought a series of wars with the Jewish state of Israel into the 1970s. In 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement.” However, this peace did not last long, as turmoil and dissidence once again surfaced in the decade that would follow. In the 1980’s, when Stardust Crusaders takes place, Egypt underwent radical changes that changed the political and social atmosphere that had existed as a status quo for a long time.
Countrystudies.us comments on the state of Egypt at the time, stating, “By the middle of the 1980s, as economic expansion gave way to austerity, the challenge of mass control became ever more burdensome. The limits of the regime’s capacity to incorporate dissident factions left the door open to the rise of a counterelite in the form of the Islamic movement, and the regime had to continue to rely on coercion and repression to stave off dissent and rebellion.”
In a book titled The Political Economy of Reform in Egypt, written by Denis J. Sullivan, the author says that Egypt’s economy has continued to decline since the 1980’s, and we can still see the effects of the rise of radical Islamists in the region today. Egypt is currently in a state of “corruption, mismanagement, political unrest and terrorism,” according to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Freedom House. Many issues plague the citizens of Egypt, including economic problems, poverty and food shortages. According to the media site, Al-Monitor, Egypt is locked in a “vicious cycle of [International Monetary Fund] debts.”
“Egypt has been in a state of unease since Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011. Militant Islamic groups, including the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, operate in the Sinai Peninsula, as do anti-establishment and revolutionary groups such as the Popular Resistance Movement and Harakat Sawaid Masr. Aon Risk Solutions reports that the ‘overall terrorism and political violence level for Egypt is very high.’ Also, political discontent within the government is likely to grow, ‘increasing the risk of sporadic, and potentially more sustained, protest activity,’ reports Aon Risk Solutions.”
“Brookings reports that the Islamic State rose within the Sinai Peninsula due to the ‘failure of securitized counterterrorism as a strategy. The political violence that has transformed Sinai into a conflict zone is rooted more in local grievances festering for decades than in ideological motivations. Had such grievances been meaningfully addressed by past Egyptian regimes, as well as their Western allies, the violence debilitating the peninsula arguably could have been prevented.’”
Returning to the crazy world of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, we find our heroes making their way through Egypt. The last arc of the Stardust Crusaders shows the Egyptian arc of Stardust Crusaders. Jotaro and his friends are determined to find and kill DIO once and for all, finally ending the curse of the Josestar family. The journey would prove to be arduous and deadly, with threats around every corner. They find themselves up against new, deadlier stand-users, DIO’s elite assassins, whose stands are based on Egyptian mythology instead of the tarot cards like we have seen up until now. Some of the iconic stands seen in this arc of the show include Anubis, Bastet and Set, among others.
The group boards a boat that travels across the Nile river, ending up in the small “agricultural town” of Kom Ombo, in Aswan. According to Wiki Voyage, the town produces “mostly irrigated sugar cane and corn, and [is] unremarkable but for the unusual double temple of Ptolemaic date situated picturesquely high on its banks above the river Nile. The town has ancient origins, of which virtually nothing beyond the temple is to be seen today (awaiting excavation!).”
Discoveryegypt.com tells us that in the town of Kom Ombo lies a special temple that is dedicated to two different Egyptians gods, making it unique. The Kom Ombo temple is dedicated to the god Sobek, “the crocodile god”, and Horus, “the falcon-headed god.” Sobek’s chief sanctuary was at Kom Ombo, where there were once huge numbers of crocodiles. Until recent times the Egyptian Nile was infested with these ferocious animals, who would lay on the riverbank and devour animals and humans alike. So it is not surprising that the local inhabitants went in fear.”
“They believed that as a totem animal, and object of worship, it would not attack them. Captive crocodiles were kept within the temple and many mummified crocodiles have been found in cemeteries, some of which can be seen in the temple sanctuary today.”
If we have any video game fans out there, I highly recommend the Assassin’s Creed Origins game that came out last year. The team behind that title did an incredible job recreating all of Egypt and its many different landscapes. Feel like checking out this temple? You can do that in the game! And it is totally full of vicious, hungry crocodiles too. It is a fun game that dives deep into ancient history, culture and mythology. Not only that, but it has a separate game mode, which is a free add on, where it takes out combat and you walk through and basically get guided lectures on historical locations, people events and other topics, all written and read aloud by professors and other highly knowledgeable people. It combines the fun of playing a game with learning history and culture.
After fighting another stand, Jotaro’s crew leaves Kom Ombo and go to the great city of Luxor. The narrator comments, “This is Luxor, a city about halfway up the Nile. In ancient times [Luxor] was known as Thebes. Far to the west of the Nile, there lies a valley where the pharaohs of old were laid to rest. The tomb of the famous King Tutankhamun lies in the Valley of the Kings. Apparently, there are still people who dig underneath their houses in secret to the government, hoping to find gold and treasure.”
The city sits atop the site of the ancient city of Thebes, which was once “the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power, during the 16th–11th centuries B.C. Today’s city surrounds two huge, surviving ancient monuments: graceful Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, a mile north. The royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens are on the river’s west bank.” There are in fact so many sites that even today, new discoveries are being found, such as a previously unknown sphinx that was recently discovered, detailed in this article: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/previously-unknown-sphinx-uncovered-egypt-construction-workers-1332680.
The helpful narrator again fills us in on the local culture of Egypt, helping us to understand Egypt’s unique culture. “Though [the people of Egypt] may all look similar to tourists, there are many races that live in Egypt.” Paying close attention to the next slides.
Naokatsu Tsuda, the director of the Stardust Crusaders anime, once again chimed in with some awesome insight into how the show was created. In this instance, he compares the manga to the show, stating, “We’ve also put here the manga’s explanation about the different ethnic groups in Egypt, in particular the ‘Indian guy who had really nothing to do here.’ (laughs). I am sure no one in the audience had guessed that we’d go find this kind of seemingly useless scene. It would be forgetting that these details make JoJo’s charm.”
We haven’t had a good scene yet in Egypt exploring the local food, so, naturally, we have to see that next! Iggy, the irascible Boston Terrier with a constant bad attitude loves coffee-flavored chewing gum and tearing out chunks of people’s hair. Iggy’s stand is The Fool, based on the tarot card of the same name. The Fool tarot card stands for “Beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, [and] a free spirit” in the upright position, and for “Naivety, foolishness, recklessness, [and] risk-taking” in the reversed position. Both definitions describe Iggy extremely well!
Iggy, looking around Luxor for something to do, sees a man in a suit carrying some delicious food. Iggy jumps up and snatches it out of the man’s hands, as the guy yells at Iggy to give back his kebab sandwich. Iggy is gone though, and that sandwich is all his. A look of utter satisfaction rests on Iggy’s face as he runs away. After getting far enough away, Iggy stops and digs into the sandwich, savoring every bite.
The series director, Naokatsu, remarked that “the scene where Iggy is peacefully strolling across town was added in the anime. He steals a kebab directly from a passerby’s hands and watches the fight between Joseph and Avdol against Mariah without batting an eyelid… He’s doing whatever he feels like.” Want to try making your own Egyptian kebab sandwich? Check out these recipes!
Finally, Jotaro and the rest make it to their destination, Cairo, where DIO lies in wait. Avdol says, “Cairo is immense.” It is for this reason that even though they have arrived in Cairo, it is still going to be very difficult to locate DIO’s exact location. They must begin their search from the outskirts of the city and work their way inwards.
Google informs us that “Cairo, Egypt’s sprawling capital, is set on the Nile River. At its heart is Tahrir Square and the vast Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities including royal mummies and gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts. Nearby, Giza is the site of the iconic pyramids and Great Sphinx, dating to the 26th century BC. In Gezira Island’s leafy Zamalek district, 187m Cairo Tower affords panoramic city views.”
Cairo is a more modern city than many in Egypt, but the city did not exist as Cairo in the ancient Pharaonic times. Even though Cairo is Egypt’s modern capital, in ancient Egyptian times, the old capital was a nearby in a city called Memphis. The reason that the old and new capitals are so close to each other is that they were located at an optimal location, because of its position upstream from the Nile river. The Nile allows for an abundance of vegetation to grow and helps sustain life in such a harsh desert environment.
World Travel Guide tells us more about Cairo’s origins: “Cairo has its roots in the ancient settlement of Memphis, now 24km (15 miles) southwest of the city. It was founded in 2,000 BC and ruled by King Menes who united Upper and Lower Egypt. In the 1st century, the Romans built the Babylon fortress on the Nile, the oldest structure in the city. Cairo itself was established as the city of Fustat by the Fatimids in the 10th century. So began a period of huge construction of prominent landmarks, including Al-Azhar mosque. As Cairo was a key link on the east-west spice route, the market streets of Khan el-Khalili became a bustling centre of trade.” The Stardust Crusaders anime series director praised his team for bringing Cairo to life, saying, “About the streets and the cityscapes, I recommend you to consult the background designs if you can. They are real paintings, truly an excellent work.”
The series director notes that “Jotaro and company have finally arrived in Cairo, but they are already gambling in a café.” It is during this gambling scene that we are introduced to the gambler D’Arby, whose stand, Osiris, is based on the Egyptian god of the same name. He is one of the final stand users that Jotaro faces before taking on their final target, DIO. A long journey almost to its conclusion, with only but a few standing in Jotaro’s way to total victory.
Another of these stand users turns out to be a falcon named Pet Shop, whose stand Horus, is once again named after the Egyptian god. Iggy and the falcon get into a life or death battle, where Iggy barely manages to escape alive, losing a leg in the process. The stand Pet Shop is a peregrine falcon, and this is for a very specific reason. Falcons and falconry have a long history in Egypt, dating back to the ancient times. There were multiple reasons that the ancient Egyptians bread birds of prey for religious purposes.
Elsevier news remarked, “Animal mummies were common in ancient Egypt and used in religious ceremonies, often as offerings. Millions of mummified animals have been found, most dating from around 600 BC to AD 250. Ancient Egyptians believed in many gods and associated different animals with them; raptors like kestrels were connected to the sun god Ra.” These offerings meant for the god Ra were extremely important, as Ra was the god of the sun, and was the most important of the Egyptian gods. The belief held by the ancient Egyptians was that the sun god Ra would be swallowed at night by Nut, the sky goddess, to be reborn each morning, representing the day and night cycle.
The series director Naokatsu was frightened by how scary the falcon in the show, Pet Shop, turned out. “First, I must say that Pet Shop is bloody terrifying. He has no lines, but I find that it only reinforces the terror he inspires. And all the chase scenes with Iggy only show us how merciless he is. Surely because he’s a bird of prey. It’s interesting to note that Kenta Mimiuro, our action animation director, went to a zoo in order to gather data and study the movement of falcons and eagles. It’s thanks to this that we’d managed to create a high-quality Pet Shop, who immediately looks menacing. Because he had no voice, we had to use sound effects. These computer-generated screams fit the animal very well and only increase the terror he exudes.”
Finally, Jotaro and company reach DIO’s hideout, ready to face whatever lies within, come Hell or high water. Over the next several episodes, they put it all on the line, facing one deadly stand user after another. The gambler D’Arby’s brother, Telence T. D’Arby, is waiting for them and attacks with his stand Atum. To learn more about the ancient Egyptian gods and their traditional depictions, check out this neat website: https://discoveringegypt.com/ancient-egyptian-gods-and-goddesses/.
They also fight a man named Vanilla Ice, not to be confused with the rapper of the same name, whose stand Cream is strangely not based on a tarot card or an Egyptian god, but rather a British rock band. Go figures. Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge in the world, tells us that Cream was a British rock power trio “consisting of drummer Ginger Baker, guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and lead singer/bassist Jack Bruce. The group’s third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world’s first platinum-selling double album.”
“The band is widely regarded as the world’s first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million copies of their albums worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Spoonful,’ and modern blues such as “Born Under a Bad Sign“, as well as more current material such as ‘Strange Brew,’ ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ and ‘Toad’.” There are a ton of musical references throughout JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and their love for music is evident in everything they do, from the references to the choices of OP and ED songs.
After defeating all DIO’s elite stand assassins and enduring unimaginable losses, Jotaro and the remaining survivors find themselves face to face with DIO, whose stand, The World, is based on the tarot card, The World. The World card represents “Completion, integration, accomplishment, [and] travel.” As Jotaro slowly learns, The World’s power allows DIO to stop time for an extended period of time. This is in line with the tarot card’s meaning, which is that of completion, integration and accomplishment, as well as travel. With DIO’s power growing stronger all the time, Jotaro had no choice but to force himself to learn how to stop time as well. Since both Jotaro’s stand Star Platinum and DIO’s stand The World are both the same type of stand, Jotaro was able to learn how to counteract DIO’s deadly power and stop DIO from taking over the entire world. Finally, after more than a century, the curse of DIO is put to rest for good.
After travelling around the world, visiting exotic locales, partaking in good food and drink and taking in a new country’s history and culture, the remaining heroes return home and part ways, promising to one day see each other again, the bonds of friendship they formed never to fade. As they bid each other a fond farewell, for now, Jotaro takes one final look at the photo that shows all his friends’ smiling faces. The series director, Naokatsu Tsuda, gives us one final note here: “Jotaro is looking at the group photo while lightly smiling. We had added this final scene during the finalization of the storyboard. It is cut in a manner perfectly closing the long journey. The curtain falls.”
Just as the curtain falls on Jotaro’s adventure, so too do the curtains fall on the first of the Toonami History articles. I hope that you enjoyed our trip through history and culture, visiting some of the most iconic moments of Stardust Crusaders, breaking down all the research and effort that went into creating a realistic and authentic portrayal of the countries featured in the show. What makes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure unique among anime is its combination of magical realism with real history, locations and people, which helps ground the fantastical situations that the characters find themselves in, from crazy stand battles to wild pig toilets.
We become attached to the characters and their predicaments, no matter how wild, because of that grounding in a real world that exists, in different cultures from around the world that show us just how big this world is, and how much we still have left to explore. Just as Jotaro and his friends promised to one day meet again, we shall also meet again, dear reader, when next this ship sets sails for open seas. Until then, never be afraid to try new things and you might just be surprised at what bizarre adventures you find for yourself!