I’m back! You know what that means? It’s HOTBLOOD TIME. The second half of the 12 Days of HOTBLOOD resumes NOW (just in time to finish on January 25).
NOTE: Not that there haven’t been spoilers in all of these posts already or anything, but the ones in this post are kind of a bigger deal than usual. Just in case you care about that kind of thing.
Let’s go back a few episodes for a minute, to the time when we first met Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli.
JoJo’s found himself in Rome. Having just come off of defeating Santana, the first of the Pillar Men, in Mexico, he continues his world tour to investigate the claim that three more have been discovered, as well as to meet with an acquaintance of Speedwagon’s. At his table in a fine dining establishment, he is unable to enjoy his meal, due to the courting ritual of some skirt-chasing rapscallion across the way. Fed up, JoJo decides to give the flirtatious phony a piece of his mind – more specifically, a Ripple-charged spaghetti noodle onslaught.
Without even bothering to look up from his hastily-stolen smooch, the man raises his own barrier of Kraft Macaroni and Ripple, catching the pasta projectile and hurtling it back from whence it came. As “Casanova” dons his black-and-white checkered cap, JoJo realizes to his dismay that this is Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli, the one he’s come here to meet.
The meeting gets off to a rough and Ripply start, with a ridiculous battle in which Caesar bewitches his poor date with Ripple kisses and JoJo responds with an unpleasant pigeon surprise.
Needless to say, the two of them are quickly inseparable friends.
Punks and Pillars
Back to the present, the last encounter between JoJo and Caesar goes down just like the first – with a fight. While JoJo has no connection to his past, Caesar is bound to it – he is heir to the Zeppeli curse. Mario Zeppeli had lost his father Will to the horrors of the Stone Mask, and despite his best efforts, passed the curse on as Caesar lost his own father to the Pillar Men. When Mario tried to break the cycle by cutting himself off from his kin, it left Caesar scarred, and he grew to hate the father who – for all he knew – had abandoned him.
When Caesar the Punk found his father and followed him into the Pillar Men’s lair, he sprung a trap – the dormant Pillar Men were less dormant than they first appeared, and tried to absorb the young Zeppeli into their stony prison with them. But at the last second, his father pushed Caesar out of danger, at the cost of his own life.
The Zeppeli Curse
Filled with regret for both his mistaken hatred of the man who had tried to shield him from this terror, and for indirectly bringing about his death, Caesar desires – no, requires revenge on the ones who twice took his father from him. Even as JoJo and Lisa Lisa warn against it, Caesar cannot hold this need back any longer – he storms the abandonned building that Wham and Cars have made their temporary shelter from the sun.
Greeted at the entrance by an invisible Wham, Caesar unleashes his rage. Three generations of despair bubble over, and Wham is left on the defensive. Caesar’s new bubble cutter technique can pierce even Wham’s windy shield, and the damage is piling up. Unable to fight both Caesar and the sun, Wham smashes through the wall to the safety of the inside.
While the rest of the JoJo anime had been lacking in animation (though certainly not style) up to this point, this was the fight that they poured it all into (or maybe stole the budget from Psycho Pass, which had some… err… production problems that same week). It’s one of the best fights in the series – and for JoJo, that’s saying something (I don’t have much to add that Shinmaru hasn’t already summed up perfectly). The wind and the bubbles fly through the air in all their fully-realized glory, Caesar and Wham roll and dodge around the main hall of the abandoned mansion. Before long, it looks like Caesar has the battle in the bag. He has Wham trapped, frozen in place by an impenetrable web of sunlight-reflecting bubbles, slowly eating away at Wham’s body from the outside. But it is here that Caesar acts just a little too rashly. It is here, when he has all but won, that his burning desire for revenge – his impatience and rage – becomes his undoing. In the move to strike a decisive, cathartic final blow against Wham, he fails to account for one thing: his shadow.
Wham seizes the opportunity, the split-second, the instant of shade, and summons forth his ultimate attack – the Divine Sandstorm. The bass drops. The bubbles vanish. Caesar crashes to the floor.
Just as Will A. Zeppeli had given Jonathan Joestar the last of his energy for the fight against Tarkus, so too does Caesar for Joseph. But he’s not about to let Wham take him down without a fight. Beaten and battered by the sandstorm, down to his final reserves of strength, Caesar tears the ring with the antidote from the lip of the unsuspecting Pillar Man, and leaves it for JoJo in one last, scarlet bubble.
A Moment of Silence
From the opera music to the lighting to the imagery to the acting to everything in between, the end of episode 20 ranks as one of, if not the greatest moment in this entire Bizarre Adventure. While the rest of the series is awesome and silly and exciting, with this scene, JoJo’s proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it could handle the serious moments every bit as masterfully. I’m not even going to try for my usual goofy commentary here. This scene deserves nothing less from me than my most awestruck reverence, as much as Wham had for Caesar when he left the scarlet bubble to float. JoJo and Lisa Lisa’s arrival at the final resting place of Caesar A. Zeppeli is an immensely powerful six minutes, the most emotional anime scene to air in 2013 by miles. It’s like getting hit by a freight train. I remember being on the Shounen Sunday call, laughing and joking around with the guys and enjoying the awesome fight scene and getting all into things like we always do, and then… just silence. Not a word. Not for those six minutes. Not during the ED. Not during the preview. Not for at least ten minutes after the episode had finished. In mourning and in awe, none dared break the stillness. There was nothing. Nothing but cold silence.
Rest in peace, Caesar Zeppeli.
This Time, It’s Personal
The wounds of their loss still fresh, JoJo and Lisa Lisa make their way through the deserted mansion to challenge the Pillar Men. Wham’s and Cars’ vampire minions try to stop them, of course, but serve as little more than an opportunity for Lisa Lisa to show off her coolheadedly confident mastery of the Ripple.
But even more impressive is her standoff with the Pillar Men. Surrounded by a thousand bloodthirsty vampires with little hope of escaping alive, she proves her mettle not only as a top-tier fighter, but as a more-than-capable negotiator as well. With a keen insight into her opponents’ motivations and some slick-lookin’ shades, she lays out a bluff tough enough for a Pillar Man, offering a one-on-one battle for the Red Stone of Aja in exchange for their safe escape. These are the men who killed Caesar. She’s not going to let even a horde of a thousand vampires get in her way. Ain’t nobody mess with Lisa Lisa.
At the colosseum, JoJo and Wham are the first to do battle. The manner of combat? Wham’s refined taste in warfare shall allow nothing less than an ANCIENT-ROMAN-STYLE COLISEUM CHARIOT DUEL. The steeds are vampiric stone-mask-laden beasts that can deliver a whopping 150 horsepower per horse. The appropriately-garbed vampire-zombies cheer Wham’s name as he tames the mighty beasts with his warrior’s charm (and murderous glare).
This is it. It’s time to get both Caesar’s revenge and revenge for Caesar. While Wham has donned his traditional warrior’s clothes (or lack thereof) to show that he means business, JoJo has much more riding on this battle – in an oath of his dedication to avenge his fallen friend, JoJo has yet to take the antidote for the poisoned ring bound around his heart. Until he has killed Wham – until he’s finished the job, he will allow himself no such reprieve. Because this fight isn’t just the fight for some hopeful saving-the-world ideal anymore. This fight isn’t even about who can strike the coolest poses. This fight is for Caesar. This time, it’s personal.