JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, September 18, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
What They Say
Adventure 10 - D'Arby the Gambler
Seeking information on Dio's whereabouts, the companions encounter a gambler named D'Arby who claims to have the information they need. The catch is, they have to beat him in the ultimate wager-one where their very souls are at stake! Can the Joestar party outwit a master gambler at his own game?
Adventure 11 - Dio's "The World" - The Warrior of the Void - Iced
Jotaro and his companions finally arrive at Dio's lair and find their way to the room where his coffin resides. Just as they prepare to strike the fatal blow, Dio's mysterious Stand powers, coupled with that of his finest assassin, Iced, slay one of the party before the group's horrified eyes. But even that doesn't quench Dio's thirst for blood...
With one more Stand master to defeat, the group reaches the lair of Dio and what he's really after becomes revealed.
When it came to the audio on this disc, it's definitely been a labor of love. With four options, either Japanese or English and then either 5.1 or stereo, you get a good selection right from there. Having it all mixed by the folks at Skywalker Sound is an even more neat aspect to it all. We listened to the Japanese 5.1 mix and enjoyed it rather much, though there's very little actually going to the rear speakers. When compared against the stereo mix, there's definitely a greater clarity and warmth to the mix though, so it's definitely a good mix. Throughout that track, we had no issues with distortions or dropouts.
Originally released back in 1993, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The two episodes here look great overall with their more traditional animation style. Aliasing issues that were evident in the first volume continue to be gone here, resulting in a smooth and very attractive transfer. Colors are nice and rich and fully saturated without bleeding, cross coloration appears to be very minimal to almost non-existent while the blacks look nice and solid without any macroblocking.
While not quite as dark as some of the past releases, that nature is kept in the character designs as the light from one of the Stands reaches out behind the character artwork to engulf them. The good guys are in the foreground while this volume's new villain and his stand are placed in a position of superiority over them in a pretty good looking layout. It's amusing that Jojo always manages to get in color while the rest of the group tends to be near him with shocked or surprised looks on their faces. The back cover provides a number of screenshots from the show and a brief summary of each of the two episodes, listing them by name and number. The spine also provides the volume numbering, the only place you'll find it. The discs production and technical information is all nice and clear, though considering the effort that went into the 5.1 remix it's surprising that such a selling point continues to not be listed here. There's no insert for this release, but rather two tarot cards representative of the series.
The menus are a nice mix of either still shots or some form of animation playing as well as some light instrumental fare. The language submenu is particularly nicely done, if you select Japanese, it moves subtitles and other items over to the same category, but you can also change things individually. There's no transitional animations leaving areas, but going into some of them there are. And these tend to be a bit longer than I care for and I don't care for transitional animations in general. The only one that's really bad is going into the extras, which takes several seconds to run before it even starts dropping in the selections you'll want to access.
Similar to previous volumes, there's a good selection of extras to be had here. Episode ten is done in storyboard mode the same as previous episodes and we get another round of the image gallery shots as well as the Jojo History Timeline done to pencil sketches. The new extra in this volume that runs a good length of time is the Skywalker Sound interview where it has the folks involved in the production visiting the Ranch and going through the process of dealing with interpreters to get their thoughts across on how to do the mix right. It's an interesting extra as it covers an area not often dealt with.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the surprisingly good turn in the fourth volume of the series with the older material, the fifth volume surprises me even more by hitting up with another really good Stand user for the villain and then, as we're close to the end of the OVA series with only one more volume to go, Dio is finally brought into play. Dio is a whole can of worms in itself but other than a bit of nit-picking this is a pretty solid volume.
Having arrived in some minor town where they can try to get some information on finding the building where they know Dio is at, they end up running across a man who has complete control of the area known as D'Arby. While he doesn't exactly have the look of a riverboat gambler, he does come across as that type as he's the kind of person where the thrill and excitement of the bet itself, the chance of things coming up any which way, is what keeps him alive and going. While everyone else in the bar ignores Jojo and the rest, he tells them he knows exactly where the place is and that he probably even knows a heck of a lot more. But in order to get that information out of him, there needs to be a wager for it.
Naturally, Polnareff is the first one to just jump at this with disbelief and simply demand the information. Before he realizes it though, he's actually waged his soul with the man and ends up losing. Since they didn't quite realize he was a Stand user at first, it's a big shock when D'Arby's Stand comes out and basically extracts Polnareff's soul and converts it into a playing chip. D'Arby reveals an entire book of chips he's won over the years and seeks to add all of them to it for his own personal sense of pride. It's a plus for Dio as well of course but he'd do it anyway just to be able to say he bet against them and won. This leads to several very high tension wages between the group as they slowly come down in number against D'Arby. It's a fascinating exchange to watch since they go in knowing that someone is cheating; the caveat is that if you can't see them actually cheating then it's just as valid. So Jojo undertakes a very different battle of wits and personality to take down this master player.
Though not in the same condition as they were when they got there, the show moves forward with the arrival in Egypt the building they've been seeking is located. This episode starts what is likely to run through the last two episodes of the series as the group heads up inside the seemingly abandoned place to find the coffin of Dio at the uppermost level. But this is all a ruse as he's been awaiting them all this time and with the aid of Iced, a Stand user who is completely at his whim even to the point of killing himself, Dio is able to start taking the group down one by one. He's so casual about it that he even seemingly forgets their names, trying to prove just how inconsequential that they really are. But what we do find out is that everything was just a way to have Jotaro Joestar come to him as he is the eldest living member of the family and the closest to Jonathan. Dio wants to feast on the blood of this close blood relative one more time and secure his domination over the body.
While the first episode is more character driven and tension based, the second episode is filled with action sequences that are just brutal. It takes a little bit to get into it but once Dio and Iced reveal themselves, the cast is pared down fast and violently. To my sadness, Polnareff is not one of the first ones to go and in fact he's the one that seems to make out the best in keeping alive. It's rare I root for a characters death but I still think his own team should have killed him weeks ago. The action as it progresses here is really nice but it's also done to just start setting the stage since it clears most of them out for Dio to deal with Jotaro and then allows for them all to return later in a much more pissed off state, thereby letting them really get it on.
The D'Arby episode along impressed me as they did some fun little tricks with the bets but also really worked up the tension nicely. The second episode with Dio was a lot of fun as well and provided some great follow-up action but Dio comes across almost as a near-bishonen boy. What is up with all the heart shaped gear on his outfit? And the big pointy joker like shoes? If you take these elements out he's not a bad looking villain with the right level of confidence, but with them in place he looks like a male Sailor Moon reject. Regardless, it's a small thing really and this volume has me actually looking forward to the very violent finale to see where it all goes.
Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Storyboarded Episode,Production Report,Image Gallery,Jojo History Timeline
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Super Techno Arts
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure