Saturday, July 25, 2015

25 Days of Jojo’s - #1: Gyro Zeppeli

(Fair warning: there will be spoilers abound in this series of posts, as I find there are major moments that define some of these characters late in their respective story arcs. So in the event that you have not yet read/watched a particular part of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure storyline, you may wish to skip over certain entries.)

#1 - Gyro Zeppeli: Prior to Steel Ball Run, there were two members of the Zeppeli family that played important roles in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The first was Will A. Zeppeli, who served as mentor and to Jonathan Joestar during the events of Phantom Blood, teaching him the mystic arts of the Ripple. The second was Caesar Zeppeli, who transitioned from Joseph Joestar’s rival to his ally in the Battle Tendency arc. Thereafter, the Zeppeli family fell into obscurity, until the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure universe was rebooted in the seventh arc, Steel Ball Run.

Gyro Zeppeli fills all the roles of his predecessors and more, beginning the race across America as a man shunned from his home country of Italy for breaking from tradition and disagreeing with the particular rules associated with his family’s legacy as executioners. Gyro, though bound to the law by his societal role and bloodline, did not consider children to be deserving of such a violent fate, especially when there was a notable lack of evidence to properly convict them. Gyro appealed to the Italian government with the hope that he might spare the child in question from execution, and thus left the country to participate in the Steel Ball Run race as a show of his worth, skill, and conviction.

Cocky for the majority of his time racing across the country, Gyro’s gold-studded teeth and his taunting catchphrase of “Nyo-ho!” become immediately iconic. He is a force to be reckoned with, almost always placing near the front of the pack in each leg of the race, and forging rivalries with other racers Diego Brando and Hot Pants. He does, however, form a partnership with Johnny Joestar, which gradually results in them becoming strong friends, backing each other up in the most dangerous and intense of situations as they seek out the corpse parts in an attempt to stay one step ahead of Diego Brando and any of Funny Valentine’s hired muscle.

Gyro is also the source of a great deal of humor during Steel Ball Run. Often times, he will boast about his greatness and ask Johnny to back him up, only for Johnny to fail to provide the desired response, or Gyro will start a joke, which Johnny will offer a flat or overly serious answer to. The interactions the two share is amusing throughout, and solidifies their friendship as one of the most genuine relationships in all of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Which makes it curious, then, that Gyro also plays the role of mentor to Johnny, teaching him the art of the Spin, a skill Gyro picked up from his days practicing medicine. Though originally intended to provide healing and comfort to those in the infirmary, Gyro applies it as a combat tactic with his signature steel balls, flinging them at enemy Stand users with incredible precision. Johnny – slowly but surely – begins to master the Spin with his projectile fingernails, courtesy of his own Stand, Tusk. Gyro’s Stand, Ball Breaker, is not made visible until late in the story of Steel Ball Run, but lends to his incredible power and accuracy when flinging the steel balls, and amps his signature moveset up a notch, causing any living thing that his steel balls make contact with to age rapidly.

Despite his often less-than-serious demeanor, Gyro does briefly display a soft side when he decides to order a small teddy bear from a catalogue when camping out with Johnny one night. He is also a confident fighter, able to coordinate with Johnny, and change strategies on the fly. He instills confidence in Johnny during their time racing together, as they manage to overcome increasingly difficult odds. And though Gyro ultimately perishes during the climactic fight with Funny Valentine, he weakens the villain a great deal, and imparts upon Johnny the final lesson of the Spin, allowing Steel Ball Run’s hero to defeat President Valentine.

As with the two Zeppelis before him, Gyro dies before the major threat of his story arc is vanquished, but he makes it a considerably further distance than Will or Caesar, sees greater levels of involvement in his respective storyline, and has more compelling development as a character. Gyro passes on a hero, teacher, and friend to Johnny Joestar, and unknowingly influences some of the events that would follow between Steel Ball Run and Jojolion, the culmination of which earns him the number one spot among my all-time favorite characters in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

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