Will Anthonio Zeppeli
Will Anthonio Zeppeli (ウィル・
Zeppeli is a Ripple master hailing from Italy who has made it his life's mission to find the Stone Mask and destroy it. After learning about Dio Brando, he decidedly becomes Jonathan Joestar's ally and mentor, teaching him the art of the Ripple and fighting alongside him against Dio's army of zombies.
Zeppeli appears as a man of average to above-average height, muscular build, and defined, pointed facial features. He has dark, curly hair that protrudes somewhat from under his hat and a thin, well-groomed handlebar mustache. Araki considered giving Zeppeli a mustache a gamble. It was uncommon at the time to give Shonen protagonists any type of mustache, as it usually made the character seem older and untrustworthy. The mustache, in particular, Araki chose was inspired by Salvador Dalí and Iyami from Osomatsu-kun.
Between two outfits, he wears a suit, a bow tie, and a top hat; first characterized by a rainbow print, and then by a checkered print. The latter design is consistent in the anime, however.
Will Anthonio Zeppeli is a fearless but eccentric Ripple master dedicated to battling evil.
As a master of the Ripple, Zeppeli is confident and brave, notably thinking that one's courage is proportional to the hardships one faces.
The Ripple master notably keeps a methodical and cool approach to battle despite the horrible fighting styles of the enemies although his experience may help. For instance, he tries to teach Jonathan to put himself in the enemy's shoes to predict their actions. Having been predicted his death by his master Tonpetty, Zeppeli bravely walks toward his demise and sacrifices himself to help Jonathan. Ultimately, Zeppeli was strong-willed enough to crawl toward Jonathan despite having the lower half of his body cut off.
Zeppeli is a righteous individual dedicated to battling evil. After surviving a Vampire attack, Zeppeli spent the rest of his life investigating the Stone Mask and then learning the Ripple to battle its vampiric spawns. In addition, he contrasts human courage to the inhumane strength of vampires and zombies. When Dio implies that he's killed many people to heal his wounds, Zeppeli becomes enraged and quickly jumps to attack the vampire.
The Italian holds the Ripple in high esteem, praising it as a culmination of the human spirit and claiming that one needs to have endured a difficult life to create it. Indeed, Zeppeli links one's ability to keep calm to the ability to keep regular breathing.
Otherwise, Zeppeli shows himself as a fairly quirky individual. Against all conventions, Zeppeli approaches an injured Jonathan and gives him the power of the Ripple without having met him previously. Likewise his teaching methods occasionally involve convoluted ways to form his student, for instance, showing off his Zoom Punch attack by punching Jonathan before explaining its principles or forcing Jonathan to hold a cup of wine, hiding its use as a radar. Moreover, he shows a number of other small eccentricities such as gratuitously jumping high with his legs crossed, having a tendency to pepper his snack too much, or bringing a wine bottle without the corkscrew and ultimately piercing its bottom to get to the wine. When discussing the character, Araki stated that he was inspired to make Zeppeli a "silly" teacher to train Jonathan, like something akin to the "drunken master" in Jackie Chan films or Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.
Having studied the technique for years with masters in Tibet and trained Jonathan himself, Zeppeli is an expert when it comes to using the Ripple. Aside from attacking, he is able to use it for other applications such as jumping, standing on water, healing wounds, reviving plants, and even limited foresight.
Will Anthonio Zeppeli was born on January 19, 1838. Zeppeli was born to a scholarly family, so he had always been interested in researching the unknown since his youth. When he became of age, he joined the archaeological group at his father's university and was able to travel to various places around the world. On one of his travels in 1858, the group went to Mexico to excavate an underground Aztec ruin. Amongst their findings was the Stone Mask. On the voyage home, several of the crew began to die off, until they realized that someone had put on the mask. It turned out to be the leader of the group, Zeppeli's father. All 58 crew members were slaughtered, but Zeppeli managed to escape by jumping into the sea. His father was eradicated by the morning sun soon after. Zeppeli was eventually rescued several days later by a fishing boat.
In 1860, Zeppeli travels the world in order to find a way to destroy the Stone Mask. In a town in India, he meets a strange man with the ability to heal even the most impossible injuries and sicknesses. The man directs Zeppeli to his master, Tonpetty, who teaches him to use the "Ripple". Zeppeli makes it through three years of harsh training alongside Dire, making him capable of running dozens of li without catching his breath. He is ready to move on to the high-level training called the Celestial Gate, but Tonpetty foresees Zeppeli's death and warns him that should he complete his training he will surely die. Zeppeli accepts his fate and agrees to complete the training.
Phantom Blood (1888)
Meeting Jonathan Joestar
After hearing that Jonathan Joestar defeated Dio Brando, the current owner of the Stone Mask, Zeppeli presents himself to Jonathan and mysteriously heals Jonathan's shattered arm. He reveals his ability, the Ripple, by punching a frog with the energy, though only the rock beneath the frog shatters while the frog itself is fine. He also reveals that Dio hasn't actually died and volunteers to teach the Ripple to Jonathan, who agrees. Zeppeli spends two weeks training Jonathan and then watches Jonathan easily defeat Wang Chan with the Zoom Punch. He then accompanies Jonathan and Robert E. O. Speedwagon on their quest to defeat Dio and destroy the Stone Mask. Zeppeli briefly fights Jack the Ripper before giving the task to Jonathan in an attempt to teach him to more effectively use the Ripple.
Speedwagon begs Zeppeli to teach him the Ripple. Zeppeli reluctantly obliges, trying to help Speedwagon discover the Ripple in the same way as Jonathan, but claims his finger slipped and simply knocks the wind out of Speedwagon instead. A boy named Poco steals their bag with all their traveling expenses and tries climbing away. Zeppeli chases after him by using the Ripple on the lake to walk on water. Jonathan then uses his Ripple Overdrive on the cliff, capturing Poco. The group is then attacked by zombies, as Dio reveals himself to the group.
Zeppeli and Jonathan quickly engage Dio, attempting to send their Ripple into him simultaneously. However, Dio freezes Zeppeli's arm, totally disabling his Ripple techniques and putting him out of commission until Speedwagon comes to his aid, thawing Zeppeli's arm with his body heat. When Dio summons the Dark Knights, Zeppeli and Speedwagon are unable to assist Jonathan in his fight against Bruford due to Tarkus's interference. After Bruford is defeated, Zeppeli and Jonathan use their Ripple on a pile of leaves to make a hang glider to escape Tarkus, who eventually manages to catch up. While Jonathan is struggling to defeat Tarkus, Zeppeli enters the battle with Poco's help and finally shares his knowledge of his own fate.
Battle Against Tarkus
As Tonpetty's prophecy foretold, Zeppeli battles with Tarkus and becomes wrapped in his chains. Tarkus attempts to kill Jonathan and Zeppeli at the same time, bifurcating Zeppeli at the waist (as well as amputating an arm) and breaking Jonathan's neck - however, Zeppeli is able to give his power and life energy to Jonathan moments before dying. It is by this power that Jonathan is healed and able to defeat Tarkus. Despite his ravaged body, Zeppeli manages to stay conscious for a few minutes, chastises Jonathan for grieving, and implores him one final time to defeat Dio for good and destroy the Stone Mask. He takes his last breaths knowing he will live on through Jonathan and dies in his arms. His remains are cremated by Jonathan and Speedwagon in the old knight training grounds where Tarkus was slain.
It is later revealed that Zeppeli had sent a letter to his master Tonpetty asking for help in destroying the Stone Mask, though Tonpetty arrived too late to prevent Zeppeli's death. After his passing, Speedwagon gains a penchant for wearing his signature checker-print top hat.
- Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli: Caesar believes the bonds between an Italian family such as the Zeppelis are stronger than most people. According to him, because of their pride, Zeppeli's can handle their problems on their own and have the will to pull through. When he first meets Joseph, he says that it was because Jonathan needed so much help to fight his own battle, that Will ended up dying because of it.
- Mario Zeppeli: Zeppeli's relationship with his son is never fully expanded upon, however, Mario had known since he was young of the fate of his father. Because of this, he began researching the Stone Masks and spent his life training his Ripple, following in the footsteps of his father.
- Jonathan Joestar: Jonathan, upon meeting Zeppeli, is initially perplexed by his appearance and strange abilities. After Zeppeli explains his actions and the significance of the Ripple, Jonathan grows to trust Zeppeli completely and looks up to him as a mentor. Zeppeli eventually sacrifices himself to save Jonathan, transferring his energy and life force to him. In his last moments, Zeppeli tells Jonathan that he was like both a son and a best friend to him. Jonathan tearfully avenges Zeppeli by killing his executioner, Tarkus.
- Robert E. O. Speedwagon: Originally, Zeppeli thought Speedwagon would run away at the first sign of danger as he couldn't use Ripple, but he eventually respects his courage when Speedwagon stays despite his shortcomings. After Zeppeli was killed, Speedwagon donned his hat out of respect.
- Poco: While Zeppeli wasn't too close to Poco, Zeppeli still cared for Poco, saving his life when Tarkus tried to kill him. Like Speedwagon and Jonathan, Poco mourned his death at the hands of Tarkus.
- Tonpetty: As the man who taught him about Ripple, Zeppeli greatly respected Tonpetty. Tonpetty showed great concern for Zeppeli when he warned him his study of Ripple would be the end of him.
- Dire: While their relationship is never fully expanded on, they were good friends who trained together with Tonpetty. Dire tried to avenge Zeppeli by killing Dio but failed.
- Straizo: Like Dire, Straizo's relationship is never fully explained but they were likely close as well.
- Dio Brando: Having used the Stone Mask, Zeppeli immediately viewed Dio as an enemy once he learned about the incident at the Joestar Mansion and due to his own father using the same mask to become a Vampire himself. Dio himself is dismissive of Zeppeli's hatred towards his vampiric ways and connection to the Stone Mask, only viewing Zeppeli's mastery of the unfamiliar Ripple as nothing more than magic tricks.
- Jack the Ripper: While Zeppeli knew Jack was a threat, he showed absolutely no respect for him, comparing him to a flea.
Relationships in Eyes of Heaven
- Dio Brando/DIO: While their relationship is essentially the same as in the manga when Zeppeli encounters DIO from Stardust Crusaders, he will state that Dio seems even eviler and wonders if the Stone Mask is responsible, while DIO believes Zeppeli is even less of a threat than before since he acquired The World.
- Wamuu: When Zeppeli encounters Wamuu, he will state surprised that Wamuu is aware of Ripple users and their weaknesses and wonder who he is. If he wins, he later realizes he's one of the Pillar Men, while Wamuu is surprised that the Ripple users haven't died out yet. Interestingly, Zeppeli is unaware that Wamuu is responsible for the deaths of his son and grandson.
- Kars: Zeppeli recognizes Kars as one of the Pillar Men and swears to kill him and destroy every last Stone Mask he created.
Chapters / Episodes
- “That's right! If it's hit by a larger wave of Ripple energy, it will scatter! And Ripple energy is created by waves! Those waves... are similar to the waves of the light of the sun! (そうだッ！もう一つの大きな波紋エネルギーをぶつければ奴らは砕け散るっ！！そして波紋法の作るエネルギーの波は！あの！太陽の光の波と同じ形なのだッ！Sōda! Mōhitotsu no ōkina hamon enerugī o butsukereba yatsura wa kudake chiru!! Soshite hamon-hō no tsukuru enerugī no nami wa! Ano! Taiyō no hikari no nami to onaji katachina noda!)”
- “It is fear that disturbs one's breathing! But when you control your fear, your breathing won't falter! The Ripple technique's breathing is the product of courage! Human praise is the praise of courage! Human greatness is the greatness of courage! However strong they may be, these zombies do not know courage! They are just like fleas! (呼吸を乱すのは「恐怖」！だが「恐怖」を支配したとき！呼吸は規則正しく乱れないッ！波紋法の呼吸は「勇気」の産物！！人間賛歌は「勇気」の賛歌ッ！！人間のすばらしさは「勇気」のすばらしさ！！いくら強くてもこいつら
屍生人は「勇気」を知らん！ノミと同類よォーッ！！Kokyū o midasu no wa 'kyōfu'! Daga 'kyōfu' o shihai shita toki! Kokyū wa kisokutadashiku midarenai! Hamon-hō no kokyū wa 'yūki' no sanbutsu!! Ningen sanka wa 'yūki' no sanka!! Ningen no subarashisa wa 'yūki' no subarashisa!! Ikura tsuyokute mo koitsu-ra zonbi wa 'yūki' o shiran! Nomi to dōrui yo!!)”
- “The stern northern winds gave birth to the hardy, gritty Vikings! Will that wine create a Viking? (厳しい北風は気骨あるしたたかなバイキングを生んだのだ！あのワインはバイキングを作るかな！Kibishī kitakaze wa kikotsu aru shitatakana Baikingu o unda noda! Ano wain wa Baikingu o tsukuru ka na!)”
- “JoJo… Y… You… Y-You fool…! Now isn’t the time to mourn! Go quickly now, JoJo! Defeat Dio… and destroy the Stone Mask! I am satisfied with my fate… When I was younger… I had a wife. But I left my family behind to chase the Stone Mask. I am satisfied with my fate… I have accepted everything. In the end, I gave you my all… JoJo… You are my hope! It’s as if you’re both my son and my best friend all at once. And I shall live on within you…”
Creation and Development
Hirohiko Araki says that Will Anthonio Zeppeli was named after the rock band Led Zeppelin because the band's members were top-tier musicians to him, though he also feels that he had used the reference too early in the series. Araki also says that how Zeppeli's name sounds is important, as he wanted to balance out the names with a "Z" in contrast to names starting with "J" (JoJo, Jonathan, Joestar, and the likes).
Araki states that he likes teachers who are silly and make you wonder whether or not they're missing a screw. He compares Zeppeli to characters from Jackie Chan movies and The Karate Kid; characters who look a little off on the outside, but possess traits deserving of respect on the inside. Araki also describes Zeppeli as strong even though he is dressed as a magician with a snake oil salesman's mustache. Finally, Araki mentions that the character's mustache, which was inspired by the painter Salvador Dali and Osomatsu-kun's Iyami, required to pull off a lot of courage in a shonen magazine, because it makes the character look older and untrustworthy no matter the type of mustache.
In the original Weekly Shonen Jump publication of Part 1's thirty-fifth chapter, Zeppeli says that he didn't marry nor have any children. Because of this line, fans complained of Will's grandson Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli's existence in the later part Battle Tendency. Eventually, Araki changed Will's line in the tankoban release, having Will say he lost his family instead, and also wrote an apology.
Araki personally liked the relationship between Jonathan and Will, and wanted to retell it again for a longer coming-of-age story. He chose to make the Steel Ball Run characters Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli around the same age so they could be less formal and more friendly than their original counterparts similar to the Joseph-Caesar relationship from Battle Tendency.