Joseph has the body of a boy in his early teens with blue eyes and long silver hair, stylized with bangs that sometimes cover his eyes.
He often wears a long coat, shorts, and a striped shirt underneath a suit and vest.
Due to his nature, he often has numerous body parts, taken from other beings, that he can shift into as the situation demands it.
Before he merged with Cartaphilus, Joseph was a caring, young gravekeeper who sought to help the dead find peace and offered to help Cartaphilus. However, because he was unable to do so and couldn't bring himself to abandon the man, he instead opted to merge with him.
Since the merger, the two halves have become conflicted to an extent, with moments where his original personality comes to the surface and he suffers memory loss.
In the present, he detests feeling pain and suffering, fearing the day when he will decay. He has no qualms in inflicting misery on other living things, everything he does stemming from the desire to avoid living in pain.
He hates being called Cartaphilus, saying that it is a cursed name and preferring to be called by his real name, Joseph.
When he was still a young gravekeeper, he lost his parents and the village he was in suffered a famine. He was blamed and beaten, but felt he couldn't leave since he had decided to take care of Cartaphilus.
After merging with Cartaphilus, Joseph suffered memory loss and spent centuries searching for the reason of his curse and for a way to break it. He committed many horrible acts in order to stave off his body from continually rotting and being in constant pain, in the process losing the ability to feel empathy.
Before the start of the series, he convinced Matthew to kill the cats of Ulthar in order to research an elixir, resulting in the deaths of Matthew and his wife as well as the stagnating souls of the cats and their grudges. He then visited Renfred and stole his arm, along with the knowledge of how to make a teleportation device.
Joseph first appeared during an attempt to gain Ruth and, while trying to silence Alice, ended up hitting Chise instead. Elias then attacked him, but the rest of them were spirited away by Blue Flame. When they next met, Alice and Renfred shot him with bullets that contained magic to stop regeneration.
He later appeared in a dream that Chise stumbled into, lost and confused, where his old personality presumed Chise to be a spirit and attempted to bring her closure. However, he soon suffered from pain that caused Chise to wake up and leave him behind and he awoke without any memory of it. Ashen Eyes then approached him and he decided to use Stella to get close to Chise in the event that he needed to replace his body.
He later orchestrated the kidnapping of two Dragon Whelps and sold one to the auction house in an effort to pay for his expenses, which resulted in Chise obtaining a Dragon's Curse. He then used Stella as a bargaining chip to get Chise to agree to exchange her curse for his, resulting in an experimental exchange of his left eye for hers. He intended to take her cursed left arm as a replacement next, but Chise then entered into his memories once again.
Enraged, he then attempted to attack her, but Elias, along with several others, appeared to try to stop him and forced him to retreat. Chise gave chase and then told him that she would destroy him. In the ensuing battle, he had Chise's eye ripped out of his head and was then put to sleep.
In both the anime and manga, he conceded defeat afterwards, choosing to remain dormant for roughly a century in Elias' well, despite Ashen Eyes insistence.
Skills and Abilities
- Body Possession: Joseph is able to take control over another person's body, as shown when he took control over Stella's body, through the use of what appear to be some form of creature.
- Curse of Immortality: Joseph gained Cartaphilus' curse of eternal life when he merged with him, leaving him in a body that is constantly degenerating. He requires a constant supply of parts to keep functional.
- Monstrous Physiology: Joseph is able to transform parts of himself into monstrous shapes due to the nature of his sorcery, having taken in many things in an effort to stave off his body rotting. This appears to give him higher strength than a normal human would have.
- Master Sorcerer: Joseph is a sorcerer of great skill. His specialty seems to be the creation of powerful chimeras, though he can also take in knowledge from others that he integrates into his body.
- Necromancer: Joseph is a descendant of necromancers, allowing him to talk to the dead and spirits. In the present, he can still use this ability to call forth the wraiths of those he killed.
- Summon Centipedes: Joseph has the uncanny ability to unleash a tidal wave of giant centipedes upon his enemies. It is not entirely clear whether this is an alchemy spell, a side effect of his curse, or a combination of both.
- "You might call me a monster because I do what I want regardless of what that does to others."
— to Elias
- At the end of the anime Joseph is living on Elias and Chias property as he is seen off the house in an underground cavern sleeping. Chise seems to be the one taking care of him as she is seen bringing him water and covering him up, he is shown pretending to be asleep annoyed with her coming down all the time, getting in his face checking on him.
- He is from Eastern Europe.
- In Official Guidebook: Merkmal, his height is 148cm (4'10") and 48kg (106lb).
- In both the original Japanese and English dubbed versions of the anime, the creators and those who localized it actively avoided using his alias, The Wandering Jew, due to worrying that it would come off as anti-Semitic.