Story/Art: Hirohiko Araki
Translation: Evan Galloway
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: Mark McMurray
Design: Fawn Lau
Editor: Urian Brown
What They Say:
The beginning of the Battle Tendency Arc! The Joestar family is called upon to do battle against evil again! This time, it’s Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan Joestar! And his enemies are more powerful and diabolical than ever! Behold! The terror of the Pillar Men!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
And so the story of Jonathan Joestar came to an end with the previous volume, the final in Phantom Blood. So starts the story of Joseph Joestar, another in the line of people named Jojo, and with him the beginning of Battle Tendency. From the reactions from the anime, I can garner that Jojo’s only gets better as it moves along and as Hirohiko Araki grows as an adventure storyteller in this bizarre world he’s created. And this is but the tip of the iceberg, as part three, Stardust Crusaders, is even better than Battle Tendency, and the most recent arc, JoJolion, is even better than those combined. There’s a bit of time before JoJolion, so I’ll just dig into Battle Tendency’s first volume for now.
Battle Tendency starts with Jojo, that’s Joseph not the deceased Jonathan, hitting land in America, coming from England with his grandmother Erina and uncle Speedwagon (uncle in endearing terms only; Jojo even did a joke of Erina maybe messing around with Speedwagon only to be shot down by Erina). The beginning of Battle Tendency is actually rather subdued, showing Jojo’s tendencies in battle through a series of not-really-challenges to lead up to the bigger moments in the volume. He fights a racist police officer, a masked Straizo (Romanized as sutoreitso, after Dire Straits, which I would never know had I not looked it up seeing if it was actually a reference to the Fender Stratocaster), kidnappers, mafia, and Nazis within the pages of this volume and it isn’t until he faces off against Santviento (named Santana in the Japanese version, named after one of the greatest guitarists of our time) that he gets a true challenge.
And with Santviento, the story really begins to hit the ground running. But in the preceding pages, there are hints of Jojo’s personality. Despite his similar look to his grandfather (this was intentional on the part of Araki because “it was unprecedented to have a main character die in a Weekly Shonen Jump story”), he’s a man of his own. He’s inherited the hamon breathing from his grandfather, but he doesn’t have training to utilize it to its fullest potential. He does, however, stop a fat racist cop from harassing a young black kid, stops Straizo from harming an innocent woman (mostly) out of a sense of justice in hamon users, and stops Nazis from gaining an ultimate power because…they had his uncle Speedwagon captive. Look, he’s not perfect, but he’s fighting on the right side.
Against the previous foes, Jojo’s abilities were revealed. Against Santviento, his limits were. He’s had no formal training beyond what likely amounted to street fighting and whatever Speedwagon could drill into his brain. But he’s still good. His natural hamon abilities put him steps above the rest in terms of ability and his huge stature (not like everyone he faces doesn’t ALSO have a huge stature…) gives him an advantage in most situations.
Against Santviento, a being who is equal if not stronger than Jojo’s hamon, he hits a roadblock. He can’t continue fighting these monsters without some formal training and he’s only got out of the situation with the help of Nazis. He can’t keep his hamon breathing if he’s out of breath because he’s just doing it naturally. There’s only one man to help: A playboy from Italy named Zeppli.
Jojo’s in its first part was a lot of fun, but it was largely to set up this grand world of Araki’s for something greater. With the first volume of Battle Tendency, we get a taste of that something greater, even though thus far it has been largely a rehashing of Phantom Blood with new characters. However, this has a lot more going for it than Phantom Blood, I think, or I am just deluding myself into thinking it’s better because I am told that is so. Either way, I’m enjoying Battle Tendency just as much, if not more, than Phantom Blood. The inclusion of not only new protagonists, but new villains for him to fight makes it all the more interesting.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A+
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: November 2, 2015