Another year and another Jojo, I watched this while still caught in the sparkling fabulousness of the last Jojo. I knew the series continued with other characters from the family tree and to be honest I wasn’t really that excited for it as generally you get attached to one family member above the rest and have nothing but scorn when you’re forced to watch their subsequent spawn flail around. Thankfully this wasn’t the case in Battle Tendency as I can safely say Joseph Joestar is not very like Jonathan at all which really is his strength. Also if you thought Dio was outrageous just wait till you see the Pillar men…
Our story starts in 1938, which as anyone who has at least glanced at a history book knows is the year before the Second World War so oh boy was I ready for some crazy Nazi interpretations. We find out that Speedwagon is a really old rich dude now who has always taken care of Erina and the Joestar family which hits me right in the feels already. He has called Straizo, one of the hamon users that went to the showdown with Dio, as he has found a place filled with the crazy masks that Dio used. Not only that but there is a buff naked man stuck in a pillar! Speedwagon knows when shit is about to go down, unfortunately in the past years Straizo has become a massive Dio fan boy and immediately guts everyone and uses their blood to become a vampire because that worked so well for Dio…
Back in New York City we find our new Jojo helping out a pickpocket named Smokey who is being harassed by police thugs, demonstrating that Hamon is hereditary and doesn’t need to be taught. If Jonathan was our lovable oaf then Joseph is a jerk with a heart of gold. He’s rude and abrasive but fiercely protective of the people he cares for. I should also mention that Joseph is Jonathan’s grandson, his actual son is already dead. Yeah the Joestars really don’t have that much luck, or maybe just Erina is cursed I mean she’s had a really tough time. After this Erina is told that Speedwagon is dead, noooooooooooooooooooooooo! Just another bad luck day for Joestars/Erina.
Straizo then appears to challenge Joseph knowing that Dio’s biggest failing was the Joestar family, so pretty smart… Unfortunately he wasn’t smart enough to realise why they were so difficult to beat. Joseph himself having no problem using guns and bombs to blow up the cafe they are in. Straizo is kind enough to reveal info about the pillar man before shuffling off his mortal coil.
So off to Mexico Joseph goes and good news Speedwagon is alive! Hooray! Bad news he’s in the hands of the Nazis… Boo. Rudol Von Stroheim is the man in charge and is hilarious but also evil, I mean we’re introduced to him via making a woman lick where she accidentally cut him while shaving him under threat of having her tongue cut out so probably not a guy you want to take to granny’s house. But every time he appears this really crazy German theme plays and I can’t help but laugh. So like all Nazi science fair projects, he feels that the pillar man is totes cool and will not backfire on them despite him killing everything in the vicinity and being able to learn how to use things within minutes.To be fair Stroheim realises pretty quickly that they are way out of their depth and helps Joseph defeat him at the cost of his own life. Speedwagon having severe PTSD at this point hurries with Joseph to Rome where 3 more pillar men have been discovered. They meet with another Hamon user named Caesar Zeppeli… Wait a second! Zeppeli? Yep Caesar is the grandson of the glorious William Zeppeli who started all this bullshit ages ago and was the mentor to Jonathan Joestar.
This automatically gives Joseph and Caesar a bond of rivalry, Caesar being the typical amazing student who’s spent years training and Joseph being the cocky guy trying to prove himself without training. After some aggressive posturing between them both, Caesar’s friend Mark drives them to the pillar men, talking about how he’s going to get married and how much he wishes to live through the next 24 hours and jeez they may as well slap a big sign on his head saying “WILL DIE IMMINENTLY”.
After a pretty graphic death of Nazi soldiers by the first pillar men, he awakens the other two. Now at this point the pillar men don’t even pay them much mind except the first one named Whammu brushes past Mark and instantly obliterates that half of his body! Fuelling the group for sweet vengeance, though I mean he literally just melted half of a guy, what do they expect to do to him?
So they challenge them and fail miserable as Whammu can literally turn his arms into whirlwinds… Just suspend your disbelief while watching, it somehow works. Joseph manages to trick both Whammu and Esidisi into letting him live for a month to train, they both take the bet but implant rings within his throat and heart that will dissolve after a month killing him if he doesn’t kill them first for the antidote. Seems Pillar men are also smarter than the average villain.
So what do they even want? Well Kars has a little dream of being the perfect being. So he needs to make a mask that can pierce his godly brain, vampire masks were just prototypes. To do this he needs a big ass stone called the red stone of Aja and so our comrades have something to go on. Caesar now having some respect for Joseph after his stupid wager takes him to Venice to train with his mentor Lisa Lisa, because when you like a name why not have it twice?
So yeah training montage, this part wasn’t that interesting but is showed Caesar and Joseph becoming more bro and the introduction of Suzie Q a ditsy but lovable housemaid. Lisa Lisa reveals she has the bling everyone has been searching for! Esidisi comes to retrieve the stone and goes against Joseph ultimately losing thus freeing Joseph from one of the rings. I must say this is one battle that made me squirm as Esidisi’s prime mode of attack is his blood and veins which pop out all over the place including under his nails bleh!
As Joseph goes to tell every one of his victory he has a cute flirty moment with Suzie Q, with Esidisi’s brain attached to him! This allows him to take over Suzie Q, make her send the jewel to Kars in Switzerland and then trap them under threat of killing Suzie Q. Just proves what you can do if you set your mind to it. Heh Heh. Ultimately he is defeated and surprisingly Suzie Q lives although battered a bit. They rush to Switzerland and find Stroheim is alive! Which I found suspect as he literally blew himself up, but I forgot these are the magic Nazis! They just made him into a cyborg!
So cyborg von Stroheim fails to stop Kars from taking the stone but Joseph manages to grab it last minute. The group know they have to face Kars and Whammu and kill them before they amass too many vampires and try for the stone again, they head to their base and now we can finally get into the show down. Now I don’t really want to spoil the plot from here on out as it gets pretty crazy, Joseph’s parents are revealed, Caesar’s childhood is revealed, Kar’s history is revealed well you get the point. Basically a lot of fighting and revelations. I did enjoy the fight scenes and the twists and turns they took. A good few tragic moments as well. The ending fight with Kars as some crazy morphing thing was pretty exhilarating as you knew at this point he is basically immortal, I actually loved the solution for that as well.
The after battle ending is also hilarious and heart warming with a twinge of sadness as it explains what happens to the rest of the characters as well as setting up the series for the next Jojo. Overall this was superior to phantom blood, there was more episodes and more time to attach to characters. The villains had much more development and the side characters were interesting and well insane… Looking at you Stroheim.
I felt the series did a good job moving us on from Jonathan, Phantom Blood was very much a good vs evil story whereas Battle Tendency is more about a random group of people taking on forces far greater than them. They had enough cameos and connections to the past that the continuity was smooth without it being just a look how many old characters we put in!
The same nit-picks I had last time are still here, they must always have one character repeat everything that is being shown to you, as if the audience is too stupid to recognise when a character has punched or thrown someone… But overall I really liked Battle Tendency. Joseph appears as an older man in the next series so I look forward to how they keep his character but add the effects of time to his personality.
The opening Coda – Bloody Stream fitted perfectly and is very different from Phantom Blood’s opening, they kept the ending the same Yes – Roundabout, which I liked as both series together make up one standard anime length so the continuity stay strong. Also we’re still very much focused on the masks so the flow was all there.
As usual the art style was consistent and a nice style, it is a bit confusing at first when they sometimes dramatically swap colour palettes but it makes it visually different and pleasant to look at.
If you enjoyed the first one or even if you weren’t too sure about it I would give Battle Tendency a try as it is different enough and the writing is a bit stronger. It is still predominantly about fighting an enemy each episode so if that sort of anime puts you off I don’t think JoJo is really the anime for you. But if even for the hilarity of it you can face it you’re in for a fabulous ride.