Studio: David Production
If the Phantom Blood arc was Jojo's Bizarre Adventure getting its bearings, the Battle Tendency arc is the franchise racing full tilt forward with all guns blazing. Introducing a new, brasher and comedic protagonist and a globe-trekking adventure to take down menacing ancient villains; Battle Tendency is truly where the JoJo series becomes what fans love.
Fifty years after the events of Phantom Blood, Joseph Joestar, grandson of Jonathan, is living in New York City with his grandmother. He has some ability in Hamon (the magical martial art of the series) but uses it mostly for pranks or getting out of trouble with authorities. Meanwhile south of the border, our old friend Speedwagon, now an oil tycoon and philanthropist, has been researching the stone mask that gave Dio his vampiric power. In an Aztec ruin, he discovers a pillar with a constellation of the masks and a man. A longtime friend of Speedwagon betrays him to steal a mask and awaken the "Pillar Man" before going to New York City, where JoJo becomes wrapped up in a battle against ancient god-like beings and their power-granting masks.
Throw in some Nazis, three more Pillar Men in Rome, a Casanova who can use bubbles as a weapon, a beautiful master of Hamon as a sensei, a race against time, a flesh eating squirrel, a vampire chariot race -- need I say more?
Previously: Phantom Blood Arc Review
Battle Tendency, is nearly twice as long as Phantom Blood which allows a better chance to invest ourselves in our hero and the world he lives in. Jonathan was a very straight-laced and honestly somewhat boring hero. Joseph on the other hand is a prankster and not always the most likeable person. He's full of himself, relies on tricks to win, and has few of the old-fashioned ideas of honor his grandfather held. Breaking out of the mold of the traditional hero mold makes Joseph more entertaining to watch and one of the series best overall characters.
Accompanying Joseph on his journey are a handful of characters who aren't nearly as memorable as those in Phantom Blood. Caesar Zeppeli acts as a kind of rival/friend but never transcends being anything more than just there. Smokey, a thief turned JoJo's friend, again is just there. The only heroic character who is memorable aside from Joseph is Lisa Lisa, who trains him to take on the Pillar Men and showcases the series is not afraid to have women just as powerful, if not more so, than their male counterparts.
And speaking of the Pillar Men, as menacing as they may be they're entirely forgettable. None of them reach that level of pure evil that Dio did and even Cars, despite being the progenitor of the villainy in the series, is a pale imitation of Dio.
Regardless I still think this arc is better than the first. The battles have time to breathe and the pace is perfect. There's a good variety of locations and enough emotion to root for JoJo in his seemingly impossible fight.
With the excellent soundtrack, more fantastic over-the-top voicework, and the animation that stays true to the manga's style, Battle Tendency comes across as a near perfect mature-rated shonen.
Everything it does right more than makes up for the shortcomings.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining story of hyper masculinity than Battle Tendency.
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is available on Netflix and Crunchyroll.
More reviews of bizarre anime (that don't have the courtesy to announce that fact in their titles) on Sean Newgent's website
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