Second story arc of JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken series.
Takes place in the 1930s, and follows the misadventures of Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan Joestar, as he fights vampires and ancient super beings with some help from a cybernetically-enhanced Nazi and an Italian man he has a lot in common with.
A 17-volume kanzenban version dubbed as JoJonium was published in Japan from December 4, 2013, to March 4, 2015. This edition covered the first three parts of the Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken series and included new cover art which showed redesigns of the characters. The second part, Sentou Chuuryuu, was covered in JoJonium's volumes 4-7.
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 2: Sentou Chuuryuu has been published in English by VIZ Media as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency digitally since April 21, 2015, and physically since November 3, in hardback format with the JoJonium format and content used. It was also published in Italy by Star Comics from May 1994 to March 1995.
Any patience you had with the flawed first arc will be rewarded handsomely.
While Phantom Blood was dragged down by an extremely dull protagonist, an overly-evil villain, poor art, and a slow beginning, by the very first chapter Battle Tendency has already done away with half of this. BT picks up 50 years onwards from Phantom Blood, in the 1930s, and now follows the grandson of Jonathan Joestar, Joseph Joestar. While the two are dead ringers for each other in appearance, you would never mistake one for the other - they're polar opposites in terms of personality. Where Jonathan was noble, gentlemanly, and generically heroic, Joseph is brash, loud, and not afraid to pick a fight. On top of that, he's not just willing to fight dirty - fighting dirty is his defining character trait. Not that he is without a sense of honour, though - his reasoning for picking fights is always noble (well, almost), and does not hesitate to put himself in harm's way for a loved one. While this does, to some degree, make him sound like a standard idiot hero shonen protagonist, the key factor that sets Joseph apart from the ilk is that his attitude is misleading - he's incredibly smart and quick-witted, and always prepared. Joseph is a big fan of Sun Tzu's "The Art Of War", and it shows in his continued pragmatism in combat and his constant trickery.
I touched upon this in my review of Phantom Blood, but what really stands out above all else in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are the fights. Whereas most shonen series will rely on delaying the protagonist's appearance to increase plot tension, or using a convoluted string of powerups to justify the protagonist's ability to win, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is all about the tactics. The biggest strength in this is that the question ceases to be "who will win?", or "when will they win?", but "how will they win?". The problem with the Phantom Blood, however, was that while this sometimes happened, Jonathan wasn't the kind of character who would intentionally use deception, which highly limited what ways he could achieve victory. Joseph, however, is deception incarnate, and as a result Battle Tendency is truly able to shine. There really is no better representative of JJBA as a whole than Joseph Joestar.
While JJBA is more driven more by fights and characters than by plot, Battle Tendency is nonetheless an improvement on the first arc in the plot department. In the very first chapter, things immediately escalate with the discovery of an ancient man inside a stone pillar... surrounded by dozens of copies of the vampire-making stone mask from Phantom Blood. "Oh, shit" is the appropriate reaction here. What's more, the man inside the pillar? He's not quite dead. Nor is he quite the only one of his kind.
Another interesting point about how this arc compares to the first is that, in spite of the name "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure", the first arc really wasn't much of an adventure. After all, the bulk of the plot is divided up into three locations in Victorian England, and the setting in general feels very claustrophobic. But Battle Tendency truly lives up to this title. It begins in New York, but the discovery of the Pillar Men and his need for Hamon/Ripple training ends up leading him to travelling to numerous different countries. While the first took after vampire horror more than anything, Battle Tendency follows more in the footsteps of Indiana Jones movies than anything else.
While it is easy to ramble at length about what makes Joseph far and away one of the best characters in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure as a whole, he is far from the only good character in this arc. Erina, Straits, and Speedwagon from the first arc are all still present, with the latter ironically being more useful in his old age than he ever was in Phantom Blood. But the real stars here are the new additions. Joseph gains allies in two Ripple users who are both his senior - Lisa-Lisa, the master of a school of the Ripple in Italy, and her disciple, Caesar Zeppeli, the grandson of Jonathan's master. Caesar is definitely the standout here - while he isn't quite an amazing character in his own right, his aloof and cultured nature is a direct opposite to Joseph's, and the two clash wonderfully.
On the opposite side of things, we have the Pillar Men. These three serve as the main rivals to the Ripple warriors: Wham, ACDC, and Cars. Cars is the leader of the three, and is one of the few things I fault about this series - his motive and overall personality are quite generic for a villain. While Dio was also overly evil, he was extremely fun about it. Cars doesn't quite match up - however, he doesn't need to all that much, because the real rivalry here is between Joseph and Wham. Ironically, Wham is the lowest Pillar Man in terms of Hierarchy, serving behind their leader, and his right hand-man, the strange and disturbing ACDC, and yet he's by far the most prominent of the three. Though all of the Pillar Men, like Cars, lack any value for life as most humans would, Battle Tendency makes use of him not being human. He has his own moral compass, revolving around the honour of battle. Wham values the honour of the fight above all else, making an interesting parallel to Joseph in the process. Though their powers are generic - the use of the powers of Wind, Fire, and Light respectively - in true JJBA fashion, they still manage to make inventive use of them.
Yet another thing JoJo 2 has improved upon is the art. Though it's still very rough around the edges, having some awkward muscle structures and overly thick lines in places, it's a firm improvement - and at it's best, it's downright eye-candy.
With all this having been said, it's hasn't completely patched up what mistakes Phantom Blood made - it still contains one key fault from the first that would not be fix'd until the third arc. Joseph is almost as much of a camera-hog as Jonathan, in that the vast majority of the fights revolve around him, which limits how good Caesar and Lisa-Lisa can be, especially the latter, as Caesar's interactions with Joseph do allow him enough screentime. Similarly, it helps greatly that unlike Jonathan, Joseph is a protagonist worth giving the spotlight to 90% of the time. Due to these two factors, it is a slight improvement, it hasn't fixed the problem.
However, this is merely a small scratch on an otherwise shiny diamond - it's hard to care in the face of how incredibly fun JoJo's Bizarre Adventure 2 actually is. Joseph alone is enough to carry this arc, but a more dynamic story, a better all-round cast, and much more focus on the intelligent action that is JJBA's raison d'etre rounds Battle Tendency out as one of the greatest highlights in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
Final Words: An improvement in every way. Arguably the best arc JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has to offer.
For fans of: Fist of the North Star, Toriko.
Depending on whether you rate helpful or not, I may have to kick your ass!
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency is an appropriately bombastic, artistically successful action series with engaging characters that falls just short of excellence.
The story of Battle Tendency starts 50 years after Phantom Blood in pre-World War II New York. It involves Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan, and his battles against the creators of the stone masks, ancient vampires named ACDC, Wham and Cars (yes, they are actually called this). One of the most appealing aspects about Battle Tendency’s story is that it spans across several different countries, involves many new and exciting characters and several creative set-pieces. The story is appropriately tense and fast paced while still retaining its humour in a way that feels natural and complementary, rather than conflicting. From the beginning until the end, the audience are not faced with the question of what will happen, but rather how it will. This leads to the more tense and engaging action sequences, helped largely by eccentric villains and likable lead and supporting characters.
Joseph Joestar is the most enjoyable part of Battle Tendency, balancing juvenile behaviour with quick, believable wit underpinned by his genuine kindness and awareness of the situation. His amusing running jokes, like guessing the enemies words and making them look foolish before defeating them, and his interactions with his allies and opposition really elevate the reading experience to something much more entertaining than it would first appear to be. Caesar is also an interesting character, appropriately brash and forceful, but he serves primarily as foil for Joseph. Lisa Lisa is memorable in both design and attitude, though is slightly short-changed in interaction and development. The other characters who show up briefly serve their purpose well without overshadowing the main characters, and the larger character cast gives Battle Tendency and overall grander feel than Phantom Blood. The villains are also quite distinct, each having a different attitude and method of defeating the main character, though ACDC is admittedly less compelling than Cars or Wham. They feel legitimately threatening, though at times they do fall into shounen stereotypes.
The art is of slightly higher quality than Phantom Blood’s, though the main reason for the aesthetic improvement lies in the more ambitious designs. Joseph looks much like Jonathan, but is more noticeable because of the unique way in which his body moves. Caesar looks much like Joseph, but a few key changes, such as his hair style and bandana, does prevent the audience from ever confusing the two of them. Lisa Lisa looks quite different to all other females in Jojo’s Bizarre adventure, seeming strong, agile and confident without pride or bombast. The villains’ designs, however, are the most outstanding visual element of Battle Tendency. They appear proud and ancient while still maintaining that distinct Jojo look of strength and durability. The action sequences, without exception, are well-crafted, clearly drawn and never leave the audience feeling cheated or underwhelmed.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency is a sizable step-up from Phantom Blood in many aspects, be it engaging and distinct characters, or well-drawn and executed action or comedy, Battle Tendency is a great shonen action series with a lot going for it, and I certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Phantom Blood. read more
As the second Part of the long running series Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Battle Tendency finds itself in an interesting position that many other series would not find themselves in: it sits between what some might consider an average first act and a third act where many people say "is where the series becomes really good" and it is thus not unheard of for people to gloss over this part all together. Which is a shame as Part 2 is a great part in its own right and doesn't see half of the praise that it deserves.
While the story of Phantom Blood was difficult to explain due to just how bizarre yet oddly linear the narrative was on paper, Battle Tendency's is a case of it being both very weird in nature while also being much larger and better defined in scope. Events take place a few decades after the end of Phantom Blood, picking up in 1930's America when the world was on the edge of a second world war. We are quickly introduced to our protagonist Joseph Joestar, age 18 who is a nigh splitting image of his grandfather Jonathan. Joseph possesses an innate ability to harness the power of the Ripple, an ability that he has inherited from his grandfather before him and can use to great effect, quickly utilising it to rescue a pickpocket named Smokey Brown from a couple of corrupt police officers. Meanwhile we are reintroduced to his "Uncle", the aged Robert Speedwagon (who has managed to strike oil and create an organization in his name between the 50 year gap), where it is revealed that he has discovered ruins which allude to the origins of the vampire-creating stone mask. It is here that he uncovers the true origins of the accursed mask and a promise of a threat that is of a much greater scale: vampire transcending beings simply known as the Pillar men.
In summary it's basically more of the same nonsense that was present in Phantom Blood, but more refined and benefitting from a shift in genre; while it can be said that Phantom Blood's atmosphere was designed to reflect classic horror's like Dracula, Battle Tendency strives to provide a more traditional adventure series like Indiana Jones. This is especially apparent as the series visits multiple countries around the world as the story goes on. Note that while the series is more refined than its predecessor it still falls for similar pot holes that hurt the overall tone of the story (probably the best example of this is how the main characters are aided by the Nazi’s at one point without any sense of irony), which is more of a quirk of Hirohiko Araki’s writing style and continues to pop up throughout the series. In the end the story is what it is: the series is funny when it’s meant to be funny, sad when it’s meant to be sad and you're rooting for the main characters to overcome their enemies around every bend of the story, which is exactly what needed to be done.
In contrast to a majority of the characters in Phantom Blood, the characters in Battle Tendency are all interesting and more complex than how they initially appear. Joseph, despite the strong resemblance towards Jonathan (the previous part's protagonist for anyone unfamiliar) is about as similar to him as night is to day: while Jonathan was more of a stupidly naïve hero who always fought in a gentlemanly manner, Joseph starts out as a rebellious, jerk-ish hothead whom is not above fighting dirty or comically running away from a situation. This immediately makes his character a lot more interesting, as it shows that he's a far cry from Jonathan’s near messianic level of heroism yet maintains a sincere care for those who he makes deep connections towards. This causes him to give his all to protect them and in turn leads him into becoming a better person as a result. Overall he’s a much stronger main character than Jonathan was and the story benefits greatly from it. Supporting protagonists and secondary characters are likewise more interesting than in the previous part, with the important ones possessing a surprising amount of depth behind their surface personality traits. Special mentions go towards Caesar, eventual rival and friend of Joseph and Stroheim, a patriotic Nazi soldier whom Joseph encounters on his journey, as they both provide a great contrast between themselves and Joseph. The only real characters one could take an issue with are Suzi Q who was introduced solely to provide a love interest towards Joseph and the Pillar Men whom make some baffling poor decisions for beings of their age and intelligence level. To top things off they're frankly not as memorable or entertaining a villain as the first parts villain, Dio. Of course these are more nit-picky complaints than anything else and can easily be overlooked when focusing on the more positive aspects of the series.
As was the case with Phantom Blood, the combat is the absolute high point of the series and has matured to be a lot more creative in execution. The Ripple fighting style that appeared in previous series reappears here shockingly enough, but the utilisation in Battle Tendency favours focusing Ripple energy (basically chi mixed with UV rays for those unfamiliar) into other objects than transferring the energy into their foes by punching them. This logical evolution adds a broader range of combat possibilities and strategies that were simply in a state of infancy when the Ripple was used in the previous part and is nearly comparable to the “Stand” abilities that appear in part 3 onwards. The abilities that each of the Pillar Men possess are very entertaining as well (if a bit less creative) and subsequently provide excellent enemies to Joseph and Co.
The art style of the series is essentially more of the same as the previous arc; featuring handsome muscle-bound characters and beautiful women with a liking for uniquely styled clothing. Having said this there is definitely an evolution in Araki’s drawing style as lines appear bolder than what they did in Phantom Blood and panels appear somewhat neater, giving an impression of increased experience. Background art is worth a decent mention as well: this series visits a variety of different countries and is able to capture pure scenic at the best of times. All in all the artwork is something that you may enjoy, though it is hardly the author’s best work.
So is Battle Tendency a good manga to read? Yes, provided that you have read Phantom Blood before reading this part. It’s a superior series in nearly every way and gives a good indication of just what direction the series is heading towards. If Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was to be compared to a butterfly’s lifecycle; Battle Tendency would be Jojo’s chrysalis stage; in the middle of changing from its Phantom Blood larvae stage and heading towards its emergence from its cocoon (Stardust Crusaders), where it becomes something awe inspiring. If nothing else if you're planning to read this series the way through then this part is definitely worth the time you'd spend reading it.
Following up to the successful Phantom Blood, Hirohiko Araki delivers a perfect example of a good sequel: get everything great about the first and build on it, and get everything bad about the first and improve it. What Araki creates is one of the best direct sequels in manga history.
Battle Tendency picks up 50 years after the events of Phantom Blood, around 1940. After the ending of Phantom Blood, Speedwagon moves to America and becomes an insanely rich oil tycoon. He forms the Speedwagon Foundation with the ultimate goal of protecting the Joestar family and killing all vampires. Jonathan's wife, Erina, raises her grandson Joseph Joestar, the second true Jojo. Joseph moves to America while Speedwagon discovers frozen vampires in Mexico. However, Nazis led by Rudol von Stroheim kidnap him and accidentally awaken the vampires, known as the Pillar Men. Now they have to team up with Speedwagon, Joseph, Zeppeli's grandson Caesar, and a mysterious martial artist named Lisa Lisa to stop the Pillar Men (Santana, Wham, ACDC, and Kars) from destroying the world. It's a very fun story that never has a slow moment unlike Phantom Blood. Much more comedic than it's predecessor, the dramatic moments still hit hard. The climax, though stupid beyond belief, is nevertheless epic and hilariously over the top.
The art has improved greatly since Phantom Blood. Araki is still sticking with the overly macho man style while dealing a little bit better with anatomy. Not much o say here other than it's a great improvement over Phantom Blood, while still retaining its style, a style Araki won't really change until Part 4.
For the most part, the characters are very fun. Speedwagon is pretty much useless, but it fits his character who not only is frail and timid to begin with but is now like 89 years old. von Stroheim, especially when he becomes a cyborg, is simply awesome, and his assertions of Nazi German superiority seem true. Caesar serves a similar role that his grandfather did in Phantom Blood, but he's much more young and hotheaded, making him a perfect counterpart to Joseph. The Pillar Men are pure hype, and Wham specifically is one of the best Jojo antagonists ever. I did not care much for Lisa Lisa or Smokey Brown (A kid that Joseph takes with him when eh tried to pickpocket Joseph) at all.
But to make up for that, Joseph. Addressing the complaints that Jonathan was "too dull" and "too one dimensional", Joseph is a colorful character and unlike Jonathan, is a trickster. Rather than fight nobly, Joseph gets enjoyment out of creating master ruses to piss off his enemies. His trademark "You're next line will be..." is hilarious. Pretty much everything about him is hilarious in fact, whether crossdressing to sneak into a Nazi camp or throwing dismembered arms to choke enemies. It's impossible to not be tricked into following this crazy bastard thanks to his endless charisma, wackiness, and flamboyance.
Battle Tendency is a very fun story arc for all the reasons above. It feels much more like a "bizarre adventure" than Phantom Blood did, and it delivers all the goods expected and more. It's very, very dumb, but that's the fun. And even with the comedy, there are still some damn fine dramatic moments, and it's overall very well written as expected of Araki.
Great fights, great characters, great art, Battle Tendency is just lots of fun. A more than worthy follow up to Phantom Blood, it's like the Terminator 2 of manga. read more