Jun 20, 2015
AmbiguousMonster (All reviews)
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.