JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Vol. 2

By Hirohiko Araki. Released in Japan as “Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.

Because everything is so ridiculous all the time, it can sometimes be hard to remember how influential JoJo really was on the Weekly Shonen Jump era. Yes, JoJo has its predecessors as well – we’ve seen sink-or-swim training since the dawn of time – but most of the story and fight beats here are something you’d see in your average One Piece or Bleach. Indeed, I have to wonder if Aizen decided to carry out his evil plan after reading “It as me, Dio!” a few too many times. That said, One Piece and Bleach may go over the top a lot but they still can’t touch JoJo, where every single page is a dramatically shouted moment, and even the evil Nazis have retirony moments.


Joseph also needs his Speedwagon-esque sidekick, of course (made somewhat odd by Speedwagon actually being there at the start), and for that we have Caesar Zeppeli, who starts off as a typical Italian lothario who does not like Joseph at all, but they quickly bond when they have to battle the ancient villains who are trying to regain power or somesuch. There is a plot going on throughout the book, but it comes secondary at all times to the ridiculous poses, dialogue, and characters. Speaking of which, I was quite happy to see that Joseph and Caesar’s training mentor is female – Lisa Lisa, a young woman who does not let herself get lost in emotion (see what I did there?) when it comes to honing the pair’s hamon skills. I hope she survives, as she’s very cool.

There are still some moments of drama and horror – we’re near the start of World War II, so there’s a lot of Nazis running around, and they get the majority of the corpses in this volume. Mark, JoJo and Caesar’s young driver, is quickly marked for death the moment he shows us a locket with his girlfriend in it, and saying he’s about to propose is just icing on the cake. And a whole bunch of Nazis get their life energy drained out of them in a rather unsettling sequence. I would argue that the Nazi villains are perhaps not being treated as seriously as they should be, but that would imply that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure should treat something seriously, and I can’t really get behind that.

The majority of the last half is taken up by JoJo battling one of the major villains, Esidisi (yeah, it went there. We also got Loggins and Messina in this volume as well), which shows off JoJo’s quick thinking and rashness. The best moment of the whole volume may be when JoJo’s trademark “you’re about to say this” schtick is used against him, a fact that I think wounds him more than any physical pain. In any case, this is just as overblown, manly and ridiculous as ever, and if you like Jump Manga you should enjoy it immensely.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Vol. 1

By Hirohiko Araki. Released in Japan as “Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.

There was a bit of a worry in the Jump editorial offices when the 2nd part of this series began, Araki tells us, as Jump rarely killed off the hero and then kept going. This is why Joseph Joestar is a clone of his grandfather in terms of looks. Thankfully, he doesn’t act remotely like his grandfather, and we get to enjoy seeing a hero who is far more in the mold we’re used to today: brash, immature, confident, and a bit of a jerk. But he loves his grandma, and when it turns out that an ancient evil is upon them once more, he drops everything and bikes to Mexico to figure out what’s going on. Once again, no one does things in JoJo, they overdo them.


The first half of this omnibus gives us a lot to work with, as Joseph Joestar arrives in New York City and immediately starts beating up cops, making friends of black pickpockets, and dealing with an old ally from the first series who has now turned evil fifty years later as he seeks to find a way to keep himself young and powerful. Yes, Straizo is our initial villain, as he and Speedwagon are no longer brothers in arms (see what I did there?), but he’s mostly just a teaser to show off that Joseph is starting out this series with an innate knowledge of the things Jonathan had to learn. Not that there won’t be training arcs in this series, but Joseph has an advantage from the start. He’s also cocky, with his tendency to predict the corny lines people will say to him endearingly dickish.

It’s a good thing that he has such a strong personality, as the rest of the cast doesn’t get as much of a chance to shine. Speedwagon and Erina are still around, but their function is the same even as they’ve become elderly: stare in awe at what is going on around them and comment aloud on it. Smokey too doesn’t do much here except be a standard sidekick, and he doesn’t even get to go to Mexico with Joseph. Indeed, the other character who gets the most development is one of the villains, von Stroheim (not named after a band, but a film director this time), who is a Nazi trying to use the newly discovered Pillar Men to help Hitler, but rapidly finds himself in over his head.

Those who enjoyed the first arc of JoJo’s should not be too worried about things being different here. Joseph may be a different personality, but the author isn’t, and there’s lots of things like his using Coca-Cola or cacti as amazing weapons to please the reader who just wants to see… well, bizarre things. This is a manga that can make a line like “How did he stop my Hamon-infused spaghetti al nero?!” into dramatic climaxes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The cliffhanger also implies that Jonathan wasn’t the only one to leave badass descendants. Fans of ridiculous Jump manga will find this is more ridiculous than the ones most influenced by it.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, Vol. 3

By Hirohiko Araki. Released in Japan as “Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.

It’s striking how much of JoJo’s, particularly this first arc, has been embedded in anime fandom in general. I was unfamiliar with the arc till reading Viz’s version, but when Dio, about 3/4 of the way through this volume, begins screaming “WRRRRYYYYYYY!!!”, I laughed, finally knowing where another meme came from. One of the great joys of reading this series is seeing how easily it can get turned into memes – and that’s not a knock on its quality, it’s a sign that people are able to take the musing, exciting and horrifying that is JJBA and make it their own. Not every series is able to do that.


That’s Dio on the cover, but for most of the first half he sits out the battle, content to sit on a throne and do evil things like having a mother beg for her child’s life, then zombifying the mother so she kills the child herself. In Volume 1 a token effort was made to give Dio a reason to be evil, but it was just token – Dio is the villain because he really really loves doing evil things, and adding ‘immortal vampire’ to the list only made it easier for him to be MORE evil. Once Bill Bruford and Tarkus – or however they’re spelled – are taken out, Dio finally manages to fight with JoJo and show off how he really is from the dark side – pure attacks don’t even affect him.

This is the last volume of the first arc, and you can tell by how much the violence steps up. This was already a very violent series – I’d mentioned the debt it owed to Fist of the North Star before – but it really amps it up here, with the aforementioned mother and child, with one of Dire Straits (I love the naming in this series, and it reminds me I miss Bastard!!) getting flash frozen and then shattered, with JoJo’s mentor remembering at a convenient time the prophecy that said he had to die, and finally with the apocalyptic ending where Dio, now just a head, finds a way to kill off Jonathan Joestar once and for all.

The ending shows off how much JoJo’s is also immersed in the tropes of tragedy, though I’d argue it’s not really pure tragedy as JoJo doesn’t have a fatal flaw like Hamlet or Lear. He just can’t escape Dio, not even after he gets to marry Erina and go off on a honeymoon. The last 30-40 pages are awash in corpses, and indeed the story ends with (seemingly) Erina the only one still alive. Somehow, though, I doubt Dio is dead. The author clearly planned to move on right after this – there are no breaks between this arc and the next one in the series, so it’s not like many modern manga where a reboot takes place after a break of several months/years. Instead, it shows off how all of this – the histrionics, the shouting, the battles and the tears – was a prelude, working p to something even bigger.

What will that be? Well, we’ll find out in November. Or now, if you like reading digitally.