JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency Part 1
Japanese Title: JoJo no Kimyō na Bōken (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険)
Animated by David Production – Licensed by Warner Bros. Japan
English Release Date: May 30th, 2014 (Crunchyroll)
If you’ve read my previous review of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood Re-Edit, as well as my original summary of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Season 1+2, you know that it’s time to look at the next Season, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency! This is another re-edited film based on the anime, although there are now two seperate parts, as Battle Tendency is a lot longer and more detailed than Phantom Blood. This means that I will look at each Part individually, as both seem to be very different in tone and style. Not only that, but it means I get to talk about one of my favourite anime experiences even more!
Set fifty years after the events of Phantom Blood, R.E.O Speedwagon has grown into a successful entrepreneur, and begun an investigation into the creators of the Stone Masks. However, he is betrayed by the Hamon Master Straizo, who has grown mad in his desperation to combat the aging process of mortal beings. This leads to a confrontation with Joseph Joestar, our new main hero, who is not the same fighter or person that we might expect. Unlike his grandfather Jonathan, Joseph is brash, rude, and easy to provoke. However, he has a natural talent with using the fighting style known as Hamon, and is destined to cross paths with the legendary Pillar Man. He must meet new allies and old friends in order to face a threat that could lead to the destruction of mankind as we know it.
If I felt that Phantom Blood was too basic and traditional, Battle Tendency is a fantastic change in tone. Whether it’s the new characters, or even the different locations, there’s a much wider variety in the show’s presentation. The colouring and locations are more vivid, there’s a greater sense of variety in the characters and storyline, and each battle scene is a lot more interesting than what was shown in Phantom Blood. As you can see, the experimentation with colour and perspective means that this looks phenomenal, and probably one of the most distinctive anime series in recent years. In this first half, we are introduced to the main concepts of the Joestar family line, the Pillar Men, advanced Hamon fighting techniques as well as the historical threat of world war. All these aspects are combined in the feature to create an adventure text that really feels line a classic pulp adventure text, although with a tone that recalls Indiana Jones or Uncharted.
The main character in this series is Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan. I previously felt that Jonathan was a traditional shonen hero, and that there wasn’t much to his personality beyond being a gentleman and being really strong. However, Joseph is a different character entirely, and I couldn’t have been happier. He jokes with his opponents, he regular has scream and shout his way out of situations, and is generally a lot more interesting. He also relies on hidden tactics and strategies, as he is a lot more intelligent than his enemies give him credit for. This means that each fight is a battle of wits as much as it is of strength, which separates it from most other anime shonen franchises. Joseph has the same beliefs in what is good that his grandfather had, but his new layers of personality make it resonate with the viewer even more.
Another interesting diversion from Phantom Blood is the expanded cast of characters, where there is much more variety and diversity than before. While Dio Brando was fine as the main villain of Phantom Blood, the Pillar Men are an entirely new breed of antagonist, with their exotic designs and terrifying powers. We are introduced to four of them, and they each have different personalities and methods to choose from. One face-off between Joseph and a Pillar Man called Esidesi is especially good at showing just how terrifying they can be. We can also see how several characters from Phantom Blood can return in new ways, and how original characters can be introduced. Fan favourite Robert E.O Speedwagon is back, and is a welcome sight for fans of Phantom Blood. We also see everything from headstrong Nazi leaders to the mysterious Hamon master Lisa Lisa, who has methods of training that even the most hardened warrior would consider unethical.
This new re-edit is well paced, and although it’s longer than even the whole of Phantom Blood. It goes through all the important moments and fight scenes, and they even manage to find time to include other moments of character development. Some parts get skipped, or edited to be shorter, but the story remains intact. However, while I was happy to see Phantom Blood be abridged, I appreciated the more detailed extensions of plot that Battle Tendency had to offer. When the characters are more fun to be around, it’s a shame to see them get less time to make an impact. This is also true for some new characters, who get sidelined completely. One sympathetic German officer doesn’t even get named until he is killed by a Pillar Man.
I won’t give a complete review of Battle Tendency as a whole as this Re-Edit is incomplete, but I loved watching it all over again. For people new to the franchise, this is another great way of watching the show, and is unlike anything seen before in anime. For veterans, it’s also recommended, although I’m sure there are certain omissions that you would rather see included. Next time, I’ll look at Part 2 of Battle Tendency, and see if the Re-Edited movie series can end with a bang!
(Note: I’ll give a full review of Battle Tendency in the Part 2 review, as this is only a recap of Part 1. I’ll go into more detail about certain characters, as well as other interesting aspects.)