So far, Battle Tendency has been far more insane, and also a lot more enjoyable than the first part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The bizarreness has increased tremendously as new villains haves appeared and the fighting becomes more flashy and absurd.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2, Battle Tendency Vol. 3 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Hirohiko Araki
Translated by: Evan Galloway
Touch-up and lettering by: Mark McMurray
The battle with the Pillar Men is heating up. Despite receiving a devastating blow from Joseph Joestar, aka Jojo, Esidisi somehow isn’t down for the count. Using just his brain and a bit of body possession, the crazed organ has sent the Red Stone off to Switzerland, where his companions lay in wait. Jojo, Caesar, and the rest are going to need to get it back before all is lost. However, this is a journey that will bring them face to face with both old allies and tragedy.
The Initial Impression
It’s often hard to talk about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, even after just finishing a volume of it, due to just the insanity of everything you encounter in a single collection. I just experienced a book that had a living brain with a bunch of blood veins stretching out of it taking over a woman; a man who used an ax made from his own flesh, bone, and muscle that actually extended out from his arm; a heroic cyborg Nazi in 1938 with gatling guns and laser eyes; and speaking of that arm ax, said ax could sprout razor-sharp teeth and turn into a buzz saw. This is so weird and odd that it’s hard to describe and do the series justice.
That all being said, if you want a surreal, weird, and well, bizarre battle type series, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has got you covered. The third volume continues the wild trend we’ve seen over the past few volumes, and somehow actually manages to up the insanity. The ways in which people fight, the tools and body horror in the battling, how everyone comes up with plans on the spot, and just how the artwork depicts everything… it just astounds me in the best of ways.
Character-wise, this volume does a great job at expanding and characterizing its two male leads. We finally get more insight into Caesar and why he is so dedicated to this fight and honoring his family line. It’s revealed to us in a flashback, showing him as a little kid and the frustration he had with his father, who had abandoned him and his siblings. While kind of random that we are now given his backstory, especially given the ending of the book, the look into his past was appreciated and helped really build him (and his whole family line for that matter) as a tragic figure. Also, his final move at the ending of the volume felt rather nice and a good way to complete his character arc. It does ultimately feel like the character had come a long way, from not originally caring about Jojo in the slightest to wanting to do one last thing for a person he considers a friend.
Jojo feels a bit of the same way in terms of progression. While he still remains a trickster and troublemaker, he has been shown to care a lot more about people. He’s come to really respect Lisa-Lisa and Caesar, worrying about both of them greatly. He shows much more respect to current and former villains, like with Esidisi when that guy finally croaks. He seems smarter as well, coming up with a lot more plans to fight his foes, especially with having to think of things on the fly. While I don’t think the volume in and of itself pushed his character too far with development, it instead shows us how far he has come since the beginning of Part 2 and that his training and experiences have made a difference for him.
The artwork is something that I’m still rather mixed on. Focusing on the good, I do still really like how Araki’s artwork is great at depicting and bringing to life this series’ insanity. The creativity and actual forms of attack characters use are always so memorizing and original in their own way, like turning one’s blood into magma and trying to shoot people with it. The locations are really well detailed and distinct in their appearance. No one city, town, or location looks the same as another. While the faces and body types of the people tend to look similar, their outfits and body language do keep them looking distinctive and memorable. The action is over the top and goofy, but still a sight to see as people throw punches, slice and dice with arm axes, and even use energy bubbles to fight each other. The fighting can be static, but there is just something about the ludicrousness of what is being drawn and how gory it can be that you just cannot look away from it.
When it comes to the writing, there’s only some minor issue to be had with it. First is the addition of Suzie Q. She’s set up to be Jojo’s obvious love interest, just recently introduced in the first three chapters of the book where the two flirt with one another. Unfortunately, she had about as much development or character as Erina did in Part 1: Phantom Blood–a stock love interest and damsel in distress. Plus, she doesn’t spend much time with our lead and the two don’t have much chemistry together for anything to be believable between the two. It may have been better if she had shown up when Lisa-Lisa was first introduced and everyone started training, so we could have had more time with her before now.
Then there are other small points that are bothersome, like how the story has no real sense of time. For instance, there’s a moment where Jojo and Kars are falling down a cliff and our hero says he has about five seconds before he goes splat. Somehow, Jojo comes up with a plan on the fly to fight of Kars, protect the stone, and make an icicle rope to stop himself from falling in about five seconds. There are also storytelling problems with some of the transitions between scenes and panels being rather awkward and disjointed. Also, the reveal of the return of Stroheim was kind of undermined by having his name in a group of chapter titles before he appeared.
There’s also some issues with the artwork, which are ones I’ve brought up before. The body structures on the characters are still pretty ridiculous, especially with their overinflated bodies and bone-breaking poses, which make them reminiscent of bad early 90s Image characters at times. There’s a bit of awkward fanservice at the beginning that really does not fit the tone of the book or the rest of the series. The layouts can be hard to follow in some pages, which doesn’t really help with the story transitioning from moment to moment. Also, there’s an oddly placed full-page spread that must be flipped on its side that just doesn’t make much sense. These problems with the artwork can pull you out of the story, though thankfully it’s not as often like in previous volumes.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2, Battle Tendency Vol. 3 is really a lot of fun. We are quickly approaching the end of Part 2, but the series is only just ramping up its absurdity and action in the best of ways. While there are some weaknesses in the storytelling and art, the creativity of the action and great character development for our leads still make this so enjoyable to experience. I’m really looking forward to the end of this part of the series and hopefully, it goes out on an appropriately bizarre note.