And so we reach the finale of Battle Tendency and it’s been one wild ride so far. After suffering a major loss last volume, let’s see how our characters deal with a crazy finale. Is it good?
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2 Battle Tendency, Vol. 4 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Hirohiko Araki
Translated by: Evan Galloway
Touch-up and lettering By: Mark McMurray
This is the big epic showdown that’s been building since the beginning of Battle Tendency. It’s Joseph Joestar, aka Jojo, and Lisa-Lisa versus Wamuu and Kars, the dangerous Pillar Men. Will the hamon users save the world or will they all die? Well given that the series continues on after this for several other parts…
The final volume of Battle Tendency can be best described in two words: Bizarrely epic (pun most definitely intended). This is a crazy, wild, and intense finale to this part of the series and it fits so well. The volume is mostly just a bunch of constant fight scenes with some minor plot revelations regarding some of the characters (one involving Lisa-Lisa in particular that didn’t really seem to go anywhere unfortunately), so this is rather light on story for those wanting it. However, if you are into over-the-top battles and climaxes, this volume has you covered.
The fights with Wamuu and Kars are nothing short of epic with coliseum/gladiator-like fights between them and the heroes. The battles are always constantly going back and forth, with one person gaining an advantage or pulling off a clever move, while the other tries to counter it. It’s very entertaining to watch in its absurdity with how bonkers it gets (any attempts at science are just laughable), but yet still manages to feel so serious on top of that. The battle with Wamuu is probably the best in terms of capturing that feeling with vampire horses, chariot combat, and more. It’s so strange and unbelievable as you’re reading, but seeing the struggles of Jojo during it and what plans he concocts just makes things so engaging to read. It shouldn’t tonally work as well as it does given everything, but it somehow does.
Write this down folks. There will be a test.
Characterization in this volume is both good and bad, the good mostly involving Jojo and seeing how far his character has come. He’s still the trickster we knew from the beginning, using sly moves and dirty tactics to defeat these almost immortal villains (he really outdoes himself in this volume). However, he’s also really come a long way as a person. Like last volume, he’s much more caring towards other people and shows an incredible amount of respect towards Wamuu at the end of their fight, much more than that immortal vampire deserved honestly. His dedication to saving Lisa-Lisa at the end, along with everyone is very inspiring and touching. Putting everything on the line, even if it means his own death is quite moving, and his ending feels very earned. It’s a fitting end for his character, even though there will be more to it in the third part of the series.
The weakness of the characterization comes in with the supporting cast. The new developments we get with Lisa-Lisa are rather interesting and really flip the relationship between her and Jojo on its head. There are some interesting things to explore here, even if briefly, but it’s never fleshed out. Jojo finds out about her secret, but it’s all off panel and nothing comes of it. Smokey returns but his appearance is negligible and doesn’t amount to anything–same with Speedwagon and Erina. The return of Suzie-Q just comes out of nowhere and feels almost tacked on (I don’t mind what happened between her and Jojo, but Araki needed to at least build up to it on some level). Kars remained a solid, dangerous villain from beginning to end, same with Wamuu to a certain extent. His sort-of redemption felt odd and rather silly given everything he had done in the past. So all in all, a strong lead with a cast of characters that could’ve been better.
And lastly, we come to the artwork and like always, it’s both good and bad. When it comes to depicting the utter insanity, it’s perfect at it–the crazy and ridiculous moves everyone pulls off, Kars and Wamuu’s body shifting transformations, the angles used in the panels to depict the action taking place, the wild locations, and more. It all looks great on that level, really living up to the “Bizarre Adventure” part of the title. The art does suffer in other areas when it comes body proportions and being hard to follow along with how a scene is laid out on a page at times. To get straight down to it, if you liked or disliked the artwork up until now, your overall opinion will not change with this latest volume. It’s the same level of quality as the previous volumes for better or worse.
Sorry. Villains aren’t usually in the business of hiring janitors.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency Vol. 4 is an excellent conclusion to this genuinely fun and exciting storyline. This is a significant improvement over the first part of the series, with a stronger protagonist and a far more epic and satisfying finale overall. It’s certainly not without its flaws, being rather light on story and having some missed opportunities at the end. Still, it’s a fun ride from start to finish, and I’m quite excited to see where Part 3: Stardust Crusaders will take us all.