JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2 – Battle Tendency Volume 4

jojo-4Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2 – Battle Tendency
Volume 4
Release Date: 25th August 2016
Author: Hirohiko Araki
Publisher: Viz

Its time for the finale! For the first time English readers of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure get a chance to experience the climatic conclusion to Part 2 without having to track down crappy scans and funky translations, it’s only taken nearly thirty years! Part 2 tends to be the fan favourite, with the battles held within this tome being part of the reason why, so why did it take so long to make it to our doors?

The final volume of Part 2 packs in twenty chapters of posing, tricks, and Nazi science, a mix of the bizarre that ensures the manga isn’t telling any lies with its name. Perhaps how bizarre the series was contributed to the lack of English Jojo releases for so long?

Maybe it was a bit dated being an eighties comic and all when Viz started aggressively translated other hit Shonen series overseas, such as Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball, and more.

The series isn’t shy to name characters after Western bands either, with Cars (Kars) and Wham (Wamuu) being the main villains at play here, and the main villains for Viz when it came to avoiding lawyers lining up at their homes.

Plus Jojo didn’t get a fully featured anime series until 2012, with only a Part 3 short series (they call them OVAs) existing, which might explain why Part 3 is the only piece of Jojo we ever had until now.

These are all factors which could be the reason why, but whatever the case, it’s a damn shame. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has always been held in high regard by those who managed to read it, and has even developed a creepy cult following which has online posters trying to link every series, film, real life event to a scene, power or saying from the series. It was influential sure, but it’s not like it doesn’t fall into typical Shonen traits and flaws.

jojo-4-2 Take this volume for example. It’s the final series of battles for Jojo and Lisa Lisa, and the way they decide to solve it is through a competition style battle. It seems to be an in thing even today for Shonen series to have a competition/tournament style arc, and it goes as far back as Dragon Ball, perhaps even further! Having the heroes versus the villains in a Colosseum setting helps simplify the process of duking it out, but despite all the Vogue posing it’s still following a generic formula.

Then you have the contributions of Jojo’s allies. Lisa Lisa challenges main villain Kars to battle, but just like the Zeppeli’s, the Speedwagon’s and the Stroheim’s of the Jojo world, she ends up acting as a tool to hype up the villain, with only Jojo being allowed to take care of any of the threats at hand.

Finally there is the powers at play. Jojo fights with a power called the ripple, which involves breathing techniques to produce powerful energy, but when it comes down to it, the ripple is just a stronger punch or kick. It’s no different to the powers seen in Dragon Ball, Naruto and every other shonen, it’s just visualised differently. It wasn’t doing anything fresh in the eighties, so it certainly comes across a little dated now. Jojo is not the manga bible, it was already following Fist of the North Star’s and Dragon Ball’s footsteps.

But wait, Jojo is great, all I’m trying to do is push down those insane expectations a typical Jojo fan will stuff down your throat. It’s a shonen battle manga with a whole lot of fighting, a whole lots of clichés, and a whole lot of techniques, but it is still a wonderfully bizarre adventure. Here’s why:

Firstly the series has style. It might look like Fist of the North Star or most other eighties macho series, but having characters pose like fashion models subvert the macho expectations, it makes it feel so incredibly wonderful. The main villain Kars posing to display his ultimate powers is both hilarious and cool. It’s already broken away from being just like every other series with one key visual trait.

Secondly, it might follow conventions laid out since the beginning, but it still does its own thing, a thing which did provide a lot of inspiration for the smarter shonen series. The ripple might be just a stronger punch or kick, but Jojo has to go through a whole lot of trickery till he can land such an attack. Basic magic tricks and luck play a huge part in the battles at hand in Part 2, and it makes them incredibly engaging.

The ripple doesn’t become a bigger beam or explosion, it always stays the same, it’s just the circumstances that lead to said attack that make it so interesting. Wamuu versus Jojo is a battle of wits whilst riding at furious speeds on zombie horses. Kars can do pretty much anything by the volumes end, and seeing how Jojo’s tricks escalate is part of the fun.

Thirdly, the series isn’t a stick in the mud when it comes to the characters. Jojo isn’t a chosen one, but part of a cursed lineage, yet this fact is rarely ever brought into play. Each character has a lot to say, and it isn’t always so plot essential. Trivia, pop culture, jokes and random asides are all too common, and it makes a change from the hammy melodrama and long-winded explanations that you’ll often come across if you choose to pick up a random manga from your local Waterstones. Okay, it’s till hammy, but it’s charmingly hammy.

Simply put, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure took the template and mixed it with the bizarre. It’s inspired many series over the years, but not enough, because too many are missing out on what makes Jojo so endearing, so enduring over the passage of time. How many series have a climax as thrilling as Jojo versus Kars, a battle in which the hero receives no power ups, whist the villain gets them all?

Though Part 3 takes a lot of this and chucks it in the bin.

How very Jojo.


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