THE A SIDE (HEAD TO TOE): I know it’s redundant to say it at this point, but JoJo just keeps. Getting. Better. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but it does.
I think the best part of these episodes was obviously Lisa Lisa, also known as the Beautiful and Perfect Female Protagonist I Was Looking For In This Show, but even then, she doesn’t take a major role as I thought she would. With that in mind, the moments that we did see of her were pretty great. We could start with the whole bit where she kicked Jojo’s butt, or go onto how she completely doesn’t care about JoJo’s gendered insults, to even casually staring at JoJo struggle for his life in one of the most bizarre and intense training sessions I have ever seen. She’s also very beautiful, not to mention smart and passionate about what she does……er, well, whatever she does.
I was expecting Lisa Lisa to journey with JoJo and Co. after the training – not to say that she couldn’t – but it seems like for the time being, JoJo’s adventure will be done by him and Caesar alone. Which is okay! I really like the duo, and they balance each other pretty well. But Lisa Lisa was definitely a highlight so far in Battle Tendency, and I do hope she plays a bigger part in future episodes.
But if you were to ask me for another highlight, I’d have to say the battles in Battle Tendency are much more intriguing, gory, dramatic and intense. Three weeks of training have left JoJo as an improved man, but the fight between him and AC DC is as intense as the one between him and Santana. One thing I really appreciate is how each battle is different? For Santana, we had Jojo use his smarts to drag him into a well. In this fight, we see Jojo use the thread of his own cap (we always did know that attire in one way or the other played a role in JoJo battles) to trap AC DC and Ripplify him to death. As I’ve said before, Jojo can’t just rely on his brawn to win the fight, nor just experience – especially when he’s up against ancient superior human beings who have lived far longer than him. He also has to rely on wits, and seeing these mind games play some importance in who the winner will be is really cool to watch.
I was surprised that AC DC was the first opponent, as I had considered him to the be the leader of the Pillar Men, but JoJo tells us that’s obviously not so. With one ring down, another one to go, two more men to defeat, a potential lover for Jojo to find, and nine episodes left, I’m pretty damn curious as to how JoJo will resolve all of this. One thing’s for sure: there’s no way of predicting what happens next – the show’s far too out of my league for that, and personally? I like it better that way.
THE B SIDE (HIGHWAY TO HELL):
THAT’S RIGHT MOTHERFUCKERS! SINCE NATASHA CHICKENED OUT OF WRITING THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE IN CAPS LOCK, I’VE DECIDED TO TAKE UP THE MANTLE AND GO ALL ANIME CRITIC MERU (OF SAYONARA ZETSUBOU SENSEI FAME) ON YOUR SORRY ASSES. NOW LET’S TAKE A MOMENT TO TALK ABOUT WHY JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE CONTINUES TO BE THE BEST ANIME CURRENTLY AIRING AND THE RADDEST PIECE OF SHIT-KICKING SHONEN ACTION YOU’VE SEEN IN YOUR WHOLE GODDAMN LIFE.
BACK WHEN MANGA EDITOR AND COMICS ARTIST JASON THOMPSON WROTE ABOUT JOJO IN HIS SEMINAL ANN FEATURE “HOUSE OF 1000 MANGA,” HE MENTIONED THAT BATTLES IN JOJO ARE WON MORE OFTEN BY CLEVERNESS, LUCK OR AUTHORIAL FIAT RATHER THAN INCREDIBLE COURAGE AND DETERMINATION. MANY SHONEN MANGA USE AND ABUSE THE DRAGONBALL Z STYLE OF POWER-UPS–THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER TAIL OF THE KYUUBI FOR NARUTO TO DRAW UPON, ANOTHER LEVEL OF SWORD RELEASE FOR ICHIGO TO DRAW UPON, ETC. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS, OF COURSE, HUNTER X HUNTER’S NEN SYSTEM BEING ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT. BUT THE THING IS THAT HUNTER X HUNTER AND ALL ITS ALTERNATIVE SHONEN COUSINS TOOK THEIR INSPIRATION, AT LEAST IN PART, FROM A CERTAIN DECADES-SPANNING MANGA CALLED JOJO’S BIZZARE ADVENTURE. WITH THIS SECOND ARC, THE SERIES HAS YET TO REACH ITS CREATIVE HEIGHT (THAT WOULD HAPPEN IN THE THIRD ARC, AS OF YET UNADAPTED BY DAVID PRODUCTION) BUT THE SEEDS OF WHAT MAKES JOJO SPECIAL COMPARED TO ITS PEERS AND EVEN A NUMBER OF ITS DESCENDANTS ARE ALREADY VERY CLEAR.
WHY DOES JOSEPH WIN AGAINST AC/DC? JOSEPH’S ANSWER WOULD BE THAT HE LAID OUT A PATTERN OF THREADS, UNSPUN FROM HIS HAT, ACROSS THE BATTLEFIELD. HE THEN PULLED THESE THREADS TOGETHER TO TRAP AC/DC AND THEN BLAST HIM TO DEATH WITH RIPPLE ENERGY. THIS EXPLANATION IS TOTAL BULLSHIT. I’M NOT SAYING THAT IT’S FALSE! JOJO TELLS THE TRUTH TO AC/DC WHEN HE EXPLAINS HOW HE WON A SECOND BEFORE HE “KILLS’ HIM. BUT LOOK AT JOJO’S EXPLANATION OUTSIDE OF THE PROPER CONTEXT, AND IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT WERE THIS BATTLE TO HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE, WITH THE LAWS OF REALITY APPLIED, THERE WOULD BE NO WAY THAT JOJO WOULD BE ABLE TO PULL IT OFF. THIS MIGHT SEEM LIKE A WEIRD STATEMENT TO MAKE, SINCE RIPPLE MARTIAL ARTS AND CRAZY VAMPIRIC ABILITIES DO NOT EXIST IN REALITY. BUT CONSIDER: EVEN THE CAMERA CHEATS WHEN IT COMES TO SHOWING JOJO ORCHESTRATING HIS PLAN. WE DON’T SEE THE PROCESS, ONLY THE END RESULT. FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, WHAT JOJO PULLS OFF IN THIS EPISODE IS PRETTY MUCH THE EQUIVALENT OF A TEN YEAR OLD BOY ENGAGING IN AN IMAGINARY DUEL WITH HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, SAYING “YOU THOUGHT MY SWORD WAS DEFEATED? WELL, MY SWORD IS A LASER SWORD! THAT WILL NEVER BREAK, AND CAN SPLIT INTO ONE MILLION SWORDS THAT WILL TEAR YOU INTO LITTLE PIECES NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! WHAT DO YOU SAY NOW?!?”
BUT THE AMAZING THING HERE ISN’T THAT JOJO’S VICTORY OVER AC/DC FEELS IMPLAUSIBLE, BUT THAT IT FEELS EARNED. RATHER THAN COME OFF AS A CHEAP TRICK, IT TOTALLY WORKS AS A CATHARTIC MOMENT OF RELEASE OF THE CRAZY PENT-UP ENERGY BUILT UP BY THE SEEMING INVINCIBILITY OF THE PILLAR MEN. WHY IS IT THAT WHEN ICHIGO PULLS YET ANOTHER GAME-BREAKING POWER OUT OF HIS ASS, PEOPLE COMPLAIN, BUT WHEN JOJO PULLS OFF A PLAN THAT IS TOTALLY, UTTERLY IMPRACTICAL, PEOPLE CHEER? I THINK THE ANSWER IS THAT JOSEPH, FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, IS A MAGICIAN. WE AS THE AUDIENCE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE HOW HE ACCOMPLISHES EACH TRICK. IN FACT, IT’S IMPLIED THAT WATCHING JOSEPH RIGOROUSLY PLAN AND EXECUTE THESE TRICKS WOULD BE VERY DULL, SAVE FOR THE FINAL MOMENT OF CATHARSIS IN WHICH EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER AND THE BAD GUYS BURN. IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT AS IMPLAUSIBLE AS JOJO’S TRICKS CAN BE, THE SEEMINGLY INFINITE POWERS OF THE PILLAR MEN (FINGERNAIL BLOOD TENDRILS! SPLITTING YOUR HAND IN HALF JUST TO DODGE AN ATTACK! STEALING THE ARM FROM YOUR MENTOR TO REPLACE HIS OWN!) ARE JUST AS IMPLAUSIBLE. AS THOROUGHLY AS JOJO APPEARS TO DEFEAT AC/DC, HIS BRAIN REMAINS TIED AROUND JOJO’S BACK, PULSING SINISTERLY, AT THE EPISODE’S END. “BUT WAIT!” YOU MIGHT SAY. “HOW DID AC/DC SURVIVE?”
WELL, AS THEY SAY: A MAGICIAN NEVER REVEALS HIS SECRETS. WHETHER IT BE A MAN, A VAMPIRE OR A MANGAKA. ASSUMING THAT HIROHIKO ARAKI ISN’T ALL THREE.