There are two things you need to know if you choose to continue.
First, I would highly suggest reading through the Anime Hajime Impressions: Benkyou – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series, which covers season one of JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure (Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency). Doing so provides more context to what I will be talking about.
Second, this post is not a review; I cannot stress this enough. Although I intend to discuss what I liked and didn’t like about this show, THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. I watched JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure in Japanese without any English subtitles. I do have confidence in my understanding of Japanese, but not nearly enough to write an official Anime Hajime review. Therefore, I fully expect to get details wrong. Please leave your thoughts about this series in the comments section below.
With those points out of the way, what were my impressions of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?
Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar
- Voiced By: Kazuyuki Okitsu
An up-and-coming gentleman, Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar becomes a fighter for good. Using his impressive strength and affinity for Hamon energy, JoJo sets out to defeat his adoptive brother, Dio Brando.
Impressions – Phantom Blood
Going into JoJo, I knew of this series’ dedicated following. Besides testing my Japanese, I also wanted to learn what all the hype was about.
Although I think I got a glimpse into what has made this show so popular, the first story line, Phantom Blood, wasn’t what I would call spectacular.
Don’t get me wrong. It was big, loud, and weird. There aren’t many anime quite like it. But before we get into that, let’s have a quick summary of this story arc.
- Voiced By: Takehito Koyasu
A ruthless and cunning thief, Dio Brando set his sights on the Joestar fortune. When his plans are thwarted, Dio chooses to become a powerful vampire. He now seeks complete world domination.
Our tale begins in the latter half of the 19th century when George Joestar is saved by the notorious thief Dario Brando. In his travels, George Joestar acquired a mysterious mask, which now hangs in the Joestar manor.
Twelve years later, George’s son, Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar, is a young man with dreams of being the perfect gentlemen. Elsewhere, Dario Brando dies under unusual circumstances, and his son, Dio Brando, goes to live with the Joestars.
Instantly, Dio tries to control every aspect of JoJo’s life. However, JoJo soon pushes back, and an eternal rivalry forms between the two brothers.
Nearly a decade later, George Joestar appears to be dying. JoJo uncovers evidence that Dio is poisoning their father. After collecting the necessary evidence, JoJo confronts Dio. Rather than being taken in, Dio puts on the strange mask and turns into a bloodthirsty vampire.
To fight Dio, JoJo meets a man named William Zeppeli, who teaches our hero the ancient art of Hamon energy.
JoJo and Dio battle for the fate of the world, thus beginning the saga of the fateful Joestar bloodline.
Robert E. O. Speedwagon
- Voiced By: Yoji Ueda
A former street thug, Robert E. O. Speedwagon becomes a close ally of Jonathan Joestar after witnessing the latter’s great honor and fortitude.
Pure ridiculousness was the defining feature of this series. Logic was often thrown out the window, and it was so blatant, it could not be anything but entertaining.
I think that’s what impressed me most about Phantom Blood, its willingness to be weird. At the very least, this quality sure as hell made the fight scenes all kinds of fun.
Unfortunately, none of that was enough to elevate this arc. With all the insanity, it needed a protagonist who could carry that kind of weight. Dio filled the villain role perfectly, and he is now one of my favorite anime bad guys of all time. Jonathan Joestar, on the other hand, was something else.
Will A. Zeppeli
- Voiced By: Yoku Shioya
A master of Hamon energy, Will A. Zeppeli is a vampire hunter. He trains Jonathan Joestar to use Hamon to defeat the villainous Dio Brando.
This incarnation of JoJo, the first incarnation, was far too straightlaced. He was too much of a goodie-two-shoes and always seemed to be way over his head.
I suppose, in a way, this made sense. After all, he was new to the whole Hamon thing. Because of this, the story needed to rely on JoJo being a protegee since it didn’t have the time to make him stronger gradually.
Phantom Blood might have gotten away with this, but the problem was, Zappeli was right next to JoJo. Many scenes would build up this incredible Zappeli fight, only for him to get his butt swiftly and thoroughly kicked. Thus, it was up to JoJo to pick up the slack without fail.
Had it just been Phantom Blood, I would have thought the JoJo series overhyped. But then we got to Battle Tendency.
Joseph “JoJo” Joestar
- Voiced By: Tomokazu Sugita
The grandson of Jonathan Joestar, Joseph “JoJo” Joestar is also a skilled Hamon user. Unlike his gentlemanly grandfather, Joseph is more hot-headed and cocky.
Impressions – Battle Tendency
Well, this was much, much better.
All the energy Phantom Blood had, Battle Tendency brought it up several levels. Now I get why so many people love the JoJo series.
To say this storyline was the better of the two would suggest there was a contest. No, Battle Tendency blew its predecessor out the water. But before we get into why; here’s a brief summary.
Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli
- Voiced By: Takuya Sato
Caesar Zeppeli is the grandson of Jonathan Joestar’s master Will Anthonio Zeppeli. A gifted Hamon user, he forms a strong rivalry with JoJo.
It is now the 1930’s, and Jonathan Joestar’s grandson, Joesph “JoJo” Joestar, has arrived in New York. While in the city, JoJo is attacked by a vampire who claims to have killed the Joestars’ close family friend, Robert E.O. Speedwagon.
To verify this claim, JoJo heads down to Mexico, and to his relief, learns Speedwagon is alive. However, Speedwagon’s work has been commandeered by a German military company led by one Rudol von Stroheim. Stroheim’s goal is to learn the secrets of the vampire mask.
The German expedition accidentally awakens an ancient being known as a Pillar Man. Considered to be an ultimate lifeform, the Pillar Man makes quick work of the soldiers. It is only with the combined efforts of JoJo and Stroheim that they manage to defeat the Pillar Man. Unfortunately, JoJo learns there is more going on.
In Rome, three more Pillar Men have been discovered, and their awakening is imminent. JoJo heads out to stop this and meets up with Caesar Zappelli, the grandson of William Zappelli. After a near-fatal encounter with Pillar Men, Caesar brings JoJo to the Hamon master, Lisa Lisa.
Together, JoJo, Caesar, and Lisa Lisa fight to prevent the Pillar Men from enslaving the world.
- Voiced By: Kazuhiko Inoue
Kars is the leader and most powerful of the Pillar Men. He is also the one who designed the vampire masks.
Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency were too interconnected, so I can’t suggest watching this storyline without sitting through the other.
Of course, saying that would also imply I didn’t care for Phantom Blood. That is not true at all; I enjoyed both parts of this season. Except, I happened to like Battle Tendency a lot more.
While the first tried to maintain some air of seriousness, the second dropped all pretenses. Granted, there were serious moments throughout Battle Tendency. Still, there was also a persistent silliness that was so much fun.
- Voiced By: Akio Otsuka
One of the ultra-powerful Pillar Men, Wamuu is a fierce opponent for JoJo.
- Voiced By: Keiji Fujiwara
One of the Pillar Men, Esidisi, along with Wamuu, places a curse on JoJo.
- Voiced By: Kenji Nomura
Santana is the first of the ultra-powerful Pillar Men to be revived.
What helped Battle Tendency so much was the quality of its characters.
In Phantom Blood, the world of Hamon was this new thing. But in its successor, Hamon was the center of everything. Therefore, there was more confidence, as well as a fair bit of showboating.
Fights were more creative, and you could never really guess how any situation was going to go. As a result, things tended to get out of hand fast. If you thought Phantom Blood was farfetched, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Battle Tendency.
More than anything, though, what gave this storyline its fire was its incarnation of JoJo.
- Voiced By: Atsuko Tanaka
Lisa Lisa is a Hamon master and the teacher to Caesar Zappeli and later JoJo. Her methods are brutal, but she cares deeply for her students.
Rudol von Stroheim
- Voiced By: Atsushi Imaruoka
An officer in the Nazi military, Rudol von Stroheim leads a unit to Mexico to conduct experiments on the mysterious Pillar Men.
Joseph Joestar had the right type of personality to spearhead this story. The only thing he shared in common with his grandfather was his name. This JoJo was loud, aggressive, and proud.
When faced with a difficult opponent, Joseph had no problem playing dirty. He would use everything at his disposal to ensure a victory. If that meant resorting to underhanded tactics, then so be it.
Plus, the phenomenal performance of Mr. Tomokazu Sugita was nothing short of iconic.
With any further installments of the JoJo series, it will be Battle Tendency that I will remember.
Anime Hajime Impressions: Benkyou – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Believe it or not, it was the insane, over-the-top action that made this series easy to follow. I’m not going to lie; the Japanese was tough.
But, I think that speaks wonders to how solid this show was.
Granted, if you don’t speak a word of Japanese, you might be in for a rough ride without assistance. However, I imagine you’ll still be thoroughly entertained. That was the kind of spectacle this series was. And I cannot wait to return to it.
Thanks for following along with me. If you’ve seen this series and feel I am wrong in my descriptions, please let me know in the comments below. I wouldn’t want to put this show in an inaccurate light.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and come back in July 2021 for the start of the third lesson of Anime Hajime Impressions: Benkyou, where we will be covering: