Not gonna lie: I stood up and clapped at this moment. I loved this whole god damn episode, but fuck me, this sold me 100 percent on “Battle Tendency.” JoJo taking out a Tommy gun and blasting a vampire on a cold night in New York and telling the vamp to go fuck himself for murdering Speedwagon? Yes. YES. YES! Do with me what you will, Joseph Joestar. I am ready.
I’m someone who doesn’t like to raise his expectations sky high before watching something, for various reasons, but I couldn’t help but get hyped up for “Battle Tendency.” So many people have extolled its greatness on Twitter and elsewhere — would it pay off? Well, I can’t speak for the arc as a whole, but based on the first episode, yes, there is plenty of reason to be excited.
The first thing to notice, clearly, is that Joseph Joestar is a different breed of Joestar altogether. Jonathan Joestar is the gentleman bruiser, a polite, gentle young man who resorts to violence only when it’s absolutely necessary. (Of course, being JoJo, it often is absolutely necessary.) Joseph, meanwhile, seems to be more a man of the streets, wild and impulsive, but also smart and in tune with the world in his own way. I find it interesting that the episode goes out of its way to point out that Joseph was raised in Britain, since his behavior seems more in line with the hot-headed American type characters we so often see in anime. But, of course, a hot-headed British badass is fine, too.
And, of course, because it’s 1930s America, segregation is in full force and the cops are racist assholes. (Quick question for anyone who knows more history than me: Would a place that fancy have let Smokey eat in 1930s New York? I doubt that would be the case. My understanding is that appealing to pure economics (“As long as he pays, he eats.”) didn’t happen so often. You were either the “right” type of person, or your money was no good, no matter how much of it you had. But maybe it was different in certain places in New York? Or perhaps the owner is just a nice guy — or he’s truly driven by profit, which is why he’s cool with the Mafia being all over the place, too. Anyway, enough of that tangent! Just a curiosity on my part.) I like seeing that the Joestar crew are firmly anti-racist and not in a way that’s condescending or done to show what great, AMAZING people they are for being so good to the black man. Joseph is just one dude helping another out of a jam. It’s cool.
Also, name alert — Smokey is almost certainly named for Motown legend Smokey Robinson. Will he be the new Speedwagon figure? I like his pluck, and you definitely need a normal sort of fellow to stand around and be amazed about how FUCKING BANANAS the heroes and villains are. And another thing: I’m actually going to be sad that Erina will likely disappear from the story soon! Wow, it took just a single episode for my whole opinion of her to turn around. Evolving into a badass grandma who I could ABSOLUTELY see as a steely mob boss will do that for a gal. And Speedwagon as an oil baron? Capitalism hasn’t been this moe since Kaiji!
Erina, you are the coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooolest~
Look, people, I’m going to drop any pretense of coherency. There is just too much I enjoyed about this episode. JoJo caving in the face of racist asshole cop. JoJo using the ripple to break the other cop’s finger with a BOTTLE CAP and swigging the drink down afterward. The flashback to the plane hijacking. JoJo predicting every move of the Mafia henchman and then fearlessly destroying the leader. JOJO TOTING A FUCKING TOMMY GUN WITH HIM AND BLASTING A VAMPIRE. (Yes, I know I mentioned that already, but it’s so great that it has to be mentioned again.) And, perhaps most of all, the fact that this is turning into more of a globetrotting adventure. It’s like the evolution from Uncharted to the second game, where it has the grand, globe-spanning setting it probably should have had in the first place. I can’t wait for Joseph to hightail it to Mexico!
One more fun thing before I go, though! There is an amusing anachronism in this episode: In this flashback, Joseph Joestar of the early 1930s is reading a magazine/comic with a Get Smart-based ad on the back. For all of you who are unaware, Get Smart was a 1965-70 comedy series that satirized the secret agent genre that had exploded with the James Bond flicks. It was created by Mel Brooks (yes, that Mel Brooks) and Buck Henry and starred Don Adams, whom I am sure is most well known to you all as the voice of Inspector Gadget. But that’s not all!
Yes, the ad on this episode is based on an actual Get Smart ad! My peek at the manga reveals Joseph was reading a Superman comic, so SOMEONE on the JoJo anime staff is either a Get Smart fan, really into old American advertisements or possibly both! This has no real bearing on anything; I just thought it an interesting detail that caught my eye during the course of the episode.