Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here in today’s episode. That’s not just because New York’s Jojo is the start of Battle Tendency, but there are also many great aspects of this episode that I wanted to discuss. So let’s not waste time here and jump right in.
Fifty years after the events of Phantom Blood, an older Speedwagon and Straizo arrive at a mysterious cave discovered by the Speedwagon Foundation in Mexico, where they make a shocking discovery. Inside, they find several Stone Masks similar to the one Dio used years prior and a living, breathing man sleeping on the cave walls! Speedwagon wants to destroy the Masks and the man, but Straizo has other plans. He admits that he became envious of Dio’s power and-particularly- his immortal youth during the fight with Dio. Straizo then kills the team accompanying them and seemingly Speedwagon and uses the blood from the slaughter to turn himself into a vampire with one of the masks in the cave.
And just a note here, that wasn’t Kars in the cave that I joked in the Youth with Dio review. He’s in a pillar beneath the Colosseum. But he was still laughing at Dio every time he called himself a god.
Meanwhile, in 1938 New York City, a pick-pocket named Smokey Robinson is caught and nearly brutalized by police. A tall and muscular British man-who happened to be the man Smokey robbed- approaches the scene and saves Smokey using Hamon. Who was this man exactly? Why, none other than the next Jojo incarnation for Battle Tendency, Joseph Joestar, grandson to Jonathan Joestar!
Jojo and Smokey become quick friends, and the later joins an elderly Erina for dinner that evening. It isn’t long, though, until they hear word of the disaster at the cave or until Jojo and Smokey run into a vampiric Straizo. The episode ends with Jojo pulling out a Tommy gun and filling Straizo and the diner he and Smokey were in full of holes. But being the vampire he now is, you know Straizo will be back in the next episode.
Boy, where do I start here?
Well, I guess the more obvious place is to talk about the new Jojo.
Joseph Joestar is a great character and iteration of the Joestar bloodline. In fact, Joseph, in my opinion, is the best Jojo iteration of the franchise. So much so, if you haven’t noticed already, I call him Jojo. This is because Joseph encompasses everything fans of the franchise have come to know about the main protagonist of each Jojo Part. He’s known for getting himself into trouble but has a kind and chivalrous and willing to stand up for the weak. Jonathan certainly established the latter traits of each Jojo iteration, but Joesph added further to that by being a trickster. This adds a little more intrigue to Joseph. But another reason for that as well comes from the situation that Jojo and his family are in.
Another significant element to the start of Battle Tendency is that things feel direr for the Joestars. Jojo and Erina are the only remaining blood members of the Joestar family. As revealed by Smokey via narration, Erina gave birth to a baby boy after the events that befell Jonathan. We would later know this child as George Joestar, Jojo’s father (we’ll talk about him later in the month). However, not long after Jojo’s birth, both George and his wife-who we’ll also meet later on-died and/or vanished, leaving Erina and Speedwagon to care for a young Jojo. So really, very early on, you get a sense of despair. It’s this feeling of ‘this is it’ for Jojo and his family. But that’s mostly because he and Erina are pretty much it.
A final detail that I had to mention,-since I’m watching the English dub-I had to talk about the voice acting here. Like I said with Phantom Blood, the dub is good, but not anything spectacular. In fact, all of the voice actors who voiced characters from Part 1, like Michelle Ruff as Erina and Keith Silverstein as Speedwagon, return to Part Two to reprise their roles. But I had to talk about the one new performance to grace Part 2, and that was Ben Diskin as Jojo himself. He does a great job with the character, even though it’s nothing that spectacular.
Though fun fact, if you were like me and grew up with the 2000s show Codename Kids Next Door, you might recognize Jojo’s voice. That’s right! Ben Diskin was the voice for Numbah One! He was also the voice for Numbah Two, but it’s Numbah One’s voice you’ll likely recognize. Seriously, I can’t hear Jojo without hearing Numbah One throughout this Part!
Overall, New York’s Jojo is an excellent start to Battle Tendency. It sets the stakes high story-wise and introduces us to who may very well be the best Jojo iteration of the franchise. And it gets better as we see the conclusion of the confrontation between Jojo and Straizo and get introduced to probably the most likable Nazi ever. Stay tuned till then!
-Hanime on Anime