Original Airdate: December 7th, 2012
Toonami Airdate: December 17th, 2016
1938. It’s been 50 years since the battles between Dio and Johnathan finally concluded. A now-elderly Speedwagon meets up with Straizo on a trip to Mexico to find an archeological site uncovered by Speedwagon’s foundation. At the center of these newly uncovered ruins, they come across a shocking site: a structure with many stone masks embedded within, as well as a stone representation of a human figure.
Cutting to the streets of New York City, a kid named Smokey Brown comes across a rather tall muscular Englishman buying a soda and decides to steal his wallet, but he gets busted by the police shortly after. As they harass and beat him, the Englishman approaches the scene and asks for the cops to leave Smokey alone, but things escalate to the point where the man uses violence and a very familiar looking energy power to subdue both cops. The two manage to get away and exchange words with each other, where we learn the man’s name: Joestar. Joseph Joestar.
Back at the Mexican ruins, Straizo asks Speedwagon about Joseph, flashing back to an incident where he rescued Speedwagon from an airplane ambush, realizing that he actually possessed Hamon abilities. Straizo then immediately kills the expedition crew as well as Speedwagon himself (Straizo can fuck off for that, by the way) before putting on the stone mask. The two exchange one last round of words where Straizo reveals his desire for the mask’s powers and his admiration of Dio, and then Speedwagon finally dies.
Smokey takes a taxi ride with Joseph and Erina across town to a fancy restaurant as he learns about the tragic nature of the Joestar lineage up to this point, including the death of Jonathan as well as Joseph’s parents. During dinner, they catch the attention of a rather ugly fellow who seems upset about the idea of a black kid eating in his presence (talk about authentically 1930’s New York). Granny Erina gives Joseph her blessing as he proceeds to engage him in combat, demonstrating his masterful sense of strategizing as he subdues the man with ease. Immediately afterwards, the man’s associate comes up to the group and informs them of Speedwagon’s demise, which upsets Erina as she thinks back to the events of 50 years ago. Later on, Smokey and Joseph are enjoying some time together when Joseph catches a glimpse of the now vampiric Straizo right outside. He goes to confront him, but before Straizo can do anything, Joseph busts out a tommy gun and shoots up his foe… and the entire building just to be sure.
So with the official passing of the JoJo guard from Jonathan to Joseph, there also comes a slew of other changes to the series. There are some obvious aesthetic changes with some switch-ups in the art style, and a noticeable shift in background music, changing from the traditional orchestral compositions of Part 1 to more time period-appropriate blues guitar licks and some out-of-the-box electronic/orchestral tunes. The music comes courtesy of Taku Iwasaki, whose resume includes Read or Die, the first couple of Ruroni Kenshin OVAs, and even some other entries in the Toonami catalog such as Gurren Lagann, Soul Eater, and Akame ga Kill!.
The biggest change of note comes in terms of, for lack of a better term, the overall battle “philosophy”. Part 1 was standard shonen in its fights, relying on conveniently timed deployments of overpowered Hamon techniques in order to resolve the conflicts. Joseph takes a much different approach, as seen in the diner fight against the Garbage Pail Kids reject where, instead of brute forcing his way through the fight, he relies on strategy and planning. He analyzes every detail given off by his opponent, breaks down his findings, and then finds a clever workaround in order to succeed, outsmarting his opponent instead of overpowering him. This method of writing and choreographing fights is something that will carry on through the rest of the arc and the future of the overarching series.
Joseph is also a radically different character from Jonathan, clearly lacking the sophistication and gentlemanly elegance of his predecessor (why would he think that Jonathan and Speedwagon were doing it like they were Yuri and Viktor). At the same time, there is still a sense of humanity to him, having an attachment to Speedwagon and Erina as he has no other family left, as far as we know. There’s a lot of fantastic setup for the arc in this first episode, and things will only get better from here. I give this episode 9 tommy guns/10.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know down in the comments below.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency airs every Saturday night at 12:30 AM only on Toonami.
Follow the Swim Squad on Twitter.