JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Episode 3 Recap: “The Pillar Man”

Original Airdate: December 21st, 2012

Toonami Airdate: January 14th, 2017

…Does “Santviento” even really mean anything?

the-pillar-man-joseph-is-being-stalked
It sounds like someone… wants to sell me something!

On his way to the Nazi base in Mexico, Joseph finds himself ambushed by one of Stroheim’s men, Donovan, who wants to capture and interrogate him about Straizo. A brief battle ensues where Joseph naturally gains the upper hand and finds out what he wants to know about the Nazis who captured Speedwagon. Meanwhile, back at the Nazi laboratory, Stroheim and his man harvest enough blood from their Mexican prisoners to trigger the resurrection of one of the Pillar Men to whom Stroheim bestows the name Santana (note: in my recaps, I shall always refer to characters with altered/localized names by their original monikers. …also Santviento is just a dumb name). He is lulled into a false sense of security as he observes Santana’s seemingly animalistic intelligence. In order to test his capabilities, they let loose a vampire prisoner into the chamber, and Santana makes quick work of him, gaining both physical strength and a modicum of his intelligence back, much to the shock of Stroheim and his men.

the-pillar-man-tequila-joseph
So that’s why there was never a Master of Disguise sequel.

Joseph finally reaches the Nazi base of operations as he observes a couple of soldiers sexually harassing female civilians. He attempts to sneak in dressed as a woman himself, but the Nazis see immediately through his “clever” disguise and he’s forced to take them both out, stealing one of their outfits for a much better disguise. Back in the laboratory, the Nazis are all confused and terrified as they have somehow managed to lose track of Santana. They become even more filled with dread after reviewing their surveillance cam footage, revealing that he managed to contort and squish his skeletal structure enough to fit into an extremely narrow air duct. Almost immediately afterwards, Santana comes out of hiding and dives straight into a Nazi soldier’s face, inserting his entire body into his prey and killing/morphing his target into a bloated monstrosity.

Santana takes aim at the Nazis with just his fingers as his original form bursts from the bloated shell, and generates enough force to fire lethal bullets of flesh at all the soldiers and scientists present. Thankfully, in a last minute save, Joseph manages to sneak in and use a clump of Stroheim’s hair to protect himself, Speedwagon, and Stroheim from the assault. The episode ends as Joseph prepares himself for what’s sure to be one of the most intense battles of his life.

 

Horror is an essential part of the JoJo experience, whether it be the gothic vampire stuff from Phantom Blood, the various nods to general horror iconography/specific horror titles in future parts, or in the case of this episode, the body horror. That’s what sticks out the most here as the scientists observe Santana’s resurrection: just the sheer atrocity of his physical abilities as he manipulates his body and the bodies of others to regain his strength. The vivid but dark color palettes/filters reinforce this along with the grotesque detail of the animation: twisted conformity and bulging flesh abound in this episode. The element that tops it all off is the excellent sound design in these sequences:  the cracking of bones and squishing of skin as Santana conforms his body into a tight space, the crushing and mushing of flesh like it’s spongey matter, etc. There’s so much detail in the sound effects that every time I’ve seen this episode, I’ve always squirmed and clenched a bit as it sounded way too real, despite the inherent absurdity of it all. As always, the cool uses of Hamon are fun to watch, and the Tequila Joseph gag is just as wonderfully ridiculous as the first time I’ve seen it. I give this episode 9 dumb name changes/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.

 

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