JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Episode 4 Recap: “JoJo vs. The Ultimate Lifeform”

Original Airdate: December 28th, 2012

Toonami Airdate: January 21st, 2017

…Joseph, your trolling’s gonna get us all killed one day.

jojo-vs-the-ultimate-lifeform-joseph-taunts-santanaPicking up from last week, Joseph decides to start his battle with Santana… by taunting him without remorse. This means nothing to him, as he simply walks past Joseph and up to a gun which he dismantles in an instant, proving that his intelligence is increasing at a dangerous rate. He then attacks Joseph, using his ribcage to try and absorb his body, but this proves futile, arousing Santana’s suspicions about his abilities. Santana then goes after Speedwagon to try and absorb his body and energy, but Joseph manages to separate the two. Realizing that his Hamon seemingly has no effect on him, Joseph tries his best to inflict *any* kind of damage on Santana, but he retaliates and manages to knock Joseph on his ass, leaving him defenseless as he makes an effort to absorb Joseph into himself. Just as Stroheim is about to hit the self-destruct button, Joseph suddenly awakens and sends a massive surge of Hamon energy directly into Santana’s body during the absorption, causing him to burst into chunks of flesh.

jojo-vs-the-ultimate-lifeform-santanas-rib-bladesJoseph has an epiphany about the way Santana’s body functions, essentially just being a digestive system with arms and legs that devours everything it can, but Santana quickly comes to and attacks Joseph again. Needing a new plan of attack, Stroheim suggests that according to the ruins where Santana were discovered, they are most likely weak to sunlight. With this knowledge in mind, Joseph makes the risky move to try and drag Santana to the outside of the base, but as they get closer to the exit, Santana uses chunks of his flesh to weigh down Joseph and make it impossible for him to move. Stroheim finally decides to leap into action and open the door himself, but Santana manages to pin him to the ground as well. He pleads with Joseph to cut his leg off, and he obliges, giving him the opportunity to open the door and expose their enemy to sunlight. It appears like they may have finally won, but Santana manages to pry his way into Stroheim’s body to survive the sunlight. Writhing in agony and horror, he makes the desperate decision to sacrifice his own life with an explosive device to ensure Santana’s destruction. Before setting it off, he delivers a parting message to Joseph: Santana is not the only one of his kind, as Stroheim’s men have discovered more Pillar Men in Europe. They were hoping to use this particular one as a test to see how they could defeat the ones overseas, but they now aren’t sure if it’ll be possible. He tells Joseph to go to Rome and find an ally of Speedwagon who might be able to train Joseph before finally setting the bomb off. Sadly, this proves no use as Santana is still alive, knocking him into a nearby well. However, this works to Joseph’s advantage as the time of day causes the sunlight to reflect off the water’s surface, hardening Santana and causing him to crumble into bits. Joseph breathes a sigh of relief as the hard fought battle is now over… for now.


The fantastic thing about this particular episode of Battle Tendency is the way it perfectly highlights the strengths of the arc’s approach to fights. Starting from the first kick thrown by Joseph, the fight constantly ups the stakes further and further as the characters constantly attempt to outsmart one another, making things intense to the point where Stroheim’s suicide bombing is the best last ditch effort possible, and even that still doesn’t work. Both this episode and the last one do an excellent job of highlighting how much of a threat Santana (and the other Pillar Men, presumably) are by properly establishing a power hierarchy. When we’re shown Santana against the vampire, we have an idea of how strong the vampire must be given the battles with Dio and Straizo, so it’s terrifying to imagine something being more powerful. Then, when we see Joseph interact with Santana for the first time, he doesn’t even flinch at all: he regards the humans as basically equal to an ant or even lower. That and the ensuing fight is a fantastically intimidating way of setting up the dynamic and how terrified we should be of the Pillar Men. And of course the sound design also plays a big part, with the disturbing body contortions of Santana and his possession of Stroheim just being intensely unnerving to watch and hear. Things are clearly just getting started here though, and there’s going to be more trials ahead. I give this episode 10 bombs/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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