Episode 16: “The Birth of a Superbeing
Original Airdate: March 29th, 2013
Toonami Airdate: April 15th, 2017
Kars arises from the ground, awakening to reveal… seemingly not much of a change, at least at first. Everyone stares in horror awaiting his next actions, and he obliges, choosing to form a squirrel from his hand that proceeds to attack several of Stroheim’s men. In the midst of this panic, the sun arises and kills off the remains of the vampire army, but Kars remains unharmed, having now surpassed his prior form’s weakness to sunlight. As everyone is paralyzed with fear, Joseph invokes a last-minute strategy: grabbing the Red Stone… and running away, with Smokey following not too far behind.
You know, if this was real life, Speedwagon would be yelling into a megaphone screaming, “YOU FUCKING WUUUUSSSSS!!!!!”
Kars then transforms into, well, Bird Person and chases Joseph and Smokey away from everyone else. Stroheim and Speedwagon panic as they contemplate how Joseph could possibly win against a being with no weakness (and this won’t be the last time we hear about villains with “no weaknesses” in this series”). Joseph eventually reaches a cliff overlooking the ocean and decides to jump over the edge, much to Kars and Smokey’s surprise. However, they are caught off-guard when Joseph comes back up, now piloting one of the Stroheim army’s warplanes. Flying off and further away from the ruins, Joseph tries to put some distance between him and Kars while thinking of a plan. Kars manages to get some hits on the plane with some hardened feathers, but Joseph succeeds in getting a good distance away from him as Speedwagon gets in contact with him over the intercom. The two attempt to devise a plan, and Joseph decides that the best course of action is lead Kars into a volcano, possibly sacrificing his own life to protect the world and defeat his enemy. Speedwagon, distraught at the idea of yet another Joestar man dying, attempts to talk him out of it, even trying to reveal Lisa Lisa’s secret to him, but the signal breaks up so the message fails to go through. Suddenly, Joseph is attacked by a surprise ambush of piranhas, having all formed from the feathers used to attack the plane earlier.
So you’re saying that Gyo is a JoJo reference?
The plane is further weakened by an octopus taking out one of the wings. Kars is pleased by the results, even chasing down the parachute that he sees falling from the wreckage… but this turns out to be just a decoy. Joseph is still piloting the plane and steers it straight into Kars, pinning him right in the path of the volcano, but Kars still tries to pull one over on our hero. Out of the blue, a metallic hand grabs Kars and digs into his neck. Surprisingly, Stroheim has managed to catch up to the plane and offer some backup, but Joseph still decides to drive the plane into the volcano. He manages to jump out at the last minute as Stroheim grabs him and attempts to cushion the fall, breaking his prosthetic legs in the process. The episode ends with Kars still somehow alive in the lava, seemingly struggling to maintain his own life.
Episode 17: “The Ascendant One”
Original Airdate: April 5th, 2013
Toonami Airdate: April 15th, 2017
The coast seems clear for now, as Kars’ attempt to form a suit of armor to protect himself backfires on him. Joseph grabs Stroheim and the two begin walking off to safety, but they are ambushed from below as Kars bursts from the ground and severs Joseph’s hand. As it turns out, Kars created another suit of armor: this time from inorganic material that was more resistant to the intense heat of the lava. In the midst of the moment, the episode goes into a history lesson about the civilization where Kars originated. Their kind predates the origin of humans, but they chose to dwell in secrecy, more concerned with peace than unnecessary conflicts with the outside world. However, when Kars was born, he decided that the pursuit of ultimate power was most important, creating the Stone mask as a means of resisting sunlight. The other members of the tribe decided that this went against their ways, and soon they all attacked Kars to put an end to him. However, Kars slaughtered all his brethren and left only three survivors alive: Esidisi and two infants who would eventually grow up into Santana and Wamuu.
By the way, and this may be sort of unrelated, but we all remember that the climax of Resident Evil 5 took place in a volcano, right? That would probably make that game a JoJo reference, which makes sense because we all know that literally everything is a JoJo reference.
Back in the present, Joseph and Stroheim are still paralyzed with fear by Kars, but Joseph attempts a Hamon strike on his opponent However, this backfires as Kars delivers a Hamon strike of his own, sending a burst of painful energy into Joseph’s leg. All seems lost now, as Hamon means nothing to this new ultimate life form, and Stroheim is powerless to do anything to help or interfere. Kars uses the opportunity to finally subdue Joseph for good using his own Hamon, but at the last minute, Joseph throws up one of his hands and reveals the Red Stone of Aja, which Kars has now made contact with.
Kars’ attacking the stone amplifies his own Hamon energy, sending a massive surge through the lava and shooting him into the sky alongside Joseph. Kars thinks he can still escape the rock platform, but Joseph throws his severed hand at Kars, catching him off guard, and he’s caught further off guard by a smattering of debris that collides with his body, hitting him with enough velocity to send Kars into the empty vacuum of space where he ends up freezing into hardened stone, stranded in the cosmos until the end of time. With the threat finally taken care of, Joseph embraces his inevitable demise as the rock platform falls back down to Earth at an incredible speed.
Some time later, Joseph’s family and friends are gathered at his funeral, memorializing our noble hero, when suddenly they are approached by an unknown visitor who’s quickly revealed to be JOSEPH JOESTAR?!
Yes, our hero is actually quite alive and well, and has a cool new robot hand courtesy of Stroheim. In the ensuing reunion, it’s revealed that the rock platform fell into the ocean, where Joseph was picked up by a fishing boat and eventually reunited with Suzie Q who nursed him back to health. In addition, the two of them got married and are now a happy couple, but in a humorous plot turn, Suzie forgot to send the telegram revealing what happened to Joseph, which kind of gets on his nerves. Afterwards, we get the happy epilogue of what happened to everyone since then:
- Lisa Lisa revealed her identity to Joseph, they all moved to America, and Lisa got married to a Hollywood screenwriter 10 years later. I always wondered which one.
- Erina continued working as a teacher until passing away peacefully in her sleep in 1950, surrounded by all her loved ones.
- Speedwagon continued his work with his namesake foundation until dying of a heart attack two years after Erina’s death, with no family left behind.
- Smokey Brown majored in political science and became the first black mayor of his hometown in Georgia.
- Rudol Von Stroheim continued his work with the Nazis, eventually dying in 1943 at the Battle of Stalingrad. I guess German science and engineering couldn’t save him that time.
As for Joseph, his life continued well into his old age. The episode proper closes out in 1987, where the now elderly Joseph boards a flight to Tokyo to visit his daughter, who’s been married to a Japanese man for 20 years, as well as his grandson whom he never sees. And so ends Battle Tendency…
…but not without a little tease of the future. We’re shown a pair of fisherman pulling up a giant well-decorated coffin from the ocean depths, branding the ominous name of “DIO”. Quickly cut to the darkened hallway of a seemingly empty prison, moving into one of the cells where the camera gives a close-up of a menacing-looking imprisoned thug, before giving us the “To Be Continued” arrow. Who could this person even be, and what bearing could he have on future events?
Wow. What a masterful ending to this arc. The big strength of JoJo, as I may have mentioned once or twice during these recaps, is its masterful handle of the art of escalation: the constant raising stakes and the never ending “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE” back and forth between heroes and villains. These last two episodes push that conceit to its absolute extreme, starting small with the mutant bloodthirsty squirrel, moving into an aerial dogfight with the added pressure of aquatic life spawning on the plane out of nowhere, and ending with a battle in a volcano that culminates with the villain getting launched into space. It’s an almost poetic level of progression from where these episodes start to where they end, culminating in what is probably one of the most, if not the most, brutal death of the entire series. The narration itself doesn’t sugarcoat this fact at all: Kars, frozen in place, is forced to float through space until the end of time without the sweet release of death, his thoughts drawing closer and closer to a blank as he becomes numb to everything. It’s a torturous death in both a physical and psychological sense, and it’s a damn amazing climax. Joseph pulled out every stop he could, from both legitimate strategy to pure dumb luck, and managed to save the day. Truly a noble heroic deed. It’s good to see that a Joestar man avoided the curse of death and live a happy life afterwards, but as we know from the teaser at the end, you can never escape your fate. Who knows how long it will be until the Joestars make their way back to Toonami, but it’ll be unbelievably welcome once Stardust Crusaders airs on Toonami. So until then, I bid you all farewell from these recaps. I give JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency a final rating of 10 Hamon Overdrives/10.
What did you think of the finale, and of Battle Tendency as a whole? Let us know down in the comments below.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is currently licensed by VIZ Media and produced by David Production.
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