Posted in First Impressions, Manga, Opinions

Manga First Impressions: JJBA Steel Ball Run Vol. 1-10

Hey, I’m finally typing up a post about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and it’s about the 7th part in the series. A bit odd understandably, but this part is the freshest in my mind since right now I’m in the middle of reading it and felt the urge to write up something about Jojo as a fresh fan of the series. I have also really enjoyed reading and watching the series greatly so of course I wanted to share.

If you haven’t read or watched parts 1-6 of Jojo then I would probably skip this post since a lot of things won’t make sense. Even if you partially read or watched some of it, there will be spoilers in this piece of mine, so I would really only recommend those who have made it all the way to the end of part 6 to read this.

Alright, with that out of the way, I feel like I can start now. However, last warning, this is just me spilling my thoughts on SBR. This is in no way a proper review piece. I also wanted to add that all of the pictures from the manga I’m using was produced by the Jojo’s Colored Adventure Team, so thanks guys for all the hard work in presenting this masterpiece of a messed up crazy series.

With the end of Stone Ocean, the universe was reset and thus a new line of Joestars emerge to fight new foes and new villainous plots. Personally, I didn’t mind being brought to an alternate timeline since I know that was a rather controversial decision Araki Hirohiko, the mangaka who created Jojo, decided to do. Still, pretty heartbroken that in the new universe we’re in, the Jojos and Jobros we have come to love (or hate) aren’t around anymore in the way we remember them as. At the end of Stone Ocean, I was also kind of torn to see the actual Jolyne die with Irene taking her place, but I can deal with that in a bittersweet way.

I. A Zeppeli Enters

And yet, as we enter Steel Ball Run, the first major character of the part that we become acquainted with, isn’t a Joestar, but a Zeppeli.

Gyro Zeppeli

The Zeppelis are always a force to be reckon with in this series. From William A. Zeppeli in Phantom Blood mentoring Jonathan in Hamon to Caesar in Battle Tendency who spurred Joseph to take his Hamon training more seriously. Here, in Steel Ball Run, we got Gyro and the Spin.

What’s the Spin? It’s technically SBR’s equivalent of Hamon, but different naturally. Since I am still trying to grasp what it is, I’ll use the Jojo wikia for a brief description: “The Spin is a state of rotation…Unlike the average rotation, the Spin is persistent and produces more rotational energy…and can be wielded for a wide array of purposes.”

I cut out quite a bit because I didn’t want it to be too lengthy, but to really understand it, you gotta read SBR.

The Spin in action on Johnny’s nails.

Anyways, enough about the Spin. What about the Spin User himself? Well, Gyro’s quite the character. I like him enough and find him rather stubborn at times but he has a good heart, if not a bit of a rough one. I also can’t get over his grills though.

The Nyohohoho also gets to me.

An amazing guy. In a world of Stand users, this man is left with his steel balls and his Spin technique but it’s really impressive how far that’s got him especially considering the technique was never quite intended to be used in combat.

Yet, why is he in the race? I actually won’t go into details here, but it relates back to his family’s history and the kingdom he comes from, Naples. Honestly, his reasons for entering the race is quite noble and I wish him good luck because boy, looking at all the contenders including the mess they find themselves in with the race, they’re going to need it.

Can’t talk about Gyro without including one of his infamous jokes. My God…

But what’s Steel Ball Run even about? Where’s the Jojo of this part?

Patience, young ones. I’ll share all I know right now.

Steel Ball Run begins on September 5th, 1890 on the west coast of the United States of good ole America. A monumental horse race is about to begin organized by a Stephen Steel who will grant the winner the prize of $50,000,000, but only if they are able to get from west coast to east coast – final destination New York.

Since the qualifications for the race are rather loose, you got all kinds of people joining the race from Native Americans and African Americans to those driving their cars or racing with their own two feet. And then you have those that make you do a double-take and question why are they back here:

Is…is that Avdol?? But more importantly, we have to deal with Dio’s butt again…

Yup, we can never escape from the god himself. This time he’s back as a prodigious jockey of the English racing world known as Diego Brando, but they often still call him Dio. Yes, he still had a terrible childhood. Yes, he’s still a conniving jerk. And yes, he does become a problem later on, but for now let’s turn our attention back to the purpose of the race dubbed as the “Steel Ball Run.”

Cause you see, this race is really just a front in order to collect pieces of a corpse. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it’s not just any corpse – it’s the corpse of a saint whose body parts grant different abilities to those who have it in their possession. We soon learn that Stephen Steel and his race is just being used by the great president of the USA himself and his lackeys in order to obtain these parts. I still don’t know what exactly they plan to do with the corpse but, I guess it’s nothing good.

Alas, our heroes have no idea about any of this until a bit later in the race. Ah, I still have yet to introduce the main star of the part. A star who is first introduced during a moment where Mr. Gyro had the spotlight.

You see him, in all his blue and pink starred glory?

The name is Johnny Joestar, also known as “Joe Kid,” “Jojo,” and “Jonathan” by his father. Similar to Diego, Johnny was a champion jockey before he had an unfortunate accident that left him lame from the waist down a couple years before the events of SBR.

2 years before the beginning of SBR – to be fair, Johnny kind of brought it on himself here.

Right after this, the blond kid shoots Johnny, presumably near his spinal chord, which leaves him unable to walk. To be honest, I was a tad surprised how much of a jerk Johnny comes across as in these panels, but at the same time, it was an interesting change of pace. He’s certainly no Phantom Blood Jonathan though – that man was a gentlemanly saint.

Consequently, due to his disability, Johnny initially considers himself useless and without much purpose in life. After witnessing Gyro take down the pickpocket a day before the race, he becomes adamantly curious about the secret behind Gyro’s steel balls (those green round ones hanging from his hip) especially when it seems they may help with his disability.

Johnny renewed with a purpose

The left hand he’s talking about is a part of the corpse I mentioned before. The left hand is the first part that Johnny and Gyro find but at the cost of facing off against a stand user who pushes them to their limits. To the point that Johnny ends up inadvertently summoning his trusty stand, Tusk. It’s always somewhat amusing seeing the reactions newborn Stand users have towards their Stand when they have no clue what the hell is going on.

Johnny’s Stand, Tusk is born
Movère Crũs = “Move your legs” in Latin

I mean, giving the circumstances, I can’t blame Johnny for being highly suspicious of the thing, but golly, baby Tusk is perhaps the cutest stand out of the Jojos I have seen so far. I already got spoiled and know that Tusk will come in different acts, not unlike Koichi Hirose with his Echoes in DiU, so I know Tusk isn’t going to stay cute like this forever unfortunately.

But let me have this moment!

Tusk here helps Johnny get out of this dire predicament by helping him shoot his toenail guns at the enemy. Yes, you heard that right. Johnny has the ability to spin his fingernails in a way that allows him to act as bullets. Gyro is the one that helped him develop this ability by teaching him the Spin. It’s honestly a pretty surprising ability and I have to admit the image of shooting your nails at someone is kind of wild and a tad bit gross, but hey, that’s what Johnny’s been given and we can’t hassle him for that. The poor boy’s been through a lot in his short life, let’s cut him some slack.

I also found it rather surprising to see how emotional Johnny got in this particular scene. I wasn’t expecting him to start crying as he did, but I’m not shaming that either. As someone who has a brother who has been confined to a wheelchair most of his life, I can’t say I directly understand, but I do know the struggles and pain one can feel not being able to walk and how that may effect the disabled and the person around them. That’s probably why I find Johnny a particularly interesting protagonist and Jojo because I don’t see a lot of characters like Johnny who takes the front helm in a show where one has to constantly fight and survive in a world where they have a significant disability that adds more weight their personal story. It’ll be interesting to see how Johnny continues to develop as a Jojo and a person as SBR progresses.

But I’m not done just yet. I haven’t even touched upon some of the more bizarre moments of SBR that made me do a double take and realize that despite reading and watching 6 parts of this series, there are still levels of bizarreness that haven’t been reached yet. Like:

When’s the band forming?

Okay, this one is a lie, but I seriously can’t wait for this moment to be animated. I still can’t quite tell if Johnny’s being sarcastic or not here. That last panel screams sarcasm; however, in the very next panel Johnny’s singing the zola zola~ part, so I’m not even sure what to believe.

But really, I’m talking about moments like the following:

1. The Holy Corpse Heart within the President

President Valentine revealing he has the heart of the corpse.

I’m not sure what to even say here. I’m also really confused since the Valentine I have been seeing in images and videos looks similar to this guy but also quite different – like a few pounds lighter. I guess I have to keep reading to find out, but I have a few ideas of why he looks different and I’m sure I’m wrong on every guess.

2. Dinosaur Diego

He just wanted some coffee.

I’m still trying to form an opinion on Diego as a Dio. He’s quite interesting and I don’t believe he’s a bad Dio so far. It’s also interesting how he isn’t the only main antagonist of this part unlike his counterpart in Phantom Blood since we can consider Valentine a suspect to watch out for here. The dinosaur transformation would have been mind-boggling if I hadn’t been spoiled on that front too, but it’s still startling to see it with my own eyes. Like, what is going on here?

I can’t lie, this scene was pretty hilarious to read. He okay?

3. The Saint of the Holy Corpse Appears

Bro, is that my man Jesus Christ…?

So see here. This man trying to dial the president is called Blackmore and he was in pursuit of the spine of the holy corpse which is what that bundle in his arms are. This apparition of what we will guess is Jesus himself pops up but disappears right after this page.

I’m still somewhat in denial this is who Araki is implying this to be, but the clues pointing towards who the holy corpse is as we read through SBR makes it pretty clear who it may be. But really? My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I saw this scene. What is going on? What is SBR even? I really have to continue reading to get a full grasp on all of this but I do feel like my head may explode as more truths present themselves.


So, in conclusion, I must recommend reading Steel Ball Run. It’s a pretty fun romp so far and just makes me ache for the day it will be animated. They are still in the process of releasing Stone Ocean which only came out back in December so Steel Ball Run isn’t going to be adapted for anime any time soon, but I will wait like a good fan and be patient as best as I can.

Halfway through SBR and I have to say, I anticipate the process of reading volume after volume and I know that by the time I reach the end, it’ll be far too soon for the conclusion. I have to say, I really am glad I was able to be introduced to a series like Jojo and I now understand why it’s as big as it is. If you haven’t yet, I would strongly suggest giving it a try (from the beginning!) unless you got turned off completely due to this ramble of mine.

While you’re at it, go read/watch Stone Ocean, too. It needs more love.

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