JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 7: Steel Ball Run review

Apr 17, 2021
Story 9/10
Art 8/10
Characters 9/10
Enjoyment 8/10
Overall 9/10

Steel Ball Run is the Seventh Part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and the first to be written for Ultra Jump after Hirohiko Araki left Shonen Jump. This Part is greatly considered Araki’s greatest work and one of the greatest Shonen stories, it currently ranks at #2 on MyAnimeList’s Manga Ranking. Though I agree that SBR is one of the best parts of JJBA, I personally prefer Part 5: Vento Auero more. I’ll discuss why I don’t think it’s perfect in the review

This Story is great, I would personally consider the story the best that Araki has ever written and the greatest story I have experienced so far. SBR starts off as a simple story about our Protagonist, Johnny Joestar entering the Steel Ball Run, a race across all of America, in order to learn about the mysterious spin that caused his legs to work for the first time in years. However it is soon revealed that the Race is merely a cover-up for the 23rd President of America, Funny Valentine, to gather parts of the corpse of Jesus Christ in order to make America the strongest nation on Earth. Along the way, Johnny is taught the Spin by Gyro Zeppeli a little at a time, ultimately able to harness the Infinite Rotation.

However, I have two major issues with this story, one much more important than the other. My first complaint is the death of Hot Pants, an important character who appears multiple times throughout the part to both help and hinder Johnny and Gyro. A character like hers would’ve gotten more of a send-off in the earlier parts such as Noriaki Kakyoin’s death where a lot of time is devoted to his last moments. Hot Pants doesn’t get that, she merely reacts to Funny Valentine’s Love Train ability and is presumably killed by her own attack going into her heart, it’s a very unsatisfying way to kill one of the main characters.

My Second Complaint is the final arc, High Voltage. I believe if Steel Ball Run ended with Johnny solemnly riding his horse away, only to find the race had already finished, this part would be my favourite. Instead they decided to bring back Johnny Joestar’s Rival, Diego Brando who was killed earlier in the story by Funny Valentine. They do this by saying Funny Valentine had taken Diego from an alternate universe before his death. Perhaps I was missing something but there was no real way this could’ve happened because the timing makes no sense, Alternate World Diego must’ve been hiding on the train OUR Diego was fighting Funny Valentine on, which doesn’t make sense as the two would’ve violently have been killed as we see with Wekapipo during the first appearance of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. But putting all that aside, we see that Alternate World Diego has The World, DIO’s stand from Part 3. I believe this was one of the stupidest reveals as it felt like pure and utter fanservice for an earlier Villian. Alternate World Diego then easily defeats Johnny Joestar before going to hide the Corpse Parts so nobody else could use their power. Lucy Steel intervenes at the last second by giving AW Diego our world’s Diego’s head, despite the fact he was cut in half with his head intact. This causes AW Diego to violently explode just like Wekapipo earlier. If I’m not missing anything here, the entire High Voltage Arc makes little to no sense whatsoever.

Despite of High Voltage, I believe this part’s story is still great with an amazingly written Antagonist and Protagonist but I’ll return to them later.

Araki had moved from Shonen Jump to Ultra Jump, so rather than drawing an entire chapter in a week, he could write one in a month due to now having monthly releases. This shows in the massively improved the later half, in the first half the characters still seem like they were drawn in a week with plenty of slightly off model appearances, Johnny’s first appearance springs to mind, with him looking like an awkward background character rather than our main character.
Overall the art is much better than anything in the first six parts even though it got off to a rocky start.

Shonen Protagonists have a notorious habit of being bland and basic, Izuku Midoriya and Goku Son spring to mind with them only having surface level personalities and goals. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is guilty as hell with this, Jonathan Joestar is literally just kind, I cannot think of another character trait he has. Johnny however, is different. Johnny Joestar has an amazingly written backstory, he used to be a world class Jockey before he accidentally killed his brother, causing his father to say “God took the wrong son.” This makes Johnny incredibly arrogant on the outside when in reality he is just trying to cover up for his feelings of loneliness and self doubt. One day whilst taking a girl to the cinema, he is shot in the waist. The shot doesn’t kill him but it leaves his legs useless, no longer able to face himself due to being shot for his own arrogance, he becomes hopeless and almost depressed. When hearing about the Steel Ball Run he goes to see the beginning of the race where he encounters Spin for the first time, causing his legs to work for a second. This gives him hope and ultimately makes him join the Steel Ball Run which sets the events of the part into motion.

He is an amazing character and one of my favourite protagonists of all time. He isn’t the only amazing character as Funny Valentine, the main Antagonist is an amazingly written character. He used the Steel Ball Run as an excuse to hire racers to bring him the Holy Corpse Parts of Jesus Christ. He believes that in life, the only ones who matter are the ones who take control, this is why he takes the Corpse Parts to make America more powerful as the other countries haven’t taken them first.

I heavily enjoyed reading Steel Ball Run, however there were some faults with it. I didn’t enjoy most of it’s beginning, until the Scary Monsters Arc, everything felt rather underwhelming, especially Tomb of the Boom which is easily one of my least favourite fights of the entire series. It’s far too boring and it drags on for much longer than it should have with a stand that wasn’t even very interesting

I believe Steel Ball Run is an amazing part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, full of amazing characters, interesting stands and the best story of the whole franchise, despite Vento Auero being my favourite part, I cannot recommend Steel Ball Run enough, it’s a brilliant part you MUST read if you’re a JJBA Fan