Manga / JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run

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The one with horses! L-R: Gyro, Pocoloco, Johnny, Diego
Steel Ball Run is the seventh part of the long-running JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series. It is preceded by Stone Ocean and followed by JoJolion.

Set in alternate universe from the previous parts, in the year 1890. The eponymous Steel Ball Run, a cross-country race the likes of which the United States has never seen before is about to begin, with a prize pool of 50 million, spanning thousands of miles and contestants from all across the world. Its founder, Stephen Steel, hopes that the race will rekindle the country's pioneering spirit.

Johnny Joestar is a cynical, bitter young paraplegic, an ex-horse jockey who's lost himself ever since the events that led to him losing the use of his legs. Upon meeting participant Gyro Zepelli, a boisterous and charismatic foreigner, he discovers that Gyro's mysterious weapons, the "steel balls", are able to make him temporarily walk. Johnny, desperate to understand the secret of Gyro's technique, opts to join the race and learn Gyro's tricks firsthand.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more going on in the race than either Johnny or Gyro first imagine. As the race goes on they find themselves in constant conflict with cutthroat racers, and gradually uncover a huge conspiracy involving a set of mysterious corpse parts from an old age and the President of the United States.

Steel Ball Run marks an important transition for the franchise is that it is the first part to be set in the "new universe" (with the second being Jojolion), and during its run the franchise shifted from being published in Weekly Shounen Jump to Ultra Jump, a monthly seinen magazine.


'Rella! 'Rella! Pizza Mozzarella! It has a second verse, this time with "tropes"!

  • Abnormal Ammo: Tusk gives Johnny the ability to shoot his fingernails like bullets from a gun. It takes it Up to Eleven as Tusk evolves and gains new abilities, from being able to move the bullet holes to bullets that can be shot through multiple dimensions.
  • Adventure Duo: Johnny and Gyro, the main protagonists of Steel Ball Run. Gyro is the hotblooded and extraverted member of the duo while Johnny is more serious and cold.
  • Alternate Continuity: Steel Ball Run takes place in a new universe and does not continue the story from the previous parts, albeit there are numerous Mythology Gags and retooling of concepts from previous parts.
  • Alternate History: It's clear that history in the SBR-verse has progressed differently—for instance, it's called the United States of Valentine. Meanwhile, in Europe, Naples has remained a city state as of 1890, deciding against joining the unified Italy. Sometime after the race, a revolution occurs, the monarchy is ousted, and Naples is absorbed into a republic.
  • America Saves the Day: Johnny is full blooded American, so much so that he got stars painted on to his hands when he gained Tusk.
    • Inverted with the Big Bad, who is the President of the United States. His intentions are admittedly good however, as he wants the corpse parts so that he can protect America from harm.
  • And I Must Scream: Also counts as Almost Out of Oxygen. When Magent Magent falls into a deep river, he uses his stand 20th Century Boy, which pretty much makes him invincible while in a kneeling position, so that he won't drown and Diego will be able to rescue him. When that doesn't happen, he eventually stops thinking and stayed in that river for good.
  • Art Evolution: One of the most notable aspects of SBR relative to other parts is the fact that, due to it eventually moving to a monthly magazine, Araki had more time to refine his art. The characters eventually develop more realistic-looking faces, with smaller eyes and more detail is put both into them and the backgrounds.
  • Artistic License – Physics: At one point the manga claims that gravity is what's holding the atoms in our bodies together. That would be strong interaction (in nuclei) and electromagnetism (electrons to the nucleus) instead.
    • However, certain interpretations of cosmology and quantum physics postulate that all fundamental forces are tied to gravity.
  • Attempted Rape: First seen in Ringo's backstory where he was almost raped by a vagrant, awakening his Stand, Mandom. The second instance is Funny Valentine attempting to rape Lucy, and changing his mind once he sees she's become a vessel for the Corpse Parts.
  • Artifact of Doom: The corpse parts.
  • Back for the Dead: After seemingly dying in the second leg of the race in Steel Ball Run, Mountain Tim returns to save Miss Lucy Steel from certain death... only to get killed later in the chapter.
  • Badass Driver: A lot of the horse riders here, from Diego riding in his dinosaur form, to Pocoloco sliding down a hill on the corpse of a cow, all while on a horse.
  • Balloon Belly: At one point, Gyro and Johnny have to spend millions of dollars in one day and try eating plenty of luxurious food, earning Gyro a momentary Balloon Belly; made all the more hilarious since by then, Araki's switched to a realistic artstyle.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It's implied that Jesus might have been a Stand user.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad's ambitions are stopped, and Johnny's father has finally come around and apologized to him, but Johnny's lost a dear friend, the child his friend risked his life to save from execution dies soon after, and as of Part 8, he dies to save his family from a disease.
  • Book Ends: Steel Ball Run's second chapter ends with Johnny talking about how he started to walk - not physically but in the child to adult sense. The last chapter has him talking more about how it was a story of revival, in many senses.
  • Carnival of Killers: A staple of Jojo. In Part 7, Johnny and Gyro are being attacked by assassins because they hold the corpse parts, which the Big Bad wants.
  • Chase Fight: During the manga's last few volumes, Johnny battles the alternate incarnation of Diego as both race toward the finish line of the race.
  • Church Militant: Hot Pants is hinted to be a nun sent by the Vatican to retrieve the Corpse parts of Jesus Christ, as such a relics will confer supreme authority over the Christian world to whoever has it.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Inverted. Funny Valentine was captured by enemies and tortured during the Civil War. The scars left on his back resemble that of the American Flag.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The story of SBR is just as much about the race and its implications as it is about Johnny's growth. One of his commentaries for this adventure is:
    Johnny Joestar: This story relates how I got up on my feet.
  • Convenient Cranny: Johnny manages to find a rock to hide under while being hunted by Wired.
  • Continuity Reboot: Steel Ball Run is set in an alternate universe and starts back during the time period of Phantom Blood.
  • Cool Big Bro: Nicholas Joestar was one for Johnny. His tragic death contributed to make Johnny depressive.
  • Cooperation Gambit: Diego Brando briefly associates himself with Valentine in order to get rid of Johnny and Gyro in their chase for the Holy Corpse, then when Valentine gathers its part, he teams up with Wekapipo and later Hot Pants.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Johnny has to do this in order to learn more about the Spin and overcome any adversity on his adventure, which is made more difficult since Johnny is a paraplegic.
  • Darker and Edgier: The franchise had gradually been getting more risque and ambitious in its storytelling and characterization for years, and part 7 officially transitioned to a franchise aimed at adults. It shows. Johnny is by far the most flawed, byronic Jojo with a backstory that has more in common with western TV dramas than mainstream manga and anime. The part in general takes itself more seriously than the previous parts, with a greater focus on the central narrative and the Character Development of the cast. The greater freedom afforded to the seinen demographic also allowed Araki to go further than he did in the previous parts, with even a few cases of on-screen Attempted Rape.
  • Death Course: The Steel Ball Run, which is a horse race that spans the entire length of the US. Now that doesn't sound too bad but you have to remember that Part 7 takes place in the early 1800s and our protagonists are constantly being hunted down by assassins and rogue Stand users.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Lucy showing up with Diego's head. To be fair, Diego allows himself to be consumed with rage and tries to kill Lucy instead of running away.
    • It's also invoked in name by the spin. It is a reference to the logic of a 13th century priest, who stated that if a sphere spins, it can do so to infinity. He called this a "Deus ex Machina".
  • Dimensional Traveler: Funny Valentine has the ability to travel between dimensions, but he is still only interested in his own dimension which contains the relics of Jesus, able to bless the United States for all eternity.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Diego infiltrates the Independence Hall dressed as one of the guards.
  • Eldritch Location: "The Devil's Claw" is a roving, nightmarish region of the Arizona Desert that traps people until they either die or leave as Stand Users.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "JoJo" is this to Johnny Joestar, hence why he goes by "Johnny" and not "Jonathan" anymore.
  • Epic Race: The eponymous competition, in which thousands of competitors are racing across the United States in order to win 50 million dollars.
  • Eye Scream: Johnny's eyes are set on fire twice. He also gets stabbed in the eye by cactus spines in an earlier chapter. Really, it's a miracle that the man doesn't go blind.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Literally. Gyro Zeppeli's ability with his metal spheres involves causing them to spin, then endowing this spin to other objects, enabling him to cut through stone, alter someone's muscular system, and even harden skin enough that bullets bounce off. Wekapipo uses a variant for his Wrecking Ball.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Gyro uses steel balls influenced by Spin energy to dispose of the Big Bad's assassins.
    • Wekapipo also uses steel balls, but his have miniature steel balls in them that fly out when thrown. When hit, the opponent is afflicted with Left-Side Ataxia, which causes the opponent to not see anything to their left.
  • Final Battle: The final battle takes place by the sea as the land around our hero and the villain draws closer to Lucy and Funny Valentine is surrounding the area with Love Train. Now add stands and a ball crushingly sad death to mix and you got one hell of a final battle.
    • After this climactic battle, the denouement concludes with Lucy and the alternate Dio confronting each other in Valentine's vault just before he can succeed in stealing the Corpse, where Lucy has brought the one weapon that can defeat him: the decapitated head of the original Dio. Though not as epic in scale it is perhaps the most tense, claustrophobic, and triumphant fight in the Part.
  • Forceful Kiss: Diego does this to Hot Pants, although he was actually trying to suffocate her after she tried to suffocate him. It gets the same sound effect as the Dio/Erina kiss from Phantom Blood as a shoutout.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The story begins with a retrospective quote from Johnny, indicating that he will survive the whole ordeal in a high note.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During their second horse racing duel, Diego sends small dinosaur-fleas on Gyro's horse, perturbating it because they begin to attack its eye.
  • Handicapped Badass: Our protagonist, Johnny, is a paraplegic, and lost any feeling from the waist down. Amazingly, this doesn't him from participating in a horse race that spans the entire continental United States.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: A mild case, but Dio Brando (not exactly that Dio Brando, though) ends up being the final enemy in Steel Ball Run.
  • Honest Axe: Sugar Mountain, the guardian of The Saint's ears. If you throw something in the spring, she'll ask what it is that you lost among a selection of choices. Answer honestly and you get it all. Gyro and Johnny find out very quickly that there's a catch even to that. You have to "use up" whatever you got before sundown of that day, or else you'll be assimilated by a "tree". Only so many people can be assimilated at any point in time, and Sugar Mountain deliberately strung Gyro and Johnny along simply because she'll get her parents back if they get assimilated.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Johnny initially only had very little exposure to what Stands actually are, so when he actually gets one, it's up to him to learn its ability. The same thing happens to Gyro as well.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Valentine has Lucy in his power and tries to rape her. He quickly backs down once he sees that she's the host for the entire Corpse. Alternate Universe Diego does the same, but he's killed before acting on it.
  • Jail Bait: Lucy Steel is sexualized a lot for a 16 years old girl. May be Values Dissonance as this is seen as more acceptable in Japan than it is in some other areas of the world.
    • Granted, two of the characters that lust after her are blatant villains, while her husband is only a close friend.
  • Jesus Taboo: Averted, though he's not named, the Holy Corpse is explicitly Jesus.
  • The Kingdom: Gyro Zeppeli comes from the Kingdom of Naples. Unlike other examples of the tropes, this isn't shown as a particularly good place:
    • Gyro himself is the successor of a long lineage of executioners who regularly decapitate criminals and political prisoners alike, Naples being repressive enough to consider a hapless servant boy an enemy of the King by simple association with a traitor.
    • One woman casually talks about how her adultery with Gyro would lead to a death sentence.
    • Wekapipo was exiled because his ex-brother-in-law pulled some strings to get rid of him.
    • The people eventually revolt and a Republic is installed.
  • Leg Cling: The fourth volume cover of Steel Ball Run has Johnny doing this to Gyro.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Due to manipulating Axl R.O., Funny Valentine was able to arrange for all but two of the Corpse parts to come together and are now in his possession.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: Lucy Steel becomes the Holy Corpse of Jesus, and can bless anyone with the power of Karma Houdini. Thus much of the penultimate fight revolves around her.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Valentine tries to rape Lucy in the Independence Hall, wondering if the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in the very room they are in.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Lucy Steel become pregnant with the Corpse of Jesus Christ, to add to the weirdness she's even expected to deliver the very same day she's become pregnant.
  • Not Quite Dead : Magenta Magenta seems like he was unceremoniously killed by Gyro when a bullet went through his head, but the brain left untouched and Magenta Magenta managed to drag himself back to civilization where he was treated and continues to hinder the heroes.
  • Not Worth Killing: Blood Knight Ringo Roadagain spares the life of Gyro Zeppeli because it disgusts him to kill someone with no real killing intent. Cue Gyro acquiring said killing intent.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The first time D4C's power is disclosed, Johnny is shot by someone and we follow not less than four times the point of views of different characters (Johnny, Wekapipo, Diego and Valentine) in order to explain everything.
    • It turns out that all of their perspectives are accurate... but they took place in different universes.
  • Rescue Arc: The penultimate fight of Steel Ball Run consists of Johnny and Gyro trying to rescue Lucy from Valentine.
  • Send in the Clones: Funny Valentine's Stand power makes him practically immortal, since when he dies, a parallel version of himself is brought in to take his place, and gets all his memories too.
  • Sports Hero Backstory: Johnny Joestar was a star-jockey hailed as a genius before receiving his Career-Ending Injury.
    • Being Johnny's Foil, so was Diego.
  • Truth in Television: Sandman. Yes, there are Native Americans who have incredible running prowess, at least in terms of endurance.
  • Twilight of the Old West: Steel Ball Run is set in 1890, during which the train and the car are beginning to replace horses as the main means of transportation. The "western" setting in the west fades little by little as the racers go East toward the civilized areas of the United States.
  • The Unfavorite: Johnny had this unfortunate problem in Steel Ball Run with his brother Nicholas. The fact that Johnny indirectly killed Nicholas by not killing a pet rat that would go on to startle his horse makes it all the more heart-wrenching.
  • The Virus: Dr. Ferdinand's Scary Monsters Stand, which turns its victims into dinosaurs.
  • Weird West: "Steel Ball Run". Cowboys? Check. Gunfights? Check.(kinda) Weird stuff? Oh yes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gyro is outraged that Johnny is planning to kill Diego in cold blood and chews him out for thinking this as he doesn't consider himself a murderer.
  • White and Grey Morality: Part 7 is founded on this. While people like Gyro and Lucy are good people (Johnny eventually comes around as well, though he's much grayer than most heroes), none of the main villains are really evil, per say. Diego wants to win because it's his job, and to fulfil his dream of being wealthy to avenge his mother. Funny Valentine, on the other hand wants the parts because he feels that they are too dangerous for anyone else, and he wants to use them to further the gain of his country and make his citizens lives better. When the main villain is a guy that Jesus Christ himself approves of, you know this trope is in full effect.
  • Whole Plot Reference: In case the familiar-sounding title didn't tip you off, the plot is based on The Cannonball Run, which was itself based on an actual cross-country race in the U.S. The difference here, though, is that it takes place in the Weird West.
    • A particular moment in the final battle between Johnny and Funny Valentine is probably based on the lyrics of the Dirty Deeds Done Dirty cheap song.
    You got a broken heart / He's double dealin' with your best friend / That's when the teardrops start, fella



Alternative Title(s): Steel Ball Run

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