San Diego Beach (story arc)
San Diego Beach (サンディエゴビーチ San Diego Bīchi) is the first story arc in Steel Ball Run.
It narrates the preparations and beginning of the Steel Ball Run race.
A ruckus is heard in an unnamed native American village, where the chief is informed that the man named Sandman has been keeping English literature with him. This is considered a crime, and Sandman is pursued by his fellow villagers. However, he somehow manages to outrun them on-foot while the villagers are riding horses. Sandman then uses a horse to kick himself higher and reach the top of a rocky formation, escaping his pursuers. A mysterious hand materializing out of Sandman's arm is seen blinding a horseman with sand. When Sandman climbs at the top of the rocky mountain, he sees his sister, who beats him and orders him to apologize to the village.
Sandman refuses, explaining that their tribe will have to study their enemy, the White Man, in order to survive. Later, in a conversation with his sister, he indicates a multitude of perfectly hemispherical hand-sized depressions in a rock face. He says that it's evidence of an impossible horseback leap, and that the tool they used is likely made by a white man. He then shows his sister a newspaper headline regarding the Steel Ball Run race, with a grand prize of $50,000,000.
Elsewhere, a man reports complications in the logistics of the race to Steven Steel, the promoter of the race; they depict an over-admission of (culturally diverse) entrants. Steel rudely tells the assistant off, ordering him to stop any disorder, and failing that, throw any troublemaker out of the race. When the assistant leaves, Steven jumps at the arms of his young wife Lucy, expressing his doubts about whether he can handle the race, but Lucy reassures him.
Later, Steven holds a press conference. Giving the race's rules, he explains that the Steel Ball Run race will start on the Pacific San Diego beach at 10 a.m. on September 25, 1890. The goal is New York, in a distance of ~6000 km. First place will receive $50,000,000; second will receive $1,000,000; third will receive $500,000; fourth will receive $250,000; fifth will receive $120,000; and so on, up to 10th place, along with special checkpoint prizes. The only condition for participants is an age of over 16 years, and a participation fee of $1200. Projecting a race time of 60 – 80 days, Steven mentions the rule that changing horses is not allowed. Weapons are allowed, but not crime. Steven names Mountain Tim, Urmd Avdul, Dot Han and Diego Brando as among the most famous entrants. Finally, he rejects a question about his wife Lucy, who's suggested to be 14 years of age.
As a man drops a pouch of coins on a counter, the clerk reiterates the Steel Ball Run race rules, then asks for the former's signature. The man is given a race commemoration medal and badge, with the identifying number B-636. He signs "Gyro Zeppeli" and grins widely, revealing his shining teeth.
A man reaches for Gyro's Steel Ball from behind him. When he touches it, he is forced to his knees, unable to stand. When the clerk notes that Gyro's fee is short $20, Gyro uncovers the missing money out of the man's hands.
Gyro confronts the thief for stealing some of his entry fee money. The man is held back by some onlookers, who suggest taking him to the sheriff. Once Gyro finishes paying the rest of the entry fee with his money, he is confronted again by the thief. The thief goads Gyro to try and kill him with his Steel Balls, stealing one of the onlookers' gun. He is tackled to the ground by the onlookers, going on to say that he will join the race to follow and block Gyro's path through it. Gyro tells the onlookers to give the thief back the gun he was holding, and that he will not press charges against the man. As a result, the onlookers hand the gun back to the thief and let him up. Gyro tells him to pick up the gun, warning him that doing so will be a "sign" that he's going to bother Gyro.
As more people crowd around Gyro and the thief, Johnny Joestar is seen trying to get into the crowd. Gyro looks at the thief as he inches his hand to the gun and stops, saying that everything he said earlier was just a joke. The sheriff approaches, and as he questions what the thief and Gyro are doing, the thief picks up the gun and points it at Gyro, intending to shoot him. Before he can, he is hit in the shoulder by Gyro's Steel Ball. The crowd looks on in shock. Gyro tells the thief that he isn't a nice guy, and warns him to let go of the gun and see a doctor before lunch. The thief curses Gyro and tries to shoot him, but the gun is turned around and fires at him.
As Gyro walks away from the scene, a few of the onlookers ask the sheriff to arrest Gyro. He refuses, stating that it was a duel; both sides had agreed to it, and no laws were broken. Johnny goes after Gyro, believing that he saw the Steel Ball that Gyro threw spin at a high speed. Catching up to Gyro, Johnny touches the steel ball he just threw, but Gyro warns him not to, since it is still spinning. Johnny touches the ball anyway, and for a brief few moments his legs move. He thinks to himself about how he started walking from adolescence to adulthood after meeting Gyro, who is a mystery from beginning to end.
Johnny reflects on his reason for coming to the San Diego beach start line, on his youth as a new horse racer, and his rise to fame. He was 5 years old when he first rode, describing a "beauty" that resides in it. Acknowledged by his father, he had acquired some fame before 16 years, earning the nicknames "JoJo" and "Joe Kid" from his fans. He won the Kentucky Derby at 16, stating that he was unrivaled in his talent and had easy success with women.
He recalls going to a play with a girl he was dating at the time, and taking her advice to cut to the front of the line. There, a nervous man contests him, upon which Johnny bribes two doormen to remove him. The man soon returned and shot Johnny in the back, incapacitating him. Johnny awakened in a dark hospital room where he sees blood being taken from his leg by an orderly, who tells him neither his father nor any of his supposed friends have come to see him. Johnny cried out as he realizes that he has been abandoned, but the orderly stuffs a newspaper in his mouth to stop him from waking the other patients in the room, reading the headline "Steel Ball Run Race: Projected start in two years."
In the present, Johnny is amazed as he seemingly stands and then falls back into his wheelchair. Gyro leaves, and Johnny desperately pursues him, demanding explanation. Gyro tells him that it was a simple reflex; but, reaching out, just as Johnny again touches a Steel Ball, his arm twists, and he is hung at his fingers on a nearby rafter. Johnny resolves to discover the truth of this "Spin" and to enter the race in Gyro's pursuit.
Two racers discuss about the number of participants, having more than seven to eight times more than expected. Because of the Steel Ball Run race's routes, the racers predict that only the winning candidates equipped with horses that were bred for stamina can reach New York.
Gyro finishes making his preparations before the start of the race. As he walks out of his tent with his items ready, he sees Johnny's wheelchair lying on the ground near a fence by his tent. Walking closer, he sees Johnny being dragged on the ground by a horse.
Gyro overhears the conversation between the racers, who say that Johnny has been up all night trying to get on the horse. They say that he was sold a dobbin, an old horse, and was injured the night before when a piece of wood went through his right leg. They add that he has been threatening to commit suicide if anyone tries to stop him from getting on the horse, and that he must be insane. The racers notice that he could be trampled to death, and rush out to save Johnny. When they ask Gyro if he agrees with them, Gyro simply says that he'll never be able to ride his horse like that, but would be beyond human if he does.
On his way to town, Gyro is asked by Sandman where to sign up for the race, and points out the building to him. At the registration building, Sandman hands a wrapped cloth to the clerk as the clerk states that the fee is one thousand two hundred dollars in "white man's money." Sandman blows on the cloth, revealing an emerald that was given to him from his sister as a keepsake from their parents. He asks the clerk for a participation permit and tells him to keep the change. The clerk hands Sandman his permit and number, telling him that they need to take his horse's nose prints before the race starts. Sandman replies that he is not using a horse; he will cross the continent and win with his feet alone.
Thirty minutes before the race starts, Steven Steel shows the winning trophy, frozen in ice from the South Pole. He says that it is the "sacred ice" of the Steel Ball Run race, and that the burning desire of everyone involved in the race will melt it. After finishing his speech, Steven jokes about how his comments "broke the ice." His wife, Lucy, is the only one who claps.
As all the racers line up at the starting line, the two racers from earlier notice Johnny's horse walking towards it, still dragging Johnny behind. The horse licks Johnny as he begins to get up. Looking at Gyro, who has been watching, Johnny tells him that he plans to discover the truth about his Steel Balls; even if he cannot catch up to Gyro in the race, he will figure out the secret behind the Spin someday. Gyro replies, telling him that he chose his horse well, since older horses have more experience and are less likely to strain their legs in dangerous territory. He adds that he will give Johnny a hint: he has already found the answer; if he has the will to get on the horse, he should do so. Johnny stares at him, and the announcer says that two minutes remain until the race starts.
Johnny asks his horse to lick his face again, and as the horse bends its head down to lick him once more, its neck lifts Johnny up and onto its back. Johnny thinks to himself that all hope is in the Spin, and that he wants to know more about the Steel Balls. The race begins.
- 001 (753). The Steel Ball Run Press Conference
- 002 (754). Gyro Zeppeli
- 003 (755). Johnny Joestar
- 004 (756). September 25, 1890 - 3 Hours to Start
- 01 (81). September 25, 1890: San Diego Beach