JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 19 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?
The battle with the chilly White Album rages on, as Giorno and Mista drive themselves into the canal in the hopes of buying themselves a little time. Right out the gate, this episode makes no bones about how ridiculous it's willing to get, as Mista uses the grass that Giorno creates (the kind that can grow in tundra) to make a snowboard and freestyle his way back to shore.
This is a Mista-centric episode, and surprisingly that means we get even more of his backstory. When he killed those thugs, the courts determined that it wasn't self-defense and locked him up, before Bruno, impressed by the story he heard about Mista's actions, bailed him out. (I figure the mafia has ways to pull strings for these sorts of things.) This is where the White Album fight continues to be fairly weak, in my opinion. We're highlighting Mista's belief in pre-determination while also returning to that theme of resolve, and I don't think this fight successfully serves as a compelling example of either. The added flashback material doesn't tell us anything new, and we get all these platitudes about walking into darkness and trusting that you'll come out the other end, juxtaposed against a goofy Stand fight that feels even more laborious and contrived than usual. After the super clean finale to the Grateful Dead fight, this is pretty disappointing.
Where this episode does succeed is in its crazy brutal violence. Our boys are repeatedly ripping their own skin off against the freezing ice, both on accident and on purpose, and it's truly nasty and cringe-worthy. Mista's final showdown with Ghiaccio sees him getting pelted by his own ricocheting bullets, and even if I'm way past fed up with the nonsensical plotting of this fight, it does get me to feel for the guy. Mista allowing himself to get repeatedly shot, but keeping himself standing because it was 'all according to keikaku' was really badass, and Ghiacchio's counter-scheme to freeze his own spraying blood to cover his weak point was equally cool. I eat up that kind of debauchery in anime, and this episode's climactic confrontation delivers.
Giorno arrives to save the day in the nick of time, impaling Ghiaccio's neck on a spike. (Ouch.) Then the episode's final note is about how Mista is beginning to see Giorno as capo-worthy. I've been wondering when it would start to feel like Giorno's finally rising up the ranks of the organization, even if it's only in spirit so far. The only other noteworthy event this week is the punchline where Giorno is doing what he can to heal Mista's bullet wounds, but when Narancia arrives, it looks like these two are partyin' like it's 1999.***
Overall, I wasn't a big fan of the White Album fight. This episode was more interesting than last week's, but there's a fine line between nonsense that works and nonsense that doesn't in Jojo's. Golden Wind has a lot of emotional richness at its foundation, but I think its strengths are done a disservice by episodes that try to draw from that well to compensate for poor action and plotting. The Execution Squad fights had been doing such a good job surprising me, but Baby Face and White Album back to back have been making me wary of the more routine aspects of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but at this point I'm eager for a little more oomph.
*This series takes place in 2001, so this joke doesn't work. But please appreciate the Prince reference.
**It would have been cool if '1999' was at least on the Gold Experience album, but it's not. So on second thought, this joke really sucks.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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