JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 29 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?
Team Bucciarati now have the boss's face in their hands (quite literally—Trish has turned the death mask into a rubberized bust), and their next challenge is to figure out what to do with it. Criminal databases aren't finding a match, but a mysterious voice suddenly emerges from their laptop to aid in the investigation.
After a rip-roaring past few episodes, this is an uncharacteristically exposition-heavy episode of JoJo's. A large swath of the runtime is spent staring at an amorphous shape on a computer screen, listening to a mystery man explain the secret origin of Stands. The story goes that a meteor hit the earth and carried a virus that killed most people it came into contact with, but gave abilities to the select few who had that "special something" needed to survive. Then a certain man came along and used the meteor's rock to craft the Stand-making arrows that we all know and love. The voice on the computer then suggests that these arrows are the key to defeating the boss—who we can now finally start referring to by his real name, "Diavolo."
I find myself feeling a whole lot of nothing at this big reveal. The midichlorian jokes are leaping out at us, but this is a much more dramatic retcon that somehow changes so little about how the audience is likely to feel about Stands. I suppose if you absolutely had to explain where these powers come from, they might as well be alien in nature; they don't have an inherent mysticism or integrity in need of preservation. If anything, I want a deep-lore explanation for why they're all named after rock bands! The mysterious stranger on the computer comes completely out of nowhere with little indication of how he was able to track our team's progress. He offers a brief dilemma, since our heroes have to decide if they can trust someone who knows a suspicious amount about this Diavolo guy, but more importantly he's pointing us in the direction of Rome, where we'll learn more about how to use the arrow to defeat King Crimson. I get the sense that we're starting a particularly bizarre chapter of this adventure, but I don't know how many times we can encounter the final boss and then adding new sub-villains and fetch quest detours before all of this starts to feel too silly.
Speaking of, the newest Stand-using baddie to cross our path is Cioccolata, a villain so nasty that even Diavolo refers to him as "the worst piece of shit on the face of the earth." Cioccolata's origin is clearly drawn from real world serial killers, specifically doctors who use their positions to inconspicuously murder and torture patients. His Stand is 'Green Day,' which covers its targets in mold when they physically move to a lower position, akin to the mind control fungus that inspired enemies in horror games like The Last of Us and Resident Evil. It's been pretty reliable that when I'm not feeling a Stand battle in the beginning, it will eventually win me over by the end, but that still doesn't leave me with much to sink my teeth into just yet. Cioccolata's legacy as the absolute most horrible person who ever lived is the only thing keeping me interested right now, and that could easily just be flavor text.
This episode gets the job done, but it's burdened by the worst aspects of these transitionary segments. The plot needs an excuse to move to another location, and the early phase of a new battle has been routinely the weakest part, to say nothing of how much sterile exposition this episode has to carry between Cioccolata's backstory and the origin of Stands. As dire as the situation is for our heroes, this is the most I've felt like Golden Wind was meandering. You'd expect Diavolo to gradually become more threatening as he's backed into a corner, but right now the real consequence of his helplessness is that the story momentarily loses direction, and its new momentum feels manufactured.
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