JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 4 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?
We've got another honest to goodness Stand battle on our hands, which means sizing up our new enemy's abilities. Polpo's Stand isn't necessarily acting on its user's direct will, but its job is to follow Giorno's lighter and attack anybody who sees its flame go out. It acts remotely, following its commands to the best of its ability without Polpo being any wiser about the happenings going on outside of his cell. In this sense, it's very reminiscent of Kira's Sheer Heart Attack.
This is an incredibly engaging and exciting battle episode, getting a lot out of the series' tactical style of combat, but showing a lot of restraint when it comes to the usual silliness. Giorno and Koichi must work together despite their previous opposition, and Polpo's Stand is a surprisingly terrifying adversary in both visual design and function. It moves incredibly fast and efficiently through shadows, and the whole episode takes place in the late afternoon, so not only is there a striking atmosphere cast over the whole battle, but the fight itself has to adjust to the position of the sun as it moves. This week is the best-looking, best-paced, and most technically impressive of Golden Wind's offerings thus far. Part Five has a black sheep reputation with English-speaking fans, so I'm bracing myself for another shoe to drop, but so far it already has the makings of a classic. A Stand that moves through shadows feels like such a no-brainer that I'm surprised it hasn't happened before. I love the ideas in play here, like the Stand using crows passing overhead to change locations, and our protagonists' multiple attempts at trying to trap it and expose it to sunlight.
One theme I would peg this episode for is "darkness," not just because shadows are a literal element, but because it's really pushing the murkiness underneath Giorno and the criminal life he chooses to lead. The Stand battle was cool enough, but the cherry on top is the final scene where Giorno returns to Polpo, receives acceptance into the gang, and then proceeds to kill Polpo in cold blood. This episode almost ended sweet and sentimental, with Koichi vouching for the goodness in Giorno's proud Joestar heart, but then the punchline happens. "I changed one of your guns into a banana." What a line to associate with ruthless vengeance.
I'm really getting what I wanted out of Golden Wind so far. This rollercoaster of bad deeds done for good reasons in an ever shifting power play between characters has been exhilarating. As loopy a concept as "banana suicide" seems, it's exactly the kind of weirdly morbid abstraction that I come to JoJo's for. I expected Polpo to be around for quite a bit longer, and his departure hits all the right buttons.
This is a really great episode that offers a fantastically well-directed fight with a surprising turn of events to top it all off, concluding this little two-parter by getting us ready to meet the rest of the season's mainstay cast. I wasn't in the mood for a Stand battle when last week's cliffhanger rolled in, but I was won over instantly by this week's stellar execution. Tone was already the big allure for this new JoJo's season, and it's knocking that out of the park.
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