JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
Episodes 1-2

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 1 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?

It seems poor Jotaro Kujo is tasked with tracking down all of the illegitimate children his relatives have been popping out over the years. First he had to go to Morioh to meet his grandfather's son, and now he's snooping around Italy to confront his great-great-grandfather's (?) half Japanese, half vampire (???) spawn.

That's right, Giorno Giovanna's father was none other than Dio Brando himself. Before the events of Stardust Crusaders, Dio was just hanging around doing what Dios do, and eventually a baby happened. But because Dio was using Jonathan Joestar's body at the time, Giorno is all JoJo. Is he Dio's son? Is he Jonathan's? He's both. There's also a deadbeat mom in the mix somewhere, but she didn't give him any magical powers, so I don't have much to add there.

I like that we have a fun hook for our new JoJo. Josuke already broke the generational pattern, so why not have some fun with it? The show is pushing Giorno's villainous heritage really hard; he even inherited his dad's—no, his other dad's—"muda muda"-ness. Our good guy is a bad guy who wants to make the bad guys good. His mission statement is to rise through the ranks of the mafia and become a “Gang-Star,” inspired by the nobility of the hitman who silently watched over him when his parents did not. Gangster films have always worked by flipping the script on our expectations of criminals, and that looks to thread nicely into this ragtag shonen romp about punching friendship into your enemies.

So far Jotaro and Koichi act as returning faces to gradually shift us into a new story, but the most important new character is Bruno Bucciarati, the first on our list of our enemies-turned-friends. Bruno can taste lies as an ability independent of his Stand, which means he does not have a healthy sense of boundaries, let's put it that way. There's something absurdly comical about how these two episodes get split, where episode 2 opens with a thorough rundown of Giorno's backstory, and then at its most uplifting and touching moment, it hard-cuts back to Bruno licking his face like, “Oh. Right. That.” Bruno appears to be a meme machine in the making, but he's got a good heart, as Giorno announces at the end of their battle.

I'm dipping my toe back into the JoJo water with these reviews, so it's time to get re-acclimated with a few things, like the fact that I never understand what's going on in any of the fights. This two-parter consists of a heated showdown between Giorno's 'Gold Experience' and Bruno's 'Sticky Fingers' (localized in the subtitles as 'Golden Wind' and 'Zipper Man' respectively—another quirk of this series I'm going to have to get reacquainted with), and neither power has satisfying boundaries with what can and can't be done. Gold Experience's power is to endow things with life. It can make plants grow faster, it can turn inanimate objects into animals, and it can mess with living people by jolting their brains with an Error Can Not Read message. We're just getting started and it already feels like three powers in one.

Sticky Fingers makes zippers.

It's a struggle because on one hand I would like to feel like I'm not going absolutely insane while trying to keep track of a fight, but I also admire the hell out of JoJo's aggressive IDGAF attitude. We're not here for logic, we're here for swagger! And there is something to be said about a show that can manage a genuine ebb and flow of drama purely on enthusiasm and imagination alone. I'm sure Giorno vs. Bruno is going to be far from the most egregious example this season, but it's still weird to sit back and know that the solution to a character's problem could be anything, so the audience's participation in the buildup is a non-factor.

Moving on, I've seen some mixed reactions to the art style shift (or lack thereof) in these first two episodes of Golden Wind. Part Four probably had the most distinct aesthetic out of the five JoJo's series so far, but I think this new series has a really appealing compromise between the franchise's hallmarks. It's bold and eye-popping like Part Three, but it's a tad more expressive and impressionistic than that predecessor's stiff action figures. Besides, even if JoJo's seasons look similar to each other, there's still nothing else out there like it.

I'd be remiss not to discuss the new opening and ending themes, so the opening song this go-around is 'Fighting Gold' by our good friend Coda (of 'Bloody Stream' fame, objectively the second-best JoJo opening). It's stylish as you'd expect, but it also feels a little darker than usual. Overall, it's still too early to take a Stand on this one. It hasn't really clicked with me yet. As for the beloved ending theme slot, which traditionally goes to classic Western tracks, the song is 'Freek'N You&' by Jodeci, and I unfortunately I don't like this one at all. I'm basic, so you have to roll it back a few more decades before your R&B picks gel with me. I wish I could get more out of the first JoJo song to use “horny” in its lyrics.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure returns to the small screen with a great spin on the usual JoJo's scenario that adds an unexpected pleasantness to a story about criminal life. I'm more than eager to see where it chooses to go with the world of Italian mobsters, and I like what we've seen of the new characters so far. This series will always be limited, or perhaps freed, by its nonsensical storytelling, so there's not much else a JoJo's series can do beyond being itself. These opening episodes are slick and punchy, silly in a way that won't be palatable for all audiences, and maybe in the coming weeks I'll get to bust out a few Godfather references.

Rating: B+

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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