How does one extinguish purple flames? Purple rain.
Picking up from last time, Narancia is still attempting to hunt down Formaggio while still in a state of shrinking. Narrowly dodging the attack of a nearby cat, our hero suddenly gets pinned underneath the foot of his fully-grown enemy who demands answers about the boss’s daughter. The episode then veers into a flashback centered on Narancia’s childhood. At a young age, his mother tragically died from complications involving an eye infection, an event which affected his general direction in life. From that point, he began to get into more trouble in his neighborhood as well as befriending the local delinquents, including one in particular he simply referred to as “Bro.” Narancia was so enamored with Bro that he got his hair dyed just like him, which unfortunately got him into some major trouble with the law. He was arrested and accused of robbery/assault by an elderly woman who was attacked by a delinquent with blond hair. As it turns out, Bro was responsible for the assault and let Narancia take the fall, leaving him with a heavily bruised eye that created a massive amount of rumors around him. One day, while digging through the trash, he is approached by Pannacotta Fugo, who takes pity on the poor kid and introduces him to Bucciarati. Not only does he offer Narancia a proper meal, but he offers to fully pay up for surgery to restore his eye, with the condition that he tries to get his life back together with school and family, etc. While he does make an attempt to do so, Narancia eventually meets with Polpo and gets himself inducted into Passione.
Back in the present, Formaggio continues to intimidate our hero while bragging about taking over the boss’s drug trade. He taunts him further with a bottle containing a deadly spider, and despite Narancia’s attempts to free himself with Aerosmith, he gets trapped inside the bottle with his arachnid foe. He tries to fight back with a broken shard of glass, but he is immediately trapped in a mess of webs. Throughout the struggle, Formaggio happens upon Narancia’s map and is able to deduce the gang’s location, but it is at that point that he drops a major bombshell: Aerosmith actually tracks his targets based on carbon dioxide output. He then reveals that he shot up the gas tank of his car earlier, which he shoots even further until it explodes and incinerates Formaggio, returning Narancia to normal size.
However, Formaggio uses Little Feet to cut himself and shrink down again, relying on the blood from the wound to extinguish his flames. As he makes his attempt to escape once more, Narancia lets Aerosmith run wild and blow up everything in the street until it’s engulfed in flames, leaving nowhere for the enemy to hide and forcing him into one last direct confrontation where Narancia finishes him for good. Afterwards, he gets back to the vineyard and warns everyone about what just happened. Fearing for their lives, they decide to wait it out until they receive a communication from the boss… which is exactly what happens immediately afterwards. They are ordered to head to Pompeii and find a key for a vehicle that can transport Trish and the gang safely. Bucciarati decides to send Giorno, Abbachio, and Fugo to retrieve the key while he and the rest stay behind to protect Trish.
The tension that fuels the last parts of Narancia vs. Formaggio comes from how well it reverses the back-and-forth of their encounter in the previous episode. While Narancia was subject to the shrinking effects of Little Feet before, he was still a towering figure relative to Formaggio, allowing the fight to emphasize his viciousness in battle as the enemy was forced to run away from his much larger opponent. However, this week reverses the stakes and makes everything about Narancia trying to escape an overgrown Formaggio, which is used to great effect throughout. The obvious standout stretch of the episode involves the spider in a bottle, and this is thanks to excellent shot composition, character animation, and use of intensely saturated and layered color schemes. The script and voice work allow the enemy to intimidate and emote with an overwhelming layer of snark and menace, which is accentuated by the intensely angular manner in which his eyes are drawn, evoking image akin to Dio Brando in part one of the series, oddly enough.
The best shot of the entire episode is when Narancia is initially trapped in the bottle with the spider. The scene is viewed from a lowered angle looking upward, which slants the perspective of the two combatants and draws the eye to the attention of Formaggio, whose eyes fill up nearly the entire width of the shot across the bottle. It’s a truly menacing sight to behold, signaling the enemy as a malicious god-like entity controlling the fate of those beneath him. There’s also some good imagery with the spider superimposed onto Narancia, pinned to the floor in a cross-like pose as the colors change into poison-reminiscent shades of green to drive the point home further.
The climax of the battle feels like a hilariously appropriate way to close things out here. The true nature of Aerosmith’s radar tracking fits well within the hyper-specific motif of many Stand powers, tracking a specific chemical element instead of just the general presence of someone’s breath. It leads to a powerfully satisfying reversal when the car ultimately bursts into flames, but things don’t even end there. Despite the potential for a logically dense combat resolution, the episode instead opts for something humorously simple that leans more on reinforcing Narancia’s characterization: he’s just going to blow everything up like a theme park stunt show or a scene out of a Michael Bay film until Formaggio comes out to play. While it may not be the most strategic plan ever, there’s no denying that it works, and it leads to some great imagery with the stylized purple flames and the intense wild west-style standoff between the two combatants. It’s a gloriously cathartic resolution to a fight already full of great cathartic moments and unnerving reversals throughout, and I’m excited to see how the first cour rounds out before the end of the year.
New episodes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind premiere every Friday and can be streamed exclusively on Crunchyroll.