…what the fuck, Mista?
Episode 38 – “Golden Wind Requiem”
Picking up from last time, Giorno and Gold Experience Requiem finishes delivering a savage beatdown to Diavolo, knocking him into the nearby river. Mista and Trish try to find the body, but it’s nowhere to be seen, which apparently doesn’t upset Giorno at all. Meanwhile, we see Diavolo climbing out of the river near a sewer tunnel, and as he tries to catch his breath, he finds himself suddenly getting stabbed in the chest by a crazed homeless drug addict. As Diavolo bleeds out, he unexpectedly finds himself awakening in a hospital room as a doctor walks in making some unsettling comments about him being stabbed. The doctor then begins performing an autopsy on the “dead” body, unaware that Diavolo is cognizant of the whole thing and can feel every incision being made into his body as well as the removal of his vital organs.
Diavolo finds himself transported yet again, this time into the middle of a busy city. He’s caught off-guard by a random civilian and his barking dog, which causes him to trip backwards into the street and in the path of an oncoming car. As he slowly begins to realize what’s happening, he awakens once more in a grassy field as a young girl approaches him, finding himself terrified at whatever fate befalls him next. Back with our heroes, Giorno confirms to the others the extent of Gold Experience Requiem’s power: having not just undone King Crimson’s time skips, the Stand has effectively trapped Diavolo in a loop where he will forcibly experience death over and over again without ever truly being able to die. Once they realize their victory, Mista suggests going back to the Colosseum to have Giorno resurrect Bucciarati, even though he knows this is an impossibility.
The episode then flashes back to around the time of the Leaky-Eye Luca incident, before Bucciarati first encountered Giorno.The crew is enjoying lunch and having in-depth discussions about the nature of cannibalism (…what the hell, Mista?), but then they are approached by an elderly man who runs a flower shop seeking Bucciarati’s help. As the man explains, a few months prior, his daughter entered a relationship with a sculptor that they never got to meet. Tragically, she plunged off the roof of a building to her death holding a mysterious rock sculpture. Believing that the sculptor had something to do with it, he requests the group’s help in avenging his daughter. As Bucciarati reluctantly accepts the request, Mista suddenly catches sight of a strange rock imprinting a strange message onto his skin. He goes along with Bucciarati and Fugo to track down their target, but Mista keeps noticing signs of the rock sculpture here and there on the way to the sculptor’s apartment. Once the group reaches the apartment, Mista heads in to track down their target, with Bucciarati deciding to follow in after without him knowing. As Mista approaches the elevator, it opens up to reveal two surprising sights: the sculptor (Scolippi) hiding in the corner, and the rock that was following him emerging to reveal a replication of Bucciarati’s form.
Episode 39 – “The Sleeping Slave”
Mista manages to fire a round through Scolippi’s hand and incapacitate him, allowing him to begin interrogating the sculptor about the recent circumstances. Questioning if he is some kind of a Stand user, Scolippi expresses confusion about what a Stand is, with the rocks having followed him around since childhood. He does manage to squeeze an explanation out of him about what the rocks mean: this ability, called Rolling Stones, will follow around the target embedded within as that individual is fated to die. If they ignore the rock, the individual will die as specified, with all the pain and agony that is to follow, both physical and emotional. However, if they touch the rock, then the person can die right there in a manner free of any suffering. Mista finds himself almost in disbelief, pressing Scolippi further for information about the florist’s daughter. He reveals that the florist was suffering from some kind of disease that she was fated to die from as well, according to the rock. Upon accepting her fate, her organs were preserved upon death so that her father’s life could at least be spared.
Mista gets highly irritated at this point and fires a couple of rounds, but they miss Scolippi as he’s not fated to die. Still in denial, he calls Fugo about the situation and learns that Bucciarati followed him inside, to his surprise. Mista is forced to accept the truth of the situation, but he believes that if he can alter the rock in any way, then maybe he can change Bucciarati’s fate. Unfortunately, after sending Sex Pistols to survey the building, he learns that Bucciarati’s already encountered the rock in the stairway. He doggedly tries to get in the way of the rock using Sex Pistols until he can eventually make it to the stairway. Unfortunately, every attempt Mista makes to impede the rock fails as it continuously morphs through physical space in its dogged pursuit of Bucciarati.
Eventually, he decides to zip himself outside of the apartment to escape the rock as it continues chasing him, but this fails as well, eventually forcing Mista to rush forth and grab it, sending himself hurtling towards the ground, crashing into the car with Fugo driving. Mista finally explains everything about Scolippi and the rock to Bucciarati as he decides to go off and investigate what happened to Leaky-Eye Luca. The sculptor muses about how the gang appear to be slaves to their own fates as the rock fades away to reveal the images of not just Bucciarati, but also Narancia and Abbaccio. Back in the present, Mista witness what he believes to be the stone followed by the disappearance of Trish, but it’s a false alarm as she just disappeared inside of the turtle. Polnareff emerges to state his newfound residence inside of the turtle (given that he has no proper physical body to return to), and he asks what Giorno plans to do now that Diavolo has been defeated. The episode then flashes forward to an unspecified point in the future, revealing that Giorno has now arisen to become the leader of Passione, with Mista and Polnareff still by his side.
I recognize that this review is a month late, but I do have something of a decent reason: it took a really long time for my to mentally articulate why exactly the ending of Golden Wind frustrates me so much. There’s a lot of ways to talk about it, but I feel the best encapsulation/starting point I can think of is that the conclusion of this arc feels like it runs counter to the entire appeal of the Stand era of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The best way to explain this is to compare the finale of Golden Wind to the 2 arcs that precede it.
It’s something of a recurring sentiment nowadays that Stardust Crusaders is the weakest overall arc of the series, and while I may be inclined to agree with some of the criticisms levied at it e.g. the bloated length, the obvious growing pains of Araki figuring out the Stand concept etc., there’s no denying for me that Jotaro vs. Dio, the big grand climax that the entire story is building to, makes the entire journey so completely worth experiencing, flaws and all. It is a masterfully constructed adrenaline-fueled thrill ride that constantly keeps the viewer on edge through the brutality of the action and the intense memorability of its various action beats (the knives, Jotaro stopping his heart, road roller, etc.) Diamond Is Unbreakable also has an incredible final battle against its main antagonist, Yoshikage Kira. It might not be the exact same type of battle as the previous finale, but it is an intense display of mind games and psychological attrition that manages to perfectly tie together the various themes and character arcs that had been building since its start.
Now, Golden Wind does have a running theme throughout about the nature of fate and trying to escape ones’ past. It’s communicated well through our hero and villain: Giorno is defined by how he tries to jettison the baggage of his familial connections to DIO, and Diavolo is aggressively obsessed with erasing all traces of his activity, including his past identity. This is also the purpose of the extended flashback sequence running across these last two episodes in specific, with Mista’s desperate attempts to destroy the rock and alter Bucciarati’s fate. Unfortunately, there’s a certain level of sloppiness when it comes to tying all of this together by the end. The insertion of the flashback at the point where it’s found is quite odd, coming almost out of nowhere and interrupting the flow of things. This is surprising considering that the writing in the adaptation has done a fairly good job of restructuring the placement of flashbacks in the manga into places where it would make more sense in the anime. The pacing would have felt smoother if the flashback was split up and spread out more smoothly throughout the events of the final battle, allowing it to build and marinate so the reveal could hit much harder.
The sloppiness of the ending is also compounded by the actual specifics of how Giorno wins in the end. Now to be fair, the ultimate punishment for Diavolo is appropriately brutal in its conception: a man constantly trying to escape the past and can see the future now forced to be stuck in the present/recurring cycle of dying without ever truly passing on. Thinking on it, it’s easily the most existentially terrifying fate that any JoJo villain has ever met, neck and neck with Kars being trapped in volcanic rock and forced to rocket through space for the end of his days. However, the way that it gets there feels kind of cheap when you step back and take a look at everything. The arrow conveniently giving Giorno the power to directly undo King Crimson’s time skips is unsatisfying compared to the tense reversals and mind games that characterized the previous two finales, compounded further by the conflict with Chariot Requiem being too dense and confusing for its own good. This series of events being capped off with what basically amounts to “Giorno gets the Blue Shell and wins” just makes the whole thing feel unsatisfying. Compounding this further is the fact that, unfortunately, Diavolo is just not that interesting of a villain. By design he almost can’t be, considering that he constantly hides behind multiple surrogates and his own alter ego, but it’s still surprising how underdeveloped he feels compared to someone like Kira, and he’s nowhere near as much of a flashy menacing presence as DIO. When the vast majority of secondary villains receive stronger character development than your *main* villain… well that’s not an automatic negative, but it *is* when you’re as stock as Diavolo.
Now, you could argue that Stardust Crusaders had something of a similar (for lack of a more elegant term) ass-pull with Jotaro being able to harness the power of The World, but at least the line of logic is consistent, and the battle, to reiterate this point, remains infinitely compelling and exciting to watch. The problem with Golden Wind is that the struggle with Diavolo is an underwhelming buildup to an underwhelming resolution. On top of all that, the sense of thematic culmination is nowhere near as strong as Diamond was, because while the flashback could have been restructured to add more impact, Giorno’s character progression doesn’t feel like it comes full circle in any way. You think that his familial baggage would be touched upon in some capacity as the events of the story come to a close, but there’s no acknowledgement of this in anyway. It’s almost strange to think about considering that Polnareff is a major character in the events of the climax, someone who knows DIO all too well and could have provided an interesting jumping-off point for that sort of development.
I’m aware at how bitter and dissatisfied much of this review has sounded, and I feel very conflicted about writing all this, because contrary to my tone here, I don’t actively dislike Golden Wind… at least as an adaptation. The issues I have are mainly all ones inherent to the source material in question, as the crew involved in producing the anime went above and beyond as they always do in bringing Araki’s seminal work to screen. The resolution being such a bummer doesn’t mean the trip there isn’t worth taking, as there’s still a great deal of things to enjoy about Golden Wind. On a narrative sense, the character dynamics are generally some of the strongest in the series with the immensely off-beat and likeable main cast and one of the strongest rogues galleries that any arc has seen yet. The arc still has that characteristic mix of intense action and strange humor that’s become essential traits of Araki’s writing style. As far as the presentation, David Production goes as all-out as they’ve ever done with Golden Wind. The character designs are some of the most striking we’ve seen yet, finding the perfect balance between the intensely detailed manga-accurate designs of the part 3 adaptation with the bold stylistic color schemes of part 4. The animation itself goes above and beyond in realizing not just the various characters’ powers but also several of the unique story highlights such as the torture dance or the famous “7 Pages of Muda” and the arc features some of Yugo Kanno’s strongest musical composition work to date. Despite my gripes about the ending and how scattershot it feels, Golden Wind is still a strong experience for the most part, and I’m gonna miss this particular gang of characters.
…But what even was that cannibalism thing, Mista? Is there something you’re not telling us?
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind is produced by David Production and licensed by VIZ Media.