(Tries to pick apart the back and forth of the battle): And now I’ve gone cross-eyed.
Picking up from last week, Illuso is prepared to tear into a helpless Fugo when he suddenly picks up the sounds of footsteps, signaling that Abbacchio is running towards the dog mosaic. Making it to the room where the mosaic is found, he searches around and finds the special key in a crack in the ground, but there’s a broken-off mirror piece nearby, allowing Illuso to make a move. He manages to pull Abbacchio into the mirror world thinking he’s won, but then Abbacchio proceeds to choke out Man in the Mirror. It turns out what was pulled into the mirror was actually Moody Blues acting as a decoy who swiftly delivers a hearty beatdown. However, Illuso interrupts the moment by revealing another mirror shard in his possession, using it to swap half of Abbacchio and Moody Blues between the tangible world and mirror realm, creating two fusions of the both of them. Understanding the relationship between the two realms, Abbacchio cuts off his hand in the mirror world, severing Moody Blues’ hand in the main realm and allowing it to carry the key to Giorno.
While Illuso is worried at first, he is soon filled with glee as he reveals that Giorno is unaware of the mirror dimensions, leaving him oblivious enough to be attacked. He drags him into the mirror world to and attempts to slice his throat, but suddenly the flesh on Giorno’s hand begins to bubble and dissolve, with this affliction hitting Illuso quickly after. As it turns out, Giorno brought with him a piece of the mirror that Purple Haze punched and shattered, dragging the virus into the mirror world along with him. In order to avoid death, Illuso transfers himself back into the real world, leaving the virus behind and reducing the injuries to just his hand melting off. While Illuso thinks he has a moment to breathe and get the key, he fails to realize that he is now stuck on the same side as Purple Haze itself. Victory almost seems certain at the moment, but Fugo is still unable to control Purple Haze from the other side of the mirror, on top of Giorno’s impending death from the virus.
As Giorno accepts his fate, a brick begins to crawl along the floor in their world. As revealed in the main world, Gold Experience turned a loose brick into a snake to track Illuso, giving Fugo a helpful visual to control Purple Haze. Illuso is pinned against the wall and attempts to use Man in the Mirror for a last-minute save, but it fails as one of the capsules on Haze’s fist pops off and explodes, infecting him and dissolving him into a bloody mess. In the aftermath, the snake is still alive as Giorno reveals that it was made from a brick carrying the virus, meaning the snake’s blood can produce a serum against his infection, thus saving his life. The episode closes out as they go to tend to Abbacchio’s wounds, still bleeding out from his severed hand… until the post-credits scene hits, showing an unknown assailant murdering a man at a train station, smiling with malicious glee as he picks up a burnt piece of paper from his victim.
One of the most critical elements of any good fight scene is a well-established sense of geography, clearly showing the constantly shifting spatial relations between the various characters and props/tools in play. Without clear geography, even a relatively simple fight scene can become difficult to follow (here’s a really good video from YouTube film analyst Patrick H. Willems delving deeper into that topic). I bring this up because the conclusion of the Illuso battle is heavily reliant on understanding the fight’s geography, considering how many elements are up in the air at any one time. Here’s a concise list of every important piece that the episode has to juggle:
- Abbacchio, Fugo, Giorno, Illuso
- The respective Stands of the above fighters
- Various mirror shards
- The key
- Purple Haze’s virus (and what it’s come into contact with)
- The brick/snake
- And the fact that all of the above are scattered between two competing realms.
The dueling realms alone create a complicated web of parts that can easily overwhelm the viewer if it wasn’t properly handled, so it’s a minor miracle that the fight manages to be as compelling as it is. The narrative flow of events has an incredibly strong grasp on its internal geography, and that is thanks to the careful attention paid to the mirror pieces. They’re the critical portal that allows things to jump between the two realms, and the clear establishment of what elements are on what side of the mirror allows the viewer to focus on and get sucked into the knuckle-biting tension at play. Nearly every other scene of the fight contains some kind of major reversal that tips the scales wildly back and forth between the protagonists and antagonist.
Illuso effectively commands the geography of the scene, as he is the only one who can flow freely between the dimensions, so everything rests on his shoulders, and he does make for a solidly menacing presence with that level of command. There’s this almost Batman-level “I prepared for that” mindset with him and his constant rebuttals of our heroes’ attacks and tricks, having a convenient way of using mirrors to escape danger at almost every turn. Even for the more eagle-eyed JoJo fans watching this and carefully cataloguing every detail, the sheer intensity of the stakes makes for a compelling watch, making for a satisfying resolution when Illuso fails to realize the potency of Purple Haze’s fist capsules. The battle is now over, the key has been obtained, and the first cour has concluded, with a special bonus episode coming up next before the second cour begins proper, and with that post-credits tease included, it’ll be exciting to see what lies in store for our hunky Italian boys.
New episodes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Widn premiere every Friday and can be streamed exclusively on Crunchyroll.