I knew it: nothing good ever happens inside a church.
Following the gang’s encounters with the Hitman Team, they finally close in on their ultimate destination. Following the instructions left for them by the boss has led them to a church on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The disc they’ve retrieved further explains the specifics of their final mission: they must send Trish up to the top of the bell tower, and only one of them can accompany her as a bodyguard. Given his leadership position as a capo in the gang, Bucciarati insists on protecting Trish, making sure to receive a tracking device from Giorno to help learn the boss’ identity. It’s a risky plan, as the boss was extremely specific about how the escorting is to proceed, but Bruno ventures into the church with the tracker in hand and Trish by his side. The two journey through the isolated church building and reach the elevator that leads directly to the roof, but Trish has some massive reservations about what might happen to her. Bruno reassures her that the boss only has the best intentions for her as they both get in the elevator.
The two of them reach the roof, but Bruno immediately senses something amiss as he turns around and sees that Trish has disappeared, with only her severed hand remaining. Bruno suddenly realizes that contrary to his personal reassurances, the boss had intended to kill Trish this whole time to preserve his identity. The episode then delves into a flashback about Bruno’s childhood, revealing that he had a decent upbringing with a happy family life, as his mother loved him and his father and him both assisted each other fishing. One night however, his parents announce that they’re getting a divorce, with the young Bruno choosing to stay with his father. At this point, his father began taking others out on fishing trips to raise money to send his son to a good school, but this eventually goes south when he is one day recovered by the Coast Guard with bullet holes riddled all over his body. As it turns out, he took a couple of strange men out for a “fishing trip” and ended up witnessing drug trafficking, putting him in great danger. After rushing him to the hospital, he’s determined to have survived the attack with non-fatal wounds, but the drug dealers break into his room later that night to complete the job. Thankfully, Bucciarati emerges from hiding and stabs the two of them to death to protect his father. From this point on, he seeks out Passione in order to join their ranks and deliver a true sense of justice in the world, but his loyalties are shaken viciously when, after confronting a gang member, he discovers that the boss himself is responsible for peddling the drugs throughout Italy.
Back in the present, Bucciarati seeks out where the boss could have gone, discovering his exit through the elevator shaft and dropping the tracking device on him. In an attempt to get ahead of his path, he discovers an empty hole in a dresser leading to a staircase heading towards the basement. He hides behind a pillar in an attempt to get the jump on him, but the boss is already aware of Bucciarati’s presence and immediately questions his loyalty to him and the mission. Bruno pulls out a cellphone from his face and gets in contact with Giorno who immediately points him in the boss’ direction before warning him that something doesn’t seem right. He punches in the direction of the boss, but only uncovers the odd sight of himself in its place. Finally, the boss decides to make his Stand known, as the entity of King Crimson emerges from the shadows and unveils that his power allowed him to erase the time between Bruno’s attack and its conclusion before concluding the episode with a violent punch all the way through Bucciarati’s chest.
Well, the time has finally come. After 20 episodes of build-up, Stand battles, and group infighting, it’s finally time for the first encounter with the mysterious boss of Passione. Now, I haven’t made as many manga comparisons throughout these reviews as I did during the first couple of pieces, and this was mostly because they were following things pretty closely with the only major alterations being in the placement of flashbacks, so it wasn’t as necessary to do in my opinion. However, now that the critical first encounter with the boss has come, this brings about the major halfway turning point of the narrative, and it offers a more important opportunity to look at the differences between each… and trust me, it may be a bit necessary.
It’s worth noting, first off, how incredible a lot of the episode looks, and I’m not solely referring to the usual intense color palette swaps and character designs/animation (congratulations on that Crunchyroll Anime Award, by the way). Araki’s love of travel and foreign cultures has always been an important aspect of the story that the anime adaptations capture quite excellently, and this episode stands out in particular. We start off getting some beautiful views of the local Venetian architecture as our heroes ride their speedboat through the river, and then things really kick into high gear with the church. The look and feel of the building on the outside gives off vibes communicating a sense of massive importance, amplified further when Bruno and Trish enter the building. The lower floor of the building is coated in this appropriately hypnotic silver color on the walls, almost like the same shade of silver as the Nobodies from the Kingdom Hearts series, and there’s a few ominous shadows peering in and out of the scene. As they ascend upward, the colors change to a more bronze sort of color, with shadows becoming more intense, and I think these shifting visuals work as a form of foreshadowing (pun fully intended). Naturally, the increasing shadows create a foreboding presence of what’s to follow, but the shift from silver to bronze as they ascend closer to the boss feels like a subtle communication of how Bruno’s standing with him falls as he gets closer to betraying him.
As the episode moves closer to this encounter, we finally get the last needed flashback for the capo Bruno, and this is where the adaptation makes some interesting creative choices. The main beats of his story remain the same: his parents got divorced at a young age, his father was violently shot for witnessing a drug deal, his reasons for wanting to betray the boss, etc. What’s important to note here is what it expands upon and skimps over: the episode does show us a little bit more of the happier side of Bruno’s childhood and his father’s hospital stay, but the anime notably slides past showing the actual drug deal that got his father shot in the first place. In a way, it makes sense as the flashbacks’ primary purpose for all the characters is to zero in more on the various adolescent traumas that motivated them to join Passione in the first place. Seeing the drug deal play out is not a super important detail in this sense, as the bigger priority is the surge of negative emotions that drive Bucciarati to do what it is he does. Speaking of emotions, the episode also adds a few scenes of Trish nervously gripping onto Bruno’s hand in the elevator, something that’s only implied as a single panel in the manga, as a method of enhancing her own nervous emotional state.
But now we need to discuss the highlight of the episode: the introduction of the boss, or rather his Stand, King Crimson. For those who are relatively new to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, King Crimson is actually something of a contentious sticking point in the arc, but before getting into that, the actual buildup to his reveal is a masterful display of rising tension. The increasingly shadowy visuals are cranked up to their most extreme as Bruno chases the boss through the elevator shaft and to the basement of the church, and once we get there, he is obscured to the point of only his eye showing through his shadowy visage. Giorno’s panicked warnings throughout the fight only crank things up further until the big reveal of King Crimson. Now, the franchise is known for throwing some densely specific and unusual Stand powers at there, but Crimson’s powers are so out there that the logic of its powers is one of the franchises’ biggest memes. It’s another time manipulation Stand, like The World or Bites The Dust before it, but the way his powers are described can be a bit head-scratching.
When Bruno punches apart the pillar, he sees a projection of himself that suddenly shifts into that position right next to King Crimson, who then describes the situation by saying he “erased time and leapt past it.” It sounds a bit like just The World all over again but with different language and visualizations, but I’ll delve more into that as the rest of the arc goes on. As an aside, this is the point where my one recurring negative critique of Golden Wind so far (namely, the overuse of recycled elements from past arcs) comes back into the fold somewhat. It’s not just that King Crimson feels a bit like The World, but when you think about it, doesn’t the boss’ intense need for privacy feel reminiscent of Yoshikage Kira from Diamond Is Unbreakable but in a dense interwoven context? While it seems like I’m overly nitpicking, I don’t wish to undersell the nail-biting tension through the conflict of this episode, and I’m still looking forward to how things proceed next time.
New episodes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind premiere every Friday and can be streamed exclusively on Crunchyroll.