It should come as no surprise that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s mangaka, Hirohiko Araki, loves western culture. Character names, Stand names and even Stand powers are often named after western entertainment. However, Araki isn’t just fascinated with the entertainment, but the culture as well, especially Italy. The fifth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Vento Aureo or Golden Wind, is practically a love letter to the country in how Araki is able to perfectly capture the many parts of the country through his artwork. Araki has visited Italy multiple times, even including pictures of one of his trips in his artbook for Golden Wind, JOJO A-GO!GO! (If anyone knows where I can find an English translation for it, please let me know.) Spoilers for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ahead.
Unlike previous protagonists (except maybe Jonathan), Giorno is active from the moment he is introduced at the beginning of the first episode. Giorno Giovanna has a dream, a dream to rid Italy of corruption, a corruption we see throughout his introduction. Naples is ripe with the corruption Giorno so despises and the only way to rid it from the country is to change the operations of the mafia controlling that crime, Passione. Giorno will have to overthrow the current Mafia boss and replace him either with himself or someone he trusts.
Enter Bruno Bucciarati, a mafioso who learns about Giorno after he accidentally kills a fellow mafioso with his Stand, Gold Experience. Through their fight, Giorno learns that Bruno is a good man who shares his feelings about Passione despite being a member himself. Through this newfound friendship, Giorno finds his way into the mafia, but before he becomes a member he must face Bruno’s leader Polpo.
Through Giorno’s interaction with Polpo, we see the two sides of his personality. Giorno is honorable and kind, more than willing to spare someone who shares his ideals. However, during the test Polpo gives Giorno, Polpo’s Stand, Black Sabbath, kills an innocent bystander. Giorno sees this sin as unforgivable and the second he is given the chance, he uses Gold Experience to kill Polpo. Yet, he does so in a way that leaves him advantageous, making it seem like a suicide and allowing him to remain a member of Passione. Giorno is driven, seeking out his destiny with both hands. These two sides of Giorno mirror the two genetic fathers of Giorno. Giorno is the son of DIO, yet he was given life by Jonathan’s body, making him a Joestar by blood. Giorno embodies the duality between these two characters. Araki found a middle ground between honor and drive within Giorno that elevates the characters around him.
This drive is both what allows Giorno to connect with Bruno, Fugo and Mista, but it is what creates a divide between him and Abbacchio. Abbacchio, unlike the others, was once an honest man who desired to be an honest cop. After one mistake due to the corruption present around him, he loses his trusted partner. The way Giorno puts himself in harms way constantly reminds Abbacchio of the partner he lost, causing a rift between the two of them. However, the way the group views Giorno changes immensely through their battles alongside him, especially against La Squadra Esecuzioni. La Squadra are a group of Stand users who left Passione after two of their members, Gelato and Sorbet, were killed by two of the Boss’s enforcers. Their quest for revenge leads them to Trish Una, the Boss’s daughter, who may lead them to the Boss’s true identity.
Bruno and Giorno also desire to learn the Boss’s identity as his defeat would allow them to change the organization from the inside. However, La Squadra only desires vengeance. The sympathetic backstory given to La Squadra often makes it difficult to root against them. This is especially the case for Formaggio, Prosciutto, Pesci, Ghiaccio and Risotto, who each have well-defined characteristics. If they were the protagonists of this part instead of Bruno’s gang, it would be easy to root for them. The members of La Squadra are some of the best minor antagonists of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. However, they are just stepping stones toward the main event, the king at the top of the castle.
After defeating most of La Squadra, Bruno and Giorno firmly believe they are ready to take on whatever challenge they are faced with, including the Boss. They could not have been more wrong. Upon realizing that the Boss has Trish and likely plans to kill her, Bruno runs after them. This single act reaffirms everything Bruno hates about Passione. Sadly, the Crimson King is more than prepared for his betrayal.
King Crimson is quite possibly the most intimidating Stand in all of JoJo’s. Between the frightening pitch black atmosphere created by its abilities to its near unstoppable power. This is all topped by the horror-esque voice acting from Kellen Goff. More on that later.
Bruno’s mistake would have cost him his life if it was not for Gold Experience seemingly bringing him back from the dead. This leads to the turning point of the show and where Golden Wind finds its true footing. Bruno has betrayed Passione, and thus his gang members must choose whether to put their trust in Bruno and follow him onto the boat and leave Venice, or stay behind, remaining under the rule of the Crimson King. With Bruno, Giorno and Trish already on board the boat, Abbacchio boards fourth, both because of his trust in Bruno (and Giorno, even if he won’t say it) and for Mista’s sake due to Mista’s fear of the number four. Mista then boards immediately after, having full faith in Bruno and Giorno. This leaves Narancia and Fugo behind at the port.
Panacotta Fugo has always had an uncontrollable temper that is reflected in his Stand, Purple Haze. The lack of determinazione he has for his own abilities leads him to question the decision to leave the comfort he reveled in as a member of Passione. He knows the potential outcome of the battle against the Boss and fears the worst, believing that he would only hinder the rest of the group.
Narancia, however, is afraid of deciding on his own. He wishes for Bruno to order him onto the boat, but Bruno tells him that the decision must be his own. They are walking through the shadow of death, and they must all be determined to see it through to the end. Narancia is the least mature member of the group, always relying on the others to push him forward. He is also the only one who has not fought alongside Giorno. Despite all of this, it is the image of Trish’s wounded arm that reminds Narancia of his own terrible past. Narancia dives into the river, swimming towards the boat yelling, “Trish and I are the same. Her wounds are my wounds. Her pain is my pain.” However, it is the fight against Squalo and Tiziano, the Boss’s chief enforcers in Venezia, that finally gives Narancia the determinazione he needed.
Similarly, Trish receives her determinazione during the fight against Notorious B.I.G. The fight forces nearly every member of the team out of commission, leaving Trish alone defending Giorno and the others. Besides awakening her Stand, Spice Girl, the fight also serves as a catalyst for her, turning Trish into a true member of the group. Her final line of the fight “Arrividerci” shows just how much Bruno rubbed off on her during his fight against King Crimson.
To truly prove that the gang is not ready to face King Crimson, the final remaining member and leader of La Squadra, Risotto Nero, contests him. Only, he does not know that he is facing the Boss. Vinegar Doppio acts as his second in command while simultaneously allowing him to confront Risotto himself, the two being a split personality. Because of the sheer power of Risotto’s Stand, Metallica, and its ability to manipulate the iron within Doppio’s blood, Risotto comes closer than anyone else to defeating the Boss up to that point. The intense battle between the two, coupled with the dramatic motivation of Risotto, being the last member of La Squadra standing, makes the fight one of the best in the series.
All things must come to an end though and the stakes of what the group are facing must be realized. The way Golden Wind deals with death is easily the best of any of the parts. Most works of fiction give their characters just enough time to die, always departing some last remarks or information off to the living characters before passing. Araki himself fell for this trope when writing Phantom Blood. Unlike most fiction, death in Golden Wind was either quick and sudden, like it was for Risotto, Abbacchio and Narancia, or long and painful like it was for Bruno.
Bruno’s broken body heavily aided them in the gang’s fight against Cioccolata and Secco, who are written to be the polar opposite in tone to La Squadra. The anime even makes them responsible for La Squadra’s turn as they were the ones to kill Gelato and Sorbet. Cioccolata and Secco are so despicable that even the devil himself detests them, asking Doppio to ensure they do not wreak to much havoc on Rome.
The fights against multiple enemy Stand users in Golden Wind are fantastic, with the enemy’s Stands perfectly complimenting one another. The fight against Cioccolata’s Green Day and Secco’s Oasis is the best example of this. Oasis sinks the ground, causing anyone on it to become increasingly infected with Green Day’s plague as they descend. However, due to Bruno’s dead body, he does not experience Green Day’s effects, allowing him to descend freely and attack Secco.
Green Day’s carnage and Cioccolata’s revelry for it brings out a side of Giorno we had not seen since his fight against Black Sabbath at the beginning of Golden Wind. Giorno recognizes Cioccolata as the most despicable human to have ever walked the Earth and treats him as such. To draw out the mad man, Giorno tricks Cioccolata by promising that he won’t kill him, an option Jonathan often offered his opponents in Phantom Blood. Naturally, Ciocolatta sees this as an opportunity to retaliate against Giorno, only for our protagonist to reveal that he was just buying time, stating that he does not spare trash. This results in what might be the most satisfying beat down in all of JoJo’s, consisting of Gold Experience punching the crap out of Ciocolatta for 45 seconds straight. Giorno punches him straight into a garbage truck, exactly where he belongs.
For the most part, Golden Wind’s writing is exceptional, with each fight bringing out the best of the characters, both the heroes and the villains. The core themes are the richest of any of the parts so far, taking a more nuanced view than in Diamond is Unbreakable. King Crimson’s ability to erase time and escape fate allows Diavolo to seemingly have control over the universe. However, it is the introduction of Requiem Stands that leads to his defeat.
The explanation for Stands within Golden Wind is definitely cheesy, but explanations such as this are commonplace in Western comic books. Requiem Stands do feel like a slight copout, but the incredible power they possess along with the way Chariot Requiem and Gold Experience Requiem deal with fate is extremely interesting. It is a shame Requiem Stands do not appear in Stone Ocean, but I can understand why.
Jean Pierre Polnareff’s inclusion in Golden Wind as the one who explains this backstory gives it this added weight, while representing the affect Stardust Crusaders has on the larger plot of JoJo‘s. The reveal that Diavolo sold the arrow that manifested The World is that connective tissue Golden Wind was missing. I also love the added detail that Jotaro went to Morioh in Diamond is Unbreakable in search of the Stand arrows. I appreciate all of the added continuity.
This information dump is supplemented by the intense fight between Polnareff and Diavolo. The confrontation between the two is epic, truly a battle between titans. The moment where Polnareff is atop the stairs above Diavolo perfectly parallels Polnareff’s confrontation with DIO in Stardust Crusaders.
Much of the epicness of their confrontation is due to Yugo Kanno’s brilliant score. Polnareff’s main theme, “Cavaliere,” felt nostalgic and reminiscent of the musical style of Stardust Crusaders. It is thematic compositions like Polnareff’s that allow Kanno to seemingly bend the tone of the story to his will. Diavolo’s theme, “Diavolo,” doubles as the theme for Passione as a whole, with “Lotta Feroce” playing for the mafia’s members, including our main gang during their fight against La Squadra. Once they leave Passione, the theme becomes more intense and operatic, especially during the final battle in “La Battaglia Finale”. However, my favorite piece from the whole score is the final theme that plays after Diavolo’s defeat, “Fine Della Vento Aureo”. The triumphant theme from the gang’s departure from Venice, “Un Sogno,” builds only to transition into an orchestral version of Giorno’s theme, “Il Vento D’oro”. This climax then breaks off into a repurposing of the final theme from Stardust Crusaders, “The Return of Travelers,” this time with a more modern touch for our modern crusaders. Kanno did an excellent job with Golden Wind‘s score and the amount of effort put into each theme is astounding.
Of course, the climatic scenes of Golden Wind would be nothing if it was not for those voicing our characters. The Japanese actors are mostly excellent, but I am here to talk about the English dub. Bang Zoom’s English dub for Golden Wind is by far one of the best they have ever produced. Every member of the main cast is excellent. Phillip Reich obviously dedicated a lot of time to perfecting his voice for all those Mudas when voicing Giorno, especially for Cioccolata’s beatdown. Similarly, Ray Chase as Bruno, Sean Chiplock as Mista, Mick Lauer as Abbacchio, Lizzie Freeman as Trish and Kyle McCarly as Narancia all brought their A-game in every scene, whether it was serious or comedic. Despite his shorter screen time, Armen Taylor left a lasting impression as Risotto. Griffin Burns brought this innocence to Doppio that almost made you feel bad for him. It was also great hearing Doug Ehroltz back as a battle-hardened Polnareff. However, the true stand out performance in the dub is Kellen Goff as Diavolo.
In the original Japanese version, Diavolo felt a little too much like DIO to me, often sounding similar in tone. Luckily, this could not be further from the truth in the English dub. Kellen Goff, both as King Crimson and Diavolo, is bone-chillingly sinister. Diavolo constantly sounds like he is meticulously picking his words to maximize King Crimson’s intimidation. The difference in pitch between Diavolo and his stand is subtle yet obvious once you notice it. He acts so confident behind his Stand, but once he is out in the open, Diavolo breaks down. Goff represents this drastic change perfectly and delivers what may be the best performance in JoJo’s English dub thus far. It is hard to describe the unique presence Goff brings to the character, so I highly recommend listening for yourself below.
I’ve been singing nothing but praise for Golden Wind thus far, but I do have my fair share of complaints. Between episodes four and 28, it feels that Giorno takes a backseat when it comes to characterization, even in the fights he is heavily involved with. I would have liked to see him interact with the members of La Squadra he is fighting and argue philosophy with them like he does with Cioccolata. I also wish that Fugo came back as an antagonist after leaving the gang in Venezia. It felt like a waste to throw away such an interesting character, even though I respect why Araki chose to do so.
Overall, Golden Wind is definitely the most meticulously written part of JoJo’s so far despite some of its shortcomings. The characters are excellent, the music is phenomenal and the English dub is exceptional. I cannot believe how big of an improvement the anime is over the source material. I am excited to see what David Productions does with Stone Ocean when it inevitably receives an anime adaptation.