Disclaimer: This is a spoiler-free review. Needless to say, don’t open the spoiler sections unless you’ve already read or watched Golden Wind.
Following a nearly 2-year drought since the release of Diamond is Unbreakable, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure made its grand comeback with Golden Wind on October 6th, 2018. Legends say that when Araki announced Part 5’s anime adaptation, the clouds parted and rays of divine light fell upon JoJo fans. Although a large-scale poll revealed Golden Wind’s manga to be the Japanese fandom’s sweetheart, it’s a well-known fact that its reception in the west isn’t as positive. It’s not disliked, but it’s also not most people’s favorite.
I’d like to state right off the bat that David Production’s masterful adaptation makes the experience a hundred times better. Not only does it walk an extra mile to expand on Golden Wind’s most iconic moments; it goes further and beyond with a stellar soundtrack and minor improvements in pacing and delivery. Manga readers will find themselves with an improved opinion of Part 5.
Studio: Jesus (David Production)
Release Date: October 6, 2018 (I cried)
Number of Episodes: 39 Mudas
Episode Length: 10 JoJo seconds (23 minutes)
Golden Wind’s protagonist is Giorno Giovanna, a teen who was previously saved by a gang member. He joins the Italian Mafia with the purpose of becoming its boss and reforming the way it manages the country. The main cast is composed of Giorno and the members of the squad he was assigned to, led by Bruno Bucciarati.
Giorno’s dream starts off being his personal wish, yet defeating the boss soon becomes the squad’s common driving goal. Because of this, Golden Wind’s plot is more battle-oriented. While its predecessor prioritized its ample cast of characters and the establishment of a strong sense of community, Golden Wind’s story takes place over the span of a week filled with battles and tragedies. Nobody is safe.
As mentioned above, the story leans on combat a lot. The Stand battles this time around are on a league of their own. All Stands are interesting and the fights are creative and engaging from beginning to end. A conflict usually takes at least two episodes to be solved, however, the time goes by in a flash. Fighting is the main driving force of Golden Wind’s narrative, hence it’s not often that the gang indulges in peaceful scenes.
Unfortunately, here’s where criticism number one comes in. There’s usually not much to complain about in JoJo, but as with every anime, there are a few flaws worth mentioning.
Golden Wind introduces you to a group of characters with pre-existing relationships. For this reason, it doesn’t see the need to show them getting closer. Nevertheless, the problem is that everything that brought them close happened in the past, off-screen. The viewer didn’t witness how, nor why. They’re just handed over a dynamic and instructed to roll with it. This, along with Giorno being a newcomer, and the story taking place in a week… they’re all factors that contribute to the immersion crumbling in key moments of the narrative. I was sold on some gang members as individuals, but not on the group as a whole.
Discussing the members of Bruno’s gang brings us back to the positives. All of the gangsters are given their own time to stand out as individuals by facing off against an enemy. In these episodes, we’re also acquainted with their past — which ultimately ties everyone’s “new beginning” back to Bruno. Although this is a great approach to keep Giorno from overshadowing the rest of the crew, it does make him more uninteresting in comparison as the series progresses. Giorno fades into the background and his stage presence is only miraculously brought back in his fight against Cioccolata.
This brings me to the reason behind this review’s title. By the end of Golden Wind, Giorno is far from a bad protagonist. However, this is what transpired midway through: after Giorno stepped back to let me admire the bigger picture, I noticed that the whole ass sun had been standing behind him.
The first episodes build up a great momentum for Giorno as a protagonist. His backstory is intriguing and his personality is refreshing. His wit when facing Polpo promises an intelligent and charming hero. Then, Golden Wind begins talking about tragic pasts and group dynamics. Bruno stands out as the link between the characters, the leader everyone can rely on. As the cogs of the narrative continue their motion, Bruno’s righteous and compassionate demeanor appears even in episodes that aren’t about him. He didn’t shine right off the bat because of Giorno’s initial momentum, yet as Golden Wind progresses, he becomes more and more the center of attention. Everyone in Bruno’s gang has difficult pasts, and they’ve all ended up where they are thanks to his interference. He offered them a new purpose. In some cases, like Narancia’s, he saved them altogether.
Based on the first episodes, we already know that the Mafia’s morals clash with Bruno’s own, which is why he supports Giorno’s goal and turns a blind eye to his treacherous intentions. Bruno wants the boss to go down, too, but he remains loyal and patiently makes his way to the top. He’s well aware of the dangers that come with betraying the Mafia, so he signs up for the long game.
Everything comes to a head with Bruno’s choice halfway through the anime. When a young girl who placed her trust in him gets betrayed and her life is threatened, Bruno refuses to play the part of a bystander. Bruno’s compassionate nature extends to everyone; nonetheless, it’s clear that he has a soft spot for the underage. He wants kids to lead a nice, peaceful life, which is why he initially refused to let Narancia join the Mafia.
With the life of an orphaned girl on the line, taking into account everything he believes in, how could he stand there and do nothing? He had promised to look after her, boss’s orders or not. So Bruno moves, and the plot follows.
Drug trafficking led to the death of Bruno’s father. As a result, Bruno wanted to get to the top and stop the tragedies brought by drugs. He helped people in need and had the strongest sense of justice. He joined Passione aiming to set things right and was devastated to find that they engaged in the very practice he condemned. Despite this realization, he was patient yet determined to make his way to the top and fulfill his goal. Even though he remained cautious for years, he dropped his prior approach in an instant and was dubbed a traitor just to save a vulnerable girl who expressed her loneliness and fear. This man shined brighter than the sun and deserved every good thing in life.[/spoiler]
Bruno’s role in the story just keeps delivering from this point on. So, yes, Bruno Bucciarati is very much the star of the show. This is a spoiler-free review so any further analysis would be illegal. Thanks for reading my shameless Bruno propaganda. To summarize: Giorno okay, Bruno god, Golden Wind god.
Next stop: Giorno’s Stand. Why would I like to discuss Giorno’s Stand? Because it’s used in a similar manner to Josuke’s, but the plot throws you a curveball to keep you on your toes. In the plot, Giorno’s Gold Experience serves a similar purpose as Crazy Diamond — its abilities are employed in a creative way to heal Giorno’s teammates. This removes any sense of urgency from grave injuries such as dismemberment as we know that Giorno can easily patch the characters up.
The trick here is that you grow used to this subtle plot armor attached to every living character. “It’s just a flesh wound,” you say, as someone loses their arm for the nth time in a row. Thus, Araki spots you feeling cocky and throws you a curveball — oh, so you like having my characters in one piece? Here’s a character who can’t be healed. Have fun with that.
This twist leaves your heart in your throat throughout the last episodes of Golden Wind, once the stakes are inevitably raised. Part 5 is ruthless on your adrenaline levels.
To conclude the first section of this review, there’s another aspect to analyze and appreciate. JoJo fans are used to each Part having a vision, a meaning, or a concept the narrative expands on. Golden Wind’s overarching concept is fate. It’s not apparent until the ending, however, Golden Wind leaves you with an enlightening conclusion instead of delving into an exciting final battle. It contrasts the closing act of previous Parts and is an all-new, unique experience.
David Production’s subtle addition to the final shot of the anime is the cherry on top we didn’t know would bring the perfect closure.
Moving onto the animation department — in spite of the fact that there definitely are a few flukes, it’s a lot more consistent than Diamond is Unbreakable’s animation. Golden Wind’s animation doesn’t suffer from as many quality dips and it has sequences that are so filthy smooth that you’ll be entranced by the flawless motion. Moments later, one can’t help but replay the frames. The battle sequences, especially, are so great that anime like One Punch Man 2 and long-running shounen are put to shame.
David Production doing an amazing job adapting JoJo into an anime? There’s no surprise here. Let’s be real, though. Yes, we knew David Production would knock it out of the park. We just weren’t prepared for the ball to end in another fucking galaxy. The torture dance. The 7-page Muda. The foreshadowing in both the OP and ED. That goddamn fucking Opening.
[spoiler]Legends say JoJo fans are on life support.[/spoiler]
If you haven’t watched Golden Wind yet, I’ll say the usual JoJo law of never skipping an Opening is still standing and leave it at that.
Concerning the quality dips, they’re far from common. Golden Wind looks stunning 99% of the time. Nevertheless, there is a great episode of doom, also known as episode twenty-two. It is so bad that our savior David Production is aware of it, hence why the blunder is fixed in the Blu-ray version. Every other frame of the episode had to be redrawn.
Since the sin was erased and I’m a biased JoJo fan, I’ll conveniently forget the animation of the original episode. The color palettes and designs this season are so stylish I could weep. I much prefer the anime’s design choices compared to the colored manga’s. Yes, I admit puke Fugo is a tragedy…
[spoiler]But he’s not there for long, anyway.[/spoiler]
It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for pink Giorno.
THE MUSIC. Is this soundtrack even real? First of all, Coda himself descended from the heavens to deliver the first Opening. Fighting Gold is a song that kicks down your door and wrecks your house with the raw power of its chorus. It is so powerful that it spawned hundreds of memes. Yes, Coda, go ahead and use my microwave.
Of course, let’s not forget the blessing that is the first Ending, with lyrics that capture our feelings for JoJo. No, it’s not a PG-13 experience. Science proves that you don’t need a lover to ease your sexual frustration if you have JoJo. In fact, you don’t need friends, nor a family, nor a life if you have JoJo. No one can ever beat you down, crusaders.
Next up is our most loyal companion in the adventure that is Golden Wind. No matter what the plot tosses your way, Il Vento d’Oro will be right there with you — a friendly reminder that life is always worth living when a new JoJo season is airing. Il Vento d’Oro will hype you so much that anime battles might never be the same without it.
Why of course, Traitor’s Requiem is a great second Opening. Daisuke Hasegawa, the singer of Great Days, was brought back for this one. Instead of hitting it right from the beginning like Fighting Gold, it takes its time to build up to a catchy chorus. It might take a few listens to get used to for some viewers; I assure you by the last episode it will be another jam you can replay for hours.
I might get killed for this, however, my favorite Ending is the second one. Yes, I love our darling “I wake up feeling so horny”, it’s just that Modern Crusaders goes hard. The conclusion of the long version is especially chef kiss worthy. The ending switch is flawless. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, they just miss the risqué lines from Freek’n You.
A love letter to David Production: “Dear David Production, thank you, on behalf of the entire JoJo fandom. You turned a based moment into a masterpiece. I owe you my firstborn, my heart, my soul, and anything else you wish for. We promise to love and worship you for the rest of our lives. Please never leave us, amen.”
The most iconic tracks may be out of the way, but the OST hype never ends. As you watch Golden Wind, you’ll run into great tracks left and right. The music is so good that you won’t ever miss any specific theme.
Araki’s unique work and David Production’s passion go hand in hand. Unlike its predecessor, JoJo: Golden Wind is highly battle-oriented and the trip to beat the antagonist resembles Stardust Crusaders’s journey to kick Dio’s ass. The main characters get short arcs to highlight them and we learn everyone’s personal backstories. Although Golden Wind’s main antagonist isn’t nearly as interesting as Kira Yoshikage, his defeat does feel rewarding. Golden Wind’s ending contrasts previous Parts by shifting the focus away from the final battle, which might feel anticlimactic to some. In spite of this, the conclusion invites the viewer to take a step back and examine the journey as a whole through different lenses.
David Production nailed the animation of the arc, making Golden Wind a must-watch for every JoJo fan, including manga readers. The anime is genuinely the best medium to appreciate Golden Wind at its finest.