REVIEW: ‘Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo’ Episode 11: “Narancia’s Aerosmith”
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Out of all of Vento Aureo’s arcs thus far, Narancia vs Formaggio is easily the anime’s best. With the previous episode being an excellent introduction to La Squadra Esecuzioni, this week’s episode wraps up the arc almost perfectly and takes great strides in fleshing out Narancia.
The episode picks up where the last one left off and continues the Narancia vs Formaggio fight. With Narancia at a clear disadvantage, the episode flashes back to Narancia’s origin story. After his mother died from an eye disease when he was 10, his father began to neglect him and he started hanging out with a group of delinquents. One of these delinquents ended up framing Narancia for assault by convincing him to dye his hair blonde to make him look like the actual perpetrator. After being released from a year of reform school, his friend group wound up ostracizing him and he developed an eye infection from an injury he sustained during his interrogation. Left on the streets to die, he had a fateful encounter with Fugo, who introduces him to Team Bucciarati and gets his eye infection treated. Thankful for the group’s kind will towards him, Narancia asks Bruno if he could join Passione. Bruno harshly refuses, advising Narancia to go back to school and continue living a normal life. In spite of Bruno’s warnings, he takes Polpo’s lighter test anyway and becomes a part of Passione.
A common theme throughout all of Vento Aureo and Jojo as a whole is the concept of “fate” and if it can really be altered. Ever since Part 1, Araki has been very interested in exploring themes involving fate to the point where it literally runs in the Joestar bloodline. Vento Aureo’s themes in particular are heavily centered around fate, as is evident in the backstories of Team Bucciarati. Each member had been dealt a bad card in life and wound up joining Passione after fateful encounters during their lowest points. For Abbacchio this was the death of his partner, for Mista it was being accused of murder, and for Narancia it was being homeless and on the verge of death. However, all three of these characters were able to break free of their unfortunate fates after their encounters with Bucciarati, which is symbolic of one of Part 5’s major themes: breaking away from fate.
While previous and future parts are more pessimistic towards the concept of fate by portraying it as an inescapable force (especially Stone Ocean and Steel Ball Run), Vento Aureo contrasts with those parts by taking a more optimistic approach towards the subject by having their characters break away from fate through their determination. This especially holds true when looking at the lyrics for “Fighting Gold,” which contains many references to breaking the chains of fate and maintaining strength in the face of adversity.
In many ways, Narancia’s backstory in particular encapsulates these themes the best out of the three thus far. While Mista and Abbacchio lead relatively normal lives up until their turning points, Narancia’s life has always been kind of awful. After his mother’s death, his already neglectful father started to treat him even worse, and his friend group who he thought he could trust ended up betraying him and making his life even worse. Add that with him getting the same eye infection that killed his mom, and things aren’t really looking up for the poor guy, which makes it all the more satisfying when he’s able to find support in Team Bucciarati. Seeing him overcome the years of hardship he had to endure and grow from that makes him all the more endearing and easier to root for when you remember what he went through up to this point.
Narancia has become a bit of a fan-favorite character amongst anime watchers, and after this episode, it’s not hard to see why he resonates with so many viewers. Also fun fact, Narancia’s Japanese voice actor also plays Izuku Midoriya in My Hero Academia, who is another short, dark-haired teenage underdog who everyone in their fandom wants to protect. It’s a funny coincidence that two characters who have so much in common also share a Japanese VA.
After the backstory is over, the battle between Aerosmith and Little Feet continues, and boy is there a lot going on in this fight. The first half of the fight has a shrunken Narancia pitted against a venomous (at least for Narancia’s size) spider inside a glass jar. Unable to use Aerosmith due to Tiny Feet disabling the stand, Narancia is trapped inside the spider’s web and is yet again on the verge of death. Luckily, he was able to shoot Aerosmith at the car’s exhaust pipe beforehand, which causes the car to explode upon starting up and eventually engulf the entire street in flames. Amidst the destruction, Narancia is able to locate Formaggio and defeat him, unfortunately destroying the groceries in the process. Narancia vs Formaggio is easily one of Vento Aureo’s best fights so far, and this climax just makes it even better.
The creative uses of both Aerosmith and Little Feet make the battle incredibly fun to watch, with some standout moments being Narancia’s use of Aerosmith’s carbon dioxide locater to place a bomb in the car’s exhaust pipe, as well as Formaggio cutting himself and using Little Feet to shrink down in an attempt to extinguish himself with his blood. The fight itself is also a spectacle to behold, with the right amount of high-stakes tension and fast-paced action to keep anyone at the edge of their seats. The only issue is that the fight’s conclusion pretty much just amounted to Narancia burning everything down and forcing Formaggio to show himself, which while awesome in its own right, lacked the real strategy and thought that was present in previous fights’ conclusion. It felt like somewhat of an anti-climactic way to end what was otherwise an amazing fight, but at least it still looked cool, so it’s really hard to be all that upset about it.
Featured Image: Jojo Animation
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