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REVIEW: 'Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo' Episode 23: "Clash and Talking Head"

by Katherine Simon Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. The previous episode of Vento Aureo acted as an introduction to the anime’s post-betrayal arc. Aside from the new opening and ending songs, this also marks the shift from the gang fighting against various La Squadra members to going up against the boss’s personal hitmen, first of which being Squalo and Tiziano. With Squalo’s Clash being an incredibly powerful stand on its own, and Tiziano’s Talking Head forcing Narancia to lie to his teammates in order to lure them into it, the two assassins are proving to be quite the formidable foes.

Image from Crunchyroll
After unwillingly luring Giorno into Clash’s clutch, Narancia attempts to gun down the stand using Aerosmith, but ends up shooting Giorno instead, allowing Clash to get away through the sewers. Luckily, this works out in Narancia’s favor. The carbon dioxide from Aerosmith’s bullets allows him to still be able to track Giorno, and Clash by extension, despite the former’s minimal breathing. After managing to chase Clash down in a restaurant kitchen, Narancia finds that the effects of Talking Head have worn off and he’s able to tell the truth again. Thinking that he’s off the hook, Narancia calls in the rest of Team Bucciarati to take care of the enemy stand; however, it turns out that Tiziano only disabled Talking Head temporarily to catch Narancia off guard. He immediately reactivates the ability once the team steps in, which forces him to once again misdirect and inadvertently injure his teammates, allowing Clash to get away. Afterward, Giorno advises Narancia to locate Clash’s user and take them on directly, which leads Narancia to searching Venice for his adversaries. One thing to note in this episode is the implied homosexual relationship between Squalo and Tiziano. While it isn’t explicitly stated that the two are dating, and Hirohiko Araki hasn’t said anything about the status of their relationship aside from it being peculiar (which is honestly a pretty vague descriptor that could mean literally anything), the intimacy of their relationship and touchy behavior very heavily suggests that the two might be dating. That makes this the second canon gay couple in the show after the late Sorbet and Gelato, both of whom were only mentioned in flashbacks. Granted, Jojo is no stranger to LGBT themes. With Dio Brando being confirmed to be bisexual, and the series’ flamboyant nature being the subject of many jokes among LGBT and straight fans alike, this is the closest Jojo has gotten to portraying a canon gay relationship thus far. It also certainly helps that the anime is a lot less subtle about their intimacy than the manga.
Image from Crunchyroll
Even if the two were minor antagonists who quickly got killed off just like every other villain of the week, that didn’t stop fans from embracing the pair’s relationship and praising David Pro for playing up their sexuality, which is especially nice to see as a queer Jojo fan myself. This certainly won’t be the last time the series dips its toes into LGBT themes, as they’re quite prominent in both "Stone Ocean" and "Steel Ball Run," but that’s a discussion best saved for whenever the anime reaches those parts. As far as the fights in Part 5 go, “Clash and Talking Head” is far from being one of the series’ highlights. It’s still a fun fight with some exciting moments, but the stakes are certainly much lower than the previous King Crimson fight. It’s not as inventive as the likes of White Album or Little Feet, both of whom really shine through with their creative setpieces and satisfying payoffs. While the use of Talking Head in conjunction with Clash makes for an interesting dynamic, the fight mainly consists of Narancia chasing down Clash and trying to keep Talking Head from misdirecting his teammates. While this is not bad, it really isn’t the most interesting way for this episode to play out.
Image from Crunchyroll
The climax of the fight also felt a little underwhelming, since neither Squalo or Tiziano put up much of a fight before being gunned down by Aerosmith and the gang immediately leaving Sardinia. That’s not to say the episode is bad, it's far from it actually. It’s clear that this was meant to be more of a minor fight to break things up between the heaviness of the “betraying the boss” arc and later arcs building up to the series’ climax. It does a pretty good job delivering a fun, albeit an irrelevant fight against the first of the boss’s hitmen. Giorno’s involvement in the fight allowed for some unique battle strategies even if he wasn’t actively fighting. Squalo and Tiziano were both incredibly entertaining villains due to their flamboyant nature, and it was incredibly satisfying to finally hear Narancia’s iconic “Volare via” battlecry in the anime after waiting so long. Even with all the episode’s problems, it still has quite a few redeeming qualities that make it a fun watch. One minor complaint I have with this episode’s animation is how stiff the background characters are during the final face-off between Narancia and the two antagonists. They’re just kind of frozen in place as the fight is happening, not even moving or reacting to what’s happening. I’m aware that Jojo is a TV anime with a limited budget, but it’s super distracting when there’s a scene full of background characters and absolutely none of them are moving. It feels incredibly cheap and totally sucks away any immersion. This is especially noticeable when you take into account that this is the only fight in the part to take place in a crowded area, as opposed to the other fights which take place in vacant spaces. It’s obvious that the animators didn’t have the time or resources to animate the background characters so they just didn’t bother, which lead to an awkward final product. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard-looking episode with not a ton of stand out visuals. There's nothing offensively unappealing, barring for the aforementioned stiff background characters.
Images: Crunchyroll Featured Image: Jojo Animation

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