by Katherine Simon As Vento Aureo draws closer and closer to its conclusion, the stakes keep rising higher. Not only are we at the last minor villain fight before the final showdown with the big bad, but the part also recently had its first major character death in Abbacchio. To quote a certain recent blockbuster that also features superpowered people trying to take down a murderous meme-spawning megalomaniac, “we’re in the Endgame now.” In the aftermath of Abbacchio’s death, Giorno, Bruno, and Trish attempt to piece together the clues left behind by the impression Moody Blues left on the rock. After failing to trace the evidence back to anyone, an anonymous source calls them from their computer to tell them that he knows how to defeat the boss, who he refers to as Diavolo. While Team Bucciarati is skeptical at first, the mysterious man explains that he knows about Diavolo’s time-skipping abilities, which isn’t something he’d know if they were in cahoots with each other due to the boss’ secretive nature. They then agree to meet their new ally at the Roman Colosseum, but not before he explains the origins of the Stand arrows and how they can be used to defeat Diavolo. Essentially, Stands were discovered sometime in the late 1970s after a meteorite hit Greenland and a deadly virus was discovered within it. Those who survived the virus were gifted the power of a Stand, which leads to one person creating arrows from the meteorites in order to easily transfer Stands. It’s also explained that if used on someone who already has a Stand, the arrow could potentially develop the Stand into something much more powerful, which is how the anonymous man plans to defeat Diavolo. One of the most interesting things about this episode is that this is the first time the origins of Stands were really elaborated upon in all of Jojo. When Stands were first introduced in Stardust Crusaders, their origins and how they were passed down was mostly unknown outside of a handful of characters just inheriting them. Diamond is Unbreakable did a bit more to explain how people got Stands in the first place by introducing the concept of Stand arrows, but it wasn’t until Vento Aureo that we really knew how the arrows came to be in the first place. It’s kind of weird that the origin of the series’ main gimmick was kept a secret until just recently, but honestly, that just makes finding out the mystery behind it much more fun. Also, there was a nice little nod to the Stardust Crusaders cast during the explanation of Stand arrows, which was cool to see since the Part 3 gang were the first Stand users we got to know and grow attached to in the series. While Team Bucciarati is heading towards Rome, Diavolo, who was keeping tabs on the gang from afar, orders Doppio to call upon the two most dangerous and sadistic members in all of Passione: Cioccolata and Secco. When the gang arrives at a small village near Rome, they try to wait for the intoxicated men in the area to leave before moving any further. However, things start to go south quickly when the men are being eaten alive by a strange grey mold. Suspecting that this is the work of an enemy Stand user, Mista draws his gun and notices that his hand has also been infected. As the substance begins to spread to the rest of Team Bucciarati, it’s revealed that the infectious mold was the result of Cioccolata using the ability of his Stand, Green Day. Do you remember what I said earlier about Cioccolata and Secco being the most sadistic members of Passione? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Before joining the gang, Cioccolata was a surgeon who enjoyed slowly killing his patients and also worked at a retirement home where he drove the residents to suicide. He enjoyed seeing his victims suffer so much that he would record their deaths. Secco was a former patient of Cioccolata, and after somehow surviving his torture, they ended up teaming up and eventually became one of the most destructive duos in all of Passione. It’s clear that Araki was trying to write the most hateable villain he could with Cioccolata, and by golly did he succeed. In a series filled with multiple antagonists that have murdered animals on-screen just because they could, Cioccolata still manages to be one of the most despicable Jojo characters if only because of how much joy he takes in hurting his victims. Very few antagonists in the series actively get euphoria from the act of killing, which makes Cioccolata even creepier in contrast. Not to mention that medical malpractice and elder abuse are all unfortunately very real issues that occur fairly often in real life, so it’s much easier to get angry at him than some of the more cartoonishly evil Jojo bad guys. If there’s one word I could use to describe this episode, it’s loaded. This is easily one of the most exposition heavy episodes in the part thus far, as a lot of time is spent explaining important plot details and backstory that will play a bigger role in the story later (mainly the stuff about Stands and Cioccolata’s backstory). While the info dumps are nowhere near as egregious as something like Naruto since the information is actually interesting and helps move the plot along, there is definitely a lot of information to process in this episode that might feel a bit overwhelming for some. That isn’t to say the episode is completely lacking in action, far from it actually. There’s a lot of tension going on during the lead up to next episode’s Green Day fight, with the gang seemingly unable to escape the deadly mold until they find out getting to higher ground will stop it from spreading. Funnily enough, Green Day does share a lot of similarities with Fugo’s Purple Haze, both being Stands that infect their victims with flesh-eating organisms by spreading it through the air. Considering that Fugo was originally meant to be a traitor early on in the story, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if this was where the Purple Haze fight was supposed to happen and Green Day was made to act as a substitute. It’s very plausible given the circumstances surrounding the story, but we won’t know until Araki officially says anything on the matter. Aside from that, there’s a lot of great little moments throughout the episode. Doppio’s phone ability continues to be comedy gold, and I absolutely lost it when he handed back a little girl’s toy phone after he used it to have a serious conversation with Diavolo. It was honestly one of the cutest moments in the series and it’s from the alter ego of the guy who tried to kill his own daughter. The visuals are solid as usual, with the effects on Green Day being a huge stand-out in particular. There’s something about the animation on the mold that works exceptionally well and the effects around the Stand give it somewhat of a grimy feeling that fit the creepiness of its user. Though if I may go on a bit of a tangent, Green Tea might be one of the worst English Stand name changes ever in a part full of awful translated names. I get Viz Media not wanting to face the wrath of Billie Joe Armstrong, but you couldn’t have picked a less threatening name for this thing if you tried. Though on the plus side, changing Oasis to Sanctuary might be one of the best things ever because now instead of being a reference to the band Oasis, it’s now a reference to the main theme of Kingdom Hearts 2, which to me is a far better association because Utada Hikaru actually makes good music.
Images: Crunchyroll Featured Image: Jojo Animation