Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
With the previous episode establishing Giorno’s motivation for wanting to become a “Gang-Star” and having him form an alliance with Bruno, episode three gets into the real meat of Vento Aureo’s narrative by kicking off Giorno’s attempt to enter the crime syndicate known as Passione and overthrow their boss to put an end to Naples’ drug problem. While the first two episodes were mostly dedicated to introducing Giorno and giving the audience insight into his character, this episode is incredibly light on exposition and instead focuses on creating tension despite the lack of any real Stand battles, which it succeeds at in spades.
In order to join Passione, Giorno must first go through an interview with Polpo, a lieutenant for the organization who is currently serving 15 years in prison. After completing the interview, Giorno is handed a lighter and is tasked with keeping it lit for the next 24 hours in order to prove his trust to Polpo. While the task might not seem all that difficult at first, it soon proves to be quite the heavy undertaking, with Giorno having to jump through such obstacles as smuggling the lighter through prison security, preventing the wind from blowing the flame out, and trying to keep it hidden from Koichi as he searches Giorno’s dorm for his passport.
As mundane of a premise as “boy tries to keep a lighter lit for a day” might seem at first glance, the episode is possibly Vento Aureo’s most suspenseful yet. As soon as Polpo is introduced, there’s this feeling that something about him is not quite right. It’s very heavily implied during the interview process that Polpo possesses a Stand, but it doesn’t make an appearance until the very end of the episode and it’s abilities are unknown up until that point, which gives the impression that Polpo is much more dangerous than he lets on and that he will find out if Giorno fails to keep the flame lit. Aside from the obvious risk of Giorno not being able to join Passione if the lighter goes out, most of the stakes in the episode come from the mystery surrounding Polpo’s abilities and what danger Giorno might be put in if he fails to complete the task. Even if the episode lacks any real Stand fights, there’s still enough going on to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Also, I found Giorno’s solution of sticking the lighter in a piece of bread to keep it from falling over really funny. It’s somewhat of an impractical solution by most anime standards, but it makes perfect sense in the context of Jojo and I love the series for being able to play such a ridiculous scenario straight.
When the flame is accidentally extinguished by an old man splashing water on Giorno, the man re-lights the lighter and ends up summoning Polpo’s Stand, Black Sabbath. Angry at the old man for reigniting the flame, Black Sabbath kills him by piercing his soul with an arrow and then immediately goes after Giorno, ending the episode right before their fight begins. The episode ended on an incredibly high note, not only ending an already intense episode on a cliffhanger, but also introducing Polpo’s Stand after an entire episode worth of build-up. Even if it only appears briefly at the end of the episode, Black Sabbath quickly cements itself as one of the coolest stands thus far. Not only does it have an amazing design (though I’m probably a bit biased because I’m a sucker for the Gothic aesthetic), but its ability to kill people by piercing their souls is awesomely terrifying and incredibly fitting for a Stand named after one of the pioneer bands of the heavy metal genre.
One minor critique I have about the episode is that the animation quality felt noticeably lackluster. Due to the current state of the Japanese animation industry forcing tight deadlines on production teams with limited resources, it’s almost inevitable for most TV anime to be plagued with animation errors during their initial airings unless you’re working for a higher-end studio such as Kyoto Animation. The visual quality of the Jojo anime has fallen victim to rushed production cycles before, and this episode definitely feels like it was affected by the usual trappings of TV anime production.
While the animation isn’t distractingly bad and there are still quite a few nice looking shots, the lack of character detail in certain scenes is still noticeable and it’s easy to tell that certain scenes, namely the part where Koichi is searching Giorno’s room for his passport, were hastily put together to meet the deadline. The animation quality didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the episode, but there’s a lot that needs to be fixed up for the Blu-Ray release and I can definitely see why someone might find the episode’s visual quality distracting. That said, the animation is the only real issue this episode had and everything else about it was incredibly solid.
Featured image: Jojo Animation
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