JJBA: Vento Aureo – A Look at Part 5 from Someone Who Didn’t Get It the First Time

So Vento Aureo ended.

It was pretty good…

…..

Alright, see ya.

Okay, no actually there’s a lot more to say. A while back, I wrote an article about getting excited for Part 5, and all the stuff to look forward to. Looking back, it feels kind of shallow, and I don’t think I did the part the service it deserves.

Watching the Anime Changed Everything

A big reason is that I didn’t really see the appeal of Vento Aureo when I read the manga. I can chalk that up to bad translations, a lack of investment while I was actually reading it, and a few other things. But seeing it animated was a different experience. It allowed me to really understand and appreciate what Vento Aureo was trying to do, and how it accomplished it. By the time the series was finished, it went from my least favorite part to my second favorite.

Now, that being said, I don’t think Vento Aureo is perfect. Obviously, if it’s my second favorite, then there has to be a reason it didn’t topple Diamond is Unbreakable.

The Two Big Flaws of Part 5

Let’s get all the bad stuff out of the way first, so I can focus on the good. I think Vento Aureo’s biggest flaw is actually its protagonist. Giorno Giovanna would be a fascinating lead in any other series, but this is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. We have higher standards for our stars than other series.

Come back... I miss you...
Come back… I miss you…

Giorno doesn’t quite meet those standards. He feels like he draws bits and pieces from all the previous Joestars, but doesn’t quite peak in one aspect like the others. He’s got a bit of Jonathan’s honor, Joseph’s charm, Jotaro’s courage, Josuke’s guile, and even DIO’s ambition. But none of those aspects work to make him stand out.

Please... Come back to me...
Please… Come back to me…

Each JoJo is supposed to be the star, the leader, the one who steers the plot. And while Giorno is responsible for the initial setup, it’s really Bruno and Trish who ultimately guide the story where it needs to go. Bruno fills the protagonist role a lot better than Giorno. This isn’t to say that Giorno is a bad character. He’s perfectly fine, but his lack of a strong quirk that the other Joestars had just made him fall short.

Y’know speaking of DIO, let’s talk about that. Because Vento Aureo certainly didn’t. Part of what made Diamond is Unbreakable compelling is the relationship between Josuke and Joseph. It was a highly divisive move to make Josuke Joseph’s illegitimate son. While we knew Joseph was no stranger to cheap tactics, we still thought of him as a good person at heart. Having him cheat on Suzie Q complicated that, and added further depth to both Joseph and Josuke.

In Vento Aureo, Giorno is introduced as DIO’s son, born before DIO had fully integrated his head onto Jonathan’s body. But this is only used to make him a member of the Joestar bloodline, and beyond inheriting DIO’s “MUDA MUDA” and “WRYYYYY”, it never comes up again! Not even when Polnareff re-enters the picture! A son of DIO should be a huge deal, and considering the influence DIO has over the entire Joestar bloodline, it should’ve been given a lot more focus. Part of this is because, unlike Stardust Crusaders and Diamond is Unbreakable, the previous JoJo doesn’t stick around as a supporting character. Jotaro is only present to introduce Koichi to Giorno, but once that introduction is over, that entire plot point disappears.

DIO’s parentage was a missed opportunity.

Araki is no stranger to abruptly abandoning plot points. It’s actually one of the reasons I like Diamond is Unbreakable so much. That whole part is about setting up characters to pose questions, and then never following up. There, it serves to give Morioh its charm. Lots of people have said that the town itself is a character, home to all these bizarre people who just live their lives.

But Vento Aureo is different. Family and bloodline are a running theme in the entire franchise, but it’s one of the major plot points in Vento Aureo. Like Stardust Crusaders, the bloodline connection between Trish and Diavolo allows them to track each other. It would’ve been great, and served to really build Giorno’s character if his bloodline connection to DIO was given similar attention. This could have been rectified if Polnareff was introduced earlier, and allowed to interact with the team outside of the immediate danger they were in. But mostly, the concept of Giorno as DIO’s son exists to give him a birthmark.

But okay, enough about the bad, let’s talk about the good. And before I get into the thematic and plot elements, I’m gonna talk about the series’ presentation.

Golden Presentation

Like I mentioned in my previous article, I was looking forward to new OPs, and this series didn’t disappoint. Fighting Gold was designed to get the audience fired up, with great visuals that reminded me of a James Bond movie. Not necessarily fitting for a mafia story, but it definitely fits with the glamour of Italy, a location one would probably find Bond traveling to.

Traitor’s Requiem was also great. While not my favorite, having its visuals be a recap of the series so far, displaying the battles and struggles of Bruno’s gang, felt like it was pushing the team onward. Some of the shots really stand out, a favorite of mine being the quick cut of Bruno’s gang leaving, while Fugo hesitates and stays behind.

I also have to give praise to the soundtrack, once again DavidPro showing off with their all-new OST. Giorno’s theme was so good it spawned a meme of its own. But beyond that, it feels like a solid evolution on Jotaro and Josuke’s theme. A stylish, victorious ballad that reflects the craftiness of each Joestar in their own way.

Finally, on a more personal note, I want to give a special shoutout to the sound design team for giving us the sound effects for the Stands in this part. The zipper sound effects on Sticky Fingers used are so satisfying on the ear. Especially one that, strange enough, reminded me of the sound Megaman’s Buster makes in the NES titles. And thanks to whoever decided to give Moody Blues those wonderful, chunky tape recorder sounds. The heavy clicking of a record button, the low beep of an audio recording beginning, it felt so perfect. I didn’t expect to get some good ASMR in my JJBA.

The Best Stands Yet

Speaking of those Stands, I have to say, I think Vento Aureo is the peak of Stand creativity for JJBA. After this, abilities start getting more and more abstract, to, at least in my opinion, the series’ detriment. Like, okay, Soft Machine is pretty out there, but everything else at least feels like something I can grasp. Things like Grateful Dead or Green Day are at the peak of weird, hyper-specific abilities, but still feeling concrete enough that they can be easily understood. Stone Ocean, Steel Ball Run, and ESPECIALLY Jojolion are where things get too abstract for my tastes. My favorite for the part has to be Narancia’s stand, Aerosmith.

Narancia is the token idiot of the team, carrying on where Polnareff and Okuyasu left off, but his mastery of Aerosmith is absolutely impressive. Not only that, but its abilities are super interesting. It has some of the features of a remote Stand, including the range, but is fully under Narancia’s control. Narancia may be bad at math, but Aerosmith requires a tactician’s mind, and he’s no stranger to outwitting his opponents. To me, Aerosmith vs Little Feet is the best demonstration of a good Stand battle. A constant back-and-forth chess match, both sides using everything at their disposal and their environment to claim victory.

Vento Aureo returns to the Stardust Crusaders’ method of having the group’s journey interrupted by a new threat that one or two members deal with. This allows the audience to get a good look at everyone’s Stands and allows the whole team to shine evenly. Well, in theory at least. I guess if I did have another nitpick to bring up, it would be the lack of action for both Fugo and Trish. Everyone gets multiple chances to shine, including Abbachio, who doesn’t have much of a combat Stand. But Fugo and Trish miss out. Granted, Fugo bails halfway through, but he still only gets one fight. Yeah, did you ever really realize that? Purple Haze shows up for exactly one fight and never again! And Spice Girl only gets one fight all to herself!

Actually, since we’re on the topic, let me talk about how cool I think Spice Girl is. Stands have always been described as guardian spirits, but Spice Girl being sentient, actively giving Trish advice, and implying she’s been watching over Trish for a long time before manifesting, is the first time that’s ever felt real. Spice Girl really does act like a guardian, protecting her user beyond what her physical ability is capable of. In essence, Spice Girl becomes the protector, the parental figure she’s needed, as opposed to her actual father. We’ll later see a similar relationship in Steel Ball Run, between Pocoloco and Hey Ya. So, that’s something to look forward to. Also, it’s really cool that her battle cry is “WANNABE”.

The Anime Adaptation Fixes Issues in the Source Manga

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t a fan of Vento Aureo when I read the manga. I blame it on being unable to understand what was happening due to bad translations and conveyance. As I said, the Stands and abilities in this part are starting to get pretty esoteric, so not having a solid explanation for them is a huge hindrance.

Fortunately, the anime fixes this problem, what with it having accurate subtitles, being told in a linear fashion, and in high quality. I can actually see what’s happening when I watch. It turns out once you can actually understand what the characters are saying and doing, the story makes way more sense. Who knew?!

Araki’s New Kind of Villain: King Crimson

So you know what understanding the plot let me do? I finally get King Crimson! Like I said we would back in my old article! Actually seeing it in motion was exactly what I needed to fully grasp its ability and how it’s used. But to my surprise, I feel like I understand its USER way more. I didn’t think much of Diavolo when I read the manga. He was the villain, he needed to be stopped, that was enough for me. But after the anime, I came to really appreciate how different he was from DIO and Kira.

Say what you will about them, DIO and Kira both had it all figured out. Even before DIO integrated with Jonathan’s body, he had a sweet set-up in a mansion and could recruit assassins and mercenaries with nothing but his charm. And Kira had his homicidal methods down to a science, even before he got Killer Queen. DIO and Kira were untouchable because they were intelligent and careful. They knew what their weaknesses were, and took painstaking steps to ensure they wouldn’t be caught in a vulnerable state. It’s only through the heroes’ sheer determination that they overcame each respective villains.

Diavolo isn’t like that, though. He’s cautious, intelligent, and manipulative, yes. But he didn’t become that way to fuel his ambitions like DIO and Kira. Diavolo is a coward. Seriously, he’s not hiding his identity for any greater purpose beyond security. He’s scared of being discovered. He has one of the most powerful, invincible Stands, and he spends the whole time playing defensively. Not even during the fight, but his whole life. He totally lacks DIO’s conviction, to the point where he falls for Trish calling him a coward. DIO and Kira would never fall for such a cheap taunt. And they certainly wouldn’t plead for mercy and literally whine when they don’t get their way. Giorno gets the arrow and Diavolo completely gives up. His Stand is so powerful that Giorno NEEDED the arrow to even stand a chance, and he just turns into this the second he loses.

Come on, dude, you're making the other villains look bad
Come on, dude, you’re making the other villains look bad.

But this isn’t to say this is a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s interesting to see Araki take a wholly new approach with the main villain. This is also the first time the heroes learn about the villain’s Stand long before the final encounter. Usually, learning about the villain’s Stand is an obstacle the heroes have to overcome. Trying to stay alive while trying to figure out their opponent’s ability to THEN try to figure out a countermeasure. Here, the gang learns about King Crimson as soon as they encounter him, and then it becomes a lingering problem they’re stuck dreading until they meet again.

I really appreciate the contrast between King Crimson’s power and Diavolo’s cowardice. Especially because Diavolo has more control over his Stand than DIO or Kira. DIO’s time Stop is universal, he can’t direct it to affect one specific person. And Kira has no control over when Bites the Dust activates, and he doesn’t even gain the knowledge of the rewound time when it activates. Diavolo has full control over King Crimson, though. He gets to see all alternate futures and pick the one that suits him best. Like I said, Giorno literally needs to unlock a greater power, one he can’t even control, just to gain an advantage.

The Rolling Stones Epilogue

Before I wrap this up, I do want to talk about one more controversial part of the story: Rolling Stones. I actually like the Rolling Stones arc as an epilogue. It carries the themes of fate and the future, retroactively adding another set of stakes to the story. Fate is a low-key running theme through the whole series, with occasional hints of greater forces leading the story along. The best example is the unseen force that draws Stand users to other Stand users. I feel like Rolling Stones is just another piece of that unseen force. It’s a guiding hand, not something set in stone.

I mean, it's literally set in stone but not... you know what I mean
I mean, it’s literally set in stone but not… you know what I mean.

Bruno managed to defy his fate, at least momentarily. Who’s to say that Narancia and Abbachio couldn’t have defied theirs as well? And if they weren’t aware of their fates, then can we really say it was fate? Araki doesn’t give any answers. He leaves it up to us to figure it out. Just like he did with Mikitaka.

Golden Experience Requiem

And now, one final thing before I wrap this up for real. This part of the anime pushed my score up half an entire point. GIORNO STOLE THE INTRO BACK FROM DIAVOLO!! THAT’S how powerful Gold Experience Requiem is! He managed to STEAL the intro back! Jotaro couldn’t do that! Josuke couldn’t do that! That’s the power of Requiem. The villains are strong enough to break the meta, but only Giorno is strong enough to take it BACK.

So yeah, Vento Aureo is a lot better once I can understand what’s going on. It’s an exciting story carrying on the legacy of Stardust Crusaders, with a stellar cast of endearing troublemakers. A few hiccups here and there, but all in all a worthy successor to Diamond is Unbreakable. Now we just have to wait for Stone Ocean.

I give Vento Aureo 4.5 out of 6 Sex Pistols

MIIIIIIIIIIISSTAAAAA!

Hey, okay so I do a podcast called The Gorge Podcast: With Ben and Sara. We talk about video games and stuff you can listen to us on Soundcloud or iTunes or whatever there’s like a hundred good podcast apps out there. Listen to it, please! That would be neat! Okay, byyyyyyeeee.

mm

Written by: Ben Danaj

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