In For the Long Haul: Harley Quinn Season 2

Harley Quinn Season 2 Review: Thriving in an Anarchic New Gotham ...

So this took me by surprise. When I marathoned and reviewed the 2019 Harley Quinn series the other day, I had no idea season two was so close. Given how recently I wrote about season one I’ll just go over my broad thoughts here: I loved it. The writing was excellent, it was funny, the characterisation was great, particularly for people like Clayface, Ivy and Harley herself, and I’m a big fan of stories where Harley gets away from her abusive, piece of shit ex-boyfriend and goes her own way. So let’s get into season 2.

Episode 1: New Gotham

So season 1 ended with the Joker being turned back into his normal, pre-one-bad-day self, Batman seemingly being trapped under the Clown Prince of Crime’s collapsed tower, the Justice League out of action and Gotham in flames, with Harley poised to rule. The U.S President declares that Gotham is no longer part of the United States, and three weeks later it’s a lawless, burning wasteland with a power vacuum that Ivy insists Harley fill. Harley has other ideas however; seeing the anarchy as a chance for a fresh start where everyone carves out a piece for themselves, and Gotham’s various themed goons leave their bosses’ sides and strike out on their own. In reprisal the newly formed “Injustice League” consisting of Penguin, Riddler, Bane, Mr Freeze and Two-Face intend to offer Harley the dregs left over after they’ve divided the city, but after she turns them down they instead trap her in a block of ice and put her on display in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. Meanwhile; Robin has unconvincingly attempted to take Batman’s place, complete with a Batsuit that’s too big and a crap Batman voice. Gordon’s men (and Cheryl) abandon him, with some of them becoming goons, which leads to Gordon throwing his badge into the sea (classic) and falling into despair. Harley’s crew rescue her from the Iceberg Lounge and after a brief fight Harley bites off Penguin’s nose and brutally murders him by stabbing the broken handle of her bat up through his chin. Turns out she was frozen for two months and the Injustice League have split the city as they intended. The episode ends with the reveal that Bruce Wayne was pulled from the ruins of Joker’s tower and is now in a coma.

I for one didn’t expect the new season to kick into gear so quickly. Harley’s adversaries are established and then five minutes later she’s straight up murdered one of them in bloody, bloody fashion. I like that though; after she bit his nose off I was hoping she’d do him in and I’m glad it went that way. Good episode overall: the early parts with the goons supposedly going their own way but just becoming knock-offs of their bosses (“It’s pretty rough out there, okay? I had to fight five new question-based villains.”) was great, Harley has Bud and Lou now and I’m always pleased to see them pop up, and the jokes are still funny. The episode packed a lot into its run time, and it did feel like it was in a hurry sometimes but I appreciate how eager it is to get things going, and as I said I’m glad she killed Penguin after the fight had started. Good start, looking forward to seeing where this season goes.

Episode 2: Riddle U

Next up: The Riddler. Harley’s Mall hideout has no power; Dr Psycho’s been making zoo animals into candles (and hats) to compensate, but it’s only a temporary solution and the water is brown and filled with mice who make noises from Persona. The only person in New New Gotham with power is The Riddler, who’s hoarding it all at Gotham University; re-branded as “Riddle U”. Fortunately Harley has a plan: she and Ivy will go undercover as students, track the Riddler down and do him in, a plan Clayface gets in on much to their annoyance. Psycho and King Shark set off to solve the other problem by stealing a water filter. Surprisingly, Clayface ingratiates himself into campus society swiftly and easily, and Harley and Ivy, who are both in makeup to make themselves have a Caucasian skin tone, which looks weird on both of them, stumble upon Barbara Gordon living in the dorms with her father, who’s crashing with her. They track the Riddler to a frat party used to kidnap students and have them run in giant hamster wheels, and manage to knock out and capture him with help from Barbara, who’s a fledgling vigilante in her own right. Psycho and Shark are set upon by Two-Face’s old timey, wise guy goons but escape by making an A-Team-style war vehicle complete with minigun and giant spike. Unfortunately they run afoul of goons in Baneton, but manage to beat them off-screen. Harley and Ivy force the Riddler to run in a giant hamster wheel for them, and Quinn considers him dealt with; crossing him off her revenge board. The episode ends with Gordon lamenting the lack of Batman to protect Gotham and passing out, as Barbara hears a commotion outside and leaps out the window to intervene in her proto-Batgirl gear.

Overall this episode had its moments, but was largely just okay. I feel like the campus infiltration had more room for shenanigans but on that front was limited to Clayface being embroiled in a “Will-they-won’t-they” with an off screen popular boy. Psycho and Shark’s side story was fun, largely due to the old timey Two-Face goons (“You got moxie but we got guns. You’re surrounded, see?”), and it had some nice moments like when Barbara puts on music to mask her conversation with Harley and Ivy, who can’t help but dance to said music while maintaining a serious face. The whole thing just felt like a bit of a damp squib compared to everything that’s come previously, but it wasn’t a bad episode. The best thing about it was easily Barbara Gordon: her introduction was really well done, she fits into this universe nicely and having her take up the Bat-mantle suits this show’s focus on female DC characters and viewing the universe through their eyes.

Episode 3: Trapped

Next on the list: Mr Freeze. Unfortunately his gimmick, namely impenetrable walls of ice, prevents Harley’s crew from getting to him, but two dopey henchmen accidentally reveal that Firefly’s flamethrower could do the job, and it’s currently being held by Dr Trap in the history museum. A museum heist calls for a professional burglar, and who better than Catwoman: here a woman of colour (good stuff), and unflappable but completely aloof super-burglar who turns Ivy into a awe-struck fangirl hanging on her every word. Meanwhile; Dr Psycho has been put in charge of watching the Riddler, and immediately cocks up by rising to the villain’s provocations and throwing a bunch of skincare products at him, which he then uses to slip out of his restraint. The night of the heist, Kiteman drops off Harley and Ivy and then confides in the latter that he’s coming along too, despite his fear of traps, to steal a leaf-shaped diamond ring with which to propose to Ivy. Harley is against this idea, thinking that Ivy can do better, but takes him along anyway and eventually agrees with it, having warmed up to him. Catwoman effortlessly moves through the museum, deactivating every trap while throwing out tidbits of conversation that Ivy latches onto like she’s desperately trying to impress her. Eventually they reach the flamethrower and Catwoman buggers off, but not before revealing that she stole Kiteman’s ring. He proposes anyway, but Ivy isn’t sure she even wants to get married, and if she does this definitely isn’t the right time. Harley rescues the three of them out of being crushed by a glass box by melting their way out with the flamethrower and clobbering Dr Trap. Ivy winds down by “Getting back to her roots” and brutally dissolving each member of ACE Chemical’s board of directors with toxic waste, in retaliation for them dumping waste in the river. Back at the mall it turns out that the Riddler only broke out to torment Psycho, and that he’s actually content with his current situation and will escape when he’s good and ready. The episode ends with Ivy visiting Kiteman and getting him to propose again, insisting she’s ready this time.

This episode was as good as last week’s: not the heights this show is capable of, but still good. Catwoman being a person of colour was nice, and I like her as a sort of flawless super burglar effortlessly flowing through the museum; she’s like a character that would show up for one episode of Archer to make him look bad.  My only issue is that her character seemed tailored to this one specific encounter; to deal with Ivy’s infatuation with her and her way of living, which is squashed by the end of the episode when she demonstrates that she’s actually a bit shit and not worth emulating. Time will tell I suppose; it’s not like she couldn’t come back, it just feels like it didn’t leave things open for her to be a recurring character. Elsewhere, I liked the look at Ivy, a character whose deep seated misanthropy has left her with exactly one friend and one romantic partner, being manipulated by someone cool she wants attention from, that was an interesting angle. The B plot with Psycho losing the Riddler didn’t really add anything beyond the set up that Riddler will eventually escape, but it was fine. I’m a big fan of Ivy melting dodgy executives with toxic waste, and the hand-holding her and Harley do afterwards, because I’m rooting for their romantic relationship from the comic. That’s it really. Good episode, I’d say the weakest so far this season but this show’s weakest is by no means bad.

Episode 4: Thawing Hearts

Having acquired Firefly’s super powerful flamethrower, Harley melts her way into Mr Freeze’s compound by way of a giant ice vagina. Herself, Psycho, Clayface and King Shark discuss who they’ll be taking to Ivy’s upcoming wedding with Kiteman (in Harley’s case, no one) while effortlessly slaughtering a bunch of hockey stick-wielding Freeze goons, only for the main man himself to appear, freeze them and trap them in a cell. He regales them with his iconic circumstances: his wife Nora has a rare disease and he froze her while he’s looking for a cure. He’s been testing a potential solution on snow rats, who apparently share 98% of their DNA with humans, but it’s only resulted in a small mountain of rat corpses (the reveal of which causes two rats to exclaim “Cheese and crackers!”). Fortunately for Freeze, he now has the ideal test subject: a human woman. Not wanting to be a part of Victor’s clearly subpar biological testing skills, Harley instead offers to rope Ivy in to work on a potential cure, which he accepts. It’s merely a bluff however, as Harley doesn’t buy the story about Nora’s illness and instead believes that Freeze, much like the Joker, is a monstrous, controlling arsehole who froze Nora in order to have control over her. Unfortunately she didn’t anticipate that in this case at least, it’s a traditional Gotham story, and upon unfreezing her learns that Nora is indeed dying. Incensed, Freeze declares that if Ivy cannot find a cure, he will blow up the building and kill everyone in it. While this has all been happening, Ivy and Kiteman are touring a wedding venue the latter has been dreaming of for years. Throwing a spanner in the works is the arrival of Kiteman’s nemesis Condiment King (because of course he is), who is also touring the venue and winning over the guide. Ivy and Kiteman have to leave to work on the cure and fetch a flower sample respectively. Ivy manages it, but the process requires someone to change their blood type to Nora’s rare one and give her a transfusion, which will kill them. Mr Freeze gladly accepts, and gives his life to save Nora. The episode ends with Condiment King taunting Kiteman about his acquisition of the wedding venue, and Ivy declaring that she thinks he’s also her nemesis now, too.

This episode was a lot more consistently enjoyable than the previous two. The only real weakness was the b plot with Ivy and Kiteman touring the venue, but it was brief and harmless. Freeze is an interesting one, because despite technically being a villain he is well-intentioned and benevolent compared to the rest of Batman’s rogues gallery. He points out that the rest of the Injustice League wanted to kill Harley but he convinced them to let him freeze her instead, relying on them being cis, straight white men desiring power over a woman. He’s funny, too; asking Psycho to describe the mouthfeel of the lunch he provides the crew to make up for the fact that Freeze can’t eat hot food, and his backstory involving Nora working for a “Mom n Pop cryogenics lab”. His actions in the episode cause Harley to re-evaluate her stance on “True love” and realise that it doesn’t have to be like the awful, abusive relationship she had with The Joker. Having her believe, based on her experiences, that Freeze is actually holding Nora captive makes sense, and leads to some good character development, and a way to have Freeze bow out at the end of the episode without just being killed. Good episode.

Episode 5: Batman’s Back, Man

This week’s episode starts with a framing device taking the piss out of the kind of people on the internet who cry “SJW WOKE VIRTUE SIGNALLING!” whenever a woman, person of colour or queer person appears in a work of fiction, and I’m all for that kind of thing. Bonus points for simultaneously showing exactly what DC thinks of the people who won’t shut up about the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. The episode proper starts with Bruce Wayne waking up from the coma he’s been in since the end of season 1 and being greeted with a serene, undamaged Gotham landscape…which turns out to be a big screen which almost immediately falls over, revealing Gotham’s true state. Bruce and Alfred meet with Jim Gordan, who wants funding for police officers and a codpiece that fires a tiny missile, which doesn’t exist “…yet.” Gordon also informs Bruce of two vigilantes holding things down in Batman’s absence; Batgirl, and a foppish dandy called “The Macaroni”. Worrying that Batgirl dying while wearing the Bat symbol would throw the city even further into the depths of despair, he meets up with her in an attempt to talk her down. It backfires spectacularly when Batgirl shows off Batman on a livestream, resulting in the public and media celebrating the apparent return of The Bat. His hand forced, Bruce has Lucius Fox build him what is basically a Batman-themed Mark 43 Iron Man suit, to aid with the physical issues keeping Bruce from returning to action. Worried about Batman’s apparent return, Two-Face offers Bane a 50-50 partnership, though is clearly given advantage of him given that their branding is a just a picture of Two-Face with their team name; “Two-Faces” written next to him. Batman agrees that Harvey is the one really in charge, which makes a furious Bane pump himself full of more and more venom, beating the shit out of Bats even with the suit and brutally breaking both his legs. Two-Face’s goons are about to finish him off when The Macaroni, who’s revealed to be Alfred, and Batgirl, arrive to rescue Bruce. Two-Face manages to talk Bane down, and takes him to a giant hole in the ground in the desert, which Bane is genuinely thankful for. The episode ends with Batman, in a chair no less, meeting with Gordon on the GCPD roof and informing him that Batgirl will be acting as Jim’s new partner while Bats recovers.

At the start of this episode I was a little worried. The description of it in the framing device states that Harley and Ivy don’t appear in it, which they don’t, and as the episode went on I was worried Batman was going to make an actual return and just sort everything out. I should have realised, being several episodes into season 2 of this show, that it wasn’t going to go that way. Harley and Ivy don’t appear, and the episode doesn’t have the character development of this season’s previous instalments, but it layered the comedy on thick, and had a grand old time at Bruce Wayne’s expense. He’s so hurt he can’t put his own socks on, something Alfred uses to hammer in that he can’t go back to being Batman yet, thinks throwing a sheet over the massive, robotic Batman suit will be enough to stop Alfred from discovering it, and after his legs have been shattered and he’s lying in a pool of blood he laments “Why didn’t you wake up and stop me, Alfred?” It’s nice to have Jim Gordon back too, albeit briefly, I particularly enjoyed his list of what’s needed to bring back order to Gotham (the aforementioned cops and missile codpiece, which Lucius’ robot suit has), and the exchange “What, have you been in a coma all this time?”
“No! I’ve been…doing stuff.”
“Ha! You playboys, always doing stuff. Must be nice.”
Most importantly though, I’m glad they decided to keep Bruce out of action to make way for Batgirl. Her introduction was the best part of episode 2, and fits this show’s approach to the DCU with a female viewpoint, and this is the best way to thrust her into the limelight. This episode started as a funny interlude explaining what Batman’s up to and ended as another important piece of the on-going plot, and I loved it. I am looking forward to having Harley and Ivy back next week though.

Episode 6: All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues

While out drinking, Harley and Ivy discover the now normal Joker working behind the bar, though he clearly doesn’t remember who they are. Ivy insists on killing him because no one change deep down, which causes Harley to argue that point by way of an episode-long flashback to when they first met. On Dr Harleen Quinzel’s first day at Arkham Asylum she meets District Attorney Harvey Dent, who’s obsessed with re-election at all costs, and a younger, clean-cut Jim Gordon, both of whom reveal that they didn’t hand pick her based on her study of The Joker, but because there’s no one left for the job and they need the location of a bomb. Harleen also befriends an angry, misanthropic Poison Ivy by sneaking her a plant cutting, which pays off later. Anyway, Dr Quinzel tries the direct approach of entering Joker’s cell and talking to him directly, countering his numerous attempts to hold her hostage and kill her with a pen by putting him on his arse with her gymnastic and hand-to-hand skills. But this is clearly going nowhere, so Batman re-creates the interrogation scene from The Dark Knight and beats Joker to a pulp, incensed by the Clown Prince bringing up his murder of Jason Todd. When this fails to work Harley, inspired by Ivy’s time in group in therapy with Joker, tries one last tactic: trick Joker into opening up about his family. He does so, with an elaborate story about his Father making his pet ferret disappear and beating him in response to little Joker catching his Father having an affair with their maid. In exchange for being able to eat a meal in the cafeteria Joker gives up the location of the bomb: “The Heart of Little Italy”. Batman and the police race off to disarm it (with Gordon carpooling; crammed in behind the Batmobile’s front seats), as back at the asylum Joker reveals its actual location: inside the heart of Luigi, Arkham’s Chef known by the nickname Little Italy. The explosion blows a hole in the wall, through which Joker escapes with Harley over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry to block any potential shots a sniper may have. Unfortunately, Harvey Dent orders the sniper to shoot anyway, fearing his re-election being hampered by Joker escaping, but Ivy pops up and blocks the shot with plant life.  Joker declares that he always knew Ivy had a soft spot for him but Ivy shuts him up: she’s here for Harleen, and expresses a desire to be treated by her. As the Joker and Ivy are returned to the asylum, Dent tries to smooth things over with Harleen, but in return she spits in his face, gives him the finger and creates his famous future moniker: “Fuck off, Two-Face”. Back in the present, Harley puts the full stop on her point: she changed Ivy from a misanthrope unwilling to trust anyone to the woman she is now. Ivy points out that hadn’t been that way all her life; just once her Father made her first plant disappear and beat her; the real life story Joker stole and made his own to fool Harleen. The episode ends with Dr Psycho reading Joker’s mind and stating he’s completely forgotten his past self, something that is possibly undone as seen when he receives a text from his girlfriend’s children and laughs maniacally. After leaving the bar, Ivy and Harley are kidnapped by Two-Face and his goons.

This was a good episode; I loved that what initially appears to be the origin story of Harley and Joker’s relationship is actually the story of how Harley and Ivy became friends. Joker’s involvement is due to him being so involved in the affairs of Gotham City, and represents how the present Joker kept stringing Harley along while Ivy exasperatedly tried to pull them apart back in season 1. This is a show about Harley carving her own path through life in general and Gotham’s underworld in particular as well as her friendship with Ivy, and The Joker will always force his way into that story because of the damage he’s done to Harley. That’s why it’s so good that the show paints The Joker as the abusive monster he is, and spends so much time on Harley’s relationship with Ivy and the people who care about her. Elsewhere it was nice to see this universe’s version of the Long Halloween Batman/Dent/Gordon team up, Dent’s obsession with winning over voters, and Jim’s attempts to be friends with Batman:
“So, got any plans for tonight, Batman?”
“Uh, stop Joker from blowing up Gotham.”
“Yeah! Of course. I meant like after that.”
Good stuff.

Episode 7: There’s No Place to Go But Down

This episode had a decidedly season finale feel to it for me, even though it isn’t. Two-Face forces Harley and Ivy into a kangaroo court show trial with Bane as the unbiased (much to Dent’s chagrin) judge and Man-Bat as their lawyer, who’s trying his best but no one can understand him. Harley pleads with Ivy to pin it all on her, but the latter refuses and admits to their teaming up to take out the Injustice League. They’re sentenced to life in prison in the huge hole from the end of episode 5, which turns out to be A) Pena Duro; Bane’s birthplace from the comics and B) actually surprisingly structured and focused on inmate rehabilitation despite being a giant pit in the middle of nowhere. Bane seems to be doing a good job, having made great strides with Victor Zsasz and Killer Croc, but Harley and Ivy want out, planning to do so when George Lopez helicopters in for an upcoming talent show. Meanwhile Jim Gordon and Batgirl go after Ratcatcher, who’s dealing weapons from the sewers, but the plan goes awry when a drunken Gordon alerts to the villain to their presence. During dinner at their home, Barbara tries to get her Dad to stop drinking but he doesn’t see it as an issue, and their conversation is interrupted by Two-Face. Realising the pain he’s caused his daughter and lamenting his fall from grace, Jim throws his empty gun down and attempts to go out looking Harvey in the eye, but Batgirl saves him and reveals her true identity, to her Father’s proud realisation that she’s the one who’s been protecting Gotham in Batman’s absence. After lampshading the process, Jim and Barbara pour all the former’s booze away and comb his hair, which is enough to make him fully get over his alcoholism, and he dons his old beat uniform with a plan to take the GCPD back from Two-Face. Back in Pena Duro the Lopez helicopter plan falls through when Ivy’s intended riot-staring stand up doesn’t work, so she instead launches into a heartfelt speech about how life is just a never-ending series of pits from which their is no long-term escape. This does cause a riot, and the assorted inmates begin piling rubble up the wall to escape. Jim returns to the GCPD pistols akimbo and messily blows away all of Harvey’s goons, then has a short but brutal fight with the man himself before handcuffing him and locking him in a cell. You’re a damn good cop, Jim Gordon. Finally Harley and Ivy are about to escape on a vine when Bane venoms up and grabs them, Harley’s solution being to let go of Ivy and sacrifice herself to save her friend; swan diving peacefully into the inferno below. Of course Ivy’s having none of that and bungies back in on the aforementioned vine, pulling them both out of the hole. The episode ends with Harley and Ivy kissing, then staring at each other in shock.

This was another great episode; possibly the best this season. At first I was worried that things were moving too quickly when the courtroom scene was over so soon, but I think the episode actually used its running time really well. The reveal of the exact nature of Bane’s big hole in the ground was great and added an extra layer to his character; he’s genuinely benevolent and helpful when he wants to be, it’s just that most people see him as a goofy screw-up. It was also nice to see some cameos from other Batman villains; Zsasz and Croc I mentioned, but I also noticed Professor Pyg in the stand-up crowd and there were probably more besides. The stuff with Jim and Barbara Gordon, while brushing over certain elements of the drama for comedic effect did have a real emotional punch to it, and I’m glad Jim managed to shift back towards his old self whilst still carrying the distinct flavour of this series. Finally, Harley and Ivy’s relationship goes from strength to strength, and I’m so glad they’ve moved into their romantic relationship from the comics. Time will tell as to where exactly it goes, given Ivy’s engaged to Kiteman and all, but I love where it’s going and I’m looking forward to next episode.

Episode 8: Inner (Para)Demons

With the In-Justice League dealt with, Gordon calls up the President to get Gotham re-instated into the United States. The POTUS states that before that can happen, Gordon needs to deal with the city’s biggest threat: Harley Quinn. Ivy insists that the kiss was just a spur-of-the-moment adrenaline rush and nothing more, something that Harley agrees with in an exaggerated, manic fashion to hide how upset she is, citing it as part of her character because she’s impulsive and just kisses people sometimes (this becomes a running gag as she kisses Psycho, Batgirl and King Shark). Hearing from Batgirl that Gordon has amassed an army of Gothamites to take her down Harley, with help from an enthusiastic Psycho, steals a Mother Box from Mr Miracle and Boom Tubes to Apokolips to ask Darkseid (voiced by Michael Ironside) for an army of Parademons. Darkseid senses Harley’s internal pain over “A want that was not met” but relents when she insists everything’s fine, and he offers her an army under the condition that she defeat Granny Goodness in combat. Harley can’t do it by herself because the old lady she was expecting is actually a New God same as Darkseid. Clayface, King Shark and Psycho are forbidden from fighting alongside their boss, but Psycho gets around this by taking control of her and having her smash a huge rock over Goodness’ head, winning the fight. Harley is given her sceptre, making her the new commander of the Parademons. While this is happening, Ivy and Kiteman are having brunch with his awful dickhead parents, who take to Pamela immediately upon realising she has legit superpowers like them, and isn’t lame pretender like their disappointing son. Ivy understandably takes offence to this, and in no uncertain terms chews them out and tells them to fuck off. Harley’s Parademons and Gordon’s rag-tag group meet in combat, with the former effortlessly slaughtering the latter. Ivy intervenes, asking Harley if this is really what she wants, causing her to snap the sceptre and dejectedly hand control of the city back to Gordon. This causes Psycho to quit the crew in disgust, having been pushing the world domination angle pretty hard. Harley’s all ready to confess her feelings to Ivy when Kiteman interrupts and Ivy kisses him and muses on how much she loves him. The episode ends with Harley saying that actually she wanted to talk about Ivy’s bachelorette party, her face contorting in a pained, fake smile.

This was a great episode; funny to be sure but primarily focused on drama and character. To that end; poor, poor Harley. She’s spent this whole time trying to take over Gotham, and just as it’s within her grasp she throws it away for a terminated love confession, as the woman who means the most to her in the world flaunts how much she loves her fiance. Admittedly she herself realised the exact method of taking over the city wasn’t ideal, but she was still so close to what she wanted. It makes sense though, I wasn’t expecting Ivy to just drop Kiteman to be with Harley, but it doesn’t make it sting any less. I’m a fan of Harley Quinn in general but in particular I’m very fond of this version, so it sucks to see things just go up in flames for her. Good episode, looking forward to the next one.

Episode 9: Bachelorette 

Harley, Ivy, Mrs Freeze, Ivy’s friend Jennifer and Catwoman all head to Themyscira for a bachelorette party in an invisible plane, because apparently that’s a facet of Amazon life not limited to Wonder Woman. Much to Ivy’s surprise the island is oddly corporate and commercialised, lead by a woman named Eris. Meanwhile, Kiteman’s having a bachelor party on a boat out at sea. It’s got everything: a jigsaw, the soundtrack to Big Momma’s House 2, Clayface saying “Heavens to Betsy”, but it’s interrupted by a Jamaican lobster named Samson who insists that “Nanaue” (King Shark) return to the ocean to fulfil his arranged marriage to a hammerhead shark woman called Tabitha, to unite two clans and prevent a war. Also because in the sea you can shit all you want and no one minds. King Shark stands up to his Father and declares that neither he nor Tabitha want to get married. Meanwhile Harley and Ivy get drunk and have sex, which despite them both enjoying, Ivy insists is a mistake and locks herself in her room. Harley coaxes her out and reveals stage two of the bachelorette party: Eris has hypnotised queen Hippolyta in order to sign a merger with Lex Luthor to further commercialise Themyscira, and they’re going to kill her to break the spell. They manage to do so easily, with surprising skill on the part of Nora and Jennifer, and in return Hippolyta throws “A fucking rager” to celebrate, resulting in Harley and Ivy once again getting drunk and having sex. Harley makes the case to Ivy that they could be together, travelling the world saving the environment, helping out other women and getting free stuff, and that she loves her. King Shark returns to the boat and reveals that despite telling off his Father, he still got married. Only publicly though, to stop the conflict: he and Tabitha will both pursue other relationships, and he seeks a soul mate. Finally Ivy’s party returns to the mainland, and she tells Harley that she’s thought about her offer but rejects it on the grounds that she trusts her with her life, but not her heart. She flies off with Kiteman as Harley breaks down and cries on the steps of the invisible plane.

Christ, this one was rough. In a good way though. Harley’s pained grin just before the credits hit last episode was bad, having her sob over the start of the credits this episode was worse. It had some good laughs and action though; Ivy pulling up her sleeve to reveal the “Cobb Squad” tattoo she drunkenly had done and the reveal that no one else, not even Harley, got one was great. Harley finally wore the “Head Bitch in Charge” hat from the key art seen above, and her corralling the other party guests into getting smashed and the subsequent fight was good. Apparently in the comics Harley and Ivy are polyamorous but it makes sense to not take that route here for the purposes of drama, and I’m not sure where things will go from here. Presumably they will get together at some point but I have a feeling Harley’s in for a lot more pain on the way there. Good episode.

Episode 10: Dye Hard

After all that emotional trauma last week, Harley needs a drink. Unfortunately, the only bar that’s not swarming with Parademons is at the top of Wayne Tower, where the bartender is the amnesiac Joker. Harley goes to leave only to be met with a gang of hostage takers who knock her out and handcuff her to the Not-Joker. They escape into a vent and come across the Riddler, who’s broken out of the mall to steal a mind control helmet, and it’s revealed he did so on behalf of his partner Dr Psycho, who plans to take control of every Parademon in Gotham and rule the city, as Harley was planning to do before. Fortunately, Gordon arrives in the Batwing, as well as Sy, King Shark and Clayface, though the latter two are possessed by Psycho, who also places a huge energy dome over the tower. Seeing no other way out, Sy gives his eye to Harley as a memento, plugs a key into his belly button and charges at the dome, brimming with energy, and explodes, destroying it. Harley and Gordon escape and not-Joker, who earlier in the episode talked about a dream he had about the opening scene of season 1, recalls a dream he had about the Justice League being trapped in a book, though he can’t remember where the book ended up. Resigned to her only option, Harley takes him to ACE chemicals and throws him into a vat.

This episode made me laugh out loud several times, which I really needed after last week. In particular I found the fight scene in Wayne’s experimental R&D division particularly funny, where Harley shoots a goon with what turns out to be a cancer ray (“Why would they even make this?!”), as well as Jim’s one contribution to the parademon fight at the end being to fire his handgun at them, to no avail, and Batman having Alfred blow on his hot drink rather than waiting for it to cool down. I do so enjoy this show’s characterisation of Batman. Psycho is poised as the villain of this mini arc, one so dangerous Harley is willing to bring back the Joker to help deal with him, an event that seems all so grimly inevitable because life just won’t give Harley a fucking break. I liked Joker flitting back and forth between his old self and remembering his past in the form of dreams, that was all well done, and having Sy make a heroic sacrifice was a nice send off for him. Good episode.

Episode 11: A Fight Worth Fighting For

So The Joker’s back, and after slapping the shit out of him, Harley informs him there’s a bomb in his brain and he needs to help her get the book of fairy tales back. It’s at the house of not-Joker’s girlfriend Bethany, who it turns out is a nurse who pulled Joker from the rubble. Unfortunately, Joker’s rudeness and insistence that their relationship didn’t mean anything makes Bethany angrily throw the book, which winds up in the hands of a passing Parademon. Meanwhile, Dr Psycho makes a new deal with Darkseid; he will be granted the Earth on behalf of the dictator in exchange for delivering Harley’s head to him. To aid in this, Psycho brainwashes Ivy, who’s out to kill him for ruining her wedding prep. Harley and Joker manage to secure the book inside a giant Parademon nest and are seemingly trapped, only to be rescued (captured) by Batman, who’s finally recovered enough to return to action. Realising that what they have is just an ordinary book of fairy tales, Joker explains their situation to Bats, who returns them to Bethany’s house where Joker reconciles with her and resumes their relationship. Zatanna frees the Justice League. The episode ends with Ivy arriving at the house, Harley excitedly preparing to fully lay out her wish for them to be together, and Ivy declaring that she’s here to kill Harley.

This episode felt a bit busy, like they were trying to cram a lot in to set up the next one. Of particular note was Joker’s mini-arc and ending up back with Bethany, which happened very quickly. Darkseid is aggrieved at Harley for betraying him, but doesn’t seem to mind Psycho wresting control of his Parademons, despite having failed to earn them in the past. I am intrigued by this turn the Joker’s taken though. It’d be boring to just have him return to his old self after everything that’s happened. Not to mention a bit of a cop out after him being turned into a normal person. Not a bad episode, but it felt transitional. Oh also, I’ve only just noticed that the Parademons sound like the Cleric Beast from Bloodborne. So that’s neat.

Episode 12: Lovers’ Quarrel 

Okay, this was a step up. Lots of dramatic reveals in this episode: Wonder Woman’s a huge racist, King Shark’s most embarrassing memory is of when he snapped at the scent of blood and tore apart his younger brother, Clayface can actually be useful in combat, and Ivy can use her powers to become a plant-based Doctor Octopus. Kiteman saves Harley from the brainwashed Harley and they retreat to his apartment, where Sy’s eye tells them through morse code to plug it into the television. From there, Sy informs them of how to make an anti-mind control device, though only Kiteman takes him up on it, with Harley leaving via kite to save Ivy from the Justice League, fearing that the’ll kill her. It’s only the holy trinity though; Green Lantern and The Flash have presumably returned to space and the city the Flash protects. I dunno, I’m not a Flash fan. Psycho puts said holy trinity out of action by having Ivy use her love pheromone on them, and then take Harley back to the Mall, where Darkseid has arrived to await her head. Kiteman’s plan is to kiss Ivy and undo the brainwashing with the power of true love, which of course doesn’t work. Harley fights her briefly and ends up being strangled, so she tries the same plan, which apparently works, but is actually due to the sight of two women kissing distracting Psycho. Harley uses the anti-mind control devices Kitman brought on herself and Ivy, and the two easily subdue Psycho, as he isn’t the top villain he believes himself to be. Impressed at her fortitude, Darkseid offers control of a conquered Earth to Harley, though she declines, having completed her Face turn. Darkseid is angered by this and promises to return one day and terraform Earth into a junkyard, but for now he’s leaving. Harley tells Ivy that she’s in love with her, and although it may damage their friendship she can’t give up on that feeling, and implores Ivy to take a chance with her. Kiteman awakens having been knocked out by Ivy earlier, and didn’t hear them talking, but is filled in by Psycho, who out of spite uses his powers to broadcast a video in the sky of Harley and Ivy having sex for all of Gotham to see. Kiteman is, understandably, surprised.

This was a really good episode. After the last one set the dominoes up, this one had a great time knocking them all down. Ivy, King Shark and Clayface vs the Justice League was good, I loved Ivy’s Doc Ock powers, they had some fun with Darkseid not understanding mundane Earth terms but didn’t overdo it, and it wrapped up this whole arc really well. I’m also glad Harley fully opened up to Ivy, and I hope it pays off for her. Sorry, Kiteman.

Episode 13 (Season Finale): The Runaway Bridesmaid 

After everything that went down last episode, Bats, Supes and Wondy are given keys to the city by the mayor. After the impact he had, Gordon expects one too and it looks like he’s about to get it, only for the Mayor to reward it to himself instead. Harley’s back in Arkham and refuses to break out and attend Ivy’s wedding, which is going ahead, at the Corn Factory after Ivy had Frank eat Condiment King and his fiance. Two-Face takes advantage of Gordon’s frustrations over the lack of City Key, and the fact that he’s a barely glued together, furious mess and convinces him to run for Mayor, assuring his ascension by arresting all the super villains at Ivy’s wedding. He then uses the threat of Gordon planning the raid as leverage to have Harley help him break out, which she does. Gordon convinces his men (and Cheryl) to all go undercover at the venue, and it seems like Harley has him foiled until she punches the wrong man in the face, which results in Ivy asking her to leave; unable to reconcile the part of her life Harley represents with the part Kiteman does. Fortunately for the two of them, Harley gives it one last try and sneaks into the ceremony, clobbers a caterer who’s presence she considers suspicious and reveals him to be a cop, which triggers Gordon’s plan; having replaced all the flowers with plastic ones, the room is filled with knockout gas. Fortunately again, Harley grabs a gas mask, steals the RPG Gordon had tucked into his coat somehow and blows a big whole in the roof, dispelling the gas and waking all the guests back up, kicking off a huge fight between super villains and police. Harley gets Ivy and Kiteman out through a window and reveals that she became a licensed minister on the internet, so she can marry them here in the car park. Kiteman isn’t having it though; despite Ivy’s repeated insistence over the past season that she really does love him, he knows that they aren’t right for each other, and are better off going their separate ways. Harley and Ivy jump into the “Just Married” car and make a break for it. Ivy tells Harley that she’s clearly trying to grow as a person and is making progress, which is exactly what Ivy wanted and shows that she is a person she could be with; they exchange “I love you”s and kiss as they race down the road, pursued by police.

Good episode, nice wrap-up for the season as a whole, and a good way to remove Kiteman from the picture. I liked that his exit was a realistic emotional response to the situation, something this show does really well: regardless of the big things that have got in the way, it’s clear that they don’t work together, and it’s better to just accept that now and move on. I’m glad Harley and Ivy are properly together now, looking forward to seeing their relationship in a potential season 3 (the ending title card said “THE END?” so here’s hoping). Not much more to say about the episode itself really, it felt like it was all just ramping up towards its ending and so the episode was very quickly paced, which under the circumstances was fine. Two-Face manipulating Gordon was a nice angle, showing that for all his attempts to clean himself up, he still has some pretty deep seated emotional issues ripe for the exploiting.

In Conclusion:

This season had its weaker episodes, but for the most part I really enjoyed it. It took risks when it needed to; killing off villains, introducing new and different characterisations for the ones it keeps alive, having a good laugh at Bruce Wayne’s expense; part of what makes this show so worth watching, alongside its humour and genuine approach to emotional moments mixed in with said humour to great effect. Some really nice forays into greater DC lore, too, like the whole bachelor party escapade in Themyscira, and everything involving Harley and co.s ill-advised alliance with Darkseid. It was messy and painful but Harley and Ivy are finally together, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes next. Harley Quinn continues to be easily one of the best DC products I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching/reading/playing etc.

By James Lambert

In For the Long Haul: Preacher Season 4

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Preacher’s back for one last ride, having taken a comic I loved growing up, swapped things around, made new things and spent three seasons making an adaptation that’s better than the source material. After season 3 wrapped up everything with Angelville and Jesse’s dark past, as well as Cass’ newfound vampire mate, there’s only one thing left to do: find God once and for all. Unfortunately, Herr Starr kidnapped Cassidy at the end of season 3, so there’s that to deal with first.

Episode 1: Masada

The episode starts “A couple months” in the future, with a triple threat of comic references I can’t elaborate on for spoilers: Tulip and Cassidy hiding out in a hotel and kissing, with Cass having dyed his hair, Jesse falling out of a plane and lying still in the sand, and a shot in the new opening credits where Jesse has an eyepatch. Hoo boy, I was hoping for more comic arc adaptations and we got ’em. Cassidy is being held in the titular Masada; a Grail command centre built into the side of a mountain in the Middle East, complete with a university that hosts multiple torture classes based on skill level. The advanced class has a guest lecturer in the form of Frankie, a man from the comics who repeatedly shoots Cass with a Lee-Enfield rifle. That’s not enough for the TV version though, who dons a yarmulke and repeatedly circumcises Cass with a straight razor. Meanwhile Jesse and Tulip are putting together their plan, using the Word on a brawling group of Grail troops and having them infiltrate the base; most of them sneak Tulip in as a pretend prisoner, which goes wrong in gruesome fashion. See, The Word has an effect on one of the troops that forces her to inform her Sergeant that she can’t follow his order because she works for Tulip now. Cue the heavy front doors shutting and the soldier taking Tulip’s order to “Keep the door open” literally, resulting in her being a mashed up mass of pulp. Still alive though somehow, so that’s something I guess. Meanwhile Starr has made precautions against Custer, equipping himself and his little squad with ear protection, and having an old mute woman act as a go-between for the two. Doesn’t help with one of Tulip’s new goons being in the room, however, and everyone gets gunned down besides Starr, who used the old woman as a human shield because of course he did. Did lose an ear though, so swings and roundabouts. Jesse breaks Cass out suprisingly easily, eliminating a troupe of Grail guards (after supplying them with edged weapons) and pummelling Frankie in a way that seems like it’s being played for comedy but it comes off as a bit odd. Basically he’s drawing said beating out and every now and then grins at Cass, who just rolls his eyes. The two fight their way through Masada mostly off screen while Tulip scales the cliff to reach the door release switch, guarded by Featherstone. After the two fire at each other and their bullets collide, they have a brief fight resulting in Tulip getting the door open and Featherstone escaping with a wingsuit. Cass taunts Jesse about his love for Tulip and the two have a brief fight, which is another reference to the comic but unfortunately is again off screen. I’m hoping they come back to this though and adapt it more closely, because it’s a great moment in the comic. So that’s that then, right? They’ve got Cass out and everything’s grand. Except they don’t, because he stays behind, merely saying he’s “Got this”, but presumably because he can’t stand being with Tulip but not with her. God is working directly with Herr Starr to make Jesse suffer, and the episode ends with Jesse having a dream of a nuclear explosion and odd, penis-shaped rock. He leaves to go find God, a letter left behind.

Overall, decent start to the season. Some good, gory visual gags, the set up for Cass’ part of the story as the season goes on is intriguing and I’m glad it ends with Jesse deciding to get moving. The fight scenes weren’t as good as they have been in the past and that one joke I mentioned didn’t land, but overall it was a good premiere.

Episode 2: Last Supper

These two episodes aired as a double bill, and there’s a lot to get through in this one. First up is a scene explaining why the dinosaurs were wiped out: a Brontosaurus ate its own shite after God told it not to. Back in the present, Jesse hitches a ride with an ex-porn star driving a chicken truck but stops to help out a child crying by the side of the road, his dog having died. It’s ruse though; the dog is fine and now Jesse’s being mugged. He responds the obvious way and Words the kid to make him drop the gun…which kills the dog for real. Good work, preacher. To make up for it, he gives the kid some money, then his wallet, then his boots for some reason. It’s all good though, he hitches a ride with a man riding a camel, which goes fine until he runs into someone he hates and it descends into a fight. Jesse puts a stop to it, but for some reason it only works on one of the men, resulting in a rapid chain reaction and both men and camels dying. The Word only works if you speak English, a brief plot point from the comics that I’m glad to see make an appearance. Meanwhile, Tulip and Cassidy are both independently working on escape plans. Tulip’s involves a fake betrayal, a drawn out, off-screen, obscured by dust demolition derby and sneaking into Masada in disguise, which works, but the aforementioned car fight is lacklustre. Cass just steals a doctor’s clobber, gets right up to the front door and is about to leave when he seemingly turns back because of the sun, only to do a load of cocaine, steals a load more of it and get into a fight that ends with Frankie putting him down. Frankie later makes an interesting point about people like Cass wanting to be tortured because they believe they deserve it, but I really hope this whole “Cass very easily nearly escapes but then doesn’t” thing doesn’t become a running theme. Herr Starr is the new Allfather after the previous one was gibbed last season and has the Deputy PM of New Zealand killed because he asks when exactly the Messiah will be revealed. The hunt for Humperdoo isn’t going to well, as shown by a scene of Grail goons pursuing one in a jeep and killing him when he doesn’t dance like the true Messiah. He also gets a doctor to staple some of Cass’ foreskin to his head as a replacement, which looks hideous and off-putting and while amusing for a second or two is absolutely not something Starr would stand for, and if the next episode doesn’t include him ripping it off and killing that doctor my immersion will be completely ruined. Or, you know, I’ll be mildly annoyed. Back in Jesse’s share of the episode he reaches an airport and is told by a pilot that the penis rock is “The Lost Apostle” in Australia, and after realising he left his lighter in the chicken truck makes said pilot drive him to where it came from: Jesus De Sade Entertainment. He grabs the lighter without any trouble, but the pilot convinces him that they need to storm the place when they see a frightened child being ushered away from a window by a white haired man in a cape. The episode ends with a time skip to Jesse, now with bloody knuckles and new boots, alone on a plane with the pilot taking him to Australia, as it’s revealed that God has a model of the same plane.

I saw a brief clip from episode 3 that made me suspect Jesus De Sade would make an appearance, and here he is. It is a bit odd that he’s just crammed in like this when in the comics Jesse, Tulip and Cass went to one of his parties looking for information, but I’m hoping they make the most of it next episode. I’m also hoping for Bob Glover, Sexual Investigator, especially since they missed the opportunity to have him in an earlier season. Overall the episode was a good continuation and it works well as a double bill, but I’m having slight doubts. The show works best in more varied, interesting locales and so far the pristine Grail lab and their all-white tactical gear seem sterile and uninteresting. I’ve already raised concerns about Starr’s new ear and Tulip’s car plan, but they’re nothing too bad at all, and with the promise of Jesse beating up pedophiles next episode, I’ve quickly put it behind me. Cass needs to either shit or get off the pot, escape-wise though, lest it bog the season down like his old man vampire son did back in season 2.

Episode 3: Deviant

Okay, so they’re leaning into the notion that Cass thinks he deserves his torture this episode. Frankie is now taking him on regular trips to Bensonhurst, NY to have his foreskin repeatedly sawn off by a machine and the results being added to skin cream, in a dark reprise of Cass’ theory from season 2. The still unnamed Angel hanging in Cass’ cell is a lot more talkative this episode and gets the vampire to reveal his backstory: 1916, the Easter Uprising in Ireland. A human Proinsias Cassidy sets off with his mate Billy to repel British forces. It doesn’t end well; Billy has his leg blown off and is bayonetted by English soldiers while Cass looks on too scared to help him. Later that night he hides from two oncoming soldiers and is jumped by a female swamp vampire who bites him. Back in the present, Cassidy laments his failure and says that he felt it best that his family think he died rather than the truth. Tulip’s plan to bust him out has hit a roadblock in the form of a psychological evaluation, which proceeds even when she mullers a bunch of Grail staff. Turns out she’s got a personality disorder, a gun fetish, psychopathic traits and abandonment issues, but “There’s no cure for that” so she can go about her business just before Featherstone storms in having figured it out. Meanwhile Herr Starr has curled the excess foreskin on his new “ear” in towards his head, and asks his cold and calculating replacement for Hoover, “Hoover 2” if he’s still beautiful, to which Hoover 2 gives a flat “No”. Starr approves. In Texas, Eugene and the Saint of Killers grab lunch in a diner, with the latter being surprisingly talkative and at least considering the former’s insistence that Jesse merely apologise to them both rather than being killed. Eugene gets solicited by a man in the bathroom via a glory hole only to be almost immediately arrested by a Sex Detective…who doesn’t give his name and doesn’t belt out Bob Glover’s iconic “IT’S BUGGERIN’ TIME” in what I can only describe as a devastating missed opportunity. Finally we have Jesse’s adventures in De Sade entertainment. It’s basically just a kinky costume party, starting with a woman blowing smoke in Jesse’s face that makes him woozy, and De Sade outlining the terms of the little boy’s presence in the estate, resulting in Jesse clocking him in the nose. Jesse finds the boy and it turns out it’s the one who mugged him, and the boots Jesse’s wearing on the plane are his own ones, having been returned to him. The boy doesn’t want to leave because he’s “Making thirty five dollars an hour in a third world country”, but Jesse insists, resulting in a drawn-out fight that’s part explicit Oldboy reference, part Mother Russia Bleeds and part weird camera angle that, had the show not have demonstrated such quality up to this point would feel like a mistake. It’s fine, it’s back to being set to dissonant music and the Oldboy reference is a nice touch but all the fight scenes so far this season have been nothing special. Particularly when compared to the “Uptown Girl” and “My Sweet Lord” fights. The fight ends with some idiot blundering in with a gun that Jesse turns on everyone, and a stray bullet tags the kid. So that’s two for two on accidental murders for Jesse in the span of as many episodes. Again, good work, preacher man. He stomps De Sade’s head into paste in a rage, and as Jesse and the pilot leave (the pilot sans trousers, having taken a less aggressive stance upon entering the building) God is seen in the window. In the airport Jesse runs into Hitler, who doubts the former’s ability to even reach God, which Jesse counters by commanding Hitler, who is the ruler of Hell at this point, to get on his knees and strangle himself. The episode ends with a news report about a manhunt for Preacher Jesse Custer as the plane goes down having hit a patch of “Something”.

So far this season has been rather busy but hasn’t got a lot done. I’m glad Cassidy’s getting justification for him staying in the hands of his torturer, but he still needs to do something eventually. The shot of him clutching the Angel feather near the end of the episode might be hinting at an imminent escape for real this time. Everything in De Sade Entertainment didn’t really go anywhere and the fight was just okay, Tulip’s psych eval was just another link in the chain, and they set up Bob Glover and bunted, to my frustration. I’m still enjoying this season but so far it’s not had as good a start as previous ones.

By James Lambert

In For the Long Haul: Mob Psycho 100 II

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Mob Psycho 100 caught me by surprise. I was already a fan of One Punch Man, created by the same author “One”, and so expected it to be at least worth a go. What I wasn’t expecting was something better than Saitama’s struggle to find a suitable opponent: a teenage boy with subdued emotions trying to live a normal life in spite of his incredible psychic powers and the off-kilter world he lives in. It had beautifully animated and scored battles between Espers, sure, but it was the human element that sold it. Mob (so nicknamed because he doesn’t stand out) truly taking to heart his mentor Reigen’s teachings to never use his powers to hurt anyone else, the way his powers are linked to him feeling intense bursts of emotion, good and bad, and how they manifest physically; it was all touching and, despite the psychic powers, relateable. Also it’s funny.  Season 1 was really good, and now season 2 is here, or as it insists on being called: Mob Psycho 100 II.

Episode 1: Ripped Apart ~Someone is Watching~

YOUR LIFE IS YOUR OWN. New Op’s really good, but a little bit more conventional than the previous season’s. I preferred the counting and rising feeling in “99”, but 99.9 is really catchy and still has the same sort of tone, so I’m into it. The episode itself deals with a multitude of events, firstly Mob and Reigen fighting a ghost called “Wriggle Wriggle” that’s possessed a farmer’s field. I love the dynamic between the two, with Reigen being the bold, quick on his feet conman exorcist who talks his way into situations, then steps aside to let the genuinely psychic Mob handle all the heavy lifting. Here, upon realising that Wriggle Wriggle is remotely controlling the nearby plants, Mob wonders if he can do the same and so rips control of said plants away and turns them into two giant fists. Reigen talked his way into 30% of the farmer’s coming harvest as payment but it doesn’t work out so he instead gets a bunch of equipment to do some gardening of his own. Mob’s share is broccoli seeds, and upon Reigen’s suggestion uses his powers to almost instantly grow a pot of cherry tomatoes. They taste terrible though, because of course they do: food doesn’t work that way. The meat of the episode focuses on Mob’s potential growth as a person: first through the machinations of Newspaper club member Mezato who, in order to prepare Mob to lead the cult she’s part of, has him run for school council President and claims it’ll attract the attention of his beloved Takane. It doesn’t go well: Mob being Mob, he freezes up and doesn’t say a single word for his allotted five minutes. It’s not all bad though; his performance attracts the affections of a girl named Emi, who asks Mob out and although it’s revealed he says no, they still walk home together everyday. Unfortunately however it all turns out have been based on a dare, though Mob doesn’t seem to take it badly. After Emi’s friends rip up the novel she wrote Mob drops to his knees and begins collecting the pieces. When he and Emi are alone and the wind carries the pieces away he reveals his powers to her: using them to bring the pieces back and reform them into a book shape. An unseen, nearby Takane quietly comments “Smooth”. Emi uses the idea of a high school student with psychic powers to start a new book and comments that Mob is “Amazing”, implying that perhaps actual feelings are now present.

Overall, really strong start to the new season. I was a bit slow on the uptake because I didn’t bother to watch a recap or anything, but after a quick visit to TV tropes I know who everyone is again, and I remembered the major events well enough. Starting off with the key elements: Mob and Reigen, psychic powers, Mob’s attempts at leading a normal life and how he deals with people and everyday events means it was a solid foundation to build the rest of the season on. It was a great re-introduction to the world and its characters. I’m happy Mob Psycho 100 is back, and I look forward to next week.

Episode 2: Urban Legends ~Encountering Rumours~

This episode has everything: Mob in a lovely jumper, Tiny Reigen, well-animated action, comedy, a man who flashes children… wait a minute, that took a bad turn. Due to a lack of steady exorcism work Reigen declares that he and Mob are going to pursue any leads pertaining to urban legends; setting up a tiny table on the pavement with a little sign on it, because Reigen “Didn’t think this through”. The legends they seek are Red Raincoat, the Human Faced Dog, Dash Granny and the Queen of them all: The Dragger. They take a case to deal with them all, and after being challenged by a local psychic named Shinra, rope him into their search. Reigen and Mob find the Human Faced Dog; actually a regular dog whose face has been drawn on by some shitty kids, whom Reigen hits before cleaning the dog’s face like the best boy he is. Meanwhile Shinra accidentally makes himself sound like a paedophile before tackling and fighting Red Raincoat, him being the aforementioned man who flashes children, in a brief parody of 2-D fighting games which was rather amusing and took my mind of the weird swerve the episode had taken. I’m not opposed to the plot point or how it was handled, and Red Raincoat was quite swiftly murdered, it just felt really weird and out of nowhere. Anyway the Dragger is very much real, powerful and out for blood, and the ensuing fight scene between her and a Dimple-possessed Shinra was good. I also like how the seemingly genuinely insurmountable issue of Reigen, Mob and Shinra being unable to beat her because they’re scared of her and have bought into her legend is negated by Mob actually not being scared of her at all, and quickly eradicating her. Finally they go in pursuit of Dash Granny, on whom Mob’s powers have no effect! …because she’s also just an old lady going for a run. She does manage to crush Mob’s spirit though, because he runs every day with the body improvement club and she trounced him good and proper.

Great episode; funny, beautifully animated, good focus on Reigen’s manipulations and softer side when helping Terror the dog (for whom he bought bones and shampoo with his limited funds) and again, Mob really did have a lovely jumper. Weird turn with the flasher but again, I think it’s an issue or anything, it just caught me off guard when everything leading up to it had been pretty light really.

Episode 3: One Danger After Another ~Degeneration~

The new Op’s really grown on me, especially the wave of rising and falling characters, and the shot of Sakurai destroying the thrown fuel tanker mid-air. Song’s really good too, and as much as liked the counting element of 99, I think I prefer 99.9. Anyway, this episode focused on Mob’s caring nature, the conflict that arises from his enhanced perspective, and his relationship with Reigen. After setting up a website for the exorcism business last episode, they get three jobs in one day, with the result being a planned exorcism of a ghost family for three brats who find their very presence worthy of re-death, despite Mob insisting they mean no harm. Mob laments that if he were to take the side of the ghosts he’d have to attack the human customers. Reigen realises that Mob has an equal foothold in both the human and spirit worlds, a unique position that has the potential to cause him a great deal of stress that other people can’t understand. Reigen’s genuine care for and understanding of Mob is the best part of the show for me; the 100% gratitude was one of my favourite scenes from season 1, and I love to see their relationship continue. Similarly, I really like the scene where two bigger kids try to mug Mob only for one of them to be stopped by Dimple, then Ritsu, then the Body Improvement Club. It’s nice to see Mob’s friends helping him out, and that his relationship with his brother is fully repaired after what happened last season. Good episode, always happy to have a lot of Reigen.

Episode 4: Inside ~Evil Spirit~

Hoo boy. So Reigen and Mob answer the call of a wealthy businessman who’s gathered a whole room full of psychics to help his possessed daughter. Reigen gets the first crack at her after destroying everyone else at rock paper scissors (including a lovely shot of him standing victorious on a mountain of defeated psychics), and works out from dialogue cues and her word choices that she is indeed possessed, flying in the face of the assembled psychics, including a supposed big-shot, who all believe her story of an abusive father. But possessed she is, and obviously no one present can pose any kind of threat to her (besides Reigen and a new special move: “Anti-possession knee strike”, following in the glorious footsteps of “Anti-esper dropkick” and my favourite; “HYPNOSIS PUNCH”). Dimple reveals that the spirit is of ex-helpful psychic turned assassin Mogami Keiji, who tried to absorb the former forty years ago in an attempt to become the ultimate evil spirit. Mob comes up with a high-risk strategy: use an out-of-body experience to enter the girl and free her, while Dimple possesses his body to keep him out of trouble. Reigen naturally warns against this, but Mob’s previous efforts are fruitless. Mob pulls it off, but inside is bested by Mogami, who reveals the source of psychic powers is human emotion (hence Mob’s explosions), and in order to grant him a change in perspective and potentially greater power, sends him on a sort of vision quest in which he is a normal boy with no powers, as the episode ends.

Speaking of explosions, Mob’s finally moving towards one, which I realised last episode hasn’t happened yet, so that’s good. Mogami has promise as a villain who has a potential connection to Mob through their shared powers and experiences, and the scenes with him dolling out arse whuppin’s with the possessed Minori’s body are great. Similarly, it’s not given much screentime but the hand-to-hand fight between Minori-Mogami and Dimple-possessed Mob looks fantastic, much like when Dimple possessed Shinra in episode 2, and it’s interesting to see a more expressive version of Mob’s face. Great episode again, I know I tend to focus on Reigen but he’s the best character in the show, and this episode was no exception. Interested to see where the next episode goes.

Episode 5: Discord ~Choices~

Mob spends six months in a drab, grey, letterboxed world in which he has no powers and new transfer student Minori mercilessly bullies him, his teacher slaps him in the face and no one stops him being mugged. It kind of reminded me of an Evangelion dream sequence, only more straight forward, less nightmarish and with a happy ending. Basically Mogami is trying to make Mob learn the lesson that life is a never ending series of horrible, cruel bullshit and giving into negative emotions is the far superior option. This almost works when Mob retaliates against his bullies, but Dimple appears to snap him out of it, and Mob doubles down on what he’s learnt over the course of the series: that people are capable of good, can change, and that he’d much rather help people, ’cause Mob’s a nice boy. Mogami attacks with white, humanoid blob monsters, again reminiscent of Evangelion, and Mob finally explodes with 100% of what seems to be general positive emotion rather than a specific, named one. It also turns him into a bishy, for some reason, and he destroys Mogami’s presence before waging war on ever evil spirit Mogami gathered together, spurred on by a desire to rescue Minori. It’s Mob, vs spectral evil in a ruined city, with the former powered by the desire to do good, it’s fantastic. Also just before returning to the real world he breaks through his limit and hits ???%, which turns him into a sort of benevolent shadow monster. He rescues Minori, who reveals that the version of her in Mogami’s world is accurate before tearfully and repeatedly apologising to Mob. She and her Father discuss him later and come across the website for the Psycho Helmet club. Finally Mob and Reigen eat food acquired  from Mob Donald’s, which I have numerous questions about but will keep them to myself, and the latter refused any reward money because so many people were injured, which he can’t deem a success.

Really solid two-episode arc, both episodes work on their own also, and having Mob finally explode, and reaffirm his values as a kind, helpful individual who doesn’t use his powers on other people felt good, and again, called back that 100% gratitude scene from Season 1. Reigen really got through to Mob when he described psychic powers as being like a knife, and in that regard they should never be pointed at another person, and it’s touching to see Mob continuing to take that lesson to heart. Good stuff.

I apologise for another long gap between entries, I’m working through some stuff at the minute, but I will endeavour to return to a weekly schedule from now on

Episode 6: Poor, Lonely, Whitey

It’s the Mob/Reigen break up, caused by Reigen overselling an attempt to make Mob sacrifice his social life to focus on his exorcism job. Mob realises that he follows Reigen too blindly and should take some time to hang out with his friends in the Body Improvement Club; a bunch of earnest, kind-hearted beefcakes who genuinely care about Mob, and the Telepathy Club, who are also there. By the end of the episode it looks like Mob isn’t having quite as much fun with them as he thought, but for the most part the space seems to be doing him good. It’s certainly working for Reigen, who uses it as the kick up the arse he needs to grow his brand and become far more popular, so much so that he ends the episode about to take part in a TV interview, with the old man psychic from episode 4, who got Reigen involved as revenge for the latter kneeing the former in the chest. It ends with that revelation, and him mentally predicting Reigen’s downfall.

Good episode, really dramatic character development for Reigen, but one that makes sense and fits his character. He’s always been the charismatic go-getter type, he’s just been content to stick to his role as a shiftless con man when he’s clearly capable of so much more. Taking his split from Mob as a sign he should get used to being on his own and even use that spark to reach new heights is a good angle for him, and if the two do rejoin forces I’m interested to see how their relationship will change. In that regard it’s also nice to see Mob stand up for himself; act on his feelings and do what he wants to do.

Episode 7: Cornered ~True Identity~

This has been a long time coming, I feel. After Mob and Reigen parted ways last episode, the inevitable happens: Reigen is caught out and shown to be just faking his psychic abilities. The televised interview features a live exorcism, which Reigen believes to be all an act, and so keeps using his special moves and various exorcism techniques waiting for the possessed boy to pretend to be cured, but he never does. The old man, Jodo, takes the reigns and simply states that the boy isn’t really possessed, and the facade is dropped: it was all an act, but Reigen was approaching it from the wrong angle. He was supposed to reveal it was all an act, and that would somehow prove his powers exist. Suffice to say, things spectacularly fall apart. He’s branded a fraud and a criminal, people add made up stories to the real ones, he anonymously comments that “Reigen’s actually the real deal” and people see through it immediately, it’s a mess. As a “Fraud is exposed” story goes this is, frankly, delicious. Obviously I didn’t relish it, I love Reigen and seeing people turn on him is hard to watch, but it’s far more interesting, and ironic, than just having an actually possessed person that Reigen can’t deal with. Reigen had the right train of thought, just on the wrong track, and that’s a neat idea. He eventually hosts a press conference at the suggestion of a mob (no pun intended) of reporters camped outside his house, and uses the opportunity to at first turn on them aggressively, then answer all their questions honestly and concisely, except for the big one: does he have powers? He spaces out and remembers his first meeting with Mob; a young man troubled by powers he can’t always control, comforted by Reigen’s simple reassurance that psychic abilities don’t make him any less human, and that as a human he should just strive to be a good person. Every microphone, camera and light in the conference is hoisted into the air, Reigen’s reputation is instantly repaired, and he leaves, where he runs into Mob and is told that he is a “Genuinely good guy”. Friendship repaired, multi-episode, emotionally heavy arc finished, tears wiped away. Great episode, I think it’s important to his character going forward that rather than remain outed as a fraud, the lesson Reigen learns is that he treated Mob poorly, and that’s what needs to change. Reigen’s current lot in life is integral to both him as a character and his role in the show as a whole, so it makes sense they didn’t make any permanent changes to it. They managed to have him fall from grace and climb back up in the span of one episode very naturally though, it didn’t feel like a cheap reset. Hopefully he and Mob’s relationship will be stronger than ever now.

Episode 8: Even Then ~Continue Forward~

You know, based on the preview I was expecting this to be a breather episode. Salt Middle School has a marathon coming up, Mob’s going to try and place in the top ten and ask out Tsubomi, that’s a fun episode. Ultimately things don’t go according to plan; Mob collapses and doesn’t finish the race, but he was doing really well and persevering, rather than using his psychic powers to cheat; he made a real effort. Ritsu placed ninth, Tsubomi seemed to fancy someone else but it turned out to not be the case, everything was looking pretty sold. Then a villain turns up at Mob’s house, sets fire to it and apparently murders his Mother, Brother and Father. It’s unclear if it’s them because the bodies are all twisted and burnt, but the sight is enough to make Mob’s emotional percentage count skyrocket; well past 100% into glitchy ???% territory, and that’s how the episode ends. Jesus Christ. Not sure how I feel about this to be honest, I think I’ll need some time to ruminate. As I said it’s not definitive that the dead bodies are in fact the Kageyama family, but then I don’t know who else they could be. We’ll have to see next episode I guess, either way, I enjoyed this episode and I’m eager to see where it goes from here, because I was really not expecting this at all.

Episode 9: Show Me What You’ve Got ~Band Together~

Okay, so Mob’s family are fine; the member of CLAW who came to the house wanted to recruit Ritsu into a battle against the members of CLAW from the ending of season one against the rest of the organisation who are planning world domination. Mr and Mrs Kageyama are on a spa trip, so they’re fine, the burning of the house and dummies left to burn were a trick to get Mob angry enough to pose a serious threat, which he does in the opening sequence that shows what happens when he’s at a constant, controlled 100%. He decimates two espers who were on their way to attack his house, and after being picked up by Sakurai and Koyama from CLAW, stops their car in an instant and then upon being told they’re taking him to Reigen, levitates said car and flies it to their base. Fortunately Reigen calms Mob down by telling him he’s certain the Kageyamas are safe, because Reigen is the best and I’m so glad their relationship is fixed.  This is where the episode gets a bit messy. So the head of CLAW is planning an attack on Japan: 600 espers vs 600,000 armed Japanese police officers and soldiers. A foreign contingent of CLAW lead by a government plant is planning a mutiny, which is then foiled by the top five of CLAW, who seem to be acting entirely on the orders of the boss and he doesn’t care what happens as long as he and the five are okay. They’re all against the members of CLAW from season one, who are currently holed up with Mob, the psychic kids from season one, Reigen and Teruki, who ends up trying to save the Prime Minister from a blind esper who is bulletproof, can predict people’s movements well enough to dodge a rapid series of gunshots, and can teleport. I realise I’ve used the word a lot already, but it’s a three to four-way CLAW civil war and there’s a lot to get through in this one episode. Multiple factions with different motivations all rapidly introduced and engaging in combat for different reasons. It reminded me a little bit of the “Save Bakugo” arc in My Hero Academia, but that was given a lot more build up, and kept things more streamlined and concise in terms of groups and motivations. Plus it had All Might in it. Sweet, sweet All Might. It’s not a bad episode by any means, but having been quite leisurely in terms of pace so far it feels like things have suddenly jumped up several notches, like they intended to spread it over multiple episodes and have now realised they’ve run out of time (I’m not saying that’s the case, it’s just an example). The psychic powers are still beautifully realised, Mob’s controlled 100% and the new blind villain were both really cool, I just hope things slow down a bit next episode.

Episode 10: Collision ~Power Type~

The CLAW on CLAW brawl continues, with Reigen, having been spurred on by his insurance company refusing to pay out for his torched office, coming up with a plan to take down head of CLAW Suzuki. Splitting their group into two, one half lead by Teruki will create a diversion involving flying police vehicles and the other half will sneak into the sewers. It’s all going well until the former is set upon by a sizeable claw force and Terada apparently outs himself as a spy, and the latter runs into Shimazaki; the blind, teleporting, bulletproof esper who can predict people’s movements from last episode. Having rushed through the set up last episode, this one feels better paced. The focus is more on everything happening back with Reigen, Mob and Dimple; Reigen dealing with a CLAW incursion with a spray bottle full of a curse that causes extreme drowsiness and Dimple having to possess the sleeping Mob to fight off muscle-bound Shibata, to no avail. The episode’s peak is the Body Improvement Club catching a falling Mob out the air, trying to defend him from Shibata and President Gouda acting as a physical barrier between the two, telling a sleeping Mob how inspiring his refusal to give up is to the entire club, and how he gives them courage. The pay off is Dimple possessing Gouda to temporarily put Shibata on his arse, with Mob finally waking up and putting him out of commission. Good episode, the CLAW stuff is less interesting to me than everything to do with Mob and Reigen, but Suzuki, The Ultimate 5 and particularly Shimazaki are cool villains so I’m looking forward to the two groups meeting.

Episode 11: Guidance ~Psychic Sensor~

This was a great episode. Mob’s brother Ritsu and Sho Suzuki, son of the CLAW leader arrive at the final showdown before anyone else, and Sho races in to face his Father, stopping only to gloriously suplex Hatori. Mob, having awoken in the last episode, comes across and engages with Minegishi, who has control over plants. The fight is rendered moot when Mogami’s spirit is accidentally released, who neutralises Minegishi and insists that Mob balance his loving, forgiving nature with the ability to be hard on people, before leaving. If it sounds like I’m rushing through this it’s because I want to talk about this episode’s MVP: Shimazaki. All I could think of during his scenes was that if they ever made a Mob Psycho fighting game he’d be my main. His permanent easy-going smile, his slick teleportation power and his brutal approach to combat make him my favourite villain in MP100 so far. He spends the episode fighting against Teruki and the CLAW rebels, effortlessly giving them a hiding until Teruki starts to predict his teleports and works out his weakness: he can only dodge attacks he sees coming. Once he’s distracted he’s got no hope; they turn the tables and just kick the shit out of him. But it turns out he has one final move left: “Mind’s Eye”, in which he finally opens his eyes to reveal black sclera and red pupils, zones in on all the espers present and takes them all down. He only relents when he senses Mob’s overwhelming energy, and is caught off guard by Reigen’s greatest special move yet: “Self-Defence Rush”, in which Reigen isn’t really certain if it’s actually self-defence, so he yells it just in case and throws out a flurry of punches. Of all of Reigen’s glorious special moves, this is my new favourite hands-down. It’s just so him. That gets Shimazaki thinking that he’s under attack by an esper who can hide his power, and the final coffin nail is driven in when he reveals that he was just in this to have fun, which results in Mob looking like he’s about to murder him on the spot. He wisely teleports away. All the while Sho has been struggling against his Father, who reveals that he’s been building up energy reserves for twenty years, and travelled the world to find out whether world domination was a realistic goal. The episode ends with Mob taking Mogami’s advice to heart, and apologetically telling his assembled allies that if they were to join him they’d just get in his way, as he ascends the tower for a confrontation with Suzuki.

As I said at the start; great episode. Shimazaki is easily my favourite villain in the whole series. I love his powers, his demeanour and how he’s finally vanquished, both by CLAW teamwork and Reigen being able to sneak up on him because he doesn’t have any powers. Mob learning that he has to be hard on people sometimes is important, and I look forward to seeing how that changes his personality going forward. It’s slightly reminiscent of One Punch Man now in that no matter what battles take place you know Mob is eventually going to get involved and make everyone look like twats, but in addition to sharing OPM’s knack for a strong supporting cast it does some brilliant character work with its lead. Good stuff.

Episode 12: The Battle for Social Rehabilitation ~Friendship~

At this point I’m noticing who everyone is in the opening, and how different groups of them are fighting as they are in recent episodes. Anyway, we get Serizawa’s backstory: his out of control powers and alienation made him a shut-in, until Suzuki took him under his wing and gave him the umbrella he always carries. Whenever Serizawa feels anxious, which is all the time, he can pretend that being under the umbrella is the same as being back in his bedroom, thus keeping his severe anxiety in check. He’s fiercely loyal to Suzuki for turning his life around, but Mob reaches 100% friendship and shows Serizawa he knows how he feels, and listens to him air his issues, namely that despite his loyalty he’s deeply disturbed by all the violence, especially Suzuki battering his Son Sho. Speaking of which, Mob finally confronts the leader of CLAW, and attempts to talk him down by extolling the importance of interacting with other people, and people making up for each other’s shortcomings in a sort of patchwork “let’s all get by” way to live, which is very sweet and well thought-out, but gets him nowhere. Thankfully Reigen arrives to bluster through several plays in rapid succession: fire a gun (!), pretend he has four different ways to win, ask to join forces, punch Suzuki in the face (classic) and finally surrender, none of which work but good on him for having some variety. Serizawa saves Reigen from a lethal energy blast, and finally Mob reaches 100% Rage and after severing the top of the tower to avoid collateral damage, engages Suzuki, who is using a mere 10% of his power.
This episode moved at a quick pace, and I put that down it being the penultimate one of the season, something I suspected a few weeks ago. Serizawa’s backstory hit close to home, and I’m glad his character arc was resolved the way it was; peacefully and by making friends with Mob, who’s continue to grow as a person. Reigen had a lovely line about one of Mob’s greatest strengths being his ability to tell people exactly how he feels, and I loved his attempts to talk down Suzuki by bigging up human interaction. Speaking of Suzuki, I liked when he rushed at Mob, declaring “I recognise you as my enemy”, that was cool. I liked Reigen’s desperate attempts to salvage the situation, and was pleasantly surprised that Mob didn’t empower him and have him sort everything out again. As much I as adore that scene repeated use would cheapen it. Good episode, looking forward to the finale.

Episode 13 (Season Finale): Boss Fight ~The Final Light~

Suzuki’s only regret is that he has boneitis.

It’s Mob vs Suzuki in the final showdown; the former briefly getting way too into the whole thing and having to calm down, and the latter gradually releasing more of his power supply. My opening joke is in reference to Mob getting fed up of his appeals for peace and unity falling on deaf ears and violently twisting Suzuki’s limbs, seemingly with intent to just put him down for good. Fortunately for Mob, Suzuki breaks free, only to be bombarded with skyscrapers, which are much less lethal. The fight goes on like this until Suzuki releases too much energy and explodes in a huge, mushroom cloud-creating blast, which Mob counters by asorbing as much energy as he can and letting a barrier deal with the rest. As much as he dislikes Suzuki, letting him die alone would be too sad, and he’s committed to the idea that “people need other people”. This whole sequence reminded me of Devilman Crybaby, but with a far more positive outcome. Suzuki survives and is taken prisoner by the government, all the other espers involved in the fight have to move on to new lives, and the broccoli seeds in Mob’s pocket from way back in episode one sprout into an enormous broccoli the size of a building, which Reigen suggests he and Mob just forget they saw. Speaking of Reigen, he finally got a new office in an insurance payout, and the episode, and indeed season, ends with he, Mob and new recruit Serizawa welcoming a client.

I’m glad Mob’s way of ending the fight was to stick to his compassionate principles, and his foray into gleeful violence was just a hiccup. It hints at the darker side of his personality and powers as seen when he reaches ???%, but his good side wins out. As an episode it was quite direct in ending the arc, concluding Suzuki’s designs on world domination and tying off Mob’s growth into a more well-rounded person with both a kind heart and the will to tell hard truths. As a season, MP100 II has been fantastic. The only real problem was episode nine having such a rushed pace, but even then it was still enjoyable. Mob had some good growth this season, as did Reigen; his fall from grace and subsequent climb were important to his character. Episode five where Mob’s trapped in that psychic nightmare is really interesting, the urban legend episode was fun, and the whole CLAW war was great, especially Shimazaki. Also the Body Improvement Club are absolute treasures and I’m glad they continue to be involved.
Mob Psycho continues to be one of the most consistently enjoyable anime around; beautifully animated, good balance of action scenes, goofy humour and emotional weight and with strong characters with solid development. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed season 2, looking forward to season 3. Might read the manga in the meantime.

By James Lambert

In For the Long Haul: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Vento Aureo

Image result for jojo vento aureo anime

When I first read Vento Aureo, I wasn’t a big fan. It seemed oddly similar, or at least reminiscent, in structure and content to Stardust Crusaders; only inferior in every regard. I had a soft spot for some of the characters, and it definitely had cool ideas, but after being completely blown away by Diamond is Unbreakable, it was a definite step down. Since then it’s grown on me, particularly the villain and their stand (helped by the fact that I fancy them), the Italian setting and some of the more interesting and inventive stand powers demonstrated throughout the run. The David Production adaptation finally dropped and I’m eager to see it in action.

Episode 1: Gold Experience

Kicking things off is a new mini prologue of sorts, in which our currently unnamed new JoJo shows off his character: a kindhearted man who doesn’t care if a young woman gets ice cream on his outfit (an outfit I’m warming to, but I prefer him in dark blue) and retrieves her purse from a pickpocket, but will also help himself to a bit of cash in the process. Makes sense given his heritage, as son of DIO via Jonathan Joestar’s body; respectively the epitome of good and evil in this series. Our new JoJo, or more accurately GioGio, is Giorno Giovanna; born Haruno Shiobana and making a living as the most fabulous fifteen year old mobster in Italy. Koichi Hirose is sent by Jotaro Kujo to investigate Giorno on the basis that he’s DIO’s son and therefore potentially a threat. Turns out that’s very much the case, but he’s far from following in his father’s footsteps. He’s a pain in the arse; stealing and selling Koichi’s luggage and passport, but the only way he causes harm is in self-defence via his Stand power, and he’s more interested in just getting on with his low-level criminal activity than anything else. Said Stand is Gold Experience, which has the power to turn inanimate objects into animals (and a tree in one instance) which if attacked transfer all the damage to whoever attacked them. This power disables local mob tough “Leaky Eyed” Luca, and the episode ends with Luca having been killed and dismembered by his unnamed boss, and his body parts used in grim fashion to interrogate Giorno by another stand user named Bruno Bucciarati.

This is a great first episode: Giorno’s introduction tells you a lot about him through his actions, as well as his instance to multiple characters that doing anything “useless” such as repeating himself really annoys him. Speaking of Giorno, he looks fantastic in this art style, and said style is gorgeous even by JoJo standards. The episode sets up this new spin on the universe, one of morally grey mobsters with weird and interesting Stands set against the backdrop of beautiful Italian towns. I was always going to be into the new JoJo series, but I’m even more into it than I imagined, and very much looking forward to the next episode.

Episode 2: Bucciarati Is Coming

FIGH-TING GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD! New OP’s good, glad it just focuses on Giorno and his soon to be new companions, rather than spoiling things to come (CoughChaseCough). Lacks the mad detail some of the other OPs have but still, it’s good, and I love the big golden crest at the end with Giorno’s face in it. Plus, “Fighting Gold” is a great name for it. Anyway, the episode begins with a summation of Giorno’s childhood and how he became the person he is today: after putting up with a neglectful mother, abusive stepfather and constant bullying, it all changes when he saves the life of a local gangster by misleading rival goons out to kill him. So enamoured is Giorno with the gangster’s treatment of him and the gangster life in general that he pledges to become a “Gang-Star” himself; one of those romantic, old time gangsters that looks out for the little guy and has a code of honour, that sort of thing. But for now, he’s got Bruno Bucciarati to deal with; bearing down on him with his stand Sticky Fingers (Zipper Man in the copyright-friendly subtitles, because they weren’t even trying to make it sound similar at this point. It’s a far cry from “Shining Diamond”), its power being the ability to create and open zips in any solid object or human being. Now I haven’t read Part 5 for a few years now, so I can’t recall everything about it, but I remembered Gold Experience’s powers against humans basically being that, upon striking them, it makes them feel the punch in slow motion, thus hurting a whole lot. This whole “Makes their senses go berserk so they think they’re moving around quickly but really aren’t” thing is new to me, unless of course (SPOILERS) they’re hinting at Gold Experience Requiem. That’s what it made me think of, but that’s not some innate talent Gold Experience has, it’s a second form gained later. So I dunno really. (SPOILERS END) I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Giorno has a showdown with Bruno in which he almost rips his own arm off for an advantage, but ultimately shows mercy and lays down his plan: join Bruno’s gang, take down his boss, and run the city, something Bruno doesn’t seem all that bothered by really.

Good episode again, feels like a two-parter with the previous one, and both of them have served their purpose by getting me firmly back into the JoJo groove. So glad it’s back, look forward to just luxuriating in every facet of it.

Episode 3: Meet the Gangster Behind the Wall

Bruno’s all in on Giorno’s plan, and the first step is to actually join. He explains that the gang is called “Passione”, and that no one knows what their boss looks or sounds like having never met him, instead receiving orders through capos. The capo Giorno must impress is Polpo; an enormous gangster with a voice of legion currently enjoying a surprisingly cushy life in a prison he could leave at any time. He’ll let Giorno join if he completes a seemingly absurd task: take a lit lighter home with him and keep the flame going for twenty four hours. Surprisingly, this actually goes rather well, with the only real problem arising when Koichi turns up to steal back his passport. Fortunately Giorno’s grasp of Gold Experience’s abilities combined with incredible slight of hand abilities get him through, until a janitor accidentally douses it in water. He’s able to re-light the lighter, but that spawns Polpo’s Stand Black Sabbath, who promptly draws out the old man’s soul and murders it with the Stand-creating arrow from Diamond is Unbreakable. The episode ends with him bearing down on Giorno.

The more I see of the anime, the more I like Giorno. I never disliked him really, I just didn’t warm to him as I did with Joseph and Josuke, but his criminal abilities combined with a heart of gold and a calm and collected temperament really set him apart from previous JoJos. You can see the influence his two Dads had on him, even though he’s never met either of them (and admittedly can’t meet one of them). The art style continues to be absolutely superb, it’s all moving at a good pace and, again; I’m really glad JoJo’s back. No issues at all, looking forward to next week.

Episode 4: Joining the Gang

Quite a lot packed into this episode actually, to get everything wrapped up before the rest of Bucciarati’s crew are introduced. Black Sabbath is relegated to shadows, but has the ability to physically grab hold of people’s souls and stab them with the arrow, which killed the old man working as a janitor at Giorno’s school. Fortunately Giorno’s prepared, with his jazzy theme music, thorough practical knowledge of Gold Experience’s powers, and DIO’s MUDA MUDA MUDA! chant. I’ve always liked how that just seems to be instinctual to Giorno, given that he’s never met DIO, and that’s the most obvious trait he received from his Father. Anyway Giorno and Koichi team up to finally defeat Black Sabbath by trapping him in a patch of sunlight, and Giorno informs Koichi of his dream off-screen in order to keep the whole thing secret while he infiltrates the gang. Koichi informs Jotaro that Giorno isn’t a threat, citing in narration the same noble look in his eyes as Joseph, Josuke and Jotaro himself, making it clear to Koichi that the strong desire to do good inherent in the Joestar bloodline is present in DIO’s son. Finally Giorno receives a small, gold pin identifying him as a member of Passione, and he heads off with Bruno to meet his new colleagues, tying off loose ends by turning one of Polpo’s guns into a banana and handily tricking him into suicide as revenge for the old man’s death.

Really good episode, nice to see JoJo’s trademark cerebral approach to fights, with Giorno relying on careful positioning and clever use of his stand to win. This is doubly important due to Gold Experience not being as strong as say, Star Platinum, so expect to see more crafty victories in future. This whole four-episode arc has felt tight and well-paced, doing a stellar job of introducing Giorno, fleshing out his character with actions and having him established before the new lads turn up next episode. Good stuff.

Episode 5: Find Polpo’s Fortune!

Ah yes, the infamous line about gangsters dressing normally so as to avoid standing out and being assassinated. If you don’t understand why that’s an odd thing to say, please stare long and hard at the above image. The gang’s all here: novelty hat enthusiast Guido Mista, smol boy with no maths skills Narancia, man who was only half paying attention when suits were explained to him Panacotta Fugo and the one who’s name I could never remember Abbacchio. So Guido is terrified of the anything relating to the number 4, because the character for it in Japanese is the same as the character for death. Fugo is patiently teaching Narancia multiplication until he makes a mistake, and suddenly it’s less patience and more stabbing him in the face with a fork. Uncensored too, which was a pleasant surprise. Finally Abbacchio tries to make Giorno drink piss. That’s it, that’s all he gets. It’s a good thing his stand is useful because he’s not got much going for him. Anyway the fabulous cute boy brigade is off on a rented yacht to the island of Capri, where at the behest of Polpo Bucciarati hid a ten million Lire fortune (hence the name of the episode). It’s not long into their journey however that they’re attacked by a hidden stand user who pulls Narancia and Mista into an unknown location. Abbacchio won’t use his stand in front of Giorno because he doesn’t trust him, so Giorno runs into the danger zone and reveals the assailant’s location.

I had forgotten some of the details in this episode, like the existence of the fortune and the whole piss debacle, but I remembered the introduction of Bruno’s boys and that part of the episode was excellent. Looking forward to the chemistry between them all, as well as their stands, particularly Fugo’s, but I won’t spoil anything to do with that. I didn’t remember Abbacchio being such a dick actually, I just thought he was boring and didn’t have much to do. Anyway the anime adaptation is going from strength to strength, I’m all in.

Episode 6: Moody Blues’ Counterattack

Christ, I really didn’t remember anything about Abbacchio: I thought Mista was the one who used to be a police officer, but it turns out I was wrong. I will give him this, I like him a lot more now than I did when I read the manga. The backstory of him becoming a cop, being treated like shit by the locals and then it all crumbling apart after a bribe and a dead partner fleshed him out, and his determined handling of the situation aboard the yacht made me warm to him, so top marks. His stand, Moody Blues, can pause, rewind and fast forward events to show everything that happened in a location. It’s a very specific power that isn’t as useful as being able to punch things with the strength of a tank shell and speed of a machine gun but it’s a really cool idea, and I like when Araki comes up with interesting concepts like this one. The whole episode is dedicated to Abbacchio tracking down the stand user Zucchero so Bruno can confront and incapacitate him. Turns out he was hiding in another boat deflated to the consistency of a thin film using his stand and wrapped around Bruno’s boat, which is the kind of mad genius JoJo has in spades. The episode ends with a flashback of Bruno telling Abbacchio that the result isn’t as important as the path taken to reach it, and that’ll be important later down the line, so tuck it away in the back of your mind.

A small-scale conflict given weight and made really enjoyable thanks to some quick but effective development for Abbacchio, I’m interested to see what other cool things he does that I’ve completely forgotten about. Plus there’s a certain scene in next week’s episode I’m very much looking forward to.

Episode 7: Sex Pistols Appears, Part 1

GANGSTAR DANCE. That’s the scene I was waiting for: Narancia, Fugo and Mista dancing in complete sync while torturing Zucchero by pinning his eye open with fishing line and using glasses as a magnifying glass to burn the open eye. It’s important to remember that despite being the protagonists and the good guys in this particular story, Bruno’s Boys are still hardened criminals. Anyway torturing him isn’t getting them anywhere but they do find out through the power of Moody Blues that Zucchero is due to meet his accomplice on the island of Capri in about an hour, at a certain dock, and therefore any deviation from that plan will result in suspicion and potential trouble. New plan then: Giorno and Mista form a two-man hit squad and race ashore to track down and kill Zucchero’s partner, using Mista’s stand Sex Pistols. Sex Pistols, much like Moody Blues, is really useful but only in certain specific situations. It’s six tiny beings that control and move bullets fired from Mista’s revolver mid-air and guide them towards targets, so only of any use as long as Mista has his gun handy. That’s his whole deal though, so fortunately it isn’t an issue. What is an issue is that Zucchero’s partner escapes in a truck after being tagged in the leg, with Mista and Giorno in hot pursuit as Part 1 ends. Not a whole lot to say about this as it’s the first half of a two parter, but Sex Pistols look good, they’re as beautifully drawn and animated as everything else, and the content used to fill this first half is well chosen, with the cliffhanger working well.

Episode 8: Sex Pistols Appears, Part 2

Well, I say hot pursuit: Giorno’s lagging behind and is still hanging around the marina by the end of the episode, insisting on a ride to the top of the island from the very lorry driver who’s just come back with Mista and the body of Zucchero’s partner. Bad show, that. DIO wouldn’t have done that, DIO would have been after him. Anyway, really good episode together with the first half, and definitely the best Stand fight so far. Mista’s power of a revolver combined with targeting creatures versus a man with the ability to affix objects in mid-air, meaning he can stop bullets before they get deep enough into his body to kill him. I love Mista’s backstory too; he lived a happy life enjoying simple, easy to come by pleasures, then one night after saving a woman being beaten and raped three gangsters tried to kill him, somehow missing literally every shot. Mista killed them all, then decided to do that more often I guess because it’s his job now. It fits Mista’s role as one of the more eccentric members of the gang, and just goes to show how useful Sex Pistols is to him given his penchant for gunfighting. Most of the episode is Zucchero’s partner and Mista fighting on top of the lorry until Mista finally manages to have Sex Pistols split a bullet in half and send one of those halves careening into a bullet already lodged in the partner’s head, driving him to the very edge of death. Good episode like I said, the show’s currently going from strength to strength, and I’m really enjoying re-experiencing Vento Aureo, having found a new appreciation for it in this adaptation.

Episode 9: The First Mission From The Boss

Now we’re onto the meat of Vento Aureo: Bruno’s gang escorting and protecting Trish Una, daughter of the mysterious Passione Boss, from a cabal of traitors out to squeeze information out of her that might lead to her Father’s overthrow and death. They included that cool one-off shot of the boss wearing a suit, which I like. I’m a big fan of his actually, but obviously I won’t say anymore about him at this point. Trish is introduced as physically capable and expecting to be waited on hand and foot, which does make sense given that she’s supposed to be in hiding actually, now that I think about it. Bucciarati is now a capo, taking over Polpo’s turf and being entrusted with this important mission to keep Trish safe, which he immediately sets about doing: holding up in a safe house and sending Narancia out shopping, with Fugo providing complicated instructions to avoid being tailed. Doesn’t work though, obviously, because one of the traitors tracks him down: a man with a stand called “Little Feet” that lets him shrink himself and other people. Narancia counters with his own stand Aerosmith; a tiny plane armed with real bullets and bombs, but despite its vast destructive power and Little Feet’s user being trapped in a car, he manages to escape and ends the episode figuring out that Trish is with Bruno and hiding himself away in Narancia’s clothes. I would comment on how things are speeding up now that the main plot device has been revealed but the show’s been moving at a good pace anyway, and I remember the manga seeming quite short compared to other parts. Anyway you may well be bored of me saying this now but it’s still really bloody good and I have no complaints about the show going forward.

Episode 10: Hitman Team

The recap’s reminded me that Little Feet’s user is called Formaggio, continuing Araki’s naming convention of just grabbing Italian words related to food, see also Zucchero and Panacotta Fugo. Anyway, my bad for missing it. Formaggio is part of the titular Hitman Team, lead by a man who, if I’m recognising him correctly from the manga, has one of the most brutal and efficient killing stands in the entire series. It’s called Metallica, if you want to look into it yourself, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Formaggio gets to show off how his Stand helps him with his work as an assassin; shrinking a car down, dropping it in his target’s drink and expanding it in his stomach, ripping him a part from the inside. It’s certainly a novel way to kill someone, and I don’t remember that from the manga. There’s an expanded scene detailing how two members of the team, who I think were just implied to be together in the manga but are explicitly a couple here, ran afoul of the Boss after trying to learn his identity. One of them, Sorbet, was sliced into pieces feet first while he was still alive, causing his boyfriend Gelato to choke on his own gag in despair. The pieces of Sorbet were sent to the Hitman Team as a warning to stop digging and unsurprisingly it worked. At least it did until they found out about Trish and for some reason thought that a man who’d have one of his own subordinates dismembered alive is worth messing with now that his daughter is involved. Anyway Formaggio is waiting for Narancia to fully shrink after he was slashed by Little Feet, something it takes a little while for the latter to realise, at first thinking someone replaced his shoe, switchblade and car with bigger versions somehow when he wasn’t looking, bless him. He manages to gain the upper hand for a while thanks to Aerosmith’s ability to track targets via their breathing, but the episode ends with Formaggio surviving a salvo of bullets by returning to normal size just as Narancia shrinks to a tiny height, greatly weakening Aerosmith’s power. I’m glad they expanded on the Hitman Team a bit more, didn’t shy away from showing Sorbet and Gelato’s fates, and made them explicitly a couple, that was nice. It’s surprising how infrequently queer characters pop up in a series so fabulous and homoerotic. The only other ones I can think of are DIO and a character in Part 6 I won’t name for spoiler reasons. I mean, there are characters who you could argue are queer, like I personally believe the only reason Holly Joestar even exists is because Caesar Zeppeli died, but this is the first time I remember there being an actual gay couple, and even then it’s only in this version of it. So good work, David Production.

Episode 11: Narancia’s Aerosmith

Speaking of novel ways to kill someone: shrinking them down and trapping them in a glass bottle with a normal sized spider that’ll then do what spiders do (shudder). I like how in Narancia’s backstory Fugo’s wearing a normal suit with a shirt. Somewhere along the way he lost all concept of what suits look like, to his benefit. Narancia finally manages to regain his normal size and beat Formaggio through the medium of causing explosions and starting fires. I’ve enjoyed this fight between the two and showcasing Aerosmith’s abilities, I’d put it above Abbacchio and Bruno vs Zucchero but below Mista vs Zucchero’s partner. They’ve all been good so far though: the show has balanced backstory and character interaction with showcasing stand abilities and fights really well. The only one left is Fugo’s stand, who gets a look in when Fugo, Abbacchio and Giorno travel to Pompeii to retrieve a key to a supposedly safe vehicle, and won’t you be surprised when you find out what that vehicle is, because it is not what you’re expecting, I guarantee it. I must say I’m pleasantly surprised at how good an adaptation of Vento Aureo David Production has made. Not that I would ever doubt the company, 1-4 were all superb and they clearly have a real love and passion for JoJo as a series, but I’m enjoying watching Part 5 more than I enjoyed reading it, and seeing them in action has made me warm to Bruno’s gang all the more. I’ve seen people say that Vento Aureo is the best JoJo instalment, but I always thought it was a bit too similar to Stardust Crusaders, and found it to be good but not great. But I’ve found a new appreciation for it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it through to the end. Diamond is Unbreakable is still my favourite, but I’m digging Vento Aureo. Can’t wait for the Boss to finally show his face, he’s the one aspect I’ve always liked. Well, him and his stand.

Episode 12: The Second Mission From The Boss

And so Bruno’s gang’s stands are rounded off with the reveal of Fugo’s Purple Haze: armed with an explosively violent temper, a burning desire to be clean, and a virus that makes living beings gorily melt. Again, uncensored like the fork-to-face stabbing back in episode 5. Excellent. This is a really strong Stand introduction with an unusual spin on the formula that works in service of what the Stand represents and how it works. We learn in narrated flashbacks that Panacotta Fugo is highly intelligent and from a rich family, he entered university at age 13 but was kicked out when he brutally beat a paedophile teacher to death with a heavy book. His parents disowned him, he scraped by on the street and then Bruno found him and made him the first member of his team. See Fugo has had bouts of intense, violent rage since childhood that he struggles to control, and that’s what his Stand, Purple Haze, represents. Upon arriving at Pompeii the trio are separated, with Fugo pulled into a mirror world by Stand user Illuso and “Man in the Mirror”, with a cool effect where Giorno and Abbacchio disintegrate that’s reminiscent of Darkest Dungeon’s Colour of Madness DLC. He calls out Purple Haze to defend himself but he appears outside the mirror in the real world, and Abbacchio is terrified. Purple Haze is foaming at the mouth with incandescent rage and attacks in a seemingly random, disorganised pattern, its fists covered in capsules containing the aforementioned virus that infects in thirty seconds and kills instantly, as it does to two poor, passing crows. Getting anywhere near it spells death, and Fugo isn’t around to control it. The episode ends with Purple Haze destroying the mirror as a message from Fugo, just as Illuso launches an attack and Giorno insists on staying to help Fugo, while Abbacchio is determined to find the key and leave.

This was a great episode. As stand reveals go this is easily the best one of this part far, and I’d rank it highly among the series as a whole. It’s a cool stand, its powers are a fine example of JoJo’s penchant for ultra-violent nightmare fuel, and the episode was an excellent balance of that, backstory and setting up conflict in the present. Also there’s a bit where Giorno is trying to figure out what’s up with the mirror, and starts rubbing his head along the back of it. It’s adorable.

Episode 13: Man in the Mirror and Purple Haze

In which we get to see first hand (no pun intended) what happens to flesh when it comes in contact with Purple Haze’s virus: it melts, again in an uncensored fashion; maybe they realised that putting big shadows over everything looked really dumb. Abbacchio briefly gets the upper hand against Illuso and demonstrates that Moody Blues is far more capable of kicking the shit out of people than I remembered. Illuso gets the better of him though, with a cool effect where both Leone and Moody Blues are half in and half out of the mirror world, and so combine into one being, split down the middle like Two Face. Abbacchio cuts his hand off in order to get the key back to Giorno, which again I don’t remember because apparently I’ve blanked out nearly everything he does, but it’s seemingly all for nought when Giorno gets sucked into the mirror world too. OR IS IT? No, of course it’s not, he has an elaborate JoJo plan. This one involves purposefully becoming infected with the Purple Haze virus to pass it on to Illuso, who strips the flesh from his hand (which slops to the ground in a heap) and escapes. But Purple Haze corners him back outside and goes ballistic on him, and Giorno uses Gold Experience to craft an antidote out of an immune snake made from a brick covered in the virus. I appreciate them getting good use out of Gold Experience’s unusual powers, which despite being less immediately useful than say, Star Platinum and Crazy Diamond, has its own benefits that show off just how smart Giorno is and how well he knows his stand. Good episode, all action really to tie up what was started last week. Purple Haze is still really cool, Giorno’s great, Abbacchio’s still really handsome, roll on next week.

So as it turns out, the next episode was a recap, so I didn’t write about it. Normal service resumes in 3…



Episode 14: Express Train to Florence

Oh man I forgot about how weird Grateful Dead looks. A humanoid body covered with eyes that walks around on its hand and has a bunch of tendrils where its legs should be. Anyway having obtained the key Bruno’s crew board a train to Florence with the eventual goal of terminating their escort (as in stop doing it, not kill Trish) in Venice. They’re pursued onto the train by two Execution Team members; Prosciutto and Pesci, but manage to escape thanks to a Tortoise that happens to have a big key shaped hole on its back. Now the subtitles call it a Turtle, which is apparently what Americans call every member of this genus apart from a certain type, but in England we call the ones that have feet and live on land Tortoises and the ones that live in water Turtles. So in order to avoid potential confusion I will be referring to the Turtletoise by its name: Coco Jumbo. Turns out Coco Jumbo has a Stand called Mr President that takes the form of a Hammerspace room that can accommodate every member of the crew. Fortunately that won’t be enough given how Prosciutto’s stand Grateful Dead works: it uses a gas to make people old. Granted that does sound weird, but hey, old age kills people, and how could anyone possible trace it back to him? As assassination tools go it’s a good one. After Giorno explains that Grateful Dead is picking its targets by their body temperature, and Bruno and Mista the only remaining escorts, the former sends the latter out to kill Prosciutto. The episode ends with him being caught by Pesci’s Beach Boy, which is a fishing rod that can go through walls and ensnare people, in this instance ending up under Mista’s skin.

Overall good episode. I was surprised at how quickly it moved; I knew episode 15 was called Grateful Dead going in so I thought that episode would be the conflict while this one was settling in with Coco Jumbo, but it’s moving at a good pace. I thought the animation style looked slightly different, and worse, during the opening scene but then it went back to normal. Good body horror with the tooth dangling from Narancia’s mouth on a strand of bloody saliva, he really got it hard in contrast to Giorno, Abbacchio and Fugo. Speaking of Abbacchio I like how his hand is re-attached by one of Sticky Fingers’ zips, signalling the start of the impromptu, unconventional healing methods in Part 5, because you have to be inventive when you don’t have Crazy Diamond. Mobsters on an escort mission, getting wounded as is an expected part of their lives, having to patch themselves up and they happen to have super powered assistance but not dedicated healing, because that’d be too easy.

Episode 15: The Grateful Dead Part 1

In which Mista and Bucciarati take the spotlight back. Even when I wasn’t so hot on Vento Aureo I liked Mista, and I like him even more now. For some reason him using a regular revolver augmented by a stand that guides the bullets is infinitely cooler than Hol Horse’s stand of a spectral revolver he can conjure at will. I don’t like Hol Horse anyway though so that probably adds to it. Also this is the episode where Mista reloads his revolver by holding it open and dropping six bullets out of his hat that all land in the chambers, which will never not be cool. Anyway Mista deals with Pesci easily enough, sending Sex Pistols in to destroy his supply of ice. Just as I was wondering why he didn’t shoot Pesci himself he blows off his pinky and puts a big hole in his palm, then threatens to shoot him in both eyes if he doesn’t tell him where Prosciutto is. Turns out he’s used Grateful Dead to age himself and blend in, and after making direct contact with Mista to rapidly age him, seemingly kills him with three headshots. Now at this point I knew that Mista survived, but had no idea how given that three bullets enter his head and result in a big pool of blood forming around it. But, easily explained: Sex Pistol #5 stopped them. Good stuff. Interestingly Grateful Dead also ages Sex Pistols themselves, and Number 5 only resists it thanks to the ice in Mista’s cap. He sends 6 back to warn Bucciarati, who puts up a fierce, lightning fast fight with Prosciutto and Grateful Dead, stopping briefly to thwart Pesci’s entry into Coco Jumbo’s Hammerspace room with an excellent kick in the chops. Unfortunately he loses the upper hand because his over exertion causes his body temperature to rise and accelerate the ageing process, but goes for a drastic measure by unzipping a big hole in the train and moving to throw himself and Prosciutto out as the episode ends.

It’s interesting watching the crew deal with a unique threat like Grateful Dead, and it’s good to see them go on the offensive now that they’ve figured out the temperature angle. Good episode, shows what kind of person Bucciarati is.

Sorry for the (checks) wow, six episode deficit in this article. I’ve got some stuff I’m working through and my motivation to actually do things can easily be squashed. But I’m doing these six now, and from then on I’m determined to get them out once a week. Thank you for your patience.

Episode 16: The Grateful Dead Part 2

Jotaro was a goddamn wimp, he only stopped his heart temporarily to fake his death while fighting DIO. Bucciarati temporarily cuts his heart in half after splitting his body into several pieces to avoid Pesci’s Beach Boy fishing rod. I’m getting ahead of myself though, for now Bruno and Prosciutto are hanging off the side of the train, and just as it looks like the former is heading for a fall, he manages to gain the upper hand and knock Prosciutto off, who ends up a bloody mess, crumbled in a heap under the train, missing an arm and close to death. This is after he sincerely apologises to Bucciarati for being rude and underestimating him as a capo; he’s one of those old timey assassins with honour despite relying on magic powers that age people to death. With him out of commission, but not Grateful Dead, it’s a battle of wits between Bucciarati and Pesci, who suddenly finds new resolve and becomes a cold-hearted badass, doing everything he can to find and rip out Bruno’s heart, hence the aforementioned splitting himself into pieces, to show his own resolve. It ends with him seemingly about to do so before Sticky Fingers brutally cracks Pesci’s neck with the line and then bloodily splits him into pieces when he threatens to murder Coco Jumbo on his way out. Bucciarati kills him in style with his own “Ora Ora Ora”: “ARI ARI ARI ARI ARI ARI Arrivederci”. The episode ends with the reveal that Trish is a stand user and wants answers, and another Hitman Team member, Melone, has picked up the trail of the now departed Bucciarati Crew.

Good episode, fine conclusion to both the train conflict and Bruno’s little mini-arc showing just how suited he is to being a capo. Lovely little battle of resolve between him and Pesci, the latter of which has his own little arc from bumbler requiring constant reassurance from his bro to cold-hearted killer (though it’s amusing that his first kill that he’s surprised doesn’t bother him is stepping on the neck of an old man on the verge of death). Good stuff.

Episode 17: Babyface

Melone has one of the more unusual stands in the series, and that’s saying something. The titular Babyface is a computer that uses the blood sample he got of Bucciarati and the characteristics of a woman he happens upon to birth a “baby” called Junior that turns living people into inanimate objects; splitting them into squares one at a time or all at once. There are some obviously rather creepy implications with its creation that the show leans into involving both the woman and Leone, that add to the sense of unsettlement and at times outright horror that JoJo dips into now and then. Let’s not forget the series started off as a Vampire story, and Part 4 was about a serial killer. The episode shows off an evolution in Giorno’s stand Gold Experience; it can do the exact opposite of Junior and turn inanimate objects into living flesh, which Giorno uses to replace his eye, a chunk of his foot and a chunk of his throat all removed by Junior. It’s not as quick and clean as Crazy Diamond, but it’s still healing, it can be used on Giorno himself, and it’s yet another example of how clever and creative JoJo can be. Also Giorno solves the issue of stealing a car attracting attention by turning an entire carpark’s worth into frogs that will all eventually turn into ruined cars in all different places as cover for the one they actually intend to steal. He’s a crafty one, that Giovanna. All in all a neat little self-contained episode with a creepy, interesting stand being countered by Giorno learning more about his own stand and defeating it in style; by turning his severed hand into a piranha and having it tear through Junior. I dig it.

Episode 18: Head to Venice!

In another scene new for the anime we get a look at Risotto’s stand in action, making nails (as in the kind you hammer) spring forth from someone’s hand, and destroying his left eye off-screen. For those of you who don’t want any more information than that, skip to the next paragraph. Still here? Metallica turns the iron in people’s blood into metal objects, like scissors and razor blades. It’s a brutal, effective killing technique and ideal for the head of the Hitman Team.

Anyway, onto the story at hand. Turns out Junior still had some fight left in him but not to worry, Giorno tricks him into taking a severed hand into himself which turns out to be a motorbike, which then explodes. He then takes Junior’s burned corpse and turns it into a snake that returns to Melone and kills him just as he’s making rapey eyes at another potential “mother” to a Junior. Giorno doesn’t mess around. For a stand that creates life Gold Experience sure is good at taking it. Bucciarati is instructed to have Abbacchio use Moody Blues to obtain their final order from Capo Mr Pericolo: go the Lion statue in a photo he was holding at the time and find a disc with instructions on how to hand Trish over. Then he shoots himself, to tie up loose ends and prevent any evidence from getting out. Speaking of handing over Trish, we get our first look at the Boss, again in a scene unique to the anime, sitting in a robe that obscures his face, as he thinks out loud about having his daughter brought to him. The meat of the episode is Mista and Giorno dealing with Ghiaccio; a member of the Hitman Team whose Stand “White Album” lets him freeze objects to -100 degrees centigrade, and cover himself in bulletproof ice armour that comes equipped with handy-dandy built in skis. Also he gets really angry about trivial things, because he’s a hot head with cold powers, get it? Having perched himself on top of the car Giorno is driving and frozen both him and Mista to an almost helpless degree, Mista realises a way out; fire bullets into Ghiaccio’s armour, and use the heat generated by them to turn them into tree roots that burst into life and knock the hitman off. He even calls out “GOLD EXPERIENCE!” beacuse Giorno can’t, which raises an interesting question about who can and can’t summon Stands, adding to the existing question of how exactly they’re summoned and why characters shout their names when it’s been shown to not be a requirement. Anyway the episode ends with Girono barrelling towards the water as Gold Experience’s hands and one of Mista’s forearms are frozen and in danger of being shattered.

This was a fine episode; I liked Melone being conclusively done in and it’s nice to see Mista have things to do because I’m a big fan of him, but I’m not a big fan of Ghiaccio. I do like how Giorno and Mista (mainly Mista, admittedly) work to overcome White Album’s powers, but as a villain he’s weak compared to Prosciutto, Pesci and Melone. Still, overall I enjoyed the episode.

Episode 19: White Album

HOLY SHIT that shot of Mista’s torn off skin stuck to the car with ice. Him losing a finger wasn’t so bad but that was brutal, Christ. Also Giorno’s arm going all Green Room when he smacks it on the concrete was pretty rough. Now, of this entire encounter the only part I remembered from the manga was the ending, where Giorno is patching up Mista and it’s misconstrued as sexual by an arriving Narancia. I did not remember that Ghiaccio is beaten by an elaborate plan involving Mista firing off about fifty bullets that all ricochet back into his own body so he can splatter blood onto Ghiaccio’s face and then knock him back into a spike that pierces his throat, but then Mista collapses and Giorno has to brutally finish Ghiaccio off with a MUDA MUDA MUDA. It’s one of those JoJo fights where things get increasingly dire as the enemy stand, despite having quite specific powers, is so adaptable because Araki is a mad genius, so after trying and trying the end result is something no normal person would come up with, much less in seconds, critically injured and facing an assassin with magic powers. Hats off to Part 5 for growing on me to such a degree. My favourite is still Diamond is Unbreakable but Vento Aureo is excellent. Finally there’s an after credits scene in which the boss curses Risotto for coming after him, drops his robe and is suddenly gone, and the roses on his windowsill have fallen. That’s odd what could that mean? Well, stick around and you’ll find out.

This was a better episode than the previous one, mainly because it dedicated time to showing off exactly what the armour form of White Album is capable of and how effective it is in a stand-up fight, and for having Mista and Giorno both bellowing about resolve in their heads while causing grievous injuries to themselves. Also Mista rides a snowboard made of frozen grass. I love this show so much.

Episode 20: The Final Mission From The Boss

Here we are, folks, the moment people who’ve read the manga have been waiting for since this season began: the coolest looking, and my personal second favourite, Stand, with awesome powers that have been baffling fans for years: KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING CRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON! HOW DOES IT WORK? FUCK YOU, THAT’S HOW. I kid, I kid, it’s actually quite simple really, but I’ll get to that another time. For now it’s time for Bucciarati’s backstory. As a boy his parents divorced and he chose to live with his Fisherman Dad over his pushy “You like me best, right?” Mum. To try and and make more money to send Bruno to a good school, Mr Bucciarati started taking tourists out to fish, and unfortunately a pair of those tourists turned out to be gangsters who got Bruno’s Dad shot seven times after he witnessed a drug deal. They came to finish the job but twelve year old Bruno brutally murdered them both with a knife, and realising that the whole thing was doomed to escalate and snowball, joined Passione and worked for them in exchange for protection. As he grew up he hated anything to do with the drugs that had caused his father to be attacked, and discovered to his dismay that the boss of Passione, whom Bruno thought of as a man of true justice, was involved. Fast forward to the present day: Bruno takes Trish up to the top of a tower alone, and on the way up suddenly finds himself clutching her severed hand, with a big hole having formed in the roof of the lift. That’s a mite suspicious, and Bucciarati deduces that the Boss had him bring Trish her to kill her himself, something that Bruno isn’t into at all. He gets out ahead of the Boss and prepares to strike… only to be completely outclassed and ending up with a massive hole in his chest for his troubles. This is King Crimson, who looks fantastic, especially when framed against the shadowy Boss, and in the Boss’ words: “I erased time and lept past it.” Uh-oh, that doesn’t bode well. I have some things to say about King Crimson, but I’ll save them for when he’s been on screen longer and more of him has been shown off. Anyway this episode was exquisite; from the slow, ominous build up of the crew arriving at the tower and Bruno’s accent, to the short and concise backstory providing weight to his cry of further betrayal everything was framing a reveal I’ve been literally waiting years for. I’m really happy with how it turned out; they got the look right, they showed off his power in a way that leaves him mysterious but shows off how dangerous he is, and they did that thing where the credits roll while events are still playing out, like the episode where DIO drinks Joseph Joestar’s blood. I love when they do that. Great episode, King Crimson is here, get hype.

Episode 21: The Mystery of King Crimson

Hoo boy. King Crimson eh? What a banger. My second favourite Stand after Killer Queen, but I think he has the best design and possibly the coolest powers, definitely up there anyway. So as is tradition for JoJo villains with Stands, King Crimson has time powers. The show actually does a really good job of both showing and telling you about them; those scenes of KC actually standing around in a void observing events and reacting are new. Basically King Crimson sees up to ten seconds into the future, decides on a course of action in response to events and then instantly makes them happen; it’s a time skip from A to B, no one realises what’s happened except for the Boss. There’s a wonderful scene at the start of the episode showing the rest of the crew outside experiencing the time skips as stranger and stranger things happen until Giorno realises they’re in trouble. I can’t say too much about King Crimson for spoiler reasons but he and the Boss are great villains with quite an extreme personality, they’re basically unique in JoJo in how they operate, the only similarities being to Kira and his desire for a quiet life, but to a far more drastic extent. By the way that’s why the Boss suddenly disappeared and the roses fell during that post-credit sequence in episode 19. So King Crimson can skip time, and that goes about as well as you’d expect for Bucciarati, who on top of receiving a massive hole in the chest also has KC chop into his shoulder and leave a huge, life-threatening gash in his chest. Were it not for sheer, Guts-style willpower he’d be dead already. He actually manages to fight back quite effectively with that cunning he’s been displaying in all his fights, and finally manages to reach Giorno only to die. Giorno revives him, but it’s clear something isn’t right when he impales his hand and not only doesn’t seem to notice, it doesn’t bleed at all. So Bucciarati is back from the dead with all his mental faculties, but he’s got some issues physically. I really like that approach to enemy encounters actually: both Bruno and a caption at the end of the episode refer to King Crimson as being “Invincible”, so they actually go the distance and have him kill Bucciarati. He didn’t win, he barely managed to escape after being revived. He has no idea how to counter the time skip and really just needs to get as far away from the Boss as possible. Unlike with DIO there’s no frozen time to move in, no matter your abilities; King Crimson makes that time cease to exist, it really is just a skip from A to B, and how do you counter that? That’s a question for another time however, because right now there’s a choice to be made: go with Bucciarati and be a traitor to Passione, hunted and denied safe haven for the rest of their lives? Or stay here and abandon a man of great personal importance to them all, who took them in and made them who they are today? Everyone but Fugo goes on the boat, though Narancia takes a little while, leaping into the water and swimming after the boat after realising and articulating in a crude, charming way that he and Trish are a lot alike, and that he wants to help her. It’s touching, and a powerful, hopeful end to a harrowing encounter with hands down the most powerful stand in the entire show thus far, across every part.

This and the previous episode are easily the best Part 5 has been so far. The suspense, the character drama, the outstanding reveal and depiction of one of the coolest stands in the series: it’s outstanding. Brilliant work, David Production, you absolutely nailed it.

Right then, that’s JoJo all caught up with. Next week seems to be a plot recap and if it is I’ll be skipping it like last time, but I’ll see you back here with the next proper episode, in good time. I can’t wait.

UPDATE: It was a recap episode, so I skipped it.

Episode 22: The “G” in Guts

Ooh, a new OP. “Traitor’s Requiem”, huh? That’s neat, I get that reference. Christ, this new OP sure does have a lot of spoilers in it. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. Remember End of THE WORLD and all the neat little references peppered throughout but that were slightly hidden? Remember Bloody Stream, which referenced Caesar’s death if you knew what to look for? Of course, they’d already set a precedent with this by having Sono Chi No Sadame, which recaps the first three episodes of Part 1 debut before the end of those episodes. If there’s one thing that David Production has a problem with it’s when to debut new openings; the most egregious one for me was Chase, which showed Josuke pursuing Kosaku Kawajiri before Yoshikage Kira had even been formally introduced. Not since then has a JoJo OP been more blatant about spoilers than Traitor’s Requiem, which spoils characters, stands and major plot reveals, including arguably the most important one of all, as well as a veiled reference to the ending. I cannot believe some of the stuff that’s in there. Having said that there are parts of the OP I like a lot; a rundown of everything that’s lead up to the gang becoming traitors, the few hints at future events that are just hints (that I won’t spoil) and my boy Doppio looking great. People who haven’t read the manga shouldn’t even know who Doppio is yet but there he is. Anyway, onto the episode itself. Having moved on from their harrowing experience at the hands of a time-deleting prog band Bucciarati’s crew stop at a water-side restaurant to feed Sex Pistols and take a break. Trish reveals that her Mother gave her a crucial piece of information: she met the Boss in Sardinia. Finally, a lead. While at the restaurant they’re set upon by two of the Boss’ elite guards; Tiziano and Squalo and their stands Talking Head and Clash. Clash leads the charge; it’s a shark that teleports between liquids, regardless of what and where they are, and uses that power to hide in Narancia’s soup and bite off a piece of his tongue. That paves the way for Talking Head, who hides in Narancia’s mouth and makes him say the exact opposite of what he means. There’s a whole fuss and to do with Narancia leading the gang back and forth, Giorno has to give him an emergency tracheotomy, it’s a mess. Finally, just as Giorno works out that Narancia being in distress and constantly contradicting himself is a sign that he’s under attack (and guesses the exact nature of said attack) Clash appears and bites into his neck.

I’d seen a meme going around about Narancia and Mista kicking the shit out of some guy while Abbacchio calmly watches and drinks wine, then suddenly it cuts and he’s also kicking the poor bastard. That was a real highlight, it’s hilarious. The art style was a bit all over the place this week; sometimes it was really sharp and detailed, sometimes it was vague and bland, sometimes the characters had strange proportions and features. It wasn’t a big deal but there were times when it was really noticeable, particularly on Bucciarati and Giorno. Apart from that, good episode. Nice eerie horror tone when Clash is around, managed to get quite a bit of drama out of a small-scale event and of course Giorno figures it out, because that’s what Giorno does. Finally there’s a new ED, “Modern Crusaders”, which is pretty good, but my main takeaway was that the title acknowledges the similarities between this and Part 3.

Episode 23: Clash and Talking Head 

VOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAAAAA! Volare via. So everyone else is off doing bugger all, and it’s up to Narancia and a rapidly fading Giorno to solve this thing. I’d just like to point out that Tiziano and Squalo are clearly a couple and that makes the second one this series, which is great. Tiziano’s gorgeous, good for Squalo. Anyway Narancia manages to temporarily gain the upper hand against Clash, and manages to tag him several times before being lured into a trap that causes a really ineffectual explosion. Talking Head is still useful but it’s a very situational stand, and therefore Clash has to do most of the heavy lifting vis a vis fighting off Narancia and trying to kidnap and murder Giorno, whose body Clash can shrink alongside itself. It all comes to a head when Narancia ventures out into the streets to attack Tiziano and Squalo directly, baiting them into revealing themselves by cutting out his own tongue with Talking Head still attached to it, and using a replacement from Giorno to declare that he’s found them both. He fills Tiziano full of holes, and when Squalo seemingly ends the conflict by having Clash burrow into Narancia’s neck, the latter just no-sells it and blows Squalo away, with his “Volare via” cry. With the two elite guards dead, Bucciarati’s crew head for the airport, where they’ll take a plane to Sardinia.

I realised this at the time but didn’t comment on it; Modern Crusaders has bits of O Fortuna in it. I’ve been listening to the full song and it also has a bit of Bach’s Toccato and Fugo in D Minor (the famous organ one) in it. It’s good anyway, I like it. Good episode overall, nice ending to the set-up last week and another chance for Narancia to show off his skills. Next week’s episode is going to be particularly interesting, so stay tuned for that.

Episode 24: Notorious B.I.G

I love it when JoJo does horror. It has a strong pedigree in that genre of course, but as the parts go on it becomes less of a focus. King Crimson brought it back with a bang, and now we have Notorious B.I.G (or as Giorno calls it “Notorious Big”), an amorphous blob of flesh that activates when its user dies and tirelessly tracks down anything that moves. Didn’t you just know that putting down Carne was too easy? After boarding a jet and beginning the flight to Sardinia using a combination of Moody Blues and autopilot, everything’s coming up Milhouse for once. Sure an odd looking man with a stand approached them and was promptly gunned down, but that’s par for the course at this point. But then fingers show up in a freezer, and the aforementioned amorphous blob incapacitates Mista and Narancia. Giorno loses an arm, then slices the other off with a shard of broken glass in order to throw B.I.G out the plane, and can I just say that the anime is reminding me what an indomitable badass the son of DIO really is. With no hands, Giorno can’t use Gold Experience, so he’s out for good. Now it’s just Bucciarati and Trish in the main body of the plane, solemnly travelling to The Fox’s Trail in Sardinia, where Trish’s parents apparently met. Unfortunately, B.I.G’s programming allows it to catch up with the plane, because it prioritises whatever’s moving the fastest. The episode ends with Trish seeing that Giorno turned his brooch into a replacement arm, and she plans to protect it from B.I.G and get Giorno back into the fight.

Like I said last week in anticipation, this is a really interesting episode. A stand that activates upon its user’s death and goes after movement is a unique threat, and clearly a dangerous one given that three of the crew are out for the count and one of them has no arms. Giorno’s commitment to the cause at the expense of his own safety is a sight to behold, and I like Trish getting more involved by the end of the episode. Also I like Bucciarati cradling a passed out Giorno; it just shows how far they’ve come since their initial clash. Good episode.

Episode 25: Spice Girl

Okay, as copyright-friendly renames for Stands go, Spicy Lady is a good one. Trish commits herself to recovering Giorno’s developing new hand, but she runs afoul of the increasingly dangerous Notorious B.I.G. Fortunately her Stand takes this moment to make herself known and get Trish out of a jam with her odd power of softening things. In practical terms Trish can make any object soft and rubbery, which makes it effectively unbreakable, and she can melt apart objects to travel through them. Spice Girl puts it best: “Making things softer… means they become harder to break than diamonds!” You could say that Diamond is Unbreakable, hehe. Spice Girl is unique among stands in that she can and does vocally address Trish as an equal, with a mind of her own that springs forth advice and encouragement. The only Stand I can think of that’s similar is Red Hot Chilli Pepper, but he was just a an instrument through which his user spoke. Spice Girl also picks her own name, which was unexpected. I’ve always had the impression that now Stands aren’t linked to fortune tellers and they’ve run out of Tarot cards, people are just naming them after bands they like. Spice Girl tells Trish that “I am you”, so maybe that’s what Trish subconsciously named her. Anyway, Spice Girl seemingly defeats B.I.G by ruthlessly dismantling it with a pole, but it comes back bigger, stronger and reminiscent of William Birkin’s final form from the Resi 2 remake. Turns out B.I.G is literally invincible, and the best they can hope for is dropping it in the sea, where it chases after waves forever and the occasional passing ship. Horrible, meat moss crisis averted, cool new powers gained, it’s off to Sardinia. The episode ends with what I’m pretty sure is a new scene in which the boss angrily monologues about a photograph that Trish has seen for every day of her life; one that could easily lead to Bucciarati seeing his face. He sets off for Sardinia after baffling a cleaning lady with King Crimson’s super cleaning up powers. I like this scene showing off the boss’ mental state when it comes to removing every last shred of evidence that could be used to identify, but at the same time I don’t want them to show him off too much. I’m glad they’re blatantly obscuring his face anyway, and I always enjoy seeing King Crimson. Overall a good episode: I’d forgotten everything about Spice Girl other than her powers so re-learning her personality and ability to independently speak to Trish was really cool. I liked Trish taking the lead and being an equal member of the gang. She has been ever since she got on that boat (EDIT: just been reminded she was placed onto the boat because she was unconscious. A better way to put it would be: she has been ever since she wasn’t killed by her Father), but she’s growing into the role. Good conclusion to the B.I.G story, looking forward to Doppio next episode.

Episode 26: A Little Story From The Past ~My Name Is Doppio~

Turns out that scene with the Boss in a hotel room isn’t new for the anime, so my bad. It’s been years since I read Vento Aureo and clearly I don’t remember it as well as I thought I did. Having double checked, this episode is all in the manga, but the opening flashback scene occurs much later. If I don’t re-read the manga before the anime ends I definitely will once it has. Anyway, back in 1965 an ominous looking baby with pink hair was born to a woman in prison, having apparently been sired two years prior to a now dead Father. The boy is raised in Sardinia by a priest, and everything is peachy until said Priest uncovers the boy’s mother, hidden under a concrete floor with her mouth stitched shut. How she’s alive and how long she’s been there is unclear, but it’s rendered moot when the boy burns down the village and is pronounced dead. Back in the present, a young man with excellent dress sense and suspiciously pink hair is in Sardinia on a mission from the Boss: to get to the location in the photo from last episode before Bucciarati’s crew does. His name is Doppio, and I love him. Now I thought that this was kept hidden until later in the story, but clearly I was wrong so let’s get into it: Doppio and the Boss share a body. Friendly, goofy Doppio goes out in public to do legwork, communicates with the Boss by thinking that various objects are actually ringing phones (he makes the ringing noise himself) and if anyone ever threatens him the Boss takes over and enacts violence upon them. It’s a fascinating set up and ties into the Boss’ extreme desire to be unknown to and unseen by literally everyone. First he King Crimsons a fortune teller who can tell that Doppio is apparently looking for his fifteen year old daughter and has multiple personalities, then he sticks his finger behind the eye of a cab driver who’s trying to overcharge Doppio and in the process, nearly sees the photograph. Finally he encounters Risotto Nero, leader and sole remaining member of the Hitman Team, who mistakes the cowering Doppio for a civilian after he faceplants into a rock and shows genuine fear. Unfortunately Doppio vocally remembers the Boss’ orders to get within two meters of Risotto and reacts to the presence of a scouting Aerosmith, revealing that he’s a Stand user. I described Risotto’s horrifying Stand power it in an earlier episode, but here we get to see it in its full glory: turning the iron in people’s blood into metal objects. For Doppio it’s pins impaling his cheeks from the inside and chucking up a throat full of blood-soaked razor blades. Risotto vanishes, presumably to avoid Aerosmith, and the episode ends with the Boss talking to Doppio via frog-phone, bestowing him a portion of King Crimson’s power and reminding him to get within two meters of Risotto.

This was a great episode. Anything pertaining to the Boss and King Crimson will always be a stand-out for me, they’re easily my favourite things about Vento Aureo. I love Doppio and how he ties into them also, that weird mix of goofy humour, determination to do right by the Boss and the physical transformation he can undergo. The idea that in order to keep his identity hidden the Boss goes around disguised as an innocent young man who thinks a frog is a phone is one of those weird things JoJo does so well; that mix of comedy, darkness, violence and, yes, the bizarre. Good stuff, looking forward to the showdown with Risotto next episode.

Episode 27: King Crimson vs. Metallica

Goddamn, this adaptation is seriously threatening to make the Passione boss my favourite JoJo villain. Currently it’s Yoshikage Kira, but this episode is the latest in a series of attempts to make me jump ship. It picks up where the previous episode ended: in order to take out Risotto Nero and keep Doppio alive, the Boss gives the latter the use of King Crimson’s arms and “Epitaph”; the little face on King Crimson’s regular face that’s responsible for seeing into the future. Unfortunately that’s all sweet Doppio gets: he can see ten seconds into the future, but he has to manually get into position and attack Risotto, he cannot skip time. So get ready for shots of Doppio screaming in pain as metallic objects rip up his insides. He manages to quickly tear a pair of scissors out his throat before they kill him and then use them to slice off Risotto’s foot, but the assassin can use Metallica to stitch himself back together with a groaning collection of tiny metal ghost things. Also he can cloak. You can see why he was head of the Hitman Team. The Boss insists that Doppio stand down and let him take over, but the young man is oddly full of confidence and enacts a decent plan, but Nero sees through it, waiting for Doppio to die from his yellow, ironless blood being unable to take in oxygen. Making it even sweeter for him is the realisation that Doppio and the Boss are two personalities in one body, and he’s close to killing them both. Fortunately, Doppio’s aforementioned decent plan was actually to lure over Bucciarati’s crew, and it succeeds: Aerosmith takes out Risotto as the Boss stares at him victoriously, his face hidden in shadow.

I loved this episode. Doppio gradually figuring out how to find Risotto and attack him with King Crimson’s spectral arms was great, especially Doppio using the arms to smash the ground in frustration. I like how, similarly to King Crimson and Bucciarati, Metallica is a brutally effective stand that very nearly kills Doppio and is extremely hard to counter. He was *this* close to killing the Boss, but he was out-manoeuvred. The best part for me, however, is how they’ve realised Doppio and the Boss sharing a body, through the animation, voice acting and sound effects. As much as I love Kira the Boss, Doppio and King Crimson are just so cool, interesting and unique as a threat that they steal every scene they’re in. The shots of the Boss speaking through Doppio, his face in shadow are superb; a well-meaning, clumsy young man hiding the most dangerous man in the world just out of sight. Excellent.

Episode 28: Beneath a Sky on the Verge of Falling

Ah this is interesting. Whenever I think about or explain how King Crimson works I say that Epitaph sees an attack coming, sees a future where the Boss is out the way then King Crimson deletes the time between the start and finish of that sequence, so the Boss isn’t hit. Here we have a better example of how the time deletion works: Risotto grabs the Boss to try and get him killed by Aerosmith, but King Crimson deletes the 0.5 seconds where the bullets hit him so they just don’t, and he doesn’t have to move at all. With that, Risotto Nero is very, very dead. Cadaverific, you might say. Despite lacking the ability to take in oxygen the Boss is hanging on in there and determined to get down to the statue and kill Abbacchio, and does so in a crafty, gruesome way. First he bites into and drinks the blood of a passing frog for some iron, then grabs one of a group of children in football shirts and drinks a load of his blood, sews his mouth shut with his shoelaces, dons the shirt and turns back into Doppio for a disguise. After Abbacchio gets the kids’ football out of a tree Doppio/Boss swiftly donuts him and escapes. Abbacchio dies and goes to what seems to be heaven: “trapped” at a bus’ final stop at a small cafe with the police officer who was killed back when Leone was a cop and took a bribe, though said officer is filled with praise and tries to calm Leone down. Back in the land of the living Giorno discovers Abbacchio’s Kakyoin-style final message: Moody Blues used the last of its energy to leave an imprint of the Boss’ face on the statue. Abbacchio’s spirit is content in the knowledge that he helped his comrades.

This episode was fantastic, and Vento Aureo is killing it. This whole mini-arc with the Boss and Doppio has been consistently excellent, and this was no exception. The Boss’ cunning and ruthlessness in slitting a child’s wrist and drinking his blood then disguising himself as said child to kill Abbacchio echoes Yoshikage Kira’s desire to keep himself hidden. The sheer pain and despair in Narancia’s voice as he breaks down in tears over his fallen friend, Bucciarati’s lack of feeling resulting in him biting his lip so hard he draws blood before ordering Narancia to accept the situation and move on, out of concern for everyone’s safety; that whole scene was a raw gut punch. I remembered Abbacchio died in this way but I didn’t remember it being so sad and having such a touching pay off. Really great episode, loved every second of it, JoJo continues to go from strength to strength.

(There was another recap episode)

Episode 29: Get to the Roman Colosseum!

Finally, after all this time calling him “Boss” I can use his real name. The Passione Boss, user of King Crimson and big bad of Part 5 is named Diavolo. It’s Italian for “Devil” and that’s his real name, it’s great. All that remains now is for him to show himself, and I can’t wait for that, because I’ve always loved how he looks (and found him immensely attractive). Anyway, after losing Abbacchio but gaining the cast of Diavolo’s face, a mysterious voice appears on the laptop Giorno is using to trawl law enforcement records and gives them a lead: his name is Diavolo, the mystery man has one of the stand-creating arrows, which are made from a meteorite filled with a horrible virus, and Bucciarati’s crew need to meet him at the Colosseum, where they’ll team up and put Diavolo down. The boss realises something’s up from the renewed purpose the gang is showing however, and so sends Doppio after them. He also instructs Doppio to send in the Boss’ last remaining guards; Cioccolata and Secco, despite Diavolo thinking the former is “The worst piece of shit on the face of the Earth”, and his backstory explains why. Before becoming a stand user and gangster Cioccolata dedicated his time first to driving elderly people to suicide and filming their expressions, then working as a doctor and diagnosing healthy people with illnesses so he could conduct unnecessary surgery on them and have them wake up during it. There’s nothing he likes more than seeing people die, and now he’s here. Secco is basically a lapdog who films Cioccolata’s various murders, and follows him around everywhere. The episode ends with Cioccolata’s stand Green Day revealing itself and Giorno figuring out how it works: once you’re in its range, moving any part of your body to a lower level makes flesh-destroying mold burst out of your skin.

Best part of this episode was Doppio using the little girl’s toy phone to call Diavolo, that was adorable. The ice cream was good, but lacked that wholesome element. Whom the mysterious voice on the other end of the laptop belongs to is a cool reveal and I won’t say any more about that for spoiler reasons, but I’m glad the info dump was brief. It was less exposition and more the mystery man giving information that proves he’s legit and will win Bucciarati over. Cioccolata is the absolute worst and I’m looking forward to how he’s dealt with, that’s an awesome moment in the manga, and his Stand is even more brutally effective than I remembered. Good episode again, we’re moving towards the endgame now and so it’s moving at a quick pace and throwing everything it has at us. As long as this adaptation continues at this level of quality Part 5 is going to end up a lot higher on my list of best parts by the end. Seeing these characters in motion, voice acted and set to music has done wonders for them, more so than previous parts I’d say. It just works so well seeing how all these stands move and act. I’ve loved this adaptation so far and I’m looking forward to the next episodes.

Episode 30: Green Day and Oasis, Part 1

You know, Cioccolata may be a monster, but his relationship with Secco is oddly sweet. Dude clearly loves his pet human-dog partner in sadism, that’s all I’m saying. Anyway after showing off Green Day last week, this time it’s Oasis’ turn in the spotlight: it’s a suit that covers Secco’s body similar to Ghiaccio’s White Album, and allows him to soften, destroy and move through concrete like it were mud. His ability to, say, destroy a staircase while Bucciarati and Mista are climbing it combined with a Stand that decimates any living being that’s moving downwards makes it incredibly useful for this very situation, and it’s up to Zombie Bucciarati to save the day. They’re acknowledging in universe that he’s undead now, and that he’s rapidly approaching a second, inescapable death. For now though it’s working in his favour, because not being alive makes him immune to Green Day’s mold, and he manages to draw blood from Secco’s face, enraging him. They manage to take a car up the nearby mountain, but Cioccolata somehow has access to a helicopter and shows why Diavolo didn’t want him involved; spreading mold all over the place and almost instantly liquefying a whole load of civilians. Realising that the mold’s range will eventually grow and include the Colosseum, Bucciarati takes on Secco as Giorno and Mista team up to turn bullets into strong vines that hold the helicopter in place and set off to put Cioccolata down.

That Cioccolata’s a bad dude. His Stand is lethal even by JoJo standards, and makes Purple Haze look like it gives people the flu. It’s clear that he’s a desperate last resort for Diavolo now that he’s in such danger of having his identity revealed, he must know that his own disgust with the two aside this is a terrible idea. Nice to see Giorno create plant life again, and I love him teaming up with Mista. A highlight was Bucciarati telling Giorno how he’s come to terms with his situation and has to push on just a bit further to the journey’s end, as well as the ending, with the three splitting up to quickly take out the new threat before it wipes out all of Rome. Good episode, I’m hyped for what happens after but I’m more than happy to let this encounter play out in the meantime.

Episode 31: Green Day and Oasis, Part 2


I’m so glad that Wryyy is a congenital thing and not just something DIO did. I love that Gold Experience instinctively does it as well as yelling “Muda” when he punches. The seven page Muda is upon us and it was glorious, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Bucciarati is trying to deal with Secco, who can use his powers to turn the ground into a bouncy material that adds recoil to his arms to strengthen his punches. It’s his version of an ORAORAORA I guess, given that he yells “OAAAAASISUUUUUUUUUUU!” while he’s doing it. This fight only gets a small amount of screen time, with Bruno dropping to a lower point to escape, and Secco commenting that there’s clearly something wrong if Green Day’s mold won’t attack him. Back to the main event: Cioccolata’s stuck in the now trapped helicopter, but somehow manages to evade and mutilate all but one of Mista’s Sex Pistols, putting Mista out of action for now. Turns out Cioccolata has the genuinely disconcerting power to slice himself into pieces that can move independently, and as Giorno climbs into the helicopter to see what’s going on, he’s met with Cioccolata’s head and torso with one arm attached and a wriggling spine sticking out, skittering away after Gold Experience twats him. His severed limbs are surprisingly strong, and pose a genuine threat to Giorno until he and Sex Pistol Number Five manage to enact a plan: turn a bullet into a branch to stop Giorno falling, wait for Green Day to destroy said branch and then turn a fragment of it back into a bullet, have it hit the propeller and lodge itself in Cioccolata’s brain. Job’s a good’un, but Giorno isn’t convinced that Cioccolata is really dead. If he is alive, but stays where he is, Giorno will show him mercy. Sure enough he’s still kicking, and his severed arm is about to kill Mista until it’s shown that Giorno’s offer of mercy was a lie, and that he’d never go easy on a piece of shit like Cioccolata: the bullet in his head is now a stag beetle, which explosively bursts out the other side in a fountain of blood. He launches himself at Giorno in a last ditch attempt to salvage a win, only to be hit with what we’ve all been waiting for. MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA! Personally, I was hoping Giorno’s Wryyy would be more like DIO’s, but it was amazing all the same. The sound effect of Gold Experience’s fists connecting, the music, the shot of Giorno afterward looking all badass: it was great. He’s a noble young man, but don’t you dare give him a reason or you will regret it.
Meanwhile, Secco is underground listening to a voicemail from Cioccolata, who talks about how he’s going to scratch Secco’s back and throw him five sugar cubes at once, something that drives Secco wild with anticipation. He ends the message by saying that Giorno is approaching and he has to hang up, and in a genuinely touching moment tells Secco that he loves him. The episode ends with Secco sneaking up on Bucciarati, and a look at the man waiting for the gang in the Colosseum, who looks oddly familiar…

Another great episode, as per usual. The fight between Giorno and Cioccolata is another good example of the former using his intellect and knowledge of his Stand to great effect, the seven page Muda was wonderully realised, and the relationship between Cioccolata and Secco continues to be genuinely sweet despite them both being awful people. Good stuff.

Episode 32: Green Day and Oasis, Part 3

The oddly familiar looking man was Jean-Pierre Polnareff, because who the hell else would it be with that hair? He’s changed a lot since Stardust Crusaders though, he’s lost both his legs and the use of one eye, which he’s attempting to cover up with an eye patch that covers up precisely bugger all. So he’s the contact waiting to help Bucciarati’s crew take down Diavolo, but first Bruno has to deal with Secco, who’s proving himself to be a dangerous opponent. Turns out Secco only hung around with Cioccolata because he thought he was a big tough cool guy, but now he’s dead he thinks he’s a total punk and either way he never loved him. So that’s kinda sad. Most of the fight between Secco and Bucciarati is the former chasing the latter underground, where he can swim through the liquid rock and pavement, the liquid strengthening sound waves which he uses to track Bruno. When he can’t find him he tries to force him to surface by chewing up mud, spitting it into the air where, as it moves away from Secco it hardens and turns into razor sharp daggers that fall through the liquid earth and impale Bucciarati. Fortunately Bruno’s Zambambo body can survive that, but Bruno does have to surface eventually. It’s looking like it’s all over as Secco goes for the finishing blow, but Bucciarati has a brutal plan: wait for a car to be dragged into the liquid earth and have Sticky Fingers burst one of its tires, bloodily destroying Secco’s ear drums and rendering him all but useless. Sensing defeat, Secco makes one last ditch attempt to survive by grabbing some random tourist hostage. A tourist with pink hair and a cool outfit, whose eyes seem to change colour from brown to green… Oh Secco, if only you realised the sheer irony of declaring that you WERE going to kill the Boss, but now you’ll settle for just using this teenager to escape instead. Bucciarati punches through Doppio, leaving him unharmed but fixing Secco’s flesh-melting hand to his own neck, giving him a death sentence on the spot. But that doesn’t matter because Secco wanders off and falls into the same bin lorry Cioccolata did, putting him out of commission for good. The episode ends with Bruno collapsing, his body seemingly having reached its limit, as Doppio creeps up behind him and raises his hand.

This little trilogy of Green Day and Oasis has been great, acting as a last hurrah for the Bruno’s Crew vs Passione members format before they encounter Diavolo next episode in the aptly titled “His name is Diavolo”. Secco and Cioccolata have been effective, enjoyable villains, these three episodes have had some wonderful, memorable moments not limited to the seven page Muda. This week I loved the moment when Secco slaps Doppio and Diavolo takes over for a second just to give a death glare, the surprisingly brutal efficiency of Oasis, and the little flashback to the Stardust Crusaders in Egypt. It all goes down next episode, I’m looking forward to it.

(Note that after this episode I re-read what’s left to be adapted of the manga, so I should be slightly more up on what is and isn’t new for the anime. In theory)

Episode 33: His Name is Diavolo 

Ooh, I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been particularly hype for it since I re-read the end of the manga, but much like the first appearance of King Crimson I’ve been looking forward to this particular reveal since the anime began. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Turns out his method of defeating Secco proved to have a pretty drastic effect on Bucciarati after all, and he can no longer hear or see, something that comes in handy when Doppio offers to help him across the road for surveillance purposes but gets a call from Diavolo halfway across. Bruno is blind, but he can see people’s souls, kind of like Hyakkimaru from Dororo, and remember that because that’ll be important later. Due to this very specific vision, he mistakes Doppio for Trish, due to the link between her and Diavolo, and so allows Doppio to lead him into the Colosseum. They run into Polnareff, who feels a murderous intent from “Trish” that he’s felt once before; that time when he tried to investigate Diavolo and King Crimson robbed him of his legs, one of his arms (though it was re-attached) and the use of one eye. Unfortunately all that reminiscing allows Doppio to get the drop on him, transforming into Diavolo and attacking; killing Polnareff with a punch through the chest, but not before Jean-Pierre can stab Silver Chariot with the arrow.  The episode ends with Trish, Giorno and Mista arriving on the scene, and a mysterious figure appearing before Diavolo and walking away, ignoring his commands to stop.

I’ll readily admit that I find Diavolo very attractive, more so than any other character in JoJo, and upon first viewing of this episode I think he’s actually even more attractive in the anime. The shot of him just after he’s changed looks great in the anime: that whole reveal didn’t disappoint. I do have one slight complaint though, which is Diavolo making the switch from Doppio by skipping time, which didn’t happen in the manga, or at least I didn’t get that impression. I’ve always liked the idea of Doppiavolo being able to switch between each other really quickly, so it could happen in the time it takes for them to pass by a pillar. It’s not a big deal, the reveal was still great and I love how Diavolo looks here. I really like him and Polnareff sharing narration duties for the flashback, and how the shot of the latter and Jotaro together looked exactly how it did in the manga, only with a different colour scheme. It’s a very focused, streamlined episode; focusing entirely on Doppio/Diavolo and Polnareff, with an interesting look at just how far gone Bucciarati is, which is to say very. Doppio is good here, Bucciarati is good, Polnareff is good, it’s more clear what happens in regards to Silver Chariot throwing him and his wheelchair into the air, I thought in the manga he had him push off the ground with his Stand-feet, Star Platinum-style, and of course Diavolo looks amazing. I really liked this episode, having refreshed myself on the upcoming chapters I’m eager to see how they play out in the anime.

Before we get onto the next episode, there are some things about the previous one I need to address, because I was so caught up in how gorgeous Diavolo is that I forgot to mention them. Firstly, he was the one who dug up the arrows and sold all but one to Enya from Stardust Crusaders, meaning that he is responsible for everything bad that happened in Parts 3 and 4. To be fair, he’s also responsible for most of the good, stand-related things that happen, so swings and roundabouts. Also we get an interesting look at how King Crimson’s powers work and how Diavolo fits in, with the combination of forseeing and deleting time being shown as a world similar to DIO’s frozen time in which Diavolo can freely move around and act, throwing blood into Polnareff’s eyes. He also refers to time resuming, again much like DIO, which is odd given that King Crimson deletes the time it skips. Personally I always got the impression that Diavolo was also affected by the skip forward but knew everything that had happened. Of course this could just be a visual representation of it, I’m not sure. It’s cool either way, and the visual effect of everything exploding, leaving the void of space behind is a great one. Although it makes the anime version of Diavolo’s reveal even stranger and reaffirms my assertion that the manga version didn’t contain a time skip, because if Diavolo is acting in the deleted time, why is the pillar still there?

Episode 34: The Requiem Quietly Plays, Part 1

Hooooooooly shit that opening. I was hoping there’d be a special intro like DIO stopping End of THE WORLD and Kira forcing Great Days to play backwards, and David Production hasn’t disappointed. In addition to changing the shot of Doppio looking at the camera so that he now transforms into Diavolo (and there are flashes of Diavolo’s mesh shirt and hair being inlaid over the top of Doppio’s jumper before he transforms), the man himself interrupts the OP just after the bloody finger appears to blow apart the street outside the Colosseum and send him and a worried looking Giorno into King Crimson’s void. Operatic singing frames Italian voice over: “No one can escape the fate that was chosen for them. All that remains is the end, where you will all perish. Eternal greatness exists only within myself. Sing a song of sorrow in a world where time has vanished.” The singing and voice over herald the King of this world: Diavolo. For all that bluster about DIO’s “World of stopped time”, he had to share it with others, others who could move within it and stand toe-to-toe with him. Not so here. I like to think the unique music and language choice show that Diavolo’s world of deleted time is his and his alone, one where he; the emperor will always stand at the apex. David Production have been killing it with their depiction of Diavolo and King Crimson’s power, and this is yet another brilliant way to show it off. It’s unnerving, as Diavolo looms over a helpless Giorno and uses Epitaph to foresee his MUDA rush with the ominous operatic singing basking everything in dread. Time resumes with the same shot as the normal OP, but with Diavolo now revealed for all to see. It’s as thoughtful as Kira’s Great Days, but swaps the looming, sinister dread of a fixed end point that must be avoided at all costs with an immediate, seemingly insurmountable threat. Good stuff.

That mysterious figure from the end of last episode is Chariot Requiem; a version of Silver Chariot untethered from its now dead master, and seeking to keep the arrow safe by putting everyone in the area in and around the Colosseum to sleep, and swapping their souls between their bodies. A man is now his dog, a woman is now her baby, two police officers in a car are now the criminal in the back seat and a bird on the bonnet respectively. Inside the Colosseum Trish and Mista have swapped, as have Giorno and Narancia. Polnareff has swapped with Coco Jumbo, and Diavolo’s soul is apparently nowhere to be found because Trish insists that she’d be able to sense him otherwise, meaning Bucciarati’s body is currently lying motionless with some unknown person’s soul inside. Coco Polnareff tells the gang about in an incident two years ago in which the arrow nicked Silver Chariot’s finger, and resulted in it going Requiem for a minute and putting every living being on the farm they were staying at to sleep until Polnareff snatched the arrow back. This is the power he was intending to give to Bucciarati’s crew, but Diavolo got the drop on him. He also alerts Trish to the mysterious young man disguising himself as her, and working in tandem with Diavolo as part of a well-coordinated team. The episode ends with the gang getting ready to deal with Diavolo, who has suddenly sprinted into the Colosseum, only for him to activate Sticky Fingers and punch Chariot Requiem’s arrow-carrying arm off, revealing that he’s actually Bucciarati.

I get the feeling the bodyswapping angle is Araki’s attempt to escape the hole he’s dug himself into by having someone as immensely powerful as Diavolo on the field of play, and to stop him from destroying the Modern Crusaders in seconds flat. But it’s fun, so I’ll go along with it. The first part of the episode is really well done, the voice actors are clearly having a good time portraying a different soul inhabiting their characters, particularly Trish and Mista, and Narancia speaking in Giorno’s calm, collected manner. The latter half with Polnareff explaining what’s going on with Chariot Requiem and the arrival of Diavolorati sets up the arc going forward. Fun episode after the tense drama last week, excellent new opening, looking forward to next week.

Episode 35: The Requiem Quietly Plays, Part 2

Bucciarati goes for the arrow, only for Sticky Fingers’ sticky fingers to rip their way out of his arm and grab him by the throat. The rest of his Stand moves in to attack him, and Mista’s attempts to save him result in one of Sex Pistols trying to ram a bullet into Mista’s skull, fortunately stopped by Trish using Spice Girl to soften the bullet. So grabbing the arrow is out, what’s their next plan? It’ll have to wait, because even though Mista’s put a few bullets in the newly risen Bruno body, time just skipped again. Seems like wherever Diavolo is, he took a dislike to Narancia’s little speech about going back to school, eating fresh pizza and looking forward to seeing Fugo again, because he’s impaled him on iron bars. Shouldn’t have tempted fate, Narancia. Now you’re dead. Giorno tries to heal him but it’s too late, his soul has vacated Giorno’s body, which Giorno can now just climb back into somehow. Just in case you needed an extra punch in the gut, there’s a new scene of Fugo looking up and seeing what seems to be Aerosmith turn into a bird and fly away, that then shows the clouds above where Abbacchio died back in Sardinia. Polnareff realises that Diavolo and Doppio are two separate personalities and that Doppio is currently in Bucciarati’s body, so Diavolo is presumably in a civilian outside the Colosseum. There should be a scene here with Doppio but it didn’t happen, presumably it’ll be next episode now. Giorno promises to come back for Narancia’s body, and in the meantime he makes white lilies grow around his fallen friend. Just before they leave, King Crimson briefly looms out of the darkness, and Trish clearly senses him but can’t do anything about it for now.

What’s left of the crew head off in pursuit of Chariot Requiem, briefly waylaid by that cop with a criminal’s soul who tries to assault Trish, only for Mista’s soul to shoot him through the cheek and use that hole to handcuff the cop to a lamp post. Bucciarati examines Chariot and notices that despite looking human it also looks as if it’s made of black plastic, it’s slow and doesn’t recognise him as an enemy, even when he trips Chariot up. The episode ends with Polnareff picking up the arrow with his tortoise mouth, and shouting for Mista to use it on Sex Pistols as Chariot Requiem sprints towards them.

Things are moving quicker than I expected actually. They’ve covered the Colosseum and had the gang take to the streets after Chariot Requiem in the span of two episodes, but all the emotional heft is intact and they even managed to fit in a new scene. That little moment with Fugo was quite on the nose but it was fine, and it got me hype for a potential Purple Haze Feedback OVA. I really like Narancia and I’m not a big fan of how he goes out but it does show how dangerous Diavolo is and how even now they absolutely cannot let their guard down. Last week was bodyswap shenanigans, now it’s serious and they’ve got to get back down to business. Good episode again, of particular note is how much each character looks and sounds like the soul currently inhabiting their body through facial expressions and voice acting.

Episode 36: Diavolo Surfaces

Oh god, here we go. This is the Doppio scene I was talking about last week, and it’s even worse than I imagined. As Doppio lays in Bucciarati’s dying body, he takes some comfort in the idea that Diavolo will surely win, but in his last moments he expresses his loneliness and asks the Boss to call him like he always does, his soul being shown alongside the body (unlike in the manga) pleading for comfort that will never come. Back in the streets, Mista manages to halt the charging Chariot Requiem, using a Beretta he stole from that cop last episode after his revolver suddenly falls apart. Requiem is trying to kill Polnareff after he touched the arrow, but stops when it’s revealed that yet another power is taking hold of everyone in the area: rapid, forced “evolution” resulting in hideous body horror as twisted faces and facial features burst out of people’s skin. Polnareff grows an extra face and a pincer out of his neck, and Trish’s finger splits open, revealing what looks like a metallic bone underneath. Requiem returns to slowly walking away, and King Crimson is somehow amongst the gang, biding his time and, apparently, is close to figuring out how Requiem works. Just as it looks like he might have the upper hand, Giorno insists everyone stop and let him check their bodies to see whether or not they have an extra soul hiding within them, as he believes Diavolo’s unthered soul is possessing one of them, and that he skipped time and broke Mista’s revolver. Mista wants nothing to do with this plan, so Bucciarati volunteers. Giorno uses Polnareff’s method of biting his finger and checking how many drops of blood have fallen, approaches Bucciarati and time skips as King Crimson leaps out of Trish and punches Giorno’s arm off. Trish brings out Spice Girl but that’s just what Diavolo needs, because by grabbing hold of Spice Girl he can control Mista’s body, and uses it to sprint after Requiem, using Epitaph to foresee Mista’s shots and dodge them with time skip. He’s also figured out how Chariot Requiem works: it’s the shadow of everyone’s soul, and to beat it you have to punch a small, glowing orb behind your own head, which Diavolo does. So he’s got the arrow now, but fret not: Giorno and Trish have plans. Giorno turns the drops of his blood on the arrow into ants who chew through the shaft and break off the arrowhead, and Trish reveals that the bullets King Crimson deflected had actually been softened by Spice Girl, then returned to their natural state and with it, their kinetic energy, propelling the arrowhead towards Mista. Diavolo is decidedly unimpressed by this, and the episode ends with him slamming his fist through Trish in order to propel them towards the arrow as Bucciarati yells Trish’s name in horror.

Even by JoJo standards Chariot Requiem is really weird, but the anime’s done a really good job with this arc. The forced evolution thing is given about as much screen time as it needs really, it’s just a quick jolt of body horror to add an extra visual layer to the already dread-tinged atmosphere of this whole situation. I love the music that accompanies it, that eerie, rising drone. It’s been in previous episodes too but it really sticks out here. The demonstration of how shadows work in regards to Chariot Requiem was a nice touch, I think that and Diavolo’s current status as a free roaming soul are made clear, the anime has, again, done a great job there. Seeing all these events in motion gave me a better grasp of them, and a greater appreciation for them. Also it’s nice to see Trish use her Stand again, and Spice Girl’s declaration that she’ll “Overcome this” shows how far Trish has come, something last touched on way back at Notorious B.I.G. We’re nearing the end of Vento Aureo now, and there are big things coming soon. I can’t wait.

Episode 37: King of Kings

It’s time, today is the day. Let’s begin.

So Diavolo just launched himself and Mista’s body towards the arrow, and he seemingly grabs it, only for it to phase through King Crimson’s incorporeal hands. Bucciarati has also figured out how to put down Chariot Requiem, a job Diavolo avoided finishing altogether. Despite the Boss’ pleas that he is the only one worthy of having the arrow, which is a bold move, he even asks Bruno who he thinks should have it, expecting him to say Diavolo, Bucciarati completely destroys his own glowing orb, killing Chariot for good and putting everyone’s souls back where they came from. Unfortunately this means that Bruno’s soul is headed back to a dead body, and so is instead moving on to the afterlife, which presumably exists in JoJo. They never outright say, but given the presence of souls that drift off into the sky, I think it’s a safe bet. Bucciarati doesn’t mind anyway, he’s made peace with his death, and he tells Giorno that his soul was fated to slowly die, only for the newcomer to bring it back and give him something to live for. The literal golden wind carrying Bucciarati’s soul away dissipates, and Giorno is left holding the arrow.

Diavolo plans to retreat, but Trish informing Giorno of this makes him reconsider, thinking that anything other than rushing over to try and reclaim the arrow would destroy his pride, a decision buoyed by Epitaph predicting that Giorno will be rejected by the arrow, and then gain a brand new hole in the chest courtesy of King Crimson. Gold Experience pierces itself with the arrow, and Diavolo delivers what seems to be the deciding blow, smashing KC’s fist into Gold Experience’s face. However, something is peeking out from inside the hole, a very different looking eyeball that rapidly scans the area. Diavolo panics and has King Crimson machine gun punch Gold Experience, but it’s just speeding up the process of destroying the shell of whatever’s about to reveal itself. The shell is empty, discarded on the floor; and hovering in the sky is Giorno and Gold Experience Requiem. It fires a beam of energy that turns rubble into scorpions that sting Diavolo’s hand, but the boss foresaw it and is certain that Requiem is just a power up: he will still emerge victorious. Epitaph makes a prediction: Mista fires five shots, Gold Experience launches into a flurry of punches, but King Crimson will end up ripping out Giorno’s heart, and so Diavolo makes his first move of throwing blood in Giorno’s eyes. But then he stops, as it appears things are moving backwards: a bee flies in reverse, the blood returns from Giorno’s eyes to Diavolo’s wound, the bullets fly back into Mista’s gun. Most alarmingly, the effect the world of deleted time produces in which the surrounding area explodes into a void also reverses and the world puts itself back together. Diavolo is thrown back to his starting position, but seeing Epitaph still predict his victory, throws a punch at Giorno, only for something really strange to happen. Lines of Diavolos gasp and stare in disbelief; a visual representation of his actions being reversed, moving from Giorno back to where Diavolo started. Gold Experience Requiem explains its power, a power even Giorno isn’t aware of: “You will never arrive at the truth that will happen”. Basically it resets actions back to zero; whenever I describe it to people I say that it essentially points at someone’s who’s done something and says “You didn’t do that.” Diavolo predicts the future and skips towards it, GER steps in and undoes the time skip, so no one moved and nothing happened. You try and do something, anything, and GER makes it so it never happened. Returned to the starting point and unable to use his Stand’s powers, all Diavolo can do is take a brutal, prolonged pummelling from GER as the episode ends.

For me, there are three reveals in Vento Aureo that the anime absolutely had to nail: King Crimson, Diavolo, and Gold Experience Requiem. The first two were fantastic, and having seen screenshots and a couple of clips I was certain they’d gone three for three, and having seen the whole episode that’s very much the case. This episode has an animation bump apart from the odd hilariously off-model scene and it looks glorious, especially Bucciarati’s golden soul, Diavolo and GER’s reveal. Speaking of, I like the look of Requiem, it looks mean and like it really wants to hurt Diavolo, which is indicative of Giorno’s approach to putting down people who deserve it, and having finally come face-to-face with the target of his journey. Personally I’m not a big fan of it having Giorno’s voice, in the games All Star Battle and Eyes of Heaven it has a woman’s voice instead, and I think that adds to the sense of mystery about the Stand and helps give it its own personality separate to Giorno, but it’s not a big deal. I loved the scene where it resets everything: that haunting score and imaginative visuals were beautiful, and wonderfully accompanied Diavolo’s look of disbelief and horror as he realises his invincible Stand has been outclassed. Much like the depiction of King Crimson’s powers this visualisation of how GER operates was brilliant, hats off to David Production once again. They do such an amazing job with JoJo. This is easily one of the best episodes this season, partly due to it nailing that reveal and partly due to how much pure quality it packs into its runtime.  Lest I forget, Bucciarati’s send off was lovely, and a fitting end to the character. No tears, just the end of the road. He’s done all he can and now he has to go, such is life.

Apparently the last two episodes are airing as an hour-long finale on July 28th. Not sure why it’s airing so late after this episode (maybe to pool budget and go out with a bang) but I’ll be writing about then around that time, so see you then.

Episode 38: Gold Experience Requiem

Turns out the final two episodes, on Crunchyroll at least, were released together, but as two separate episodes that weave between the final scenes in Part 5. This episode, despite the name, predominantly deals with the final, flashback arc of Vento Aureo, one I’m really not fond of. The episode opens with Mista asking Abbacchio, Fugo and Narancia whether they think human meat would taste any good, something that disturbs and irritates Narancia, then we’re whisked off back to the present day where Gold Experience Requiem has punched Epitaph clean off King Crimson’s face along with one of its eyes, and Diavolo attempts to salvage the situation to no avail. We get a new opening, one where just as Diavolo enters his world of deleted time and looms over Giorno, everything reverses with the same visual effect from last episode, and Gold Experience explosively sheds its skin to reveal GER, who sets about pummelling Diavolo and King Crimson. Bonus points for the wonderful shot where Giorno replicates his father’s iconic pose from the photo in Stardust Crusaders; one hand in front of his face, with the camera over his shoulder. It’s been obvious GER would get its own intro because how could it not, even more so after the already excellent Diavolo one, but it’s no less impactful, and that DIO shot is glorious. David Production once again doing beautiful work. Anyway back in the episode, GER launches Diavolo into the River Tiber, where he just manages to cling to life, and a small ledge, and climb up into a tunnel. As he does however, a homeless man charges over and stabs him, accusing the Boss of trying to steal his coat. As Diavolo writhes in pain the man finishes him off, only for Diavolo to wake up on a metal table, completely naked (interestingly he has tattoos on his arm, whereas in the manga they were part of his mesh shirt). He can’t move, and unfortunately the doctor who arrives can’t hear him, and so sets about performing an autopsy on the poor bastard. Thankfully, he jumps again, this time to a pavement where he’s startled by a dog and falls into the path of an oncoming car. Finally he ends up in front of a little girl who asks if he’s ill and starts to approach. The last we see of Diavolo, King of Kings, Emperor who stands at the apex and ruler of a world of deleted time is him screaming at a little girl to stay away from him. As Giorno explains and understands purely through instinct, this is Gold Experience Requiem’s power. Diavolo’s end has no end, he will never reach truth, he is destined to experience death and have that death reset, only to experience it again and again, forever. As Mista and Trish leave for the Colosseum, Giorno hears Bucciarati claim a total victory for the crew, stating that “Fate is a sleeping slave, and we’ve set that slave free.” As Giorno goes to leave, the arrow falls out of him and hits the ground with a quiet clang.

Back in the flashback, Mista explains his human meat theory further: animals who eat meat aren’t served as food because they taste bad, all the tastiest meats are from herbivorous animals, therefore humans would taste bad. Narancia declares with seemingly genuine discomfort that he eats far more veggies than meat, to which Mista replies that he might be pretty tasty, actually. Bruno has been sent to investigate Leaky-Eyed Luca getting shovelled by Giorno’s frog, but first he has to deal with a visitor, a local florist. It’s basically the first scene from the Godfather, only Bucciarati warns the man to go the police and avoid being indebted to Passione, but upon hearing that no one on the side of the law was moved by his tale of his daughter falling from a balcony to her death clutching an object made by her new sculptor boyfriend, sends Mista to investigate. As they travel to the sculptor’s apartment Mista is seemingly followed by the sculpture; the large sphere sitting a the bottom of the stand totem pole in the ending credits. He arrives at the apartment and sees his target, Scolippi, in the elevator alongside his stand Rolling Stones. Mista shoots Rolling Stones and it takes the form of Bucciarati.

Okay, lot to get through here. I don’t like the Sleeping Slaves arc, I don’t think it adds anything to the story and I personally feel it’s crammed in at an inopportune moment. At least here it’s interspersed with scenes in the present rather than in the manga where it’s dumped in its totality between Diavolo’s infinite deaths and the final scene in the manga, but it still does nothing for me. Credit to David Pro for trying to make Rolling Stones intimidating or at least seem like a threat, but I just don’t care about it. Diavolo’s end(s) at the hands of GER are wonderfully done, no surprise there, and I loved how brutal King Crimson’s beating was; in the manga Epitaph flies off cleanly during a barrage of punches, here it and KC’s eye are broken off and still hanging on by a thread before GER goes in for another round. It’s hard to describe just how OP GER is, there are some really strong Stands in JoJo but none of them even come close to one whose power is to make it so people just didn’t do whatever they wanted to do. No matter what your ability, it’s only effective if it actually happens, and how the hell can you possibly counter a Stand that just stops things in general from happening? The arrow falling out of Giorno implies he no longer has that power, but what’s to stop him stabbing Gold Experience with it again? Anyway, good episode overall, even the bits I don’t care for were really well animated and everything, so it didn’t bother me, and their presence made everything with GER and Diavolo all the sweeter. His end is brutal even by JoJo standards, and fitting for a man who’s power is to skip forward and avoid misfortune. Now he’s forever skipping forward INTO misfortune.

Episode 39 (Season Finale): The Sleeping Slave 

You know what? Somehow David Production made me think Rolling Stones is pretty cool actually. Mista wounds and interrogates Scolippi to try and find out who he is and why he’s been following him, but the sculptor informs him that Rolling Stones has a life of its own and always has, and it was in fact following Bruno. The stone predicts and depicts how a person will die, in this case foreshadowing King Crimson ventilating Bruno’s chest, but if the person shown touches Rolling Stones they die peacefully. The florist’s daughter foresaw a painful death from disease, and decided to end her life while her organs were still healthy enough to be transplanted into her Father, who currently has said disease. Unfortunately for Mista, Bucciarati is in the apartment building and being actively pursued by Rolling Stones, being saved at the very last second by Sex Pistols. What makes Rolling Stone cool here is how its depicted; normally it’s hard stone, but when it’s after someone it becomes rubbery and slick with goop, sinking through floors and bouncing up stairs to try and forcefully mercy kill Bruno. I never got that impression in the manga, personally, I always thought of it as a big rock. Mista seemingly saves the day when he leaps out a zip created by Sticky Fingers and smashes Rolling Stones into the ground below, breaking it into pieces. He himself survives, as does Scolippi when Mista tries to execute him, because those Rolling Stones hasn’t depicted are not yet fated to die. Unfortunately, breaking the stone makes it change to show not only Bucciarati, but Narancia and Abbacchio.

Back in the present, Polnareff suggests Giorno keep the arrow inside Coco Jumbo, which is now home to the Stardust Crusader’s soul, which Giorno seemingly does, having vocalised his intention not to destroy it. Trish apparently doesn’t think Mista smells funny anymore, and the episode ends with what’s left of the crew setting off for the Colosseum, with a new version of the ED featuring a Bucciarati-shaped Rolling Stones, and GER atop the statue.

(Phoenix Wright voice) HOLD IT!

That’s not the end, because there’s one last thing to see, one last spoiler shown in the OP. Remember those windows and someone kissing a hand? Those windows are opened by Mista, and that hand belongs to Giorno. Giorno Giovanna is now the don of Passione. Parte 5 Fine.

Seeing the Rolling Stones arc in motion really helped it out for me, I was surprised at how much more engaging it is than its manga counterpart, so well done David Pro. The final ED was nice, and having that act as a summary of everything the Modern Crusaders have faced before the Part ends with one final shot of Giorno’s victory was a nice way to end things.

Speaking of which: that’s Part 5 then, I really enjoyed it. As I’ve said, when I first read it I wasn’t a huge fan of it really. I liked Giorno fine and I really liked Diavolo, but it seemed too similar to Stardust Crusaders, and it didn’t stack up to Diamond is Unbreakable. Having watched David Production work their magic on it I think I actually prefer it to Stardust, both in terms of its enemy Stand users and Giorno’s mixture of open benevolence and cold-blooded, unflappable approach to danger and bouts of ruthless brutality. He’s a good mix of his two Dads, and goes well with the rest of Bucciarati’s team. Diavolo is still the most attractive JoJo character in my mind, and I love his Stand and powers even more now that I’ve seen them in motion, particularly everything exploding into a void. GER was done beautifully also, and while I’ll fully admit it’s completely OP, it does make for a good “Holy shit” moment when it appears, and I think the blow is softened by how brief its appearance is and just how seemingly unstoppable King Crimson is. Overall David Pro did a fantastic job, I have a new appreciation for Vento Aureo and it’s higher of my list of favourite Parts, and I really hope they keep things going and adapt Stone Ocean. It’s been consistently obvious across all five Parts that they have a real love and appreciation for JoJo, and I couldn’t be happier.

By James Lambert

In For the Long Haul: Preacher Season 3

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Based on the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon (R.I.P) comic of the same name, Preacher is a series about a man whose voice must be obeyed by those who hear it, his assassin girlfriend and their vampire mate trawling the southern United States in search of God. The literal Christian God, who likes dressing up as a dog for sexual purposes. Anyway I read the comic back in my formative years, I loved the first two seasons and thought they were a more enjoyable take on the source material than the material itself, and now season 3 is here. Let’s get into it.

Episode 1: Angelville

First off, the way that Jesse’s grandma finds out about the existence of him and his doomed Father is different. Instead of Jody and T.C falling foul of Vietnam vet John Custer, stopping their assault short at the complicating shout of “Dad!”, here they hold down Christina L’Angelle while her mother cuts her open to retrieve a photo of the two Custers. Back in the present, Jesse and Cass arrive at Angelville seeking a resurrection for the deceased Tulip, with tensions still high after Jesse refused to let Cass turn her into a vampire. They’re going all in with the love triangle angle here, with Cassidy seeing no reason why he shouldn’t be with Tulip, and the two fighting over the revelation that he and Tulip had sex back in season 1. Jody and T.C are here, albeit somewhat different to their comic counterparts. T.C is now more of a well-meaning handyman type instead of a man who will seemingly have sex with anything and everything he comes across, should the mood take him. He knocks out Cass with the butt of a shotgun, only for Jesse to down him in one punch, and upon waking up he meekly apologies to Cass and offers to help despite the vampire being rude and irritable. Jody, on the other hand, is largely the same: a brutal hand-to-hand combatant who murdered Jesse’s father and whom Jesse has never beaten, the difference here being that rather than a lean, muscular man who wins fights through a mixture of skill and a cruel knack for causing pain, here he’s burly and seemingly supernaturally strong: easily lifting the back end of his truck off the ground with one hand. He’s also more superficially friendly, at least for now. A large part of the episode is devoted to Tulip stuck in purgatory; reliving the events that led to the death of her Father and her being moved to an orphanage, framed as a play. It’s well done, and a nice little taste for the dead of what’s to come should they go to Hell, although it seems strange that should a bad memory would play out in purgatory. Perhaps Tulip has a far worse memory than that, but for now this is all we get. I do like the absurd comedic angle of how her Father bites it: an argument about dish soap that leads to murder and an armed stand off with police, and how calmly he explains what happened to child Tulip. Overall a good episode, and a solid start to the season. It sets up the animosity between Jesse and Cass moving forward, with Jesse’s Grandmother apparently taking Cass’ side, and only reviving Tulip in exchange for some unknown act or object from Jesse. What that is I couldn’t say: in the comic she wanted him to become a preacher, but here he does that of his own accord, so clearly it’s something else and most likely nefarious. Looking forward to the next episode, and I’m really glad Preacher’s back.

Episode 2: Sonsabitches

Turns out little Jesse was something of a wheeler dealer, acting as a go-between for those wishing to use Madame L’Angelle’s services. Come up short on a payment and she steals your goddamn soul, which is how she’s still alive after all these years, and why she looks like a regular human being as opposed to the husk seen in the comics. Herr Starr is back, bringing with him the series’ penchant for violence juxtaposed with cheery music; this time it’s a rather one-sided gunfight between Grail agents and armed Hare Krishnas set to The Youngbloods’ “Get Together”. I do so enjoy when the show indulges in these scenes. Starr’s been sent to ensure Humperdoo, the inbred modern descendant of Christ is accepted by major religious groups as their one true saviour, which doesn’t appear to be going too well. Back at Angelville, by some amazing coincidence Featherstone and Hoover are spying on Tulip just as she’s talking about how much she wants to smash the former’s face in, and they nearly get ground up in a mulcher only to be saved by Jesse, who needs Starr present and content in order to regain his soul and with it, Genesis. New for this adaptation are The Boyds, the gang Jody decimated last episode, with whom Jesse picks a fight as cover for his meeting with Starr. But naturally things go wrong, Jesse and friends are stuck in Angelville for the time being, and while he’s being less openly belligerent Cass’ feelings for Tulip remain strong, and seem like they’re going to boil over sooner or later. Another good episode: I think it’s interesting that rather than draw out a potential escape in the form of Starr and Jesse’s soul they’ve opted to have them appear early on and then leave, so that no help is coming, which leads me to believe the only way out is for Jesse to finally win against Jody and burn the place down, like in the comic. Pip Torrens is a delight as he has been since his first moments on screen, the interactions between characters still ensure the down time is just as engaging as when things kick off, and I’m eager to see where the adaptation takes things. Finally, it’s worth mentioning, despite the scene’s brevity, that rather than bringing Tulip back to life in exchange for the gang dropping their pursuit, this version of God catches Tulip on her way back to life and commands her to “Get those sons of bitches”. She interprets that as gunning down Grail agents, but only time will tell exactly what Almighty Dog intends.

Episode 3: Gonna Hurt

The Almighty Dog is a loving God but don’t push it. He’s got a pass/fail test for humanity coming up, and he counted on Tulip messing up her attack on the Grail, with the result being that Genesis will no longer pose a threat. Anyway since the aforementioned Grail cock up left Jesse, Tulip and Cass stuck in Angelville with no hope of escape, all three are going about their own little schemes in an attempt to cope and/or find a way out. Tulip is desperately seeking a work around for the blood pact Jesse made, which can only be undone when Madame L’Angelle says so. Cass’ vampirism is discovered because while off his tits on a gas concoction he reminisces to T.C about how he’s been mortally wounded multiple times, despite now having no scars to speak of (and drinks the blood of a chicken when Jesse confiscates his blood packs). Jesse, meanwhile, is driven by Jody to different support groups seeking potential marks in need of L’Angelle’s help, though no one’s interested while “The Tombs” stay closed, something Jesse insists upon. As it turns out The Tombs are basically an underground fight pit, with the loser implied to lose their soul. How this helps cure glue addiction I don’t know, but people are into it. Cass ends up fighting that paedophile teacher from episode 2, thrown in their on Jesse’s suggestion after Jody and T.C plan to string him up and wait for the Sun to rise. Speaking of Cassidy, he’s taken L’Angelle up on her offer of a love potion for Tulip, hinting at the horrible shit he got up to in the comics. Finally Tulip ends up meeting with Madame Boyd, L’Angelle’s main competition, seeking her help to free Jesse from the blood pact. Good episode overall, things are moving faster than I expected. I figured once the action of last episode and the removal of any Grail or Genesis-based assistance a slow burn would set in, but clearly no one has any intention of just riding this thing out. That makes sense; this arc in the comic was pacey and to the point, and given that one episode later in the season references shitty vampire group “Les Enfants Du Sang” I reckon Angelville will be vacated before too long. Regardless, Preacher remains great, and I look forward to next week.

Episode 4: The Tombs

First of all, they kept the “FUCK COMMUNISM” lighter. I was pleased. Anyway Jesse’s dark and troubled past extends to hosting Tombs fights as a teenager; it’s clarified that those who have had their souls taken already are pitted against each other, and the winner takes on Jody for a chance to have their soul back. He’s obviously shaken by having to be involved in such an event, but manages to do so while pulling the “break their heart to save them” trope on a young Sabina Boyd, though it backfires when her brother comes down looking for payback and Jesse kills him in self defence. According to the present Madame Boyd the solution to the curse placed on Jesse is simple: Tulip has to kill Madame L’Angelle. So we’ve got a way out, there’s just a few loose ends to tie up, as well as the promise of future hi-jinx. Firstly, Cass has to get the hell out of Angelville, whether he likes it or not. Jesse’s attempt to smuggle him out involves cutting him into pieces and literally posting him back to New Orleans in a box. Of course Cass doesn’t understand that this is in his best interest and is still planning to use his rapey love potion on Tulip, so he comes back for a barney with Jesse. He finally makes it out when Jesse pretends to stake him to death, Cass sneaks out wearing the science teacher’s skin, and Tulip puts him on a bus after shooting down his love declaration. A bus that has Featherstone on it, but that’ll be dealt with another time. Finally, The Saint of Killers has to atone for everything that happened in season 2 by being whipped down to the bone, but once that’s finished he makes a literal deal with the Devil: find and return two people (presumably Arseface and Hitler), and in return get his weapons back to murder Jesse. Good episode overall, some nice black comedy with the whole posting Cass in a box scene in an otherwise dark and serious entry. It continues to move along at a good pace, I’m glad Tulip continues to be a level-headed, competent presence who gets shit done, good to have the Saint Back and I maintain Angelville will be wrapping up soon. Not much else to say really: Preacher’s still great. It was surprising back in season 1 but it’s been so consistently excellent both on is own merits and as an adaptation of a comic I really like that now I expect to have a good time every week.

Episode 5: The Coffin

This is a big episode, as a fan of the comic. Not only does a comic-accurate Allfather D’Aronique make an appearance in all his glory, they even kept The Duke; Jesse’s hallucination of John Wayne who gives him emotional support in times of trouble. Initially I thought that shot of a lawman when the opening credits shows Dominic Cooper’s name was a hint at the part late in the comic where Jesse briefly becomes a sheriff, but it’s actually a dream Jesse has about him and The Duke re-enacting “High Noon”. After Jody and T.C. discover Cassidy has escaped with help from his friends, Tulip ends up handcuffed to a radiator while Jesse ends up back in the titular coffin, a childhood torture in which he’s trapped in a coffin and left at the bottom of a swamp with an air tube. Adult Jesse’s sick of this shit though, so he McGyver’s his way out with a pack of cigarettes- flooding the coffin and sticking filters in his ears to protect against an explosion caused by sticking a lit fag in the air hole, wrapped in his dog collar. It’s quite impressive actually, I’m considering keeping a pack on me from now on just in case. Elsewhere Betty Buckley continues to be excellent as Madame L’Angelle, here re-enacting a weird forbidden love sex scene from a confederate romance story, and revealing that her life is linked to Tulip, after the latter chokes out the former and dies alongside her. Finally, after going on a date with a woman pretending to be a vampire and revealing that he’s the real deal, a Cass completely off his tits on whiskey and elephant tranqs is kidnapped first by the Grail, like in the comic, and then by “Les Enfants Du Sang”. In the comic they were basically a shitty group of goth kids led by an actual vampire Cass murdered in a flashback scene, seeking revenge on him during the events of the comic. That flashback scene was important because it detailed, through dialogue between Cass and his new “friend”, the extent of vampire’s strengths and fatal weaknesses in this universe which are, basically: super strength, healing and immortality, and literally nothing except the sun. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. Anyway, great episode.

Episode 6: Les Enfants Du Sang

Okay, so they’ve gone a different way with it. In the comic, Cass shows Eccarius that his life of embracing Anne Rice tropes is far less enjoyable than a life of drinking, drugs and debauchery, and explains that vampires are and explains their powers. Like I said: super strength, healing, immortality and the Sun kills them. Here, Eccarius shows a jaded Cass his powers of glamour (the ability to command humans with his voice), the ability to turn into an animal, flight and superhuman reflexes, all things Cass had no idea existed. He also turns his “children” into vampires, spelling further issues down the line, rather than the ineffectual humans the trio dealt with in the comics (Jesse beats a load of them up with such ease that he completely forgets he can use The Word on them). Here also, Cass turns his back on his best friends in favour of Les Enfants, stating that due to his immortality he’s had thousands of Jesses and Tulips, and he’ll have thousands more. More in-line with the comic are Allfather D’Aronique, who remains a dangerous, cold-hearted killer, true believer in the Grail’s mission, and bulimic despite being the size of a small rhino. Herr Starr’s hats are covering up his comic-accurate huge scar that makes his head look like a penis, though this version was caused by Tulip shooting at him back in episode 2, rather than by Jesse during their duel as ordered by the Allfather. Speaking of Jesse, he and Tulip rob a bank in order to steal Madame Boyd’s store of souls, while T.C. distracts the police by, ahem, disturbing a petting zoo, and Jody guns down the head Boyds to kidnap Sabina. Sabina’s soul is taken, Jesse retires her from this new canon, and proclaims that in order to repay his Grandma’s debt, it’s time to call The Grail. Things are moving forward, but I think Angelville needs to move towards a conclusion. It’s been grand, but I don’t know what else they can do- they’ve tried to take Tulip’s soul twice now, Jesse clearly has no intention of re-opening The Tombs, so something drastic needs to happen. Given that D’Aronique seems to have unearthed Herr Starr’s “Make Jesse the Messiah” plan and Jesse intends to seek his help, I think we’re moving towards the events at The Grail compound from the comic, which I’m looking forward to. The stuff with Cass is interesting, taking things a different way is one thing I really enjoy about this adaptation, and I’m eager to see where it goes.

Episode 7: Hilter

They finally paid off that shot in the opening credits of Hitler working at a sandwhich place, and it lasts…until the opening credits. They named the episode after him, but all he gets is a cold open, in which he starts planning a new Reich, only to be chained up and escorted off by The Saint. He was in the previous episode actually, and I completely forgot to mention it. He snapped up Eugene from an orphanage and that was pretty much it; so far his task of capturing the two runaways is going really well. Anyway the meat of the episode is split between Cass’ adventures in N’awlins and Jesse working with The Grail. To that end: Tulip and Featherstone, as escorted by Jody, are off to Osaka to break into a soul warehouse, while Starr and Jesse are off to reclaim the latter’s soul, with the last minute revelation that D’Aronique is on to Starr, and Starr’s coup has been brought forward by necessity. So the big comic Starr-Custer showdown as ordered by the Allfather seems likely next week. Pip Torrens’ Herr Starr is consistently one of the best things in the whole show: his dry, exasperated delivery while taking all of the more outlandish events in stride is a beautiful thing to behold, he’s wonderful in the role. Meanwhile, in Cassidy’s side of the story, he’s romantically involved with Eccarius after saving him from Hoover’s buff priest and nun squad (they never stood a chance, he utterly decimates them), and it seemed like this new approach to Eccarius was paying off. He turns members of Les Enfants then sends them off to open safe haven vampire embassies, he’s teaching Cass how to use his newfound extra powers, and seems like a pretty good dude. But then the show throws in a last minute swerve, reminiscent of how Dragon Ball Super handled Frost: Eccarius isn’t a good dude at all, and in fact he hates vampires despite being one, and murders all the ones he turns. For some reason. I’m sure this will be explored in the coming episodes, but at this point I’m not into the way this has gone, it seems like a twist to help facilitate Cass’ return to the company of Jesse and Tulip further down the line, and make Les Enfants an enemy as they were in the comic. I dunno, maybe it’ll all work out, but it’s gone from an interesting turn and potential source of conflict to an easy get out. Finally, it’s revealed, during a scene implying that Madame L’Angelle knows what Genesis is, that T.C stands for Theodore Charles, which I don’t remember being mentioned in the comic. So that’s a nice little tidbit. Good episode for the most part, really looking forward to Jesse and Starr dealing with The Allfather next week.

Episode 8: The Tom/Brady

Note: Turns out the previous episode is actually called HILTER, not HITLER, and despite the fact his name tag has been staring me in the face for eight episodes worth of opening credit sequences I didn’t twig until someone says his name out loud in this episode. I’m not dyslexic or anything like that as far as I know, but I do often jumble letters when reading words or just read an entirely different word to the one that’s there, often based on what I expect it to say rather than what it actually says. Anyway I’ve corrected it now.

Holy shit Hoover’s a bloody vampire now, like. Didn’t see that coming. He’s turned after trying and miserably failing to kill Cass and Eccarius by himself, because it’s implied that Eccarius kills and drains the vampires he turns in order to access his super powers. Cass finds out about it sooner than I expected, actually, so things are looking to heat up in the Enfants part of the story. They got through this all quite quickly really- two major events that move this part of the story forward, potentially drastic consequences, job’s a good ‘un. Elsewhere it’s all go: Madame L’Angelle gets her soul eating powers as part of a seemingly romantic relationship with Satan, and offers him Jesse as part of some new deal. He sends Sidney the Angel of Death to kidnap Tulip, only for her to trick Sidney into taking Featherstone instead, after they successfully pull of the Soul heist. Jesse ignores Starr’s plan and immediately murders about ten Grail agents in a lift, and after a long and arduous process of trying to transfer Genesis from Jesse into a seemingly endless parade of cloned Humperdoos (who all explode seconds after said transfer), success is marked by the Allfather instructing his head scientist to “Bring out the Messiah”, who at this point is unseen. This was a strong episode, deviating from the comic even further in surprising, interesting ways as it has been from the very beginning, cutting loose after the steady build up of the previous episodes. Jody and Tulip’s bad acting during a sexual harassment seminar they act in to maintain their cover is great, Hoover and Featherstone respectively becoming a vampire and being escorted to Hell opens up a potentially drastic shift in the Grail’s storyline, and things aren’t going at all the way I expected for Herr Starr and D’Aronique, with the promise of a true, non-Humperdoo messiah providing a nice cliffhanger for the ending. Good episode, things are moving towards a dramatic conclusion in two week’s time, I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Episode 9: Schwanzkopf

Oh so Humperdoo IS the messiah, and while he may be the original, there’s still a load of clones milling around in a backroom, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Anyway Jesse finally manages to escape and kill D’Aronique by transferring Genesis over to him to make him explode. His soul is literally pushed out of the Allfather’s arsehole, which is hanging suspended from the ceiling by a long string of meat, and he reclaims it after a slapstick gore fight with Starr, resulting in Jesse finally having control of Genesis again. This is a pretty drastic change from the comic, where after being forced by D’Aronique to fight Jesse and running off, Starr pushes his chunky boss out of a helicopter ONTO Humperdoo, killing both and succeeding in his coup. This better suits the style and pace of the show though I feel; rather than set up an elaborate fight between the two and include the revelation that Genesis’ Father is being held by The Grail, include The Saint, all that stuff, the more immediate, punchy conclusion of Jesse gaining the upper hand and doing in the Allfather himself fits well. I also appreciate that Jesse regaining Genesis signals a sort of “Fuck it”, devil may care attitude in him, as instead of killing Humperdoo to kneecap the Grail’s plan to nuke everyone who doesn’t accept their Messiah, he simply lets them all run free, and forces a fire engine crew to give him a lift back to Angelville. As a final little revenge (for the moment) he commands Starr to completely forgo hats, meaning a switch to comedy wigs is in order; something he dabbled with in the comic before settling on wearing one type of hat, rather than constantly switching between them as he does here. Elsewhere, Tulip very nearly escapes Sidney and The Saint with the briefcase full of souls, but is busted by Eugene enthusiastically greeting her. Her various attempts to escape the apparently mundane bus ride to the Christian afterlife are ultimately rendered moot by the arrival of Hitler’s new friends, who contrary to the comedic set up as just some guys he knows from work disable the bus with a FUCKING TANK, emblazoned with a swastika. Maybe this is an opportunity for The Saint to show how well his guns work on tanks, as he did in the comics, and I’d like to see Sidney murder some Neo Nazis. She’s been used sparingly so far but her presence is welcome, and I look forward to her being a recurring character. Finally Cass’ story is entering endgame: surprisingly Eccarius is determined to keep Cass on his side and live as dedicated Murder Husbands, but Cass isn’t having any of it, and after a brief fight Eccarius resigns himself to the situation and has Les Enfants nail him to a pool table to burn up in the Sun. Something that, as Cass points out as embarrassing, will take a while given the tiny basement window and position of the Sun. His final gambit is to ask the Mother who owns the house, who is just as determined as Les Enfants to see Cass die, to call Lisa in Poland, with the hope of her finding out that she died, and unravel Eccarius’ history of murdering his “Children”. The episode ends with Jesse arriving at Angelville for a showdown, as Gran’ma reveals to T.C that she knows her Grandson is here to kill her, setting up this season’s finale.

Great episode overall, moving things along well and setting up a potentially drastic finale. Good examples of the series’ black comedy too: Jesse revealing Starr’s coup and the Allfather immediately responding “Then he will know my buttocks as few men have”. The ensuing slapstick gore fight and Starr insisting that not everyone needs to be killed, just “Certain undesirables: Hipsters, Presbyterians, trade unionists… the Danes.”
As for the story moving along: given that they’ve adapted the New Orleans arc complete with Les Enfants Du Sang while simultaneously introducing and killing off Allfather D’Aronique I have no idea where a potential Season 4 would go, but I’m very much along for the ride and happy to be here.

Episode 10 (Season Finale): The Light Above

Hoo boy, this was a big one. Lots to get through, things were thoroughly shaken up, and a whole lot of people died. After a flashback shows Jesse trying and failing to go through with killing Madame L’Angelle, he leaves for Texas, passing his older self on the way out, who’s hear to finish things. Like in the comics he fights Jody hand to hand without using The Word, and after some comic-accurate lines: “Hope for you yet, boy”, “That was different” (When Jesse slams a piece of nailed wood into Jody’s face) and “Proud of you boy”, Jody finally dies after Jesse pounds his face into a wall and some dodgy CGI blood effects happen. They also popped up in the Saint and Sidney vs Nazis scene, but more on that in a minute. T.C chooses to burn along with Jody’s body, and after immediately having his and Tulip’s curses reversed Jesse learns about L’Angelle’s new deal with Satan: if Jesse kills her, his soul is bound to Hell. Initially he makes her destroy the briefcase full of souls so she’ll live as a husk, but after he and his younger self agree that it doesn’t feel like they’ve won, he goes right back, kills her with her soul extractor and burns Angelville to the ground. Meanwhile Cass’ plan to have Mrs Rosen call up Eccarius’ victims pays off, and results in him being eaten alive by Les Enfants. However, Hoover arrives, kills off almost the entire group and kidnaps Cass. Tulip, the Saint and Sidney make short work of the assembled Neo-Nazis, and the aforementioned CGI blood pops up during a really cheap, jarring scene of the Saint and Sidney advancing on a line of shadowy, blurred figures obscured by smoke. Not sure why they couldn’t just show the actors playing the Nazis, who were all there a minute beforehand. They make mincemeat of the facists because of course they do, and Tulip’s part in it is more interesting; a windscreen wiper on collapse-able baton fight in the upturned bus. God arrives to offer a deal reminiscent of when his comic counterpart resurrected her at Angelville: the O’Hare name will henceforth be blessed, and Tulip will be forgiven for everything she’s ever done wrong, if she convinces Jesse to stop looking for God. No deal. Finally after mocking the Saint about crows pecking out his daughters eyes and letting the Tank run him over, the Saint rips Sidney’s eyes out. Back in Hell, The Saint’s weapons are returned, and after learning that it was apparently God’s idea to have crows peck out his daughter’s eyes, he shoots Satan in the head (like in the comic), and sets off with Eugene, as Hitler takes Hell’s reigns, because of course he does. The episode ends with Herr Starr killing Hoover, and setting up in a massive Grail base in the Israeli desert, where he is holding not only Cassidy, but what seems to be Genesis’ Angel Father I talked about last episode. So now that they’ve jumped ahead to Les Enfants Du Sang and the group’s time in New Orleans, they’re taking things back to the previous arc in which the Grail kidnaps Cass and takes him to their base to be tortured by a man who keeps shooting bits off him and waiting for them to grow back. This is where Allfather D’Aronique died, but now Starr’s in charge and he wants Jesse tortured and killed for humiliating him.

Episode wise, it wasted no time and had no fat, cramming in as much as it could before the credits rolled. It’s almost like, as a finale, they thought they’d spent too long developing things and needed to pay it all off in rapid succession for the final episode, but it worked well, and that nine-episode development was all really good, so I don’t mind. Jesse’s final fight with Jody was surprisingly low-key, and apart from one brief moment isn’t as close as in the comics, where Jody gets Jesse in a chokehold from which he has to bite himself free. T.C’s final moments were surprisingly touching, and on the whole he’s been a lot less grimy and despicable than his comic counterpart. Both he and Jody have been more enjoyable to watch than their print versions, and Gran’ma’s powers and hold over Jesse have made her a more effective villain than in the comic, where she was just an extremely old woman who had access to the talents of Jody and T.C. as well as a load of other henchmen absent from the series. I’m glad Jesse went back to finish off L’Angelle, that was far more satisfying than the alternative, and I was pleased that before he did anything else he immediately used The Word to free himself and Tulip from their respective curses. The Saint and Sidney slaughtering the Nazis was surprisngly poor for a show with such a flair for well-choreographed, gory slapstick violence. Between the cheap effects and lack of on screen Nazi killing save for the ones Tulip deals with it felt like a wasted opportunity. I quite like Sidney and look forward to seeing what they do with her going forward, and having Hitler take over from the now dead Satan just makes sense. Everything about the season’s worked really well, with the Angelville and Grail segments being particularly strong, but if there’s a weak link it’s everything with Les Enfants Du Sang. While not bad, and having some good ideas and the relationship between Cass and Eccarius, their scenes were less consequential and generally less interesting, as least in my opinion. Anyway, good season overall; Preacher’s my favourite current TV show, and after covering so much in this one season I’m looking forward to a leaner, stripped-down conflict between Jesse, Tulip and The Grail. Maybe, just maybe they’ll put in one of the coolest moments in the whole comic:

“Not enough gun.”

I patiently await season 4.

By James Lambert

By James Lambert