There’s a song by Stars that advises to “take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the bastards with it”. They meant it in a metaphorical way, likely unaware that Atlus has made not one but six games where the concept is quite literal. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that I always liked to think my weakness would one day be put to good use. Considering nowadays I’m getting paid for what I learned by “wasting my time writing”, I think I did a pretty good job.
Not as good as Giorno Giovanna’s, though.
[ Warning: Contains Spoilers! ]
Choosing Good (or Evil)
When people ask me why Part 5 is my favorite from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I point them to this little fact: the protagonist exists. In a world where things started out as black and white telenovela goodness (I absolutely love Phantom Blood, but seriously), shortly followed by murky historical and political (un)awareness I could write unflattering volumes about, I was honestly wondering if I would find someone who didn’t have a clear fate written all over their forehead from birth.
And to my surprise, I did. Amidst all the Greek theatre-worthy heroes, there was one guy who stood out for me.
Giorno doesn’t have the responsibility to be a good person. Everyone around subtly expects him to be the worst scum possible while he grows up, just like themselves. The fate that for every Joestar hero comes from their bloodline is, in Giorno’s case, reduced to a small number of encounters with a distant figure he doesn’t even know the name of and that’s enough. Being saved by kindness is enough for Giorno to be motivated to do the same for others, and if that’s not beautiful then I don’t know what is.
Being a good person is not a legacy in Golden Wind like it is in Phantom Blood or Stardust Crusaders. I really like that Araki moved on from the “every Joestar is a hero” mindset because it opens a lot of doors towards choice: Giorno chooses to be a good person. So does Buccellati. Even Fugo and Abbacchio, who are far more cynical, choose to do what’s right in the end, and they do so inspired by people who aren’t directly related to them.
It’s also worth noting that Giorno doesn’t have a personal story that binds him to Diavolo. He doesn’t want to defeat him because Diavolo killed his father (like Jonathan with Dio), or because he threatens his loved ones (like Jotaro with… DIO, once again). There are no personal odds at play; Giorno knows there’s something much bigger than himself that’s being crushed under Diavolo’s influence. Mafia bosses probably don’t care, but this is a valid question: what kind of future can a society have while drugging its own children? Isn’t all the pain Giorno and others endured partially the result of such a society?
Sensing greater forces than oneself at play was something Araki already explored in Diamond is Unbreakable, and Golden Wind takes that and makes it even better by making all of its main characters painfully aware of how their lives are in danger because of the Greater Good. Even Narancia, who is tragically and comically shown to be far from an intellectual, learns to put the well being of another person before his own during one of the most emotionally charged scenes in the series.
I don’t think Golden Wind despises the previous JoJo parts. Rather, I think it takes everything that was good about them and refines it, while adding its own flavor to the huge Joestar saga. For this, I think it’s worth at least a watch.