33 CommentsManga Driver / By Shinmaru /

Manga Driver: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Vento Aureo

jojos-bizarre-adventure-vento-aureo17 volumes (complete)

Part 5 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure! The year is 2000. Jotaro Kujo has sent Koichi Hirose to Italy to check up on a rumor that Dio Brando had a son who may be a Stand user. Immediately upon arriving in Italy, Koichi runs into Giorno Giovana, who is the Stand user in question. Giorno has bigger things on his mind, though. He seeks to become a gangster so that he can change the mafia from the inside and make it less poisonous and destructive. After killing a local gangster, Giorno is confronted by Bruno Buccellati, the leader of a branch of the local mafia group, Passione. Bruno initially intends to kill Giorno as retaliation, but after being defeated by Giorno, Bruno invites him to join Passione. Eventually they, along with the rest of the group, are entrusted with retrieving and delivering Trish Una, the daughter of the mafia’s boss, to the boss himself.

Of all the JoJo parts so far, Vento Aureo was the biggest mystery to me going in. I didn’t know much about it beyond that Giorno is Dio’s son (which is far less important to the plot than it sounds) and that it involves Italy and the mafia. That’s about it. Mostly I wondered what the JoJo take on the mafia would be. It’s about what one would expect!

Vento Aureo’s structure is quite different than Diamond Is Unbreakable; in fact, it’s more a throwback to Stardust Crusaders in that the story unfolds in a gauntlet of battles. This makes sense: Vento Aureo is going for the feel of a gangster thriller, so the Passione boys are constantly under attack from those who wish to disrupt their operations, whether that’s searching for someone’s secret stash of treasure or the aforementioned mission to protect the boss’ daughter. The main difference is that Vento Aureo’s plot is a bit deeper than that of Stardust Crusaders. Passione has its goals, the boss has his own goals, and there are also rogue elements in the mafia as a whole that go against both Passione and the boss. There’s an extra layer of stuff on top of all that at the end, but I probably won’t get too much into that.

With this in mind, though, I have to say this is the part where the seams of JoJo show a bit. Not so much that the story is ever outright bad — it’s far too entertaining for that — but enough that it’s not as neat as usual.

giogio_v49_012

Part of the genius of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is its shockingly simple formula. Depending on the character(s), the heroes stumble upon a Stand user or are ambushed and must suss out what this person’s powers are and how to counter them. The enemy Stand user is always in the ideal situation and setting for their power. The odds are always stacked against a hero — it is a battle of both mind and strength, a puzzle that must be thought about before it’s blasted to pieces. Stardust Crusaders really does an incredible job of establishing this formula, because for the most part, everyone’s powers are clear and easy to understand. Even the more esoteric ones — like the pair who act out the future based on terrible drawings — aren’t all that complicated. But though the powers are simple, Hirohiko Araki is great at writing situations where these powers can be at their most dangerous.

Diamond Is Unbreakable tweaks the formula by making the enemy Stands generally weirder and more complex, but it offsets this by requiring the heroes to endure a lot to really crack the riddles of these Stands. (Not that the Stardust Crusaders folks don’t endure a lot, but people get really fucked up in Diamond Is Unbreakable.) It makes sense — the more complex something is, the tougher it will normally be to figure it out. Then we get to Vento Aureo. It’s definitely good when it follows the basic path of the formula. For instance, there is an early battle where Giorno fights a Stand that moves around through shadows but is damaged by sunlight. That’s perfect — easy to get a grasp on, but flexible enough where there’s a lot that can be done with it over the course of a few chapters. It’s an effective, entertaining battle.

However, once the story moves on to some of the more complex Stands, things get a bit messier. A quick example: One of the Passione crew, Narancia, gets into a scrape with a Stand user who has the power to shrink people. This fight is kind of neat, though, in that it’s the villain who has to figure out the exact nature of Narancia’s Stand, Aerosmith, once the tables are turned and the villain needs to get the hell away. Problem is, part of Aerosmith’s power is so specific and relatively obscure that when you take into account the situation the villain is in, it is at the very least a huge stretch that he deduces the exact nature of Aerosmith’s ability.

The continual increase of Stand complexity ensures that this occurs a few more times during the course of the story. It’s not enough to unravel everything, but it does show the limits of the formula. Basically, whenever it feels as if Araki has a character guess the ability of a Stand user way too soon, then the formula falls apart, because the struggle is an essential part of the experience. The struggle to defeat a Stand user is good, but the mental struggle of piecing together exactly what a Stand user can do and when is what makes JoJo stand apart from other fighting stories. To be fair, though, this also highlights how much more difficult it is to write each successive part of JoJo. And while I have my qualms with how some battles play out, there are also plenty of examples of good fights with complex Stands where the heroes take their lumps and are on the razor’s edge of defeat before putting the pieces together and achieving victory.

I do miss the tangents Diamond Is Unbreakable often embarked upon. It had the freedom to do that because the main goal of the series — find the serial killer lurking in town — was often so murky, since Yoshikage Kira’s MO is downplaying his existence as much as possible. The search for a goal inevitably leads one down many paths. The goal of Vento Aureo, however, is more concrete, and thus the Passione crew runs full speed on a straight line to the endgame. (And are interrupted several times along the way, of course.) There are occasional breaks, though, in the form of flashback to the youths of each gang member. Some are interesting, some not so much. None are quite so entertaining as Josuke trying to cheat Rohan out of money.

Something I do like that Vento Aureo shares with Diamond Is Unbreakable is great use of its setting. The gang goes pretty much everywhere in Italy, from islands off the coast to Venice to Rome at the end. There’s a great variety of environments: Wide open spaces on both land and ocean, urban environments (both spaced out and close quarters). One of my favorite battles takes place on a train, and Araki squeezes pretty much everything he can out of that scenario. Even a battle in the sewers is fun and entertaining, though no doubt it would be shit if it were in a video game.

giogio_v49_045

More than 1,000 words in, and once again, I’m only now getting to the characters. I should just acknowledge that this will happen every time out. Anyway, as you can tell, Araki pushes the weirdness of the visual design even further than Diamond Is Unbreakable. They’re the prettiest pretty boy designs yet, and they’re plastered with visual motifs — the ladybugs with Giorno, zippers with Bruno, etc. I suppose there’s a sense of exoticness that would set them apart from Japanese protagonists. Personality-wise, this is also an interesting group of people. They have their own code of honor, but they’re also the most willing to kill of any set of JoJo heroes, which makes sense since they’re all gangsters. Even Giorno is willing to get his hands dirty for the sake of the greater good. That edge goes a long way toward making Giorno much more than a bland do-gooder.

There’s something interesting going on in Vento Aureo — this part basically has two main heroes. There’s the new JoJo (or GioGio), Giorno, but the group leader, Bruno, gets just as much play. As well he should, because Bruno is a fuckin’ boss. His Stand, Sticky Fingers, is one of my favorites in the series thus far. It has the same zipper motif as Bruno but somehow looks cool even though one of its zippers looks like a giant, dangling dong (intentionally, I’m sure). Its power is that it can unzip pretty much anything it touches. This translates into Bruno unizpping body parts from people, creating convenient escape paths and even unzipping holes in open space. The idea of that is just cool to me. Bruno also has a great charisma that makes him feel like a natural leader, whereas Giorno, while not exactly quiet, is more the lead by example type who is quite attentive. The two play off each other very well.

The rest of Bruno’s group is OK. I never really liked Pannacotta (second from the right in the image above) or Leone (far left) all that much, with the exception of Leone’s backstory. There is an interesting thing to note, however: Pannacotta is famously written out of the story because Araki made his Stand too powerful, to the point where even he could not design many interesting fights around it. I’d heard about this before I read this part, but it’s actually handled better than expected. Meanwhile, I quite liked Narancia (far right) and Guido (second from left). Narancia is the standard buttmonkey character — he is usually the first to fall victim to an enemy Stand. He’s a spunky dude, though, and I can’t help but feel for him since his life has been pretty shit up to this point. Guido is pretty much the “I like shooting stuff” dude, but his Stand is kind of interesting. It’s basically just a gun; however, along with regular ammo, he shoots sentient bullets that control the normal bullets after they exit the barrel. This is also one of the few Stands that talks and has a personality (or personalities in this case) all their own, so it’s fun to hear Guido chat it up with them. Also, it’s called Sex Pistols, which is just hilarious.

There’s also the boss’ daughter, Trish, who is fine enough but I think somewhat of a wasted opportunity. She eventually gets a Stand and has a decent battle, which is a pretty big deal because she’s the second heroic woman to be a Stand user and the first to actually fight on the side of the heroes. Problem is, she doesn’t get to do much else until the final battle, which is a shame, because I actually like her character arc. Trish is kind of an asshole when she first meets the gang, but in her situation, it’s an understandable response. Her confidence grows in a nice way, and I like her determination as bad shit keeps happening around her. I don’t know enough to make a statement, so I’ll pose a question instead: It was still a big deal at this time to have a woman fighting alongside the men, yes? It is something that changes bit by bit in JoJo. Lisa Lisa is plenty cool but is mostly a jobber. In Stardust Crusaders, a couple of the enemy Stand users are women. Diamond Is Unbreakable has Yukako. And then comes Trish. They all pave the way for Jolyne and the other ladies in Stone Ocean, which I’ve really been looking forward to reading.

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As for villains, well, much like Vento Aureo’s structure, this is also a throwback to Stardust Crusaders in that it’s a conga line of assassins who come after our friendly gangsters. There aren’t any big mini-bosses like in Diamond Is Unbreakable. The minor villains have more personality than most in Stardust Crusaders and are generally kookier, but in all, Diamond Is Unbreakable still has the best cast of bad guys. Then there’s The Boss, whom I’ll refer to as that on the off chance someone who hasn’t read Vento Aureo and knows nothing about the big bad is reading this right now. Have to keep some secrets and surprises, after all. Anyway, The Boss is an interesting dude in terms of how he’s constructed. He’s an amalgam of all the antagonists to this point — a combination of the ruthless lust for power of Cars and Dio and the all-consuming desire for anonymity of Yoshikage Kira. Those points aren’t mutually exclusive, either, though I suppose I’ll hold off on explicitly stating more.

I have to tiptoe around talking about The Boss, because I’d rather not spoil a lot about what makes him memorable, but what I do like is how his Stand, King Crimson (which is an amazing Stand name, btw, one of the best in the series thus far), contributes to his sense of superiority and arrogance. That’s one thread I like about main villain Stands in JoJo: In their ultimate forms, these Stands give their users some sort of godlike ability that makes them feel as if they control existence itself. Even though Araki inevitably has to go to ridiculous lengths to power up his heroes enough to take down the villains (it’s particularly egregious here), I do enjoy that he lets the villains get what they want, albeit temporarily, if only because it’s so much fun to see them react to winning.

One more thing: I liked Vento Aureo quite a bit, but consider it mostly a step back after Diamond Is Unbreakable. I probably would have rated it merely a fine, fun read if it weren’t for the ending, which goes to some weird places in a way that I like a lot. There’s some stuff beforehand about the origin of Stands and the Bow and Arrow that helps create Stands that I think is a bit dopey, but it’s worth it for how it ties into the ending and gives some extra urgency to getting things under control. Also, it gives Araki more excuses to draw gross stuff, which is always a plus. So, yeah, to me Vento Aureo is mostly Stardust Crusaders 2.0 but with a weirder ending. I’m fine with that.

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33 Comments

  1. Posted September 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    B-but Narancia is a girl, and the best waifu!…

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Narancia is a pretty good waifu.

      • maeru
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        In an attempt to keep things as vague and spoiler-free as possible, what are your opinions of Narancia’s… “character arc” by the very end of the story?

  2. Nadgers
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    That sewer part was actually the one of the things left out of the PS2 vento aureo game (of which I was a proud owner of a copy until I stepped on it).

    I like part 5 overall, I think it has some of the best fights and stands in the series. But it really kinda takes a dive at the very end, mostly due to the main baddie being bland IMO.

    It’s there with part 1 as my least favorite jojo parts. Still fun, but not as good as the series as a whole.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I think in some ways he’s interesting, but the whole anonymity thing works against him because there’s not enough time to get to know him, and he’s not as weird and distinctive as Kira. Hiding away works for Dio because we already knew him from Phantom Blood and it adds a layer of mystery since we don’t know what his Stand power is.

      And while King Crimson itself is fuckin’ awesome, the explanation of its power mostly confused me, really. I know what it’s SUPPOSED to do, but I could never parse the visual representation of it.

      • Nadgers
        Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        JJBA wiki has it explained pretty well. Personally I like to think that King crimson is just a lagswitch and the boss is the host.

  3. gedata
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I imagine that this comment section isn’t beholden to the anti spoiler policy of this post. That said, what did you make of the return of our favourite French hero?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 7, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I’ll allow a bit more leniency, though try to be as vague as you can! Your comment as is works fine, for example.

      I thought it was kind of weird, mostly because the added layers of WHERE STANDS COME FROM has become more bizarre by the part, haha. Much as I love him, imagining him as some sort of investigative spy is rather strange! But the requiem stuff at the end is pretty neat. That’s a big part of what I liked about the ending.

      • gedata
        Posted September 8, 2013 at 4:03 am | Permalink

        He must be rather fond of turtles now

      • Shinmaru
        Posted September 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Speaking of the turtle, I love its Stand name: Mr. President. Amazing.

  4. Johnny Joestar
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Very good review. Makes me want to re-read it, but I’ll wait for the new scans (which won’t be out for many a year, probably).

    My problem with Vento Aureo is that it has some really interesting concepts, but they’re never really used to their full potential. Like you pointed out, Giorno being DIO’s son isn’t very important to the plot; if he had been Josuke’s lost brother (just an example) the narrative wouldn’t have been much different.

    I also feel that Araki could have done much more with the gangster theme. Have you ever read the manga Banana Fish? Something like that would have been great. But on the other hand, the Italian setting is great and I would love for Araki to use it again sometime (part 9, maybe?).

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      Haha, yeah, I used shots only from the new scans because they’re so much better than the old ones.

      I’ve never read Banana Fish, though I’ve been aware of it for a while because I have a few friends who love it. One day I’ll probably read it.

      • maeru
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        Scan-wise, I’ve heard that the old scans miss the majority of The Boss’s menace and outright make shit up at times, so hopefully as the new scans come out things should make more sense overall. I’m curious, will you be/have you been reading the new scans for Parts 4 and 5 after your initial go-through?

      • Shinmaru
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        I read the new scans for parts 4 and 5 as much as I could, so I’ve seen most of part 4 through the new stuff and the beginning of part 5. I’ll probably go back and read them once they’re both finished, since the old stuff is so rough, haha.

  5. gedata
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    http://i.imgur.com/kHEWzDO.png

    We all could sympathize with Bruno here.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Especially because Bruno himself is heavily involved in some of the more WTF parts, haha.

  6. Nagisa33
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I played JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle for the PS3 and it was a blast. All the characters were perfectly represented (that I’m familiar with.) Jonathan has the Zoom Punch, his sword, and Sunlight Yellow Overdrive. Joseph has his clackers, his “now you’re going to say” line, and his secret (running away) technique.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Ahhhhhhhh, I really want my copy to arrive soon!!

  7. C
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    If there is one thing I like about the Boss it’s Doppio who can be considered part of his character. Added on his near Unbeatable power is introduced pretty early so people are always thinking of how to beat it.

    Still King Crimson is confusing when first read but once you get how it works it’s pretty simple. He skips time. During the Skipped time only he is incapable of interacting with the world but can move freely. Everyone else will interact with the world like they would have normally during the skipped time but have no memory of it. This Allows King Crimson to position it’self and land fatal blows when the skip ends.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Doppio is pretty fun, yeah. I like that aspect of The Boss, and I enjoyed it whenever Doppio would get a call on a phone.

  8. rubberluffy
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    The real problem with is Part 5 is there’s so much “oh shit…nevermind” and “whoops, need an explanation” parts to Araki’s writing of it. Giorno’s 2 abilities he never uses again, Fugo just leaving because Purple Haze is too OP, and a number other things. It’s just really inconsistent even though it’s fun and I didn’t have a ton of problems with it while I was reading it. It, more than the other parts, feels like Araki just wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with it, which can work when it helps the bizarreness, but also really hurts when you’re trying to understand just what the hell is even happening.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s part of what made me not really like Gold Experience as a Stand for a long time. The tricks that Giorno pulls with it just aren’t as interesting to me as what Crazy Diamond can do. I can forgive it being crazy overpowered at the end, though, just because it leads to a good ending.

      • c
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 4:05 am | Permalink

        Stone Free has a simple Power that is used very creatively which is probably why it’s my favorite Jojo Stand. I think you will like it as well.

    • gedata
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      The biggest question for me was how Giorno could resist creating a wacky zoo of his very own.

  9. T1g
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Oh man if you thought the stuff in part 5 was bizarre, just wait until you hit part 6, it had some of the craziest shit I have seen. Sky High, Under World, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dragon’s Dream, basically every single encounter is really fucking crazy.

    Also I still expect you to write about All Star Battle when you get it. I have a friend who is knowledgeable about fighting games working on a detailed character gameplay analysis for every character, I just want to hear what you think about this totally fucking awesome game.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      That has me even more hyped for Stone Ocean! Huzzah!

      We’ll see what happens when I actually get the game, which I hope will happen this week. I’m honestly not really a fighting game player, so I’m not sure how good any analysis I do would be, but we’ll see!

      • T1g
        Posted September 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Yeah I don’t expect a really in depth fighting game analysis from you, I just want your analysis as a Jojo fan

    • maeru
      Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:51 am | Permalink

      A word of advice about ASB, though. If you haven’t started (and finished) Stone Ocean by the time the game arrives, I’d definitely steer clear of the Part 6 story mode- there are major spoilers that will impact the full experience of reading that you’d get otherwise. (Story mode only unlocks one character from Part 6, so you can still have loads of fun playing VS mode as Jolyne or Hermes) I can’t in fairness give anything away but… let’s just say that everything you may have heard about what the end of Part 6 will do to you is probably true, and it’s best to go in with no prior knowledge. The story parts in the game can be played in any order, though so there’s plenty to tide you over until you finish- not to mention the kickass campaign mode.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I wasn’t really planning on playing story mode for any of the parts I haven’t finished yet. I don’t think there are English subtitles (at least I haven’t heard about any), but still, even seeing stuff is something I’d rather save for after I read Stone Ocean/Steel Ball Run and start Jojolion.

      • maeru
        Posted September 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Sadly, no subtitles, although there’ve been rumors circulating around about an eventual EU/US release, but I’m not optimistic with all the copyrights involved. Even so, the voice acting in the game is AMAZING. The soundtrack too, for that matter.

  10. fluffybunnyboy
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    If you think that the powers are too complex and convoluted now, just wait until you get to Stone Ocean and Steel Ball Run.

    It gets especially bad when Araki stops doing the “Stand explanation” pages, and occasionally doesn’t bother to explain what’s going on within the manga panels either.

    • fluffybunnyboy
      Posted September 19, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      Damn, used the wrong email for that last post. =P

    • Shinmaru
      Posted September 19, 2013 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Haha, well, it was just the one that kind of confused me, though I must admit there are one or two parts of early Stone Ocean that have left me thinking, “What in the hell is actually going on in the page right now??”

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