Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is an eclectic series. So much so that each part requires no prior knowledge and can be enjoyed for what it is. Each part is also so different from each other you wonder if you’re watching the same franchise.
The series also likes to present different views of “heroes” and “villains”. Golden Wind in particular, has given unique look at the spectrum that is masculinity and “what is a man”. Yes many anime feature men who make the point of what a man “should or shouldn’t be”.
Golden Wind doesn’t waste its time around with those old and tired depictions. Men, their character, their masculinity, sexuality, and etc are on display because why not. The series focuses on its narrative while showing us what we can be/are. It forgoes what we’ve been accustomed to while also reinforcing some bad tropes. *The entire series and its ending will be spoiled. You’ve been warned*
Before continuing, I should admit the obvious irony at hand with this article. Yes I am examining masculinity in anime that’s highly violent and dramatic. So violent that certain scenes and subject can be legitimately triggering. Yes they are shows also provide a look at the spectrum of masculinity without violent elements. Despite this, the points here are still valid.
“Fashion should be a form of escapism and not a form of imprisonment.” — Alexander McQueen
The easiest and first matter to examine would be appearances. At first glance this may seem superficial but this is very substantive. Since Part 4, gone are the massive overtly muscular men inspired by older shonen series. Now, the world of Jojo features more demure men and their lithe bodies being common place. One of the choices of changing how characters look may have been an active decision for them to appear to be more relatable?
It’s no surprise that everyone looks like a model (all JJBA characters do really). Their bodies and how they present themselves on screen exude high fashion inspirations. *Err before I continue, I’m speaking mainly about men because we don’t have really have women present here*
So with this in mind, number characters wear a variety of gender non conforming attire, characters such Illuso, Sale, Narancia, the boss, and etc.
Like in real life, these men are wearing what they want, went they want because they have the freedom/choice to do so. It’s a freedom of expression. It’s also purposeful that series features what is arguably considered the most attractive men throughout the entire franchise. This is to again move away from what we consider the “masculine norm”.
Anime has always had a long history with beautiful men as they permeate every show, manga, and etc you can think of. Someone can be dangerous no matter what they look like; it can be an unassuming person, a fit person, and in this case him in that killer designer outfit. The physically threatening male body serves no purpose here. The threat and danger someone possess is now determined by abilities and mental fortitude — all due to the fact that battles are determined by Stands.
What are Stands?:
Stands; are the psychic manifestation of one’s life energy. As such they can appear to be anything and do anything. They all have their respective strengths and weaknesses. For example, the character Narancia uses the Stand, Aero Smith (Lil Bomber) as a radar and long distance attacker. Stands also nearly eliminate the need for a user to ever physically attack someone barefisted.
What good is being a mass of muscles if my psychic fighter plane and render you unable to move? It’s a matter of mind games and out thinking the opponent. Case in point, Bucciarati taping the railing of the train, to distract Giorno as he sucker punched him. The sleight of hand and using any/all resources arguably is more pronounced here then Diamond is Unbreakable. In terms of masculinity, the appearance of men in the series are in fact more artistic and expressive.
To get a better sense of the spectrum of masculinity we would next need to examine relationships. It’s obvious that in regards to positive male relationships; we could just look at Bucciarati’s faction within in the Passione gang. Throughout their missions we see all manner of camaraderie and trust among them. They literally risk their lives for each other so the entire group can succeed. It’s easy then to almost forget they’re very young. Which adds another layer to the positive aspects of their actions.
It’s almost like a constant battle of young men versus older (not by much) as their outlook on life saves the day. -This isn’t just a Jojo franchise staple but common one among manga and anime-
Most foes they’ve faced have attacked them alone. This is rather illogical as the series often implies how dangerous it is to fight multiple Stand users. One of my favorite examples being the encounter with hitman Ghiaccio and his White Album Stand. Both Giorno and Mista found themselves in dire straights against the icy Stand. Mista was nearly dead when he presented an opportunity for Giorno to finally dispose of Ghiaccio. This would’ve have been impossible if either faced him alone.
Many victories came from characters recognizing their own faults and growing to overcome them. Their opponents often lose for the exact opposite reasons. Well, I should they mostly lose for those reasons.
The opposition also provides us viewers with positive…well mostly positive relationships as well. With the hitman duo of Pesci and Prosciutto we got to see the benefits of positive reinforcement. After nearly, botching the mission, Pesci, expressing a great deal of worry and concern over the mission. Being his teammate Prosciutto helps Pesci overcome his mental hurdles.
What Pesci fears is that he isn’t strong or skilled enough to stop Bucciarati and co. Whom better than a mentor to tell him this is simply false.
Please note, these kind words come after Pesci was his repeatedly by Proscuitto for screwing up. He then proceed reassures him dramatically. Yes, he does so in dramatic fashion, because that’s what the series is. The visually intimacy is to reinforce the point that this is serious. They aren’t working together by mere happenstance, he needs him to guarantee victory. Our job performances after all are dependent on our mental fortitude.
To that end, Pesci does become motivated thanks to his mentor’s words and actions. It’s important to note; no one’s Stand abilities are completely perfect or unbeatable. So, facing off against someone with an iron clad resolve becomes another life or death battle of wits.
It would be merely stereotypical if we only see admirable male depictions via violence only. So it would crucial to view the actions of Bucciarati as he formed his team. The audience learns that the young man recruited others like himself. Cast out by society, ostracized by the system, victims of cruel circumstances, and etc.
Through Abbiacho, he offered him a means of leaving his painful past. With Fugo he gave an intelligent young man with anger management issues a chance. With Nirancia he gave a boy a chance back at a normal life. With Mista, he saw someone with a great deal of skill and vigor for life.
Outcasts or rather those pushed out by society are unjustly seen a less than human. Through the great compassion in his heart he gave them worth and self worth. Keep in mind, Bucciarati saw value in all their lives prior to any of them having Stand powers as well. He could’ve chosen others he knew through his gang affiliations but he chose to build his team though sympathy and empathy.
I understand I make him sound like a saint but he most definitely is a criminal let’s not forget that. A man can be more than what he is. Bruno’s character defining altruism also extends to his concern for the city. When Trish, the boss’ daughter was scared to met her father for the first time. Only Bruno could offer her strength and kind words to be able to do so.
As I’ve focused mainly on analyzing and examining positive depictions of masculinity in Golden Wind, all of it isn’t good. In fact there’s a number of bad aspects that deserve to be spoken about. These aspects are the weakest parts of the series in my opinion because of their handling of serious subject matters.
To begin we’ll look at Sorbert and Gelato of the Hitman Team. They were only seen and mentioned once however that was enough. We learn that the two were killed off screen. They served as a highly disturbing reminder to the rest of their team, to stay away from the boss’ identity.
The series barely makes mention of male sexuality. Yet it would be a mistake to say that it has nothing to say on the subject. This is where Sorbet and Gelato come in. As soon as we hear their names their romantic relationship which is also actively sexual, is introduced to us as well.
Now, of course a gay and or queer man is as natural as the sky is blue. The problem is what happened to these two. The only (as far as we know) queer men of the hitman team are killed.
The problem here is a tired & old narrative trope. Queer characters deaths serving to push the narrative along for their heterosexual counterparts. Now series creator & author, Hirohiko Akari probably wasn’t aware of that he was playing this trope. You could argue this, as this was written during 1998-1999 (takes places in 2001), that’s still not an excuse as this trope has been used for decades across multiple mediums.
Regardless of the fact, what we see is that 2 queer men we made examples of. Everyone on the team was in danger for potentially betraying the boss. But again why did it have to be two gay men? It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they were almost punished for being gay. Even the best of writers have slip ups. Perhaps, then you could argue that men expressing the spectrum of sexuality isn’t really shown as inherently bad. Well…the negativity surrounding queer male relationships happens again.
The second time we see this is via the assassin team of Tiziano (note: only brown person on the show) and Squalo. As Bucciarati and the team draw near the boss’ identity these two trusted members of the Boss are sent to kill them.
While it is not out right said, maybe we can assume that these two have a romantic relationship or close one. Again, we should understand a man’s sexuality and relationships can be as fluid & defined as he chooses them to be.
Now, the only reason I’m mentioning them is because their good characters. They work well together (Narancia was almost killed) and are (might be) queer. It’s a shame that another set of gay men as associated with “the bad guys”.
For a show that doesn’t speak about men’s sexuality it doesn’t seem to have an issue with having them in the villain spot. Queer men can/are heroes as well. I’m sure it just happens to be a coincidence that none are present in this series…
Moving on to a different male relationship, the last villain duo of Cioccolata and Secco. It’s established immediately that the two are a last ditch effort of the boss to stop Bucciarati and crew. Their methods are seen as utterly reckless and dangerous.
So what’s the problem here? Mere moments before Cioccolata is defeated, he sends Secco a voice message about his mission progress and tells him he loves him. Unfortunately, Secco reacts negatively to said message and moves on. The point here is that this is the only time in the series that a man tells another man he loves him.
Questionable relationship dynamics aside, why is love expressed by a villain? Not only a villain but a sadistic psychopath at that? For a show that showcases so many various male relationships it’s disappointing that the spoken words of “I love you” are presented in this manner.
It would’ve been much more powerful if the words came from a healthy relationship of some kind. As it’s presented, we unfortunately see a man’s strong feelings and their expression associated as something bad. Even in 2019, us expressing our strong emotions aren’t seen as a good thing. Truth is masculinity isn’t ever “at danger” from platonic, romantic, and etc love of any kind.
Thus far we’ve seen some good and some not so good depictions of masculinity. We might as well just go to the worst man. The worst traits of being a man I believe are held by the main antagonist, the boss, aka Divalo. Divalo is what happens when we take our egos and selfishness to the utmost extreme. All abhorrent aspects of his character solidify this.
Originally, he gave Bucciarati the task of protecting Trish to deliver her to him safely. Socially, it’s ingrained in our minds that a father would/should want to protect his child. Even if you don’t want to be a dad, at the very least you’d wish for their well being. So it would make sense he’d ask a trusted individual to make sure she comes unharmed.
Well, Divalo essentially said nah to the whole “a father should do this”. He needed her delivered to him so he could dispose of her. We discover that he sees her as a liability to his identity. — It should be noted that early on we saw that anyone that attempted to learn who he is places a target on themselves.
So, as long as she lives, he believes his life and his control over the crime empire are in danger. Trish is an obstacle for him to over come as he so puts it — Add attempted filicide to his list of crimes.
An antiquated thought is a man “should be” bold and forth coming. The criticism regarding the boss isn’t this. It’s how far is he willing to go to protect his identity? Is all of this caution warranted? Being cautious doesn’t mean one isn’t “manly”. Yes, it’s fair to say his actions are that of a man that sees his organization as a kingdom he will not relinquish.
His ego and intense self preservation have been qualities that he’s long held onto, dating back to his youth. When someone comes of age it’s something of a celebration of where you came from as you move forward to the future. Divalo, instead used that time to destroy the only family he had in the world.
Again, he wanted, no he needed no ties to his identity as he went forth into the world. It’s one thing to not have a relationship with your family but he choose to literally murder them. Using others as mere stepping stones for your own personal pursuits? Where have I heard that before…
It’s not as if he’s undeniably reprehensible or evil. He did offer many opportunities through Passione. However, much like a CEO; are they “good” if they have little to no regard for their employees? And care only for their own personal gain?
The boss’ actions almost underline his powerful abilities and cunning. His Stand is powerful and he can skip time. Still, him being known in face, name, and ability causes him a great deal of fear. I’d dare say, his secretive nature and caution is a distorted cowardice if you will.
That cowardice reinforces itself, when understand the full extent of whom he trusts. In the end ,to keep himself safe he only trusted himself. Or rather in this case he trusted Doppio.
You are the only one I can trust. Understand? You are my greatest — Diavolo
Doppio is the other completely separate personality/person within himself. He’s also the face/body/mask of his younger self he uses to navigate the world undetected.
To defeat the last hitman seeking his truth he choose to fight him as Doppio. He wanted to keep his secrets hidden, even if it meant that his life was in danger. The boss was nearly killed as he became victorious — self preservation be damned.
He’s also not above sacrificing anyone for his own benefit. Be they subordinates, his enemies, his family, and or even his daughter. He’s not even above sacrificing himself.
Near the end, when characters’ minds were switched, this allow him the chance to attack everyone. For him to use this rare opportunity, Doppio was his sacrificial lamb. As they were unaware of his other personality, they were under the impression they took care of the boss.
Diavolo was able to get close enough by literally letting a part of himself die. How many times can you recall stories of men whom were self destructive enough to reach their own goals?
If we can consider Bucciarati is a compassionate man, Divalo is most definitely a narcissistic one.
It’s almost too coincidental a show like Golden Wind is airing. Now, more than ever we are acknowledging what’s flawed with social norms at large — Norms? It would be more fitting to say out dated schools of thought.
Here we have a show based on a manga that was written nearly 20 years ago. Yet, through this we see the construct of what is “a man, manly” challenged. Masculinity as know has no definitive blueprint. The more positive aspects of being human proved to more virtuous when they clashed against what we know to be problematic.
These young men dared to confront older ideals for the benefit of their city and its people. Together they faced numerous threats and dangers believing in themselves as much as they did others. We see the things come to fruition when Giorno eventually becomes the new boss of Passione. It’s important to note that Mista, someone he often worked with, is still by his side.
Ultimately, what is masculinity? Golden Wind, tell us it’s a lot of things truthfully speaking. It’s having the ability to be a murderous fashionista gangsters. It’s being conventionally attractive while being utterly repulsive in spirit.
Or maybe it’s about having a heart of gold to face destructive ambition…while looking like you’re about to head off to Paris Fashion Week.