Today let's explore the brilliant design choices and tactical wizardry of a truly brilliant JoJo battle!
Hey folks, and welcome back to Why It Works! Today we’re gonna be breaking down the finer points of one of JoJo’s most recent battles, as we discuss the clever turns and brilliant natural escalation of Bucciaratti’s recent clash with the ominous Secco. I actually wrote a similar piece way back when I started writing for Crunchyroll, and Hirohiko Araki’s understanding of tension and tactically grounded battles seems to have only improved since that fight. The contrasting advantages provided by Zipperman and Sanctuary, and the way each of these combatants continuously shift the terms of their engagement, felt like a stunning demonstration of JoJo action at its best. Starting from the beginning of their solo duel, let’s explore the nuts and bolts of what makes this fight work!
Bucciaratti and Secco’s battle begins with Secco almost in melee range, cackling about the death of his former partner. With both Secco and Bucciaratti nearly in arm’s reach, this first stage is a brutally dangerous ballet of precise physical and fantastical movements. Since Secco and Bucciaratti’s Stands are each better-suited for utility than direct combat, here they mostly supplement the physical action, making for a fight that feels that much more tense and visceral.
JoJo often embraces body horror to profound dramatic effect (like in its grotesque Risotto battle), and this sequence carries much of the same appeal. Through barely-missed brutality like Bucciaratti’s attempted decapitation, JoJo evokes something like the desperate immediacy of a knife fight, where every single swing carries the potential for catastrophic personal injury. Meanwhile, this fight’s clear physical dimensions and desperate choreography make its tactical beats clear to anyone who possesses a body and understands space. We don’t need explanations to understand the momentum of the fight, because it’s clear simply in how each of them physically manipulates the space around them.
After trading blows in a genuine physical sparring match, the second stage of this battle involves a very different contrast - Stand versus Stand. This segment is heralded, as many JoJo turns are, by a sudden innovation: Bucciaratti using his Stand in order to mirror Secco’s abilities. This in turn forces Secco to demonstrate the full nature of his underground movement, relinquishing the horror appeal of the mystery in order to set up a more tactically coherent contrast of powers. This handoff is one of JoJo’s most reliable conceits; fights tend to start as horror-tinged mysteries, where the “victory condition” is discovering the nature of the enemy’s Stand, before eventually transitioning into tactical puzzles, where these known powers are stretched to their limits in order to surpass each other.
During this stage, each contestant attempts to reorganize the battlefield in such a way that favors their own powers. In this battle’s case, Secco takes the upper hand here through two escalating reveals: First, the introduction of the stone spears, which serve as a clever, satisfying extrapolation of his ability to turn solid surfaces into melting mud. Then, the tension is further ratcheted up through the reveal that Secco’s powers also work on people, putting a harsh timer on Bucciaratti’s survival in the most gruesome possible way.
Those intimidating advantages lead this fight into the requisite final act, where all hell breaks loose. Be it a burning plane spiraling towards the earth, an orb of death rolling towards your head, or an… entirely different plane spiraling towards the earth, JoJo battles tend to resolve in a vision of chaos, as the battlefield is shattered and all participants seem half-dead. Then, at the point where Bucciaratti seems utterly defeated, he unveils his dramatic reversal. Bucciaratti’s trick here combines two consistent JoJo techniques - using the opponent’s decisions against them, and reassessing the fundamental nature of the battle.
The first technique here is used in a pretty obvious way; the show used “Secco is getting closer and starting to melt Bucciaratti” to raise the dramatic tension, but Bucciaratti soon reveals he actually wanted Secco to pursue him. The second is a little more convoluted, but results in a similar satisfying sense of turning weakness into strength. By framing the fight in terms of Secco’s ability to manipulate their surroundings, JoJo is able to make it seem like Bucciaratti cannot possibly win, because we’re being lead to assess the battlefield in terms most favorable to Secco (this is partly why JoJo villains talk so much). When Bucciaratti pops the tire and Secco’s ears at once, he reveals he’s been assessing this battlefield on entirely different terms, and finding a lateral solution to a problem we were being “trained” to only assess directly. This offers the audience the satisfaction of a clever, unexpected solution, while also allowing the fight to appear unwinnable up until the exact moment it is won.
And then, of course, there’s the payback. JoJo battles are famed for their ferocity, but also almost as well known for the indulgent glee with which each hero claims their victory. After a reversal that embodies Joseph’s classic “the next thing you’re going to say is…”, Bucciaratti crushes Secco, humiliates him in front of his boss, and at last takes out the trash. Araki’s understanding of satisfying action storytelling may still be growing, but some things never change.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration of JoJo’s clever action storytelling, and please let me know all your own favorite JoJo battles in the comments!
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