Man, I’d be really curious to know if this ‘Tiger Balm Garden’ is an actual place. I know that the Stardust Crusaders will be journeying to Singapore next episode, and this spot really makes me think of Haw Par Villa. It's more-or-less a Taoist theme park, and it has an extensive collection of statues and mannequins depicting figures like the Monkey King, the Jade Emperor and, of course, the Laughing Buddha. Its infamous centerpiece is a giant dragon which visitors can take a boat through, and see various animatronic mannequins in the Ten Courts of Hell. I’m talking about truly gruesome scenes of people being skinned and boiled alive by demons.
In short, it’s a location that Araki would surely have a lot of fun with…
[SHOGUN'S NOTE: A Google search reveals that Haw Par Villa is actually one of three Tiger Balm Gardens. Evidently, that park made such an impression on me, I recognized it through an anime.]
A while back, Sam and I were discussing our favorite anime tropes on the Vice Pit, and I picked the Reformed Villain as my #1 choice. You know the type I’m talking about. Vegeta, Piccolo, Hiei and countless others fit under the umbrella. The tradition of the trope actually goes back much farther than the entire history of anime. Joseph Campbell’s famous monomyth has a stage described as the ‘brother battle’ where the Hero with 1,000 Faces must battle a foe who will eventually join his questing band.
JOJO’s has been hitting his button fairly often. Last arc, it was only Caesar who filled the role (Von Stroheim sort-of fit it, but to a lesser extent). This arc, it’s been filled by nearly every character Jojo’s come to blows with - - first Avdol, then Kakyoin, and now Polnareff -- and most of them have been controlled by Dio’s little, monstrous buds.
I guess if I were to get a little nitpicky, I’d say that this has gotten just a little rote. The reason I like this trope is because villain’s face turn really turns the premise over. You’ve hissed at Vegeta over an entire arc because he’s been desperately trying to kill Goku - - how much of a head trip is it to finally root for him? In this stretch, we don’t really get to hate the bad guys before they go good. It’s not like, say, Dio suddenly turning face. So it feels less like a carefully-plotted thriller, and more like an epic going through prerequisite paces before we get to the real intrigue with these reformed not-quite-baddies.
Are any of lunatics with me in this minute, hyper-specific objection?