This is incredibly late, but Happy Valentine's Day! It took quite a while for me to choose which character to tl;dr for this editorial, but eventually I decided on my all-time favorite—Jolly from Arcana Famiglia. WARNING: Contains major spoilers for Arcana Famiglia.
So I was actually contemplating between choosing Jolly or Fuuto from Brothers Conflict, but then I realized that I already rambled about Fuuto on a voice meme… Besides, the recent announcement and scans for Arcana Famiglia 2 completely revived all the feelings I have for Jolly. Just as the title suggests, this won't be a public love letter for Jolly, but more like records of who he is, what he did and what happened to him. I know it's so unromantic for Valentine's, but hopefully it can deliver the reasons why I love Jolly so much.
Introduction: Who is Jolly?
Jolly is the advisor or Arcana Famiglia. He also acts as the right hand man of Mondo, the "Papa" or leader of the family. Whenever Mondo is away, Jolly is in charge of issuing commands. This puts him on the second highest position in the family, directly under Mondo himself. However, Jolly's reputation in Regalo isn't too good. Due to his tendency of making cold-hearted, merciless decisions, everyone in the island is pretty much terrified of him. It doesn't help that Jolly spends most of his time lurking in his dark laboratory, rarely showing himself in front of people. Being the notorious troll that he is, Jolly often does things he knows would annoy people. This is because before Felicita comes into his life, the only person he cares about is Mondo. He couldn't care less about anything else, and only does things he judges as necessary. This is also what makes him the most misunderstood character in Arcana Famiglia, but we'll get to that later. He's the holder of "The Moon", and his power can revive the nightmare of your bitter past.
On the other hand, Jolly's skills as an alchemist are undoubtedly top-notched. Despite their fear towards him, everyone in Regalo knows how good he is in this area. Jolly is the best alchemist in the island, but again… he doesn't care. Jolly uses his knowledge in alchemy to conduct a mysterious research regarding Tarocco in his dark lab, and no one is allowed to enter without permission. That's why nobody knows the details of Jolly's research, other than the fact that he uses octopi. A whole LOT of them. From time to time he would drop by the market and buys ALL octopi on sale, but who knows what he actually does with them. Some members of the family also reported that Jolly talks to a rat that lives in his lab, and in the latest installment in the series, he can be seen talking to a chicken as well. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ Despite his exterior, Jolly actually has a cute side too. He would give you 1001 technical reasons for this, but he actually loves sweets a lot.
Jolly's age is a mystery, though based on the hints given, he should be around 40-45 years old.
Now as for why he's so devoted to Mondo, let's move on to our next point.
Background: Origins and Reasons
Before coming to Regalo, Jolly spent his childhood with his grandfather. They were living in an unknown land, working as keepers of a deserted graveyard. Jolly and his grandfather would gather the corpses lying around in the barren land and give them a proper burial. Mondo eventually reach this land during one of his journeys, and he collapsed out of hunger in front of their shack. Jolly was the one who found and woke him up. The first thing Mondo did was to ask for food, but he was shocked upon seeing what lied inside the shack—the corpse of Jolly's grandfather. Since Jolly had no one else, he had been living with the corpse of his grandfather for who knows how long. He was alone without food or warmth.
Seeing Jolly reminded Mondo of his own son, Joshua. They're about the same age, and so Mondo decided to take Jolly in. After burying Jolly's grandfather in the graveyard, Mondo took his hand and brought him to Regalo. Ever since that day, Mondo has become his world. His life revolves around Mondo, and everything he does is always for Mondo's sake. Jolly doesn't care what people thinks about him. All he cares about is Mondo's life and safety, even if it means sacrificing other people in return. Loyalty and devotion aside, this also prevented Jolly from growing further—unfortunately. He's basically stuck on Mondo. He never moves (and doesn't want to move) from there. For Jolly, Mondo is his everything. If you do the normal ending in Arcana Famiglia, Jolly can be found screaming "Mondo!" during Mondo's battle with Felicita.
Research: What did he do?
This is the most questionable part in Jolly's life. What did he do to make so many people hate him?
After staying with Mondo for a while, Jolly eventually learns that as the holder of "The World", Mondo has to hold all the other Arcana that don't have a bearer yet. This puts a heavy burden on Mondo's body, and his health keeps on deteriorating. Jolly then decided to conduct a research on Tarocco in order to search for a way to release Mondo from that burden. He did a lot of things. Questionable things. First, he used children as his research subject. Some of his first victims were Pace, Debito and Luca—his own son. Jolly attached an Arcana to each of them by force, even though they brought fatal side effects for Debito and Pace. He also knew that Debito's body isn't strong enough to handle his arcana, "The Hermit", but that didn't stop him. Instead, he installed an amethyst into Debito's eye socket as a stabilizer. This caused Debito to get haunted by pain and nightmares, and "Strength" significantly shortens Pace's life span in return of granting him enormous power… but Jolly doesn't care. As long as they hold their Arcana, it means less burden on Mondo.
Next comes the Casa Bianca incident. Casa Bianca is an orphanage located in the northern lands, but it was actually another research facility for Tarocco. The details are a bit unclear whether Jolly was the mastermind or not, but he was involved. According to Liberta, the orphanage staff treated him violently—trying to figure out how to bring out his Arcana power. This eventually leads to Liberta burning down the whole place, and he was saved by Dante. However, all these research were not enough. Mondo is still holding most of the vacant cards, and Jolly took another measure. He started creating homunculus, hoping they will be able to hold some of the Arcana cards. Eventually he managed to make one who can hold "The Tower"—Elmo—but his research got stumped after that. He failed to create more, and he ended up raging in his lab out of frustration. This eventually drives him to use the last resort—asking Felicita to use "Wheel of Fortune". Jolly knows really well that "Wheel of Fortune" will wipe out her memories, but that doesn't stop him anyway. All that he wants is for Mondo's life to be saved. That's all.
Maturity, Development and Felicita's Role
So as I said above, Jolly has been stuck on Mondo for a LONG time. Mondo is his world, and in a way, Jolly is just like a kid who keeps clinging to his father. The pause in his maturity is further enhanced by the fact that he drank a failed elixir. For Mondo, Jolly tried making an elixir that will grant eternal youth and immortality. He thought it'd be a nice way to resist Tarocco's power, but it ended in a failure. The elixir didn't give Jolly immortality. Instead, it stopped his physical growth—that's why he looks so young. Now if you look back at his devotion towards Mondo, you can see that Jolly's growth is pretty much stuck mentally AND physically. Even though Mondo is a great figure, the attachment causes Jolly to live in an incredibly small world. In his eyes there's only Mondo and no one else.
…until Felicita comes into his life.
Of course at first Jolly doesn't care about Felicita either. He started growing feelings for her somewhere along the way, but he didn't realize this until she used "Wheel of Fortune" and became an empty shell with no memories. Even at that state, Felicita still tried to follow Jolly whenever they met. After spending some time to think about this, Jolly decided to use "The Moon" to restore Felicita's memories… and thus marks the change in him. For the first time after coming to Regalo, he did something for someone other than Mondo. He even asked for Mondo's help to strengthen his power. As he pulls Felicita's locked memories out, Jolly sees himself occupying a large portion of her mind… and he came to realize that she's in love with him.
From there, Jolly's world starts expanding. He becomes more open towards Felicita, and he starts to speak using "俺" instead of the usual "私". Vascello Fantasma shows that Jolly is actually confused by the change in him, because he's still the same old him… but at the same time, he cares a lot about Felicita. He wasn't sure how to face this change, but eventually he realized that he needs to broaden his horizons—accepting the fact that he has to move on from Mondo. Jolly finally finds a new world after so long, and Felicita is standing at the center of his world. It's a nice change compared to his old perspective, in which Mondo was the actual world and everything to him. At the same time, it also shows that Jolly has matured ever since he found Felicita.
He's still a troll though. I don't think that side will ever change.
Actually, please don't change. Jolly isn't Jolly if he's not constantly trolling people.
Why I love Jolly?
Putting aside the fact that he's smokin' hot, I love Jolly a lot because he's such an interesting character. He's not the straightforward type who showers you with affection and sweet words, but in his own way, he can show that he really cares about you. People may hate him because of what he did, and I won't say that his actions can be justified… but he's such a devoted person. For Mondo's sake, Jolly doesn't mind doing dirty work and receiving hatred. He doesn't mind sacrificing himself (e.g. drinking that failed elixir) if it can ease Mondo's burden. I just can't hate someone like that. In fact, I was touched by his devotion. If anyone says Jolly is doing all those things for the sake of being a jerk, I might create another tl;dr to defend him. Or hurl a bunch of octopi their way. Jolly is a troll, yes, but he has a valid reason for doing all those stuff.
On the other hand, I feel that they're not done developing Jolly yet. By the end of Vascello Fantasma, Jolly is just starting to grow. We haven't seen how he's going to turn out after that, and so I'm looking forward to see him again in Arcana Famiglia 2. If you take a look at the scans, Jolly's line says:
With this, you and me are partners in crime.
Note how Jolly uses "俺" there. He also speaks like that at the end of Vascello Fantasma, but before that he tend to switch it around with his usual "私"—because that's how he's been speaking all this time. Somehow it's implying that Jolly has grown some more during the time skip, and I can't wait to see that growth. Plus, he's still as hot as a sin. ヽ(*´ー`*)ﾉ
No, I don't have any idea about Luca's mother either. I doubt it's a real woman though, because even when Joshua eloped with Liberta's mother, Jolly didn't show ANY interest towards romance… and Luca is much older than Liberta. Up until this point I still have this 50:50 doubt that Luca might be a homunculus, especially since he doesn't change AT ALL in Arcana Famiglia 2, but only HuneX knows the truth.