Featured Image provided courtesy of NKN (DeviantArt; Facebook).
I’ve agonized over how to start this review for weeks now, and I still haven’t found the right words to fit my feelings, so let’s just cut to the quick – I love Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 6: Stone Ocean. I know it has its haters, I know it’s not the most technically sound arc, but damn if it isn’t one of the most fun, uplifting, inventive, and mind-boggling pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time. So yes, dear readers, you get to go from a week of me ranting to a post of me gushing, and both are probably going to get me booted from the core Jojo fandom, but such is life! Since I’ve already ham-fisted this opening, let’s roll right into our overview!
Stone Ocean takes us back to the core story of the Jojo universe: that is, the confrontation between Dio and the Joestars. This time, our hero is the young Jolyne Kujo, estranged daughter of everyone’s favorite badass, Jotaro. Jolyne is a high schooler growing up in Florida who gets mixed up in the wrong crowds, as we meet her on her way to the Green Dolphin Street Prison after taking the fall for a vehicular homicide that her boyfriend, Romeo Jisso, had drunkenly caused. On her way to being interrogated, she pricks herself on a shard of the Stand Arrow hidden in a locket given to her by her father and awakens her ability, Stone Free, which allows her to unravel her body into string.
It’s a really awesome power (imagine Spider-Man-type webbing, but even more versatile), but the visuals for it are at once glorious and horrifying. Also, the design for Stone Free, itself, are really cool.
Anyways, eventually, Jotaro shows up to talk with his daughter, but she’s having none of it – he’s been an absentee father most of her life, and she still resents him, having no reason to care. Jotaro tries to repent, but explains he has little time – there are agents of Dio housed in and controlling the prison, and they’ll be coming after her, so Jolyne has to prioritize escaping. But before he can escape, daddy JoJo is attacked by a mysterious Stand called Whitesnake, who pulls from his head two “disks” – one containing his Stand, and one which hold his memories. Without these, Jotaro falls to the ground, nearly dead, just barely able to tell Jolyne how much she means to him before he blacks out. But now our newest JoJo has a goal: find Whitesnake’s controller, defeat them, and restore her father to health.
Yeah… there’s a lot more body-horror in this one.
Along the way, Jolyne recruits a merry band of allies – most notably, her core compatriots Ermes Costello and Foo Fighters, who help make this the WOMANLIEST of Jojo arcs.
Ermes is likely Jolyne’s best friend, having met her on the ride over to the prison. A strong-willed woman with a distinctive dreadlocked-look, she’s the one member who actually wants to be in Green Dolphin Street – it’s the best way for her to be close enough to her sister’s murderer, Sports Maxx, to exact her revenge. She gains the Stand Kiss, a close-range fighter with the ability to plant kiss-marked stickers which duplicate whatever they are stuck to and, if removed, bring the cloned objects rapidly smashing back together.
Foo Fighters joins the crew a little bit later, and in an odd way. You see, she’s not exactly human… Well, not any more, at least. You see, F.F. is actually a colony of sentient plankton, who take on the form of a deceased inmate after being granted Stand disks by Whitesnake. What? Don’t look at me like that! Bizarre is literally in the title, what more do you want?! So yeah, F. F. changes sides when Jolyne convinces Ermes they should spare it, and she quickly becomes an integral part of the team, as it’s always good to have a potent shapeshifter around! However, should she go without water for too long, F.F. is severely debilitated.
The first ally Jotaro tells Jolyne to search out in the prison is a child by the name of Emporio Alnino, a boy born to a female inmate. Emporio hides in the corners and pipelines of Green Dolphin Street, making sure never to be found. He’s a timid but helpful young lad, and his Stand reflects this, as Burning Down the House has literally no combat applications: it’s merely a secret room filled with all the amenities he and his friends could ever need.
Narciso Anasui is an inmate at the male prison, convicted for murdering his girlfriend and her lover. He’s as vain as his name implies, only working with the group to impress Jolyne, despite her constant refusal to show any interest in him (Men, am I right, ladies?). His Stand, Diver Down, is an interesting one. In the briefest of overviews, it’s able to absorb damage or effects and then force them back out at will, but can also “dive” into solid objects or people, either just to hide or protect them from within, or to rearrange things while it’s inside.
And the last, but certainly not the least, of our main crew, is a man known only as Weather Report. Having lost his memory, he doesn’t know his true name or why he’s at Green Dolphin Street Prison, but he is enlisted by Emporio to protect Jolyne. He’s a little weird without all his marbles, but he means well, and he’s a competent fighter. Especially given his potent Stand, which shares his name. Surprisingly, its abilities line up quite nicely from the moniker, as Weather Report has the ability to manipulate the weather around him: causing rainstorms, bringing hail, striking lightning – that sort of thing. But it extends further – because Jojo: he has control of any known weather. He can make it rain frogs because biblical stories or enact small-scale climate changes – and that’s all before he gets his full power back.
So what else is there that makes Stone Ocean such a stand out for me (no pun intended)? Well, for one, it’s getting right what Vento Aureo got oh-so sadly wrong: making the villain integral and interesting. You see, the “Who is Whitesnake?” mystery only goes on for a few chapters – we get the reveal of Father Enrico Pucci pretty darn fast, all things considered.
You see, Pucci’s mystery is worked a lot like Kira’s in Diamond Is Unbreakable – sure we know who he is, but the mystery is more about his ultimate motivations and how he’ll achieve them. And Pucci’s game keeps leveling up all the time in Stone Ocean, making him a consistently imposing villain.
Not only that, but he’s compelling – his motivations are clear, and they’re sort of admirable. You see, Enrico Pucci is a priest who met Dio during his travels in his youth. He was so awestruck by the philosophies of this man that he dedicated his life to continuing Dio’s goals, because Dio showed Pucci his ideals on the way to Heaven. Thus our antagonist for Part 6 isn’t some guy who just wants power or to murder or anything base like the other Jojo villains of the past – Pucci is about legacy. He is a zealot who believes in a cause, and truly thinks that what he’s doing will be the best for mankind and the world, and sees the Joestars as the final roadblock between himself and achieving Heaven. That’s some top-tier stuff.
Not only that, but you also have some of the best character growth and empowerment in the entire series to date, in my mind. You see, when Stone Ocean starts, Jolyne is a young, angry, lovestruck kid. She gets tossed in jail because she trusts a guy she barely knows and offers to help him shoulder some of the blame and ends up taking all of it. She scorns her father’s help because he wasn’t there for her (we should note that in her youth, he probably would have been dealing with the murders in Morioh, according to the timeline presented), and that drives her further into trouble. But throughout Part 6, we see Jolyne grow and mature, realizing where she went wrong. She accepts her father, and we see this humanize him, as well. Romeo eventually comes back into the story, and she fucking tells him off and beats his shit in. Seriously, Jolyne is one of the strongest protagonists in the entire Jojo cannon, and I truly believe she doesn’t get enough love. She is a symbol of female empowerment, and the lens by which we view her is actually less sexualized than the male members of the cast have been.
Now there are definitely problems – some of the fights aren’t up to snuff, some side characters are really poorly introduced, and not all of the mystery works together as well as it should. But still, Stone Ocean was an arc that really drew me in to all the things that Jojo could be, and proved that Jolyne was a role model even a 25-year-old guy like me could look up to. And I haven’t even gotten into the mega-spoiler territory that is the mind-blowing conclusion of the arc!
But that’s it for me this week, gang! I hope you enjoyed my dive into one of my favorite parts of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – I know I’ll definitely be coming back to this one for a deeper dive later in the year! Come back next week when things get really weird – like alternate universe weird!