(this review does contain some spoilers, mostly from the earlier stages of the manga)
Given the current climate of the JJBA universe, taking the upcoming anime adaptation of Stone Ocean into account, I feel that it would be of good use for me to provide my unsolicited impressions on the manga. I, myself, am rather fond of it. Though I cannot say it with absolute certainty, it seems as though Part 6 is one of the lesser enjoyed/touted within the Jojo’s universe. I say this based off of what little I know about the community’s consensus through my interactions on a variety of different sites, discords, forums, etc. Though I could be mistaken in this feeling, I do feel like taking a closer look at Part 6 and examining why this may or may not be the case.
It is difficult for me to figure out where to start with Stone Ocean. I guess it would bid well for me to state that this was uncharted territory for Araki, with Jolyne being his first female protagonist (and only thus far). Who other for this dame to be than the daughter of Jotaro Kujo. I think this is telling and quite fitting.
In a similar vein to how her father was first introduced earlier on in Stardust Crusaders, Jolyne’s first appearance is in a prison cell. Prior to her introduction, the reader is not yet aware of the nature of her appearance in this cell. She is seen banging her head against the wall, lamenting. The reasoning behind her lamentations is unexpected, and this opening scene proves to be…uhhh..interesting — to say the least. It is ripe to create Joyne simps. I preume that Araki was keenly aware of the effect it would have upon those who read/watch it. I don’t wish to be too direct, so I will merely state that the reasoning behind Jolyne’s frustration is due her being caught peforming a sussy act. :flooshed:
Within the first few chapters, it is revealed how Jolyne ends up in the Green Dolphin Street Prison in Florida. Head over heels, Jolyne is seen riding around with her boyfriend Romeo in his decked out sports car. Staring into each others’ eyes, the car ends up hitting something head on in the road. Mistaken at first for a mountain goat, the two discover a dead body on the side of the road. Recounting the scene, Jolyne remembers beckoning Romeo to alert the authorities and take the dying man to the hospital. Out of fear, her boyfriend begs her not to and that they should instead hide the body. In a similar vein of the typical trust-fund busy body, he worries about his reputation and places priority upon his own comfortable life. Not wanting to take the risk about what may happen to him, Romeo decides to go against the trod; Jolyne complies with her boyfriend, despite it being against her best judgement.
The nature of Jolyne landing in prison follows this happening in her life. This is the primary conflict within the narrative, along with Jolyne trying to come to terms with the absentee father she has in Jotaro. She has never been able to recall a moment where she felt that her dad cared for her. Her parents, being separated for quite some time, she never has been able to form a relationship with her father.
Having set the stage for the plot, it would be preferable for me to delve into more of the specifics–primarily what makes Part 6 so good for me.
Stone Ocean demonstrates the evolution of Hirotoki Araki as an artist. Though it would be improper of me to claim that this is his peak, it is not wrong to claim that the manga is demonstrable evidence of master craftsman coming into his own. One only need to look as far as to compare panels from Part 1 to Part 6. Stone Ocean is ripe with intricate detail–so much so that it is often difficult to discern what exactly is taking place in just black and white. The sharpness of his penmanship is incredible. I am not the best with illustrating an artist’s ability with my own words, but I do desire to establish that this is a testament to a man’s perseverance. It honestly feels like a privilege to be able to consume work like this for my own entertainment.
Jolyne, Jolyne, Jolyne, Jolyneeeee…
Jolyne is hot. There are going to be simps for her, undoubtedly–myself included. Everything about her as a character is formulated in a way that makes her ripe for drawing in simps of varying degrees and different walks of life. From the way she is drawn (i.e. her captivating physical appearance) to her stubbornly headstrong attitude and approach to her daily life, Jolyne Cujoh is a captivating protagonist that makes Part 6 a worthwhile journey.
Despite Jolyne being the first (and only, at least thus far) female Jojo mc, she is quintessentially JJBA. Demonstrating her intellect, strength, and overall aptitude for the obstacles she encounters in life; Jolyne calls attention to another former mc who just so happens to be her father.
Like Father, Like Daughter
The nature of Jolyne’s filial relationship with Jotaro is something that is hinted at toward the beginning of the manga. There are various allusions toward it, as the reader progresses through the initial chapters. One of the more tell-tale signs is the opening scene, which I have already mentioned previously. This is a blatant insinuation on Araki’s part, as he is calling readers back to the introduction of Jotaro in his teenage years during Part 3.
One of the shining lights of Stone Ocean is this aforementioned relationship dynamic. The intricacies that comprise Jolyne and Jotaro’s relationship is something that simply cannot be overlooked. In more ways than one, it is the heart and soul of this manga. It is a sorrowfully joyous experience, as Jolyne’s world continually unfolds as she begins to realize just her life and this world are something else entirely. Her inner struggle, the one produced by her conflicting feelings toward her father, is palpable for readers. There is pain, in being a part of the audience, with this capability of witnessing how these events unfold and affect Jolyne in turn. The inner turmoil that breeds within the hearts of readers, in situations such as this, is evidence of genuinely solid storytelling.
I feel the need to call attention to Jotaro’s nature; it’s relevant. One only needs to witness Jolyne’s “Yare Yare Dawa” to come to this understanding. One would be right in saying that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Looking into the eyes of Jolyne, one becomes keenly aware of her father as a teenager–akin to a Jotaro remnant. The cold, calculating nature is present within her as well. In addition to this stoically inclined nature, there remains a heart which is ultimately tender and aware of the people who surround them. In the same way that Jotaro cared for his friends during their journey to Egypt, Jolyne demonstrates her caring and selfless nature as she faces the various obstacles that stand in the way of fulfilling the promises she has made herself and others.
If I plan on comparing this father-daughter pairing, I need to mention the stands as well. Jolyne’s Stone Free is similar to Star Platinum, both in terms of speed and strength. There are blatant differences when it comes to the two stands, but they are underlyingly similar nonetheless. What distinguishes Jolyne’s stand from her father’s is her ability to manipulate both stand and body with strings. Stone Free’s, given its agility and string manipulation, is one of the most versatile stands within the JJBA universe. It has its limits, but it would appear as if it did not, as Jolyne effectively uses her stand abilities to her advantage time and time again throughout the manga. This further exemplifies her intellectual prowess, calling attention to the feats her father accomplished with his Star Platinum.
What I had been aware of prior to reading Stone Ocean was how many were not fond of the way it ended. This tends to be common among critics of Part 6. Though I am not exactly fond of the ending myself, for reasons of which I am forbidden to touch base on, I do not think that these reasons warrant the extreme displeasure some tend to possess in regards to the manga. My concerns and dislike of Stone Ocean are rather petty. What I found distasteful was the setting.
For the sake of both brevity and clarity, I will say that I did not like Green Dolphin Street Prison. This is just my personal taste, but I was not fond of the bulk of this story taking place within the confines of the penitentiary. There was a desperate lack and want of compelling scenes, outside of those bleak prison walls. I feel that Araki’s work shines when it comes to scenery and worldbuiliding, so I was a bit taken back when so much of the story was confined to the prison. Again, this is nothing more than a petty pet peeve of mine, so I do not feel that it warrants much merit. Though, if anyone does happen to share these same feelings, they will know that they are not alone in this feeling.
The Big Bad
It would be irresponsible and downright dishonest of me to claim that Stone Ocean has the best villain. Though that is the case, I would feel zero guilt in claiming that Part 6 has one of the more compelling JJBA antagonists to date. Comparing anyone to Kira tends to be demonstrably unfair, as he can legitimately be labeled as a dynamic villain. Though I would not go so far as to say Pucci plays the same position as Kira, I would put Stone Ocean’s big bad out on the same playing field as–especially as the manga unfolds to reveal more of his back story. Powerscaling would be a different story though, as there are different ways in which he tends to be superior to Kira. In and of himself as a character, he can come off as being bland. What I appreciate most about his character is how he provides more context and a different perspective of Dio.
As an aside, I would like to point out how fortunate Giorno Giovanna was. Considering that he is his father’s son, I would point out that Giorno was lucky. Though it is true that he chose to forge his own path, and he followed his dream which proved to be a faithful and worthy pursuit, it is not wrong to state that he lucked out in the gene department. I mean this sincerely, as there are several other children of Dio who were not as fortunate as Giorno — neither in terms of physical appearance nor in terms of their moral character.
Bohemian Rhapsody Arc
One of the most “bizarre” parts of the manga occurs during the Bohemian Rhapsody arc. Without giving too much away, it contains several outlying references to classic characters and tales from the American multimedia conglomerate known as [redacted]. Something I am looking forward to with David Production’s upcoming anime adaptation is how they will approach this part of the story. Araki’s love of music references, and pop culture in general really, is not a surprise to anyone at this point. Everything else that I have seen him do is pretty tame in comparison, with little to no effect upon the narrative itself. Bohemian Rhapsody is a different story, as it plays a pivotal role. I am not well-versed when it comes to the finer details of copyright laws, so I cannot really anticipate how this part will play out in the anime. Regardless of how they approach it, I feel that it will undoubtedly be censored when it reaches Western audiences.
To conclude, I feel that Stone Ocean is very deserving of any of the love it gets–and more. Based off of what little that I know, it tends to be overlooked due to its ending. It is undoubtedly a bittersweet ending, one which is shaded in a cloud of mysterious metaphor. I think that this is part of what makes it so distasteful. It did not end the way any of us wanted it to end; it leaves some open-ended questions.
At any rate, regardless of its downsides, Stone Ocean is a compelling read. Following a hypnotically admirable protagonist, paired with side characters and villains who help create an engaging plot, makes for a solid manga. I love this cast of characters. They are honestly great, and Araki’s artwork is phenomenal. Though Part 6 it is not without its flaws, I am particularly fond of it. Along with so many others, I will be looking forward to seeing this animated.