Prisoner FE40536: Jolyne Cujoh
The Visitor, Part 1
The Visitor, Part 2
Prisoner of Love
There’s Six of Us!
Debt Collector Mary Lynn Manson
Operation Savage Guardian (Head to the Courtyard!), Part 1
Operation Savage Guardian (Head to the Courtyard!), Part 2
Torrential Downpour Warning
Like Attack On Titan, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is another series that benefitted from anime’s rise in popularity. Although the 90s’ OVA feels like a forgotten relic, the 2011 reboot by David Productions has helped this franchise reach a greater audience than it would initially have had. Its fandom has grown quite significant to the point where it’s almost impossible to avoid any JoJo-related meme or nod to the series. The reboot has spanned four seasons, each following a member of the Joestar family lineage and the greater evil they must defeat at each season’s conclusion. Enter JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, the fifth season and sixth part of the franchise.
This season follows Jolyne Kujo (the franchise’s first female Joestar) whose sent to jail for being falsely accused of manslaughter. After a scuffle with some inmates and discovering supernatural powers she never knew she had, Jolyne receives a visit from her father, Jotaro Kujo. Jotaro informs her about Stands (this franchise’s equivalent to a superpower), shows off his Stand, Star Platinum, and shares information about Johngalli A, the evildoer who framed her. The two aren’t on good terms, since Jotaro was an absentee father to Jolyne throughout her life.
However, their teamwork against Johngalli A causes Jolyne to reevaluate her poor feelings toward Jotaro and his reasoning for treating her in such a fashion. Johngalli A’s partner’s Stand, White Snake, steals something important from Jotaro. Then he proceeds to place these things inside two mini DVDs. After shedding tears over Jotaro’s body, Jolyne decides to turn herself in. She believes the criminal in question is still wandering the prison. Jolyne vows to retrieve what White Snake stole from her father and make the Stand’s master pay.
Stone Ocean’s prologue-like start is intriguing yet unneeded. Witnessing Jolyne’s prison shenanigans provided me with great laughs and excitement. However, most of this earlier content feels unnecessary for the anime’s grander plot, which is apparent during Jolyne’s conversation with Jotaro. It feels like the anime chose to toss aside most of these villains in favor of White Snake. Considering how incredible most of their designs and abilities are, it feels like wasted potential to have them only serve as training fodder for Jolyne.
As for Jotaro and Jolyne’s problematic parental relationship, it feels like the resolution comes far too quickly. While saving Jolyne’s life from a powerful foe was heroic, it doesn’t feel like Jotaro truly earned his daughter’s forgiveness. There could have been more emotional dialogue to help establish Jolyne’s forgiveness toward him. Without including a moment or two following that format, her coming to terms with her father’s absence feels rushed and unearned.
Otherwise, the story feels straightforward, wonderfully paced, and has the potential to craft a memorable storyline beyond a simple revenge arc for Jolyne. The enemies and their stand abilities all feel unique in scale and theory. Based on the small tidbits we receive for each Stand, author Hirohiko Araki puts immense thought into the design behind them all. Be warned that this series does reuse the same “villain of the week” formula after Jotaro’s re-introduced into the plot. However, Stone Ocean delivers enough new material in the form of Stands, thought-provoking characters, and impressive scenery that it’ll wipe away any fear of redundancy or blandness.
As the franchise’s first female protagonist, Jolyne brings a lot to the table regarding personality, ability, and progression. She’s hilarious like her grandfather Joseph Joestar and stern like her father, Jotaro Kujo when the time calls for it. She’s not the brightest and can feel like a spoiled toddler early in the series. It does take her a while to hone her Stand’s abilities – especially when fending off other stand users without assistance. However, she does develop and forgo her lackluster characteristics after reuniting with Jotaro. While I wasn’t a fan of how swiftly Jotaro and Jolyne resolved their family issues, the situation they find themselves in serves to give them both much-needed development. While her abilities aren’t as mind-bogglingly powerful as other protagonists, Jolyne makes sure to put on an entertaining showcase nonetheless.
Like Jolyne, other characters introduced this season also have intriguing qualities and abilities. While these characters’ goals aren’t complex, they still provide a meaningful show whenever they appear on the screen. White Snake, in particular, feels like a villain with vast potential. His goals intertwine with the franchise’s mascot villain Dio Brando, adding a layer of interest to himself and Dio. Introducing White Snake early into the story also helps Stone Ocean stand out from previous seasons, as villains of the past would crop up midway through those season’s plots. While some characters only serve to fulfill the “villain of the week” quota and weren’t as fleshed out as I’d like, they provided me with enough material to keep me at the edge of my seat.
For the most part, every JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure season has delivered excellent visuals with its animation and art style. Stone Ocean is no different in that respect, but does fall victim to one hiccup. The hiccup in question would be whenever it delves into the realm of CGI. While the series’ opening themes feature exquisite use of CGI, the use of CGI in the anime itself feels uncanny. Jolyne’s fight with Lang Rangler is one example of this. During their fight, Land Rangler’s movements appear stiff, and his character model doesn’t naturally blend well with the surrounding environment. It would have been better if they had stuck with traditional 2D animation instead of the CGI style they choose to utilize for his scenes.
Otherwise, Stone Ocean’s animation feels as fluid and pretty on the eyes as the franchise’s previous entries. The art style is sharp, vibrant, and immaculate enough to bring this prison setting to life. Viewers will feel the weight of each punch thrown. They’ll be perplexed to see how well the animators utilize this small environment to heighten the tension of certain scenes. This season captures the “comic book brought to life” vibe one would expect from other media adaptations. While their handling of CGI could use some work, David Production did a phenomenal job bringing this season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to life.
As for Stone Ocean’s soundtrack, the show’s music is both enthusiastic but forgettable compared to the head-banging tracks from prior seasons. While there are incredible tracks like Jolyne’s theme that managed to sustain my interest in an action scene for a while, most tracks feel lackluster in comparison. Besides its gorgeous comical and vibrant visuals, the opening’s theme song feels tasteless, unlike this season’s ending theme, which I felt matched well for its role. Overall, Stone Ocean’s implementation of sound effects and tracks complement specific scenes well.
While the first season had hiccups, it has enough material to keep any anime fan engaged and entertained. Maybe by the end of its run, it can stand toe to toe with its previous seasons as another spectacular yet bizarre chapter in the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure storyline.
Verdict - 7.5/10