Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
On Dec. 1, 2021, Netflix released the first 12 episodes of the long-anticipated anime adaptation of the Stone Ocean arc of Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga. Ever since the story’s conclusion in 2003, fans have been clamoring to see it animated, and at last, that wait is over. Does Netflix’s new anime live up to expectations?
As is the case with every previous installment of the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series, Stone Ocean introduces us to a new protagonist—a new “JoJo.” New protagonist Jolyne Cujoh is tricked into serving a 15 year prison sentence for a crime she did not commit. Prior to her trial, Jolyne is sent a mysterious locket by her estranged father, former series protagonist Jotaro Kujo; her hand is accidentally cut by the locket, and as a result, she is granted strange new abilities. As most fans of the series know, these new abilities are Jolyne’s Stand—basically a superpowered spirit under her control—something numerous characters in the series have had. Each person’s stand is unique, and Jolyne’s Stand, Stone Free (Stone Ocean in the English localization), grants her the ability to spin a powerful threadlike substance from her body. This thread allows Jolyne to pull objects and people, listen to faraway sounds or carry her own voice across far distances, shield herself from damage, and create a physical humanoid Stand to combat her opponents.
Upon being visited by Jotaro, it seems that Jolyne’s overall goal is to escape the prison with his aid. However, in their escape, Jotaro’s memories and his own Stand, Star Platinum, are stolen by the mysterious Stand Whitesnake (Pale Snake in the English localization), essentially killing Jotaro. Jolyne decides to stay in the prison in order to retrieve her father’s memories and Stand and uncover the identity of Whitesnake so she can return Jotaro to life. In her mission, Jolyne is aided by fellow inmates Ermes Costello, Atroe (possessed by the parasitic F.F. Stand), and the amnesiac Weather Report (Weather Forecast in the English localization), as well as the mysterious young boy Emporio Alniño. It is eventually revealed that Whitesnake’s user is the prison’s chaplain, Father Enrico Pucci, a former follower of former series antagonist Dio Brando. Pucci has targeted Jotaro because his memories contain Dio’s plan to “achieve heaven,” which was detailed in a notebook that Jotaro had read and destroyed following Dio’s demise.
The 12th episode of Stone Ocean concludes with Jolyne successfully delivering her father’s Stand to Jotaro’s allies outside the prison, at the expense of her prison sentence being extended. Now, she must retrieve her father’s memories from Pucci, but before that can happen, fans must wait for the next set of episodes to release (the release date of future episodes is still unknown).
Now that it is known what Stone Ocean is about, is it any good? Its central conflict is standard fare for the JoJo’s series, but the story’s prison setting makes it unique among previous installments. Furthermore, Stone Ocean is notable for having the first female protagonist in the history of the series. Although Jolyne at first comes off as crude, inconsistent, and a bit obnoxious, she very quickly evolves into one of the most interesting, fleshed-out characters the series has to offer. Another area in which Stone Ocean exceeds previous installments is its animation. While the animation of previous arcs has at times been rather stiff, even in action sequences, Stone Ocean’s animation is much more fluid and exciting to look at, and as a result, it has some phenomenal fight scenes (the fight in which Jolyne and Weather Report face off against enemy Stand user Lang Rangler is perhaps among the best battles in the history of the series). Additionally, the unique abilities of Jolyne’s Stone Free Stand make certain sequences other than fights a real visual treat. It should be noted, though, that there are still instances of stiff animation. While this may be a stylistic decision rather than an act of laziness or lack of skill, the series could definitely benefit from quicker, more fluid animation in the future. Maybe it’s time for the series to switch animation studios from David Productions to someone new. Maruyama Animation Produce Project Association (MAPPA), for example, has been doing a phenomenal job at animating series like Jujutsu Kaisen and the final season of Attack on Titan, so they could animate this franchise at some point in the future; that is perhaps a discussion for another day, though.
There are other aspects of Stone Ocean that could use some work. In particular, the supporting cast could really use a bit more development, like how the members of Team Bucciarati did in the Golden Wind arc. Of course, Stone Ocean is only 12 episodes in, with seemingly many more to go, so this is subject to change.
Another aspect that must be noted for many of the arcs in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are the Stand abilities. Are they good? Are they bad? As is the case with previous installments, the quality of Stands in Stone Ocean are very much a mixed bag. On one hand, Jolyne’s Stone Free’s thread ability is unique, powerful, and visually pleasing, and Weather Report can pull off some amazing feats with his weather-controlling abilities. On the other hand, Ermes’ Kiss (Smack in the English localization) Stand’s ability to create stickers that duplicate objects doesn’t feel very cool or useful, even when shown as successful in battles.
The voice acting of the Stone Ocean arc is as good as that of every other installment of the series; lines are delivered with the same degree of overly-dramatic intensity that fans of the series have grown accustomed to. However, there are some instances where the line delivery is a bit too dramatic and intense.
Overall, despite having its flaws, Stone Ocean has many attributes that give it potential to surpass other parts of the JoJo’s series. It is definitely worth watching for fans of the series, and it may prove to be something to look forward to for those planning on starting JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.