Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: What Kind of Anime is Jojo?

Synopsis

Dio’s schemes against the Joestar family persist even after his death. The daughter of Jotaro Kujo, Jolyne Cujoh, was a normal teen until she volunteered to bear the blame for her boyfriend’s hit-and-run that killed a pedestrian. But the judge shows no mercy, sending her to Green Dolphin State Prison for 15 years. Her long-absent father nicknamed her a Stand because she has got a remarkable talent to convert her body into strings. That wouldn’t be a problem if Stands weren’t being held alongside other inmates, the vast majority of whom are actively plotting against her.

Review

I say it again, Jolyne… I’ve been waiting a long time for David production to translate the Stone Ocean arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure because I’m a huge fan of the anime and a chronic heroin user. I was familiar with Jolyne because to the panels depicting her unflappable attitude on life behind bars. To be honest, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean has exceeded my loftiest hopes, becoming one of the franchise’s most thematically rich and engaging entries in the gaps between combat.

That’s all. Has David Pro been overworked recently, or has JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure always had such little actual animation? When it comes to animation, Stone Ocean is just a step above a motion comic’s slideshow format. In most cases, the only thing that the characters do is talk, and they might gesture occasionally, but they never actually use more than one limb at a time.

Rather than animation, action lines in the backdrop are frequently used to convey the sense of motion. It’s unusual to see a show with such a large viewership, and it makes me question if something went wrong during production. The show is heavily reliant on the action, with battle sequences spanning numerous episodes and bearing the bulk of the plot.

The production group comes up with creative solutions to make up for the shortfall. Despite how inactive they are, each character has a unique body type.

Araki drew this arc late in his high fashion era, drawing inspiration from models in magazine shoots, and the animators kept that sense of expressiveness in the anime adaptation through facial emotions, dynamic stances, and some really unique wardrobe choices. A lot of the visual narrative comes from the storyboarding and the affecting color scheme, which uses camera angles, lighting, and varying color palettes to establish the proper mood in each scene.

The aural features more than makeup for any deficiencies in the images. Whether it’s the intensity of a fight, the confinement of a prison cell, or the soaring release of a character achieving their goal, Yugo Kanno’s score never fails to convey the scene’s underlying emotional tenor.

The way in which Jolyne’s leitmotif—an additional variation on the evolving themes of her ancestors—kicks in whenever she has found a way to get the upper hand over her opponents creates a beautiful sense of recognition, both for her impending victory and for the fact that she is truly a continuation of the Joestar line we have been following for generations.

The theme music are also very good, especially the opening song “Stone Ocean” by Riot Girl, which is very appropriate for the show’s 90s season, and the closing song “Distant Dreamer” by Duffy, which is very melancholy.

Both the English and Japanese voice actors do a great job. The actors that portray Jolyne in Japanese and English, Ai Fairouz and Kira Buckland, respectively, both started into voice acting with the dream of playing Jolyne someday, and they give the character well.

They do an excellent job of conveying Jolyne’s layered emotions and experiences within the prison system, where she is both strong and helpless at the same time. Unfortunately, Pucci and Dio, portrayed by Japanese heavy hitters Tomokazu Seki and Takehito Koyasu, are the dub’s weakest links. Even if Patrick Seitz was the best choice for Dio in prior seasons, he and YongYea just don’t have the chemistry for their sequences together.

Two-thirds of the way through the novel, I still have no idea why Stone Ocean is considered the worst portion of JoJos. To be fair, I can hazard a few assumptions, but I won’t be using this review to start making accusations. It features some of the most engaging and nuanced characters, the fastest plot development, and the deepest topics in the series to date.

Aside from the fact that I was thrilled to see a female Jojo, Jolyne’s depth in those first few episodes made her an instant favorite of mine. She is fragile, angry, afraid, and loving all at once, and she manages to be all these things without ever being incongruous.

The way she went from Phantom Blood to Battle Tendency makes me think of her great-great-great-grandmother Erina. Erina, who was both gentle and fierce, washed the remnants of Dio’s stolen kiss from her mouth with dirty water because she preferred it to the pain. Erina’s heart hardened over the years as she mourned the deaths of her husband on their honeymoon, her son, whom she had raised on her own, and her grandson, whom she had raised on her own.

Jolyne had to mature quickly and dramatically while in prison, despite the fact that she was never an especially “nice” girl to begin with. She is constantly threatened by the other inmates at Green Dolphin State Prison, all of whom have been given Stands by an invisible enemy, and by the systemic violence of the American “justice” system.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Dio may be dead, but he is not forgotten, and his memory remains an active threat to the Joestar line. This is not a rah-rah girl power narrative, but a story about facing victimization and how trauma echoes through generations.

Like her ancestors, Jolyne gathers a group of dedicated followers, although hers may be even stranger than usual. Ermes could be the hero of a generic revenge story, but the novel also features individuals like Emporio, a young kid who was born inside the prison and has used his Stand to survive there ever since.

And then there’s FF, about whom it would be highly spoiler to reveal even the most basic information. Stone Ocean treats its gender-bending ensemble the same way it has treated its all-male casts in the past, with no fear of depicting its members as transgressive, ugly, or odd and without using them for cheap thrills or sex appeal. Except for maybe Johngalli A while he’s in the shower. You have to see the guy’s rear end to believe it.

Depending on how much they value their “rules,” the fights in The Stand may appeal to or annoy various audiences. A lot of them, like making targets weightless, may sound easy, but in practice, things might start to feel a little bit like Calvinball. The story presents the Stand battles as puzzles to be solved, which may annoy viewers who place a higher value on adherence to the laws of physics, but will delight those who are willing to throw in the towel and enjoy the action for what it is.

It all works toward advancing the plot, in which Jolyne and her comrades are chasing a villain who is always one step ahead of them, despite their best efforts. It maintains tension and, coupled with the stifling jail environment, makes for an environment low in humor.

Final word

From the time I started watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I’ve been counting down the episodes till Stone Ocean. Not yet my favorite part (we’ll see whether the ending is good enough to dethrone Diamond is Unbreakable from that spot), but I know I’ll be reflecting on it for quite some time. My feelings for Jolyne run deep, and only Netflix can tell me when I’ll get to watch how the story ends.

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