Talking at people about how incredible JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of my favourite hobbies. I’m not the only one; it’s becoming an international pastime. If you don’t know what JoJo is, stop wasting my time. Get with the program and go watch or read it. I’d put it nicer but it’s your own fault.
Now, onto my experience with JoJo so far: I’m up-to-date with the anime, I read Part 5 ‘Vento Aureo’ (or ‘Golden Wind’) a few months ago (which is currently airing as an anime), I just finished reading Part 6 ‘Stone Ocean’, and this is where the sentence ends.
Note: I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible (for both Part 5 and 6). This’ll be more of a ‘reasons to read Part 6 now, you rube’ kind of piece.
The Part with the Objectively Best Hero
(Read: definitely subjective)
For me, Jolyne ties with Joseph for best JoJo. While she’s not the cocky asshole that Joseph is (from Part 2 ’Battle Tendency’), Jolyne is easily the most relatable and interesting since Part 4’s Josuke but with a mix of traits that lean closer to the hyper-masculine styles of other JoJo’s.
This is partly because Jolyne, as the first and currently only female JoJo, represents the peak of a continuing trend in the series. JoJo has gradually moved away from the original hyper-masculine, hyper-shonen tone and style of the initial parts – Parts 1, 2 and 3 – into a tempered, calmer and more feminine style, obvious in both the visuals of each Part and nature of their characters. Characters have more natural proportions, the exaggerated muscle is toned way, way down, and designs have become far more feminine and androgynous.
In ‘Stone Ocean’, this comes to a head. JoJo is a woman this time, character designs are openly androgynous, and Jolyne herself is a more balanced protagonist: she’s less cool-and-collected than other JoJo’s and is openly inexperienced as a fighter and survivor, which is directly addressed, charting her growth across Part 6.
Jolyne is basically a far more present and involved hero. She has a more urgent motivation with clear growth as a character and fighter. Most JoJo’s are intentionally thin caricatures of masculinity, which is fine (they’re meant to be reader avatars with the side-characters having louder personalities), but Jolyne’s a breath of fresh air by comparison.
A Crazy Fast Pace
Talking about urgent motivation, ‘Stone Ocean’ is right away more intense and fast-paced than earlier parts. By dropping Jolyne into prison, in the middle of a conspiracy and into immediate danger, ‘Stone Ocean’ has genuine urgency from the start and it never lets up. Whether this is ‘good’ depends on the reader – I can imagine not loving the tension – but I personally loved it.
I’ll chat it up in a sec but Part 6’s Stand encounters are immediately – again, right away – high-concept, dangerous and thrilling. Along with the breathless pace, almost every Stand battle is confusing and incredibly compelling.
Stands are somehow even more Bizarre
Exactly like the slow shift in visuals and tone, the Stands of Part 6 follow trends set in previous parts. Like Part 5 after Part 4, and Part 4 after Part 3, the Stands throughout ‘Stone Ocean’ are kicked up a few more notches past ten to I don’t know, 27? Is that where we’re at now?
With Part 6, I noticed two things in particular.
First, the Stands of ‘Stone Ocean’ are more detailed and denser in their concepts, usually with a detailed scientific foundation to their abilities (leading to some intensely convoluted and inventive combat). I won’t spoil any of the specific Stands here – they’re half the fun! – but being confused by a Stand is far more common.
Just to be clear: this is a good thing.
Second, following the trend, the Stands in ‘Stone Ocean’ are, on the whole, far less combat-oriented. This is where the scientific basis usually comes in: most Stands have a very specific but very powerful ability that the user exploits in a very specific way, leading to encounters that are more like puzzle rooms than fights.
Jolyne and co. spend most of each Stand encounter – which usually last 5 to 7 chapters – simply figuring out how the powers work, often with an impressively trivial and circumstantial piece of knowledge, before punching them comatose in the final pages.
Horrific Injury 😀
Another reoccurring trait: extreme bodily injury. Thought you saw some staggering survival in earlier parts? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
This is more of an addendum but the rate of damage and harm is noticeably upped in Part 6. Just about every Stand encounter leads to some horrible injury and death, half the time with imagery that borders on upsetting. JoJo’s always been gruesome and gore-happy for a shonen series and I’m probably forgetting a fair amount (Part 4 definitely had its moments), but Part 6 is the only time Araki’s made me wince.
The End of JoJo (kinda)
Part 6 is the only ending that made me research what actually happened. Whether that’s good is up to you but the ending of ‘Stone Ocean’ is by far the most ambitious and extreme and bizarre ending of a JoJo part yet.
It’s also a definitive ending to the original JoJo/DIO saga before the reboot/alternate-universe of Part 7 ‘Steel Ball Run’ and Part 8 ‘JoJolion’. It’s something I didn’t think about or expect going into Part 6 but it’s there and it’s very, very strong.
When I first started reading ‘Stone Ocean’, not long after finishing ‘Vento Aureo’ (I just read the remaining 70ish% of ‘Stone Ocean’ in the last week), I had two main thoughts: how is this so crazy and confusing already I love it so much; and why can’t they just skip ‘Vento Aureo’ and anime-fy ‘Stone Ocean’ instead?
Each part has incredible qualities and my thoughts on ‘Stone Ocean’ and the rest of the series will definitely change over time, but Part 6 blew me away from start to finish. Its pace is exhausting, its story and plot is fantastic, the Stands are regularly confounding, and its characters … aren’t as strong as earlier Parts, to be honest (of course they’re great but this’ll always be subjective).
So: go read ‘Stone Ocean’, you rubes.
(…wherever you can since it seems impossible to find a legal English copy either physical or digital. It sucks.)