Format
Streaming [Netflix]
Studio
David Production
Certificate
15
Languages
Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles
English, French, Polish, Arabic, Japanese

The year is 2011. In Florida, Jolyne Cujoh sits in a jail cell just like her father did. Framed for a crime she did not commit, and manipulated into serving a longer sentence, Jolyne has lost all hope of ever leaving prison…until a gift from her father awakens latent abilities in her, manifesting into the Stand, Stone Free. With this, Jolyne puts together a plan to leave prison. However, it isn’t long before she discovers that her incarceration is but a small part of a grand scheme to take down her long-standing bloodline – a grand scheme that could have grave consequences for the whole world. How can she escape? Who can she trust? How can she take down those responsible for tainting her bloodline? Is she able to clear her name and take back her life?

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean was released globally on Netflix on December. 01. 2021, with a Japanese TV release scheduled for January. Produced by David Production (older Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure seasons, Cells at Work!, Fire Force), written and created by Hirohiko Araki, and directed by Kenichi Suzuki and Toshiyuki Katou, the cult favorite returns to the screen with the same crew and staff behind the helm. The first 12 episodes of this show were released here, with more episodes coming in the future.

Before I go any further, I should say that I’m going to incur a bit of wrath from Jojo fans: I went into this show completely blind. I knew nothing about the story, the characters, the setting…absolutely nothing. The hardcore fans all know what to expect in a Jojo show, and would generate their own opinion built around that fact. And so what am I to make of a show like this? What would a ‘heretic’ like me say? Perhaps an opinion from someone entirely new to the franchise would be a refreshing one. Saying that, I’ll try not to tiptoe around the hardcore fans, who are just ecstatic that an adaptation of Stone Ocean is finally out.

Well right from the very first episode, I could understand why the franchise is so beloved.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

Our lead Jolyne (a reference to the Dolly Parton song, it seems) is involved in a hit-and-run and is ultimately talked into a plea bargain, only to discover that the person she and her lover hit was still alive at the time. When a charm sent by her estranged father pricks her finger, the Stand disc Stone Free, it awakens a latent power within her. First, she’s able to hear distant voices, then is able to unravel her body into elastic thread and create a fighting persona. Later on, when her father Jotaro Kujo visits her in prison, he lets her know that a disciple of DIO was the one responsible for framing her so they could get rid of her while inside. He also tells her that despite being an inmate at the prison, he’s a Stand user himself and is able to pull strings pretty much anywhere. But it doesn’t take long for her to realize that there are many more Stand users in prison than she thought.

Jolyne becomes a main character with a lot of personality and charm, and as I watched these episodes, she has a much more believable reason for why we should care about the situation she’s in. There isn’t really any slow burn here in Stone Ocean; we are thrown into the main story straightaway. Other characters like Ermes Costello, Emporio Alnino and Foo Fighters (shortened to F.F.) come into the picture as time goes on, all have their own bizarre Stand abilities, and help her in her mission – not just to escape or get revenge, but to find out how she got these abilities in the first place.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

To my surprise, Stone Ocean actually trended on Twitter on the day of release; that’s how much hype there was about this adaptation coming out. Both seasons 1 and 2, which cover the Phantom Blood, Battle Tendency and Stardust Crusaders stories are all available on Netflix, but I think one issue that has to be addressed is the fact that Stone Ocean is a Netflix-exclusive itself. Discussing shows is what makes a fandom what it is. From what I understand, some Jojo fans weren’t so hot on the idea of Stone Ocean going to Netflix. Just like a lot of other big-name fandoms, the fans are extremely passionate and enjoy analyzing every moment in their favorite shows and movies. It’s no different here, and while this adaptation appears to have stayed loyal to the manga, perhaps what threw some Jojo fans off was the fact that their new season could be watched all in one go, as opposed to weekly episodes. Watching shows weekly lets viewers analyze the minor details and events more, while binge-watches throws us the major details all at once.

But whether viewers decide to watch this show on an episodic basis or all at once, they can agree that the unique animation and style all the others had hasn’t gone away. Expressions are exaggerated, action sequences come at us thick and fast, and the worldbuilding that other Jojo stories contained returns.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

Curiously, credits for the English dub have been something I have had to actually look up, instead of them appearing at the end of episodes. This was something I had to do when I reviewed Super Crooks too, so I don’t know why they have decided to do this now. With all that, in the English dub Kira Buckland plays Jolyne, and Matthew Mercer reprises his role as Jotaro Kujo. Apparently, Kira Buckland is a long-term Jojo fan herself, and was thrilled when she got the call to play Jolyne…and you can really tell. She puts a heck of a lot of passion in everything Jolyne says, and we can hang on to every word. Her Japanese counterpart, Fairouz Ai, does just a good job too, and to be honest, I can’t decide which one is better, despite me preferring subs over dubs.

The opening theme is ‘Stone Ocean‘, by Kishiya Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets. The ending theme is ‘Distant Dreamer‘, by Duffy. Here’s the Netflix trailer for the show:

I’m definitely at a disadvantage going into the Jojo franchise completely blind. But will Stone Ocean make me want to watch any of the other seasons and get into the franchise myself? I honestly don’t know. I can be fairly picky when it comes to shows, and while there was so much to praise in Stone Ocean, from the animation to the dub, it doesn’t have that one thing that I personally look for in shows to adore. But I know full well that the return of Jojo will push all the right buttons for all the hardcore fans, with a show as action-packed as this.

Verdict

I think the hardcore Jojo fans have gotten exactly what they had been waiting for: a continuation of their beloved story that is loyal to the manga, and just as addictive to watch as the other ‘stories’ were. Both Fairouz Ai and Kira Buckland do a fantastic job in portraying the troubled Jolyne, and every other voice actor (both Japanese and English) do their good part too. It is a pity that it’ll ultimately be something I will not return to myself, if only for my own very picky personal tastes in shows.

8
Great