Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean is finally here on Netflix. If you’re a Jojo fan, there’s nothing more to be said. But if you’re not… well, I think it’s kind of hard to explain this bonkers world to someone new to the series.
Oddly enough, you might be somewhat familiar with some of its characters from previous seasons, even if merely by visual recognition, through the countless memes of its many iconic moments. Yep, it’s been referenced in many classic memes.
Stone Ocean is the last instalment of the series before a massive reboot that changes up the entire Jojo universe; that’s not really a spoiler since the manga already has two new series in the new universe. If it helps, this series marks the end of ‘phase one’.
The Stone Ocean arc is centred around protagonist Jolyne Kujo, the daughter of the most iconic Jojo, Jotaro Kujo. Every series features a different Jojo, which is usually a descendent of the previous Jojo, give or take a generation. The name is an affectionate hypocorism of Joseph Joestar, the original protagonist in Season 1’s Phantom Blood. It’s a clever way to change up everything – even the art style – whenever a story arc ends. Unsurprisingly, if you watched all the different seasons without context, you might not have figured that they were directly related.
In Stone Ocean, protagonist Jolyne endures a troubled childhood because of a fractured relationship with her father, which eventually set her on a path to jail. It also turns out that her imprisonment was a setup for her father’s mysterious enemies to get to her, and consequently her father, and this is what drives the narrative for Stone Ocean. If the idea of an entire series being set in prison sounds boring, then you’re probably right; especially when you’re coming from the dynamism of the previous arc, Golden Wind. But it’s this refusal to stick to conventional thinking that makes Jojo, Jojo.
The brainchild of Hirohiko Araki, the series started as a manga back in 1987, where it sported the iconic 80s manga style in the vein of Fist of the North Star – kind of like 80s Arnie in comic form. The series only truly gained traction in recent years, where its quirky sense of humour and geeky references created a loyal and ever-growing fanbase. One classic Jojo trope: Araki loved his classic rock, and his character names and abilities are almost always a musical reference. The anime also had a knack of punctuating key moments with iconic musical themes, several of which wound up as memes – prog-rock legends Yes can thank the anime series for a new generation of young fans that would otherwise have no connection to their music.
Storytelling wasn’t exactly Jojo’s strongest suit, and the pacing can be spotty at times, but its eccentric charm stood out as much as its distinctive and flamboyant art style, which edged closer to high fashion with each iteration. And it’s the real deal – Jojo has even collaborated with fashion house Gucci.
The best thing about Jojo is that it’s hard to get consensus from fans about which series is best – everyone has something they particularly like – and hate – and that speaks volumes about the diversity of the Jojo universe. Many fans will no doubt urge newcomers to check out the manga-only Steel Ball Run and Jojolion, which are post-reboot stories, but Phantom Blood to Stone Ocean will give you an idea of where the madness leads.
Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure: Stone Ocean streams on Netflix starting 1 December.