「面会人 その②」 (Menkainin Sono Ni)
“The Visitor (2)”
「プリズナー・オブ・ラヴ」 (Purizunaa obu Ravu)
“Prisoner of Love”
I’ll be bunching up some of the two-parter fights to make it easier to analyze them as a whole without feeling like I’m speculating towards information that ends up revealed. Now that I’ve gone through the episodes that Netflix released, it should be easier to piece everything together, especially with the tense three-part fight where Jolyne finds herself needing to save her dad from having his memories and Stand removed by Whitesnake.
AND THEY COME UNSTUCK
Let me tell you straight-up that I had a difficult time piecing together Manhattan Transfer’s abilities considering how his abilities ended up working in tandem with Whitesnake’s. Mainly, it was hard to gauge when Johngalli A.’s abilities began and when Whitesnake’s came in but based on the first half of this fight, Manhattan Transfer is more combat-oriented based on the wind-reading while Whitesnake alters reality enough so to place Jolyne and Jotaro into a deep sleep.
The fight structure is pretty crazy given how deadly of a trap the visiting room was, and how they threw so much trust into the trap working that they just resorted to a face-to-face confrontation as a last-ditch effort. It gave us some crazy moments like Jolyne’s pursuit of Emporio and the infamous scene where our heroes are slumped over in white sludge, giving us an animated rendition of the reaction image that’s been used all across the internet for exciting news.
But even with all of this craziness, Jolyne and Jotaro’s escape meant that Johngalli A. would have to simply chase the two down a corridor while Whitesnake rides on the idea that Jotaro will be distracted enough to have his memory discs wiped. It’s just what Whitesnake needed, but it was always meant to be at the cost of Johngalli A.’s life given his knowledge of Whitesnake’s identity.
AROUND THE WORLD, AROUND ZA WARUDO
It’s neat to see how Jotaro’s powers have evolved since he escaped the holding cell in Part III. Namely, his ability to trigger The World at a quicker, rapid pace than he used to be able to. His punch ghost abilities aren’t too dramatically different, but it was funny to see him replicate the Iggy throw technique with Jolyne as he launches her through the visitation room door, much to her dismay.
Jolyne’s gotten more familiar with her Stand as well with the ingenuity that she puts towards Stone Free’s strength and strings. In this fight alone, she has a pretty awesome way of redirecting bullets by embedding Stone Free’s strings into Johngalli A.’s gun and steering his bullets into the wall.
We also get a short glimpse of her using the strings to communicate as she’s able to hold a steady conversation with Emporio about her plans to stay in prison and his unfortunate circumstance of hiding in the jail after Whitesnake killed his mother. It helps to posit Jolyne’s main goal for the remainder of the story by obtaining Jotaro’s Stand discs to revive him and defeating Whitesnake before he leaves more destruction in his wake.
「エルメェスのシール」 (Erumesu no Shiiru)
THE LOCALIZATION TEAM IS ABOUT TO GET A LENGTHY COMPLAINT FROM THE BAND “SMACK”
The sections below this one are going to be heavy given the nature of Ermes’ first Stand fight, so I’ll be using this section to discuss the fun that comes from Kiss, Ermes’ Stand that focuses on replicating and mashing together objects and body parts using stickers.
Whether you believe it’s named after the Prince song “Kiss” or the band KISS, the sticker system creates the opportunity for fun, interesting fights that require Ermes to use ingenuity and possibly endure excruciating pain just to be victorious. Because pulling off a sticker means having the two items violently mash together to become one, it turns what might’ve been a convenient Stand for replicating items into an offensive weapon that can pack a mean punch if you use it a certain way.
In fact, many of Ermes’ first interactions with Kiss involve her realizing its potential to cause destruction or injure herself as a means of escaping from dangerous situations. Seeing Ermes accidentally break a medical urinal is rough, but for her to smash her nose together to breathe through the McQueen fight or smash her fingers on accident amps up the intensity that each fight she’s in has. Will she be able to just use the stickers against her foes or weapons she can use, or will there be times where her first and last resort has to be slapping a sticker on herself at the cost of whatever limb or body part she’s gonna have to injure.
WARNING: THIS SECTION WILL BE DISCUSSING SELF-HARM AND SUICIDE
On a serious note, I wanted to discuss Thunder McQueen and Highway to Hell more thoroughly because his Stand fight is ambitious in how it approaches self-harm. McQueen himself is a complicated character as a freak accident fuels his self-loathing, and only going to confession can clear his thoughts. That is until Whitesnake preyed on his vulnerability by giving him a Stand that weaponizes his suicidal tendencies
The way his Stand functions is interesting because it calls to question how much of his tendencies are from McQueen’s own desires or if his self-destructive thoughts are further amplified by his Stand. Highway to Hell isn’t shown to communicate with McQueen, but it feels like a Stand like Cheap Trick where it actively pushes the Stand user into dangerous situations.
Ermes saying something that makes him cheery seems to have this effect considering that he’ll have a normal reaction to happiness only for it to be all sapped away moments later when it causes him to find the nearest object to harm himself with. It wouldn’t be surprising if his Stand was feeding him these messages as a way to shift him back into a self-loathing mindset.
Unfortunately, McQueen might not exactly be the right figure to discuss the stigma that comes from people who endure thoughts of self-harm considering that he’s an antagonist purely because he doesn’t see anything wrong with using his suicidal tendencies as a weapon.
His interactions with Ermes fuel the concern that he realized his Stand channels his self-harm onto others and sees nothing wrong with failing an attempt if it means someone’s hurt. He ends up connecting the dots quickly that harm to himself hurts Ermes, causing him to be more offended that Ermes would lie to save herself rather than genuinely want to help him. At his happiest, he resorts to wanting to use his Stand to kill Ermes.
I remember a JoJo fan ages ago who did an analysis on Highway to Hell that mentioned that the Stand is somewhat metaphorical for the relationships that people have with loved ones who are going through suicidal thoughts. Where it feels like the agony a suicidal person feels is transferred over to the person trying to help them as they try to talk them out of these thoughts.
It might be an insensitive portrayal since a person with thoughts of self-harm is going through a lot more mental strife in comparison. It’s already difficult for people dealing with suicidal thoughts to get the help they need because even opening up about those kinds of thoughts makes people think you’re selfish for putting other people you know and love through your emotional strife.
But because it is a late 90’s manga, I wouldn’t be surprised if Highway to Hell harms in the same way that guilt can overwhelm and consume someone who feels responsible for making sure their loved ones are safe. The episode is at its heaviest when Ermes tries her hardest to cheer him up, desperate to encourage him not to take his own life. Where a lot of the discomfort is watching the fight as somebody trying and failing to prevent someone from jumping off a ledge.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS FOR EPISODE 06
That’s not to say the fight was bad or in poor taste. It shows off the unique nature of Stone Ocean for there to be a fight where the only path to victory is to coach somebody out of harming themselves. I guess I’d feel like I’d be dropping the ball if I examined the Thunder McQueen fight without diving into the heavy subject matter with the nuance and care it deserves.
I believe every piece of art serves a purpose, and though some art exists as escapism, I believe Stone Ocean and this fight, in particular, are good, friendly reminders that there can be depth to a shonen that examines your worldview and creates an open floor discussion for heavy topics. It’s fascinating to see Ermes have to win not only through the ingenuity of using her Stand to escape from hazardous situations, but also the efforts she makes to try to talk a guy out of self-harm.
It’s little things like that which make Stone Ocean a unique, disturbing, and engaging experience. Next time will be a lot less heavy though as we dive into topics such as body horror, fighting foo’s, and 90’s shock rockers.