「サヴェジ・ガーデン作戦(中庭へ向かえ!)その①」 (Saveji Gaaden Sakusen (Nakaniwa e Mukae!) Sono Ichi)
“Operation Savage Garden (Head to the Courtyard!) (1)”

「サヴェジ・ガーデン作戦(中庭へ向かえ!)その②」 (Saveji Gaaden Sakusen (Nakaniwa e Mukae!) Sono Nii)
“Operation Savage Garden (Head to the Courtyard!) (2)”

If you believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem, you’ll be thrilled that Araki wrote Savage Garden into Stone Ocean before “I Want You” was Part IV’s ED in the form of a carrier bird that Jolyne must deliver Jotaro’s Stand disc to. But quicker than you can say chica cherry cola, her and her new best friend Weather Report have to face off against an enemy Stand user with another familiar reference.

STRANGE BUT NOT A STRANGER

I’m not sure if it’s because so much time has passed since I read Stone Ocean or if it’s because the English voice for Emporio was the same VA who plays the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei V, but I found myself tolerating Emporio a lot more with the anime. There are times he teeters into loud kid character territory, but the anime plays more into his unsettling, mysteriousness.

Even though he’s still a kid, his Stand Burning Down the House gives him a ghost-like presence as he’s able to phase into previously-demolished parts of the prison. At the same time, his ability to summon and use objects that used to exist also add to the haunting vibes he gives off as he can just carry otherwise massive items or taste ghost food without being able to consume it. There’s still quite a bit of shouting, but with everything Emporio’s gone through, it makes sense that he’d either be jaded from years of dodging prison guards or fearful that the few people that know and understand his experiences are constantly risking their lives.

IT’S A GAS, GAS, GAS!

If you didn’t know where Avdol’s “Crossfire Hurricane” came from, now you know because it’s from The Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash”, which coincidentally is the name of Lang Wrangler’s Stand. But rather than diving into fire abilities, his abilities do more to manipulate the weight of objects and people.

What helps make the fight engaging is how Wrangler and Weather Report’s abilities ended up working against one another. Wrangler might be able to manipulate the gravity of objects and weaponize weightlessness, but in the process, Weather Report can weaponize the air itself, creating weather phenomena from thin air as the two duke it out with their respective abilities.

It makes it exciting to see how the fight unfolds given how often their abilities work against one another, and how each move actually hurts themselves almost as badly as their opponent. Where the last resort they take might give them the upper hand, but it’ll also be detrimental enough to their own safety that their opponent could exploit it just as easily. As Weather Report and Wrangler manipulated any and every particle that floats in the air, the stakes of the fight kept rising as every new attack added a new obstacle to escape from.

If there was anything I wasn’t as thrilled about with regards to the Wrangler fight, it had to be the feeling that it was padding to keep Jolyne away from the courtyard and stall Operation Savage Garden. The weekly release of Stone Ocean’s manga shows itself with the Wrangler fight as they kept moving the goalpost away from whoever had the advantage. And because of how broad Weather Report and Wrangler’s abilities are, the fight isn’t above going into asspull territory to squeeze out yet another moment where either fighter is screwed to oblivion and have to play 4D chess to tip the scales. It’s also the only point within the 12 episodes where the CGI was noticeable with Wrangler’s floating model, but I’ve grown to not be as bothered by incidental CG.

「集中豪雨警報発令」 (Shuuchuu Goou Keihou Hatsurei)
“Torrential Downpour Warning”

HOLD TIGHT, WE’RE IN FOR NASTY WEATHER

I’ll be the one to say it; Weather Report has a miserable Stand. Manipulating air and weather sounds like it’d be a fun idea, but when his Stand goes berserk, it’s as uncontrollable as Gold Experience Requiem. With the Wrangler fight mortally injuring him, the most he can do to prevent Jolyne from being unable to meet Savage Garden is summon a rainstorm of poison frogs that turn everyone into the Toxic Avenger.

The one caveat is that, because it’s an unpredictable Stand, EVERYONE could potentially be murdered by the poison frog rain. It’s a bit interesting since even Pucci has to navigate carefully if he doesn’t want to return to Dio with a jacked-up face. Much like some of the other quirky JoJo villains, Pucci has a few ticks of his own as he counts prime numbers as a way to calm down and keep his mind off of the intensely stressful situation he finds himself in.

Also, similarly to the Stray Cat fight, it’s one of the few instances where you have a good time hoping for the antagonist’s safety as it takes on Pucci’s point-of-view as he’s genuinely fighting for his life to escape from the poison frog rain. He fails at preventing Jolyne from giving the Stand disc to Savage Garden, but at the very least he’s able to gloat about inconveniencing Jotaro before Jolyne starts to get a better idea of who’s pulling the strings in the prison.

HERE I GO AGAIN ON MY OWN

I still don’t know what to think about Netflix’s release schedule. With the irregular, periodic dumpage that they’ve been doing with Stone Ocean and Shaman King, it forces everyone to catch up within one week, and then get all of your conversations out of the way within one week.

This isn’t a slam on fan communities, but the way Netflix released Stone Ocean has no way of fostering any kind of interest for Part VI until the next batch is announced. Unless you end up creating a big cultural zeitgeist out of thin air like Squid Game, anime discussions for Netflix series are always in past tense.

Rather than cultivating interest in a series over time and getting hyped up as you slowly follow a show, marathoning it all in one go only allots you a limited time before the water cooler talk dries up. Where instead of slowly picking on some nice chocolates, you eat them all in one go and only have a short span of time before your body rejects it and you hate yourself for the incoming stomachache. The only way to cope is to swear off chocolate until your body is ready for more half a year later, but wouldn’t you rather just pick on them gradually instead?

FINAL IMPRESSIONS?

Aside from the Netflix ranting, it was great to see that Stone Ocean’s first batch of episodes were a slam-dunk. It was awesome seeing everything in action, and how well it translated the dynamic touches and flair that the manga holds. Each JoJo part has it’s own stylish touches to it, and Stone Ocean’s is encapsulated effectively with the adaptation. The neon-tinted, punk pop aesthetic of the anime is a visual treat that offers a ton of personality to fit the off-the-wall disposition of Part VI.

To me, Part VI is easily the most bizarre of the adventures that the Joestars have been on, and the anime amplifies the uncomfortable, disturbing, and disgusting nature of the Stands and Stand users that Jolyne has to fight. Stone Ocean doesn’t shy away from reveling in the many ways a person can suffer through a Stand fight, ranging from being stuffed inside of rat corpses and being sucked dry to having one’s organs pulled out based on their monetary worth and melting from exposure to poison frog viscera. While it’s as gleefully violent as Part V, it shows off much of the creativity that went into making every fight in Part VI an outrageously brutal experience.

On top of this, Jolyne has to be the most likable JoJo since Joseph. She shares her father’s disgust and disdain for all of the crap she has to put up with, but also has some of the spontaneity and humor that made Joseph such an entertaining protagonist. It’s a trait that’s also shared with Hermes, who is abrasive and blunt, yet crafty and easily amused by the new powers she gains. I love Foo Fighters quite a bit as a creepy, unnerving plankton who tries mimicking human behavior, but can’t help but indulge in the unsettling urges she has to absorb moisture any way she can. I can’t wait to see all of them in action now that the plot is focusing around Jolyne leaving prison with the last disc she needs to bring Jotaro back to his old self.

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