Looks like we got an early Fall season gift thanks to Netflix’s abysmal promotion of Stone Ocean: Part 2. It’s a section of the story where we are met with one high-octane fight after another where you can expect hyperviolence, grotesque imagery, and heartbreaking drama.
TAKE THE COOKIE AND STICK IT UP YOUR YEAH
The hilarious part about having Part 2 begin with the Limp Bizkit arc is that, by this point, the story is more than ready to hit the ground running with its violence being amped up to its highest heights… So instead of having as many expository episodes near the beginning, we’re starting with one episode of brutal violence after another.
It’s fun because it cuts to the chase, but it’s amusing because it’s Stone Ocean of all parts that have a lot of people emotionally unprepared for the remaining sections of the manga. Much of this is Netflix’s fault because of their haphazard way of releasing this part of JoJo, but it’s a bit of a mixed blessing in a way. Right from the get-go, you have plenty of “Out-of-Context JoJo” fodder where fights can only switch between grotesque and disgusting.
Stone Ocean, in particular, has some of the most disgusting fights in the series, which can be attested to with Hermes Costello’s revenge against Sports Max. From jump street, she traps him in a pipe and brutally drowns him to death with a torrent of raw sewage, unknowingly awakening his ghost stand power Limp Bizkit. They make an active point to even have feces and urine pouring from his orifices as he finds out that his body is functionally dead by this point and he’s only able to fight as a stand ghost.
The brutality doesn’t end there as they solidify that Sports Max is a scary dude. His calm composure and mild-mannered personality are merely a smokescreen to the acts against humanity that he’s more than willing to take part in. Nothing felt as haunting as watching him devour a woman’s brains out of impulse in the middle of the night after I’d have forgotten exactly how brutalized most of the cast gets in this part. Kudos to English VA Kane Jungbluth-Murry for giving Sports Max an unsettlingly chill and posh voice even as the stand user’s ghost form is deliriously rambling about oozing sewage and eating brains.
It makes for great television, but might not be the best if you plan on eating anything during or afterward. I’d watched Nope recently and loved it, but had reservations about munching on popcorn when Jean Jacket was crunching on people. Similarly, I had to make a habit of trying not to eat or drink much with Stone Ocean because fights here are more than cozy with mangling, mutating, and dismembering folks.
DOLCE & GABBANA. HALLOOOO~?
The body horror is on-point in other sections of the show as well. Westwood’s fight has him brutally beating one of his friends as he eventually has one of his thumbnails ripped off in all of its Higurashi-esque glory. FF spends most of her Kenzo fight being mutilated as they’re both electrocuted. Jolyne is already beaten and bloodied by the time she throws herself down a flight of stairs to get to FF and finish the fight. Diver Down smashes Kenzo’s legs into a pile of bones and springy flesh as we comically watch him jump and flail into a trash can. And that’s not even going into D&G murdering people by having plants and trees burst from their bodies.
Needless to say that the JoJo spirit hasn’t diminished one bit from Stone Ocean. In fact, it’s only picking up because Part 2 represents the shift the story takes into darker, more macabre territory. Vento Aureo had its shades of bleak violence and dark comedy, but with Stone Ocean it’s a part that is highlighted by its more experimental fights that dive even further into gore and visceral combat. I remember the manga kinda dragging around this part of the manga, so it’s exciting to see that the anime adaptation managed to help the Battle Royale arc flow a lot more easily from one episode to the next. The Yo-Yo Ma fight might’ve dragged on a bit, but it’s nice to hear Yamaguchi Kappei return to JoJo (I watched both the sub and dub so praise is just gonna be thrown all over the place for the VAs).
ON THIS JOURNEY TO THE PAST
I believe what Araki accomplished with Stone Ocean was establishing that he’d gotten comfortable enough with Stand fights that creating just another batch of great Stand fights wouldn’t have been good enough. The mental gymnastics that the Stand users had to do to win a Vento Aureo fight would no longer seem revolutionary if they were grandfathered over to Stone Ocean.
Instead, Stone Ocean’s fights are represented best by how it dips further into Araki’s penchant for horror films. Instead of watching two buff dudes have to compute attacks with simple Stand abilities, you’re seeing Stand abilities that are more heavily inspired by body mutilation that is scary enough to make each new fight more disgusting than the next. Much of the terror comes from seeing an ability demonstrated on some poor guy who is completely destroyed by a Stand, causing Jolyne and her pals to have to put their bodies on the line to survive a gruesome fate.
It still has the previous parts’ sense of humor and those older parts had their fair share of gross-out moments. At the same time, the experimental horror-themed fights this time around feel like a neat, innovative change of pace. It gives Stone Ocean its own sense of identity, and makes Jolyne an even bigger badass by virtue that she’s had to fight one monster after another. Considering her penchant for risk-taking and wise-cracking, it’s awesome to see that she takes more from Joseph than the other JoJo’s after him.
THERE GOES OUR HERO
Aside from the fights, this was a very strong section of Stone Ocean for its story. To be specific, it establishes Pucci’s current goal of not only wiping out Jolyne but also making sure that he’s able to secure all of the components he needs to make sure she wouldn’t be able to fight back. Keeping onto DIO’s bone and securing the Green Baby wind up being the two main motivators behind his rampage across the prison.
All of this comes to a head with the untimely end for F.F. One thing that was a bit depressing about Stone Ocean was how little she was able to jump in and help out before she was killed off. Many of her slice-of-life moments or cool fights are relatively slim, forcing her to take more of a backseat compared to Jolyne and Anasui this time around. It was a gripe I had in the old manga since she was really cute and amusing, but you only get such a short period of time before she is killed off.
Speaking of Anasui, I have mixed feelings about him. Anasui is a popular character because of how attractive he is, but his backstory doesn’t differ as much from some of the freaky people Jolyne has had to fight. He murdered his girlfriend for infidelity, and now spends most of the story coming onto Jolyne. Compared to some of Jolyne’s other friends, he can only coast off of himbo energy for so long before it becomes a bit unsettling to see him desperate to marry Jolyne.
I’ve come to realize after my Isekai Ojisan post that I become exceedingly more upset the more I think about how streaming rights as they’re currently set up have made it even more difficult to get into anime. Unless it’s something like JoJo or a new Trigger anime, I really don’t like to talk about Netflix anime because I become more unreasonable and bitter about it, and I wind up derailing an entire post with Netflix bile. It doesn’t help that the release of Stone Ocean has been hit with the double whammy of being barely promoted and released as three cours released in three years. And no new OP/ED? It’s heartbreaking. But hey, at least it’s not on Disney+.
Aside from those concerns, the adaptation is still doing a great job at doing justice to the original source material. It helps to encapsulate the main appeal of Stone Ocean with how bizarre and disturbing the fights get as Jolyne and her friends are sent through the wringer with every fight against one freaky stand after another.
They even managed to make many of the fights in this cour even cooler than their manga counterparts with the Sports Maxx, Westwood, and Kenzo fights standing out as some of the neater bouts in the anime. Even D&G and Miu’s fights were a great time. There are very few JoJo fights that disappoint, and Stone Ocean’s matches share that same level of consistency with each bout being even nuttier than the next.
Deep down, I knew that within this current batch, they’d only get to Jailhouse Lock. But while I would’ve wanted it to be split up into two cours like Stardust Crusaders, it rips the bandaid off the battle royale section of the manga. By powering through the point in the manga where it starts to drag, we’re guaranteed to have a final third cour that is wall-to-wall with some of the most insane fights in the series and even more grotesque stand abilities.