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This Week in Anime
Why JoJo: Stone Ocean Part 2 Is Even Better Than The First

by Monique Thomas & Christopher Farris,

Nicky and Chris get put in the slammer and are sentenced to five hours of JoJo viewing for their crimes. With the addition of new characters like Anasui, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean amps up the action as Jolyne and crew attempt to escape Green Dolphin Street Prison.

This series is streaming on Netflix

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Nicky, I've got bad news. It looks like the law has finally caught up with the TWIA crew for our multitude of Anime Crimes, and we're being hauled off to serve a sentence in the big house!

For what's not even the first time.
Oh man, I'm gonna be charged with SO many crimes after this one, you have no idea. Just every sentence placed upon my wretched soul. They're gonna need like a hundred priests to start praying for my salvation because I'm a sinner of the highest degree. All for the sake of loving the sweet taste of the latest JoJo's Bizarre Adventure!
Yeah, bad news on that front too. This facility does have its own priest on location, but he's not exactly the most noble man of the cloth.

This is what your Florida justice system tax dollars buy you.
There's also a totally good chance he could turn my soul into a CD with his Stand and use it to play funky tunes! I expect my soul to play some obscure indie band btw.
Yes, if the references to absurd powers and odd musical allusions weren't enough of a clue, this week we're taking a look at the second set of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean episodes Netflix saw fit to bless us with.

Though perhaps Bone Ocean would be a more apt title, given the particular plot device being pursued for this chunk of the story.

But before we play any of that we should rewind and go over the story so far, because this is the 2nd batch of 12 episodes. Netflix released the first batch in December and you can read what Steve and Jean-Karlo had to say about it here.

As for a quick tl;dr, Jolyne Cujoh, the daughter of Part 3's protagonist Jotaro Kujo, has landed herself in some real hot Florida swamp water. After being put in the big house for a crime she didn't commit, she gets a pendant from her estranged father and develops Stand powers she uses in hopes of surviving, enduring, and escaping the prison she refers to as a Stone Ocean. Jotaro eventually goes to speak with her in person to help her out but it turns out Jolyne's situation was only bait for DIO's loyal servant, Pucci, who uses his Stand White Snake (Pale Snake in the subs) to remove her father's memories and Stand, leaving Jotaro's body an empty rotting husk. Over the first cour, Jolyne manages to secure Jotaro's body and his Stand disc to hands of the Speedwagon Foundation with the help of the allies she's made in prison. Now, she still aims to reclaim both her freedom and her father's memories in order to live a happier life.

There's a lot of focus in this new stretch of episodes on showing how far Jolyne has come and trials she's endured so far in Green Dolphin Street Prison. It's visible right from the get-go via that scene at the end of the OP, showing her turning around to accompany her father rather than storming away from him as she did in the old version. And multiple characters through this run comment on her new-found resolve and how they've been inspired themselves.

She also makes it abundantly clear throughout that she is indeed her father's daughter.

The good ole' Joestar spirit runs strong in this one and I wouldn't dare have it be any other way. The more things change the more things stay the same, and that has ever been true with the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure franchise. We may get a different protagonist every time, but even as a woman Jolyne is still just as loud and brash as her male counterparts. Similarly, this part of Jojo's is no less gruesome, gross, and gory than the others. Prison is a tense place, and Jojo's Florida Prison is even tenser!

Not only do we have crocs OUTSIDE the prison, now there's a INVISIBLE ZOMBIE CROC hunting you down within its walls!
An INVISIBLE ZOMBIE CROC who only becomes visible when painted over in BLOOD!

But yeah, I feel like Hirohiko Araki has only embraced more unusual levels of ultraviolence as the franchise has gone on. Perhaps it was spurred by Diamond is Unbreakable's focal JoJo having actual healing powers that could undo a lot of that grisly damage, but it kept up even through Golden Wind where their best solution for in-field medical treatment was, uhh, Giorno performing impromptu organ transplants with random objects. At least the Stone Ocean prison gang has a good group of plankton to help out in a slightly cleaner way.
It helps that said group of plankton, Foo Fighters (F.F. for short), while originally no more than a tool to be used by Pucci used to guard his treasured CD collection, is actually a pure and good little weirdo who must be protected at all costs!! And a total argument against the whole nature vs nurture deal that was very common in Part 5 but also seems to crop up here.

Also, they (because plankton has no gender, there's multiple, and that's what the subs use) have a funny little finger gun that makes me laugh every single time it gets used.
Ah yes, F.F.'s attempt at the beginning of this stretch to reenact one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes.

F.F.'s arc here is a good example of that focus on the other characters in Jolyne's orbit. Over the course of these episodes, F.F.'s journey of self-actualization leads to them becoming as human as any of the other characters that aren't a colony of plankton piloting a corpse.

They also get several cool fights to themselves in this stretch, showing how far they've come in their ability to think and improvise in the Stand battles of this series that demand such sapient cleverness.

It's especially good because Jolyne's other best prison bestie Ermes gets taken out of the picture pretty early and while Weather Reporter was able to save her at the tail end of the last cour via toxic frog rain, he's still recovering from the critical injuries he suffered leaving Jolyne short on allies. JoJo's battles are really all about survival, so having smart, competent, folk who have your back is just as important as being able to duke things out on your own. This was also somewhat Ermes' critical flaw in the re-intro episodes.
When your Stand power lets you call yourself in as backup, that can make you think you don't need anyone else's help.
Ermes had voluntarily imprisoned herself in order to track down her sister Gloria's killer, the gangster Sports Maxx (named after the fashion brand). Using the stand she obtained in prison, Kiss (Smack in lawyer-safe subs), she succeeds in killing him but fails to account that he is actually another Stand user with the power to create invisible zombie ghosts! His Stand name is "Limp Vizkit" btw. I don't feel like I need to explain that one.
I'm mostly furious that they went with that safer, less interesting re-title when previous localized Stone Ocean media had gifted that Stand with the incredible moniker of 'Flaccid Pancake'.
That definitely feels like a let down, but not all the bargain bin names we make through our own smudged handwriting can be gold!
The fight with Sports Maxx goes through a pretty classic case of JoJo's escalation. His power is fairly simple at first, but the battle really takes off once Sporty's untimely death lets him control his own invisible corpse. It's a fun lead-up to a reveal, and it results in an interlude with some of that classic pseudo-comedic weirdness before we can shift back to the serious question of how Ermes is going to exact revenge on a guy who's already dead.
It's also very Jojo's to have an all-out brawl against a bunch of superpowered invisible zombie ghosts. Ermes trying to testify against her own circumstances of losing her family and everything along with it via this act of revenge leaves a memorable impression. Though again, she spends pretty much the rest of the time out of commission.

It feels satisfying in the moment, to the point that it took a while later in this cour before it occurred to me that we hadn't seen Ermes in a while. A testament to the memorability of this segment, and also to how the following storylines hit the ground running so hard that we really don't get time to wonder about other characters.

Notably, this slate of episodes actually opens with Jolyne being put in the extra-strength turbo jail wing of Green Dolphin, and then the show flashes back to show how this scrape with her, Ermes, and Sports Maxx is what got her there, all in pursuit of Dio's oh-so-desirable bone.
The real important thread of Ermes' story was that Sports Maxx had already used his zombie powers on Dio's Finger Bone that he gave to Pucci one day while laying in bed because they're such good friends! And no, I'm not exaggerating or joking. That's literally what happened!

Guys, just chillin' and being dudes. Just totally normal things you say to your buddy. Yup.
Truly, love in the biblical sense.

I really do love this season's insistence on flashing back to all these scenes of Pucci's extended stay and stretches of pillow talk at Dio's summer home. Both men are unrepentant villains in the JoJo-verse, but these bits do a good job of selling just how genuinely Pucci was a follower of Dio, and contextualizing how deeply personally-held the beliefs fueling his goal in the overall series are.

It humanizes the villain as much as it's doing the same for the rest of the cast, and aligns with that idea of growing and influencing others around us with that growth.

It's interesting cuz I fully believe that Pucci could've simply been a good god-fearing man on his own, but because of his time with Dio, he aims to achieve something greater than himself. The difference between him and the rest of the cast is that he sees everything happening, his trials, his triumphs, as a greater part of his fatalism rather than a product of his own will. He believes those that try to struggle against things that are greater than them are dooming themselves. I don't consider him to be any different than those he criticizes, but you can see this philosophy with every single one of his actions, including his habit of counting prime numbers to calm himself since he feels they are proof that the world is full of absolutes.
Yeah, Pucci is fascinating because there's a rather interesting critique of those driven by faith and evangelism baked into his character motivations, but even though he is actually a priest, Araki centers it more on the overall idea of that kind of devotion, rather than taking aim at any specific religious belief system. Save for any of those that actually worship 19th century vampiric bastards.

Pucci is up there with F.F. in terms characters that come out the strongest in this batch of episodes, in my opinion. And it's appropriate given that they started the series on the same side, only to wind up fighting opposite each other by this point!
With that said, we do get another new major character too. So Jolyne goes from the big house to the even BIGGER max security house, all by herself. Of course, it's also crawling with Stand users employed by Pucci. With her strongest allies on sickbed, Foo Fighters laments their desire to save Jolyne to our little friend Emporio, but they are overheard by Narciso Anastasia, often referred to as Anasui.

Named after two American fashion designers Narciso Rodriguez and Anna Sui, Anasui, as described by Emporio, is a dangerous individual. A born sociopath with a penchant for disassembly. He had gotten himself in jail after he caught his girlfriend cheating on him and dismembered her and the dude she was with. He's technically on our side but this sets him up as a pretty dangerous ally now that Weather Report (Weather Forecast) isn't here to keep him under control.

But what's more is that the only reason he has determined to help is that, despite never having fully interacted, he has determined that he is madly in love with Jolyne and seeks her hand in marriage!

If I'm being honest, I'm kinda iffy on Anasui. The sociopathic murderer angle I'm actually fine with, JoJo's has always had a knack for flavorful antiheroes and this is the kind of thing that comes with the territory when all your leads are convicted prisoners. But that romance angle is such a trite gimmick that feels played out before his first scene is even over.

Though I guess on the other hand it does result in some funny scenes opposite Jolyne who just has no time for this guy, while making us realize that we in the audience might be more like Anasui than we think. Don't we all love Jolyne, after all?
He's definitely the kind of character that I could see being extremely polarizing to a lot of people. After all, not only is he is a bad person and a murderer, he treats Jolyne possessively behind her back. He's devoted to Jolyne but no one else. He often treats Foo Fighters badly even though they're Jolyne's friend and tries to get them to help him seduce Jolyne using underhanded methods. He refuses to get involved with Foo Fighters' fight against the old man who uses Feng Shui to attack and also happened to be a former cult leader until Jolyne herself is threatened. So really, he comes off as extremely selfish and raises up every red flag as a romance option.

And I think he's my favorite.
We all have our preferred flavor of trash-man, and I'm genuinely curious as to what makes Anasui's portrayal in the show work for you. He strikes me as one of those characters who works best when Araki's having him get relentlessly dunked on, which doesn't quite come through quite often enough by my parameters.

Though again I admit, there are moments.
I enjoy that his feelings for Jolyne sometimes makes him lose all his braincells! I'll note that the framing that a lot of the things he does isn't okay is pretty clear and he isn't rewarded for his bad behavior. But as creepy as his obsession is, I do think he's oddly sincere as well and this makes him more trustworthy? You did said as much earlier, he admires Jolyne for the same reason the audience does, for her brave spirit. Along with Pucci, this makes Araki 2/2 for "bad people can have feelings too" category for me. Besides, Araki has an amazing ability to turn characters around. Even in Part 4 you had characters like Yukako who goes from a stalker to being extremely noble. Her and Koichi end up in a fairly stable relationship.

I also think that regardless of whether you like Anasui, I don't think it can be argued that he isn't useful. He's extremely competent as well as intelligent (well, most of the time). His stand, Diver Down, with the ability to disassemble and reassemble anything, is extremely OP whenever he actually uses it. He's often used to explain things for Jolyne and the audience or take hold of a situation when Jolyne can't by herself. His devotion also means there's very little chance of betrayal or abandonment.

But as an ally and a device, there's another function of having a character on your side who's not morally right in the head, and that's because they're willing to take certain measures other characters wouldn't without making anyone else look bad. He uses Diver Down to make a guy's ribs explode and injure the other enemy Stand user. It's extremely gruesome and calculated, but it's also what helps ties up loose ends so he and Jolyne can escape with Dio's Green Baby that was birthed from his Bone.
Hey, that point about Koichi and Yukako is a fair one, actually! If Araki can make that or the likes of Pucci/Dio look downright sincere (if not healthy) then someone like Anasui could come off as someone you could get complicated feelings for.

And agreed that his power is entertaining. It's a relatively basic ability that gets used for some trademark Araki body horror to surprising and interesting effect.

Why does it keep coming back to bones with this show?

But that idea of Anasui being an example of an ally you need in this sort of situation, one who's more morally grey, encompasses a lot of the growth Jolyne has done which has placed her into such a circle of 'friends'. She doesn't have the pick of the litter for allies with all these prisoners, so she has to go with the people who are the most effective fit available. So sometimes that's the romantically-obsessed weirdo who insists on helping you and no one else, and sometimes that's the colony of murder-plankton who previously guarded your dad's stolen soul at the behest of an evil priest until you bought them a Big Gulp.

The circumstances also doesn't diminish the fact that like all other Jojos, the bonds Jolyne creates with these people in the thick of things are important. It's still a battle series through and through! For example, after having a fight club, a kung-fu battle with an old man, and avoiding becoming one with the trees, Foo Fighters stays behind to seal the deal on the max security prison and runs into Pucci along the way to dire results. F.F. does anything they can to escape if only it means that Jolyne can learn the true identity of White Snake's user, and it's incredibly heart wrenching to watch a bunch of sea critters get boiled while thinking about the power of friendship.
The ol' Araki death fake-out is used to some great effect here. They really make you think F.F. has truly had their clams steamed to death at first, only to resurface a little later thanks to the timely return of Weather Report, just so they can heroically sacrifice themselves again after that. It could potentially ring similar to the over-killing-off that poor Avdol got hit with back in Stardust Crusaders, but instead each step hits as another life F.F. realized they'd been allowed to live in the first place. And provides a neat, grudging-respect capstone to their tumultuous interactions with Anasui throughout.

Completing F.F.'s arc like this within this cour is what makes it feel like they really own this section of Stone Ocean, closing a circle of an example of how effective Jolyne's presence was for this collection of scrappy scoundrels.

Also shout-out to Ermes for pouring out a fifth of F.F.'s favorite drink (water) for her microscopic homies.

It's definitely my favorite bit from this whole batch. It gives Anasui some good karma because he learned to see F.F. as a friend in a way, even if it's only when they're both dying. But unfortunately, it's the strong feelings for other people that causes Jolyne to lose the baby to Pucci, who first disguised himself as Weather Report, before attacking both Jolyne and Anasui and then tossing Jotaro's memory disc into a dying Anasui so it would crumble away along with his life. He ends up being okay due to F.F.'s sacrifice. While Jolyne suggests the possibility of restoring them via memory disc, they deny this idea knowing it wouldn't be the same. It shows how much people can be shaped by their experiences even in such a short time.

There's also quite a bit of good direction and flourish during these bits! There's some parts that don't feel as fluid as some other parts but there's equally some stand out visual moments to match so I don't really feel like the production is better or worse than the other parts despite whatever Netflix scheduling might've done for the team. Besides, the OST is always good and really sells moments like this.
This cour definitely still feels kind of stiff, animation-wise, but you're right that there seems to be more distinct directorial flavor making important moments stand out. It helps that this season gets more wild body-horror to play with in the presentation, which david production is absolutely reveling in depicting.

Another boon I found interesting about this particular batch of bizarre adventures: Opposed to the increasingly-complex Stand powers Araki had indulged in previous parts, a lot of the enemy abilities the team deals with this go-around are comparatively simple. Instead of things akin to the infamous King Crimson, this portion of Stone Ocean sees the gang dealing with Stands like Survivor, which just pisses people off super hard, or my personal favorite, Dragon's Dream, a sardonic, aggressively neutral party who simply points to the most advantageous angles of attack.

Voice actor Chō's delivery as this dry dragon is an absolute highlight of this anime treatment.
I thought the stuff with Green Baby was pretty fun. First, Jolyne becoming a plant and having to avoid sunlight was freaky. Lotta plant horror like watching a guys eyeball turn into a flower. Also, Anasui just....casually decides to taste one of the flowers growing out of Jolyne because that's how Jojo's characters assess situations. See: the taste of a liar.
Live Foo Fighters Reaction
And then later it's all Alice in Wonderland as Jolyne and Anasui try to get the baby but keep shrinking the closer they get to it. And it's subtly hilarious because Anasui, the smart one, is insisting the whole time that the baby is pure evil even though, despite having a Stand, forming from Dio/Jonathan's fingy bone, and its appearance, it acts way more like a real baby than say, the one in Part 3.

The music cut for this followed by the little baby grunt followed by the music picking up again, was comedy gold.
Just a disparate, baby-based distraction right after we just watched F.F. tragically sacrifice themselves (the first time).

But for real, I have to respect a simplistic Stand like this whose whole deal is simply reenacting the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise.

Especially after Jolyne manages to get into the baby's good graces and Anasui is still insisting on infanticide as a solution.

Though given how things turn out after that, maybe he wasn't too far off...

I think that's just proof that Anasui isn't quite ready for the realities of fatherhood yet despite his aspirations of marriage. The baby stops because it shows interest in Jolyne's birthmark, possibly recognizing her as kin. Though, it's not long after that Pucci puts some weird stuff in its mouth and it fuses with him. So we never really find out if it's truly good or bad despite being an abomination.
Though Pucci's foray into mpreg does also grant him the requisite Insane JoJo's Villain Makeover, so who's to say if that overall is good or bad either?

Him absconding from Green Dolphin for the next phase of his plan also alerts Jolyne to the point that maybe staying stuck in prison isn't the greatest idea, long-term, thus kickstarting one of my other favorite escapades in Stone Ocean: Finally getting a Stand named after Jailhouse Rock in the part that takes place in jail!
While they were able to obtain Jotaro's memory disc back, Pucci has left the island and Jolyne is determined to bust out to follow him. But before she can, she is struck by a case of amnesia and sent back to the women's prison. She wakes up, finding out that she's been stuck in a loop for days, only able to remember three pieces of information before she forgets something again. She writes notes on herself, including reminders to put on underwear. However, her resolve is still there even when she can't remember things and she's able to use her Stand to stitch a new reminder. It's very similar to what we saw earlier of Jotaro carving out Jolyne's name even though he's in a coma with no memories or consciousness. You can't erase the feelings that lay deep within a person.
I really love what the power of Jailhouse Lock does because it speaks to that effort at simplicity that I enjoyed in some of the other Stand battles for this set of episodes. It's an incredibly basic ability, but there's a truly understandable horror in that basicness, a very human fear I think a lot of us can relate to in times where we realize we've forgotten something important.

It ties into the thematic elements as well, since, compared to what we talked about with her earlier, under these conditions, Jolyne can't learn and grow from her experiences in the prison now! Jailhouse Lock has cut her off from what others noted as her most valuable resource up 'til now, and it did so by effectively weaponizing that feeling of walking into a room and forgetting why you went there!
For me, that's just called living with ADHD.

But in this situation she's also greatly cut off from her friends. With lil bro Emporio also being stuck in his room, electrocuting himself over and over again because of the effects of Jailhouse Lock after discovering Mew Mew's identity as, not an inmate, but the lead guard!

Do you think Florida is like Morioh in that it's just a place that attracts weirdness, including Stand users? That would explain a lot. Of course they'd need a Stand user to guard the terrible system!

I do love the idea that Araki had to make up a whole fictional Japanese town to contain the level of bizarreness he's always so intent on depicting, but upon wanting to do something similar for the USA, simply looked to Florida and went, "Oh yeah, that's the place!"

It is neat that this collection of episodes sees Jolyne specifically tussling with the commanding cops of the prison a couple times, apart from being made to fight against her fellow inmates. It was a corrupt, rigged structure that conspired to land her in jail in the first place, so her taking out the head protector of this system is a great way to lead to her to finally get out of Green Dolphin. Even if, as much as I enjoy the mechanics of Jailhouse Lock, the resolution for it lands a bit on the contrived side. As Araki is wont to be sometimes.

Totally, but it's still presented in a really fun way for how contrived it is, basically using Stone Free as a 3D printer that can print ASCII art. Though, you would think it would've been easier to identify her given how, despite how insanely fashionable this prison seems to be, she's the only person in the whole joint with "Delicious" written right there on her ass! You'd think that'd be a singular, readily identifiable piece of info.
It's a problem of too much distinctive variety. Everyone at Green Dolphin either dresses in luxury brands or is named after a luxury brand, and Jolyne will be damned if she can tell any of those colorful characters apart from any given prisoner with a weirdly huge head.
Either way, Jolyne doesn't need to remember anything but how to punch the shit out of things; the solution to every problem in Jojo's! She manages to defeat Mew Mew and use her as a hostage to finally escape the prison, taking Emporio and Ermes with her on her way out. It's a pretty spectacular victory but also makes you wonder what other dangers could be out there after spending so long in a relatively small space. Similar to how Emporio feels, having spent his entire life inside the walls of Green Dolphin State Prison and therefore initially hesitant to leave.
Even a few bumps at the very end of this confrontation can't do much to undercut the strength of the arc. Say what I will about Netflix jailing these episodes in their own digital Green Dolphin Street Prison (can you imagine the chatter these episodes could have generated on forums and social media on a weekly basis?), this chunk still feels like a complete 'section' of the show, leaving off on an upheaval of the story's status quo and setting the stage for a freshly climactic confrontation between our heroes and that perilous priest.

Like Emporio there, it elicits a sense of uncertainty, about what Stone Ocean will look like absent this dense setting that seemed so much like a character unto itself up to this point.
It does bum me out that there will be basically little to no conversation due to Netflix's binge model. Jojo's used to be a really fun activity to share with everyone week-to-week. In fact, even I'm victim of this because I had actually completely forgotten to finish the first half until now so I ended up watching about half of that too. But I agree in this part being very entertaining and very thematically whole made it easier to watch as both singular episodes and a package. I encourage people to watch it in the way they feel is best for them and to keep talking about it whenever they do get around to it. There's never really a wrong time to watch Jojo's!

Though, do be considerate of the other inmates trying to watch too.

Given how tightly the episodes fit together, we can only hope that the release of the last third of Stone Ocean, whenever Netflix deigns to give it to us, will result in some overall public appraisal of the whole series. For now, even absent the regular ritual of JoJo Fridays, I can safely say that this part of Part 6 is a strong stretch, and I can hopefully look forward to others on my feed arriving at its ups and downs. Even as, yes, we have to be sure to carefully spoiler-proof things for those going through it on their own time.

Aside from that, I guess I'm just jazzed to live in a world where we've made it up to a globally-released Stone Ocean anime at all!
Honestly, it makes me wish we had the rest of the manga out just so I can see what happens and compare, but a world where I can see finally see Jolyne kick some butt is definitely a better one even if nothing else changes. That's a win in my book!

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