JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is probably the most bizarre anime series you’ll find, even if you’re a die-hard anime fan with a good background. Based on Hirohiko Akari’s manga of the same name, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is usually listed as one of the best anime series of the modern era and the adaptations have been consistently rated as being great. On December 1, 2021, Netflix released JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, the 12-episode fifth season of the show, and we have prepared out thoughts and opinions about it in this review.
The JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga has been around since 1987 and is Hirohiko Araki’s most famous work. The world in which the show is set is actually a version of the real world where supernatural forces and beings exist as something completely normal. In such a world, some people are able to use and transform their internal spiritual power into what is called a Stand (Japanese: スタンド, Sutando). They can also another important form of energy that is known as Hamon (Japanese: 波紋, “Ripple”), which is actually a martial arts technique that allows its user to focus their bodily energy into sunlight through controlled breathing.
The general plot of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is actually quite complex, as the narrative is split into several parts with completely independent stories and different characters; they’re all part of the same universe, but it tends to get confusing if you’re new to the series, which is why we’re just giving you a brief overview before we actually approach the season.
In each of the series, the protagonists are members of the famous Joestar family, whose mainline descendants have a star-shaped birthmark above their left shoulder blade and a name that can be always be abbreviated as “JoJo”, which gave the whole series its name. The first six parts of the manga take place within a single narrative continuity whose generational quarrel comes from the rivalry between Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando, and the latter two parts take place in a completely alternate universe in which the Joestar family tree is almost completely different.
Now that we’ve revised this, we can approach the anime series itself. The first season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure premiered back in 2012 and with the current season – which is unlikely going to be the franchise’s last – the series currently consists of five seasons. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean premiered on Netflix on December 1, 2021 and the whole 12-episode batch was released on that date. Now, the initial reviews have been very positive, with the fans lauding yet another great adaptation. But was it really like that, or are the fans simply subjective? Let us see.
Star Ocean is a very intriguing adaptation. It adapts the sixth and final part of Araki’s main universe narrative, thus bringing the main universe story of the Joeastar family to a close. Now, while it might seem that this season is the shortest in terms of the episode count, we have to remind you that this is only the first part of the adaptation and we are going to see additional episodes of Stone Ocean, probably sometime during 2022. Netflix’s anime adaptations are highly ambitious and we have no doubt that they will close Araki’s narrative in the greatest way possible.
We do have to state that Netflix had a pretty difficult task, as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is considered to be one of the best adaptations of the modern era. All previous seasons have been lauded for their authenticity and faithfulness to the source material, so Netflix had very high standards to adhere to. But – they actually did it! If you need to take one aspect of Stone Ocean that stands out the most, that is definitely the show’s faithfulness to the original manga, which is in line with the tradition of the series.
The adaptation is simply marvelous and you can feel the energy of the original manga storyline in every scene. This is evident in the show’s tone and style, the structuring of the plot, the characters design, as well as in the development of the characters. Stone Ocean introduces us to a completely new set of characters but the transition is so smooth that you don’t even notice it, which is great and goes to show how well the adaptation has been executed.
The plot itself is, of course, Araki’s, but we know quite well that some anime never really managed to capture the soul of the original manga’s narrative. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure never failed to deliver in this aspect, and Stone Ocean is certainly not an exception. The plot is intriguing, captivating, and just as weird and bizarre as you’d expect it to be. Fans will certainly appreciate this aspect, but the quality of this adaptation is sure to attract some new fans too.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is relatively tough to swallow at first. It is very strange, very bizarre, and the overall style (both in terms of animation and narration) is very different from what people are used to, which can be a deterring factor. But, if you get through your initial hesitation and comprehend the quality that lies beneath, JoJo never fails to deliver, with Stone Ocean being a prime example of that, but also how well-executed and faithful a manga adaptation can be.
As for the downsides, there aren’t many and they can be rounded up to the usual things that people don’t like about JoJo – at moments it’s just a bit too much. We have seen this in all the previous seasons and Stone Ocean is not an exception, but that is actually not something you can criticize – it’s just how the show works and you’ll either like it or not.
Ultimately, we can conclude that Stone Ocean is yet another high-quality adaptation of the JoJo manga and that Netflix has done the job as was expected. Stone Ocean is a brilliant adaptation and although we wouldn’t date call it the best, it it is certainly among the better seasons of this show, so you should definitely watch it.