When it comes to shōnen anime, fans love a good protagonist. Or, more accurately, they love a good male protagonist: a boy who is funny, relatable, and easy to root for that embodies the spirit and energy of the genre. This has been the case for the last five seasons of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; each Part has given us a unique male title character that has become beloved by fans for their personalities and awesome fighting skills. However, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean will be the long-awaited introduction to Jolyne, the first—and so far, only—female title character in the series. This Part is also the end of the original plotline of the series, putting it in a precarious position to tie up loose ends and provide a strong conclusion. This is a lot of pressure, especially in a genre where female main characters are not only uncommon but also often poorly written. However, the strength of Part Six is already evident in the manga, and this strength is why it could be the greatest entry of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure yet.
Shōnen anime with female main characters are few and far between. In an anime like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that has received a lot of attention and boasts a large fanbase, it’s even less likely for a woman to take the lead. Even when they are given a main role, they’re often poorly written; they don’t have the same diversity as male characters and often fall into stereotypical roles as support or caregivers. Hideto Azuma, Araki’s editor during the publication of Stone Ocean, had recommended that Jolyne was changed to a man to appeal more to Weekly Shōnen Jump readers,
according to an interview in JOJOVELLER. However, Araki refused. He thought that readers being opposed to a female lead was exactly why Jolyne was necessary. Araki insisted that Jolyne needed to be a woman because readers wouldn’t accept her. This makes her an important character for the series and for shōnen manga as a whole. Jolyne was meant to be a statement, a way of saying that women could be main characters, even in media traditionally created for men, and be successful.
Part of Jolyne’s appeal is that she is a well-written lead. She isn’t made to fall into the stereotype of the quiet, unassuming, polite woman, nor is she made out to need a man to save her. Jolyne is confrontational, courageous, and confident, if a bit erratic at times, and she is fun loving and outgoing. She isn’t one to back down from a challenge and pushes through her obstacles without wavering. She values her friends and family (evident in her plight to reconnect with Jotaro) and tries to see the best in everyone, even her enemies. In many ways, she’s written like a typical shōnen protagonist, and that’s why she’s important. She embodies what shōnen fans love to see in a series: an energetic, unapologetically driven lead.
Araki’s choice to insist on a female lead and his care taken to make her just as dynamic as any male shōnen protagonist is admirable, especially given the popularity and nature of his series. If Stone Ocean receives the same reception as the parts before it, it would prove that a woman could easily be the star of shōnen series and be just as marketable as a male title character.
In addition to Stone Ocean having the first female Jojo, it also subverts the traditional structure of the Jojo ally group. In the past, fans have been introduced to male Joestars surrounded by majority male companions. Stone Ocean presents the audience with a female Jojo and two female counterparts, Ermes and Foo Fighters. Unlike some of the women we’ve seen in past parts, Ermes and Foo Fighters are major characters that play roles similar to Polnareff and Kakyoin in Stardust Crusaders and Okuyasu in Diamond is Unbreakable. They also don’t fall into the stereotypes women often do in anime and manga. Ermes is a headstrong, loyal, and resilient woman with quite a rude streak. She is unapologetically blunt and violent at times. Foo Fighters, on
the other hand, is intellectual, curious, and somewhat selfless. She is fiercely loyal to her companions and fears losing them. Both Ermes and Foo Fighters feel like characters that can stand on their own because they have fleshed out personalities that go beyond their relationship with a male character or even with Jolyne herself. It’s refreshing to see a group of women that are allowed to be unapologetically blunt, tough, boisterous, and intelligent. It’s done in a way that doesn’t feel forced or performative; the dynamic of Jolyne and her crew flows just as well as all of the previous Jojo groups.
While the introduction of so many dynamic female leads is of huge importance, Stone Ocean’s place in the plot of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure can’t be overlooked. While it serves as a conclusion to the main storyline, it also ties in points from Stardust Crusaders by working with an antagonist influenced by events in Part 3 and featuring Jotaro in a prominent role. It also brings back a major item from Diamond is Unbreakable and Golden Wind: the Arrow. Stone Ocean serves as a continuation of the plot of the direct Jojo lineage, which would include the stories of Jonathan, Joseph, Jotaro, and Giorno and their struggle with the impact of Dio. It continues the manifestation of Stands and begins to blur the lines a bit between Stand and user and how Stands can be created and activated. Stone Ocean provides a huge dose of bizarreness in the series by working to tie up all the loose ends from the parts before. There’s plenty of twists and turns in store to keep fans at the edge of their seats.
Stone Ocean is an essential part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, as every part is. However, it may have a place of great importance that the other parts don’t. It has the series first female Jojo, and if the anime does well with audiences, it could open the door for more female-led shōnen titles. Not only does it have a female title character, but the main trio of this part is comprised entirely of women who have diverse and interesting personalities and goals. And of course, it is the conclusion of the main storyline. Stone Ocean is in the tough position to tie up loose ends from parts one through five on top of providing a satisfying finale, which makes it an exciting and unpredictable entry. It’s no surprise that fans are eagerly awaiting the release of what could be the most important
part of Jojo yet.
Researcher by day and mystical mage by night, Sebastian spends his free time writing, reading, and playing games of all sorts. He’s currently an editor-at-large for Popzara and a freelance anime writer at Collider. He also may or may not be a little tower of tarantulas disguised as a person; that’s classified information.
Twitter (where I post links to all my work!): @captaindeadpoet
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