Women in prison. Ok, got your attention.
Featuring one of the most ridiculously tense and violent games of catch-ball ever, Stone Ocean is even better than part 5 of the JoJo saga. If Golden Wind was the zenith of the JoJo franchise, then Stone Ocean is the apex. Ok, they both mean the same thing but you get the idea.
Starring the daughter of the stoic, bland, yet incredibly powerful Jotaro, the story has jumped a few years to 2011, Florida, USA. Jolyne is in a 'pinch' as the Japanese love to say. She's on her way to a sprawling prison complex off of Florida, she's been framed, she's starting to hear voices in her head and a string just appeared out her finger for no apparent reason. Shit just got real.
The JoJo saga has featured a vast array of unique characters and abilities, but at its core it’s about a very simple thing. The violent clash of two bloodlines: Joestar versus Dio and his minions. Stone Ocean is no different, albeit lacking Dio himself it still carries his influence still plaguing the unlucky Joestar bloodline. Its free of the overt humour of Part 4 and after part 5's unbelievably powerful abilities, Araki himself was in a pinch, where does he go next?
So what better way to get out of it by allowing more females into his saga and using a claustrophobic locale brimming with lots of potential. A maximum security prison complex halved between females on one side and males on the other. Jolyne is thrust into a violent world with no allies, forced to learn the rules of prison society, like how to bribe people just to make a phone call.
The abilities are still named after famous artists and bands, but they're so much more offbeat and WTF-based than usual. You have to love it. The imagination on display in the JoJo saga constantly hits you in surprising ways, and you're usually left in awe at Hirohiko Araki's imagination, pitting two veteran stand-users against a newly born baby for example. You will be beaming or pumping your fist into the air at how Araki can sustain so much tension and danger to the characters, pushing them to the very limits and then pulling them out of the fire, and it never feels like a copout, he always makes their efforts to get out of danger believable and earned.
Jolyne is a good character, she's feminine yet brash like all JoJos are, she's intelligent and has a very handy ability that she uses to its full potential, regularly getting out of tight corners and giving violent beatdowns to punks who push her too far.
Stone Ocean is another great addition to the JoJo saga, a brilliant shonen that has enough horror traits to almost veer it into seinen territory. The battles are ingenious and often brutal, packed with body mutilation and as usual for an Araki manga; featuring climaxes that are the result of characters acting intelligently and not because of contrived power-ups, as seems to be the rage in the post-millennium decade.
In terms of rating the last battle of this volume to other volumes, it definitely ranks as one of the best, a vast improvement over Part 5's battle in Italy. There are crazy powers causing utter mayhem on a global scale and insane counterattacks that come from nowhere but are always consistently logical in the context of the manga.
I love the author; he always comes up with crazy solutions to crazy problems. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is as enduring and consistently entertaining as the JoJo blood line.