Though I haven’t written about it very often, I’ve followed every part of David Production’s anime adaptation of “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.” Its mix of clever scenarios, silly characters and legitimately good drama has made it one of my favorite anime. Nothing is quite like Jojo’s; it stands on its own as a unique work that can make you laugh with its bizarre antics and then make you weep in the span of a few scenes when a beloved character dies.
I recently watched the ending of the anime adaptation to “Stone Ocean,” (the sixth part of “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”) which — spoilers — sees our main character Jolyne Cujoh (Kira Buckland), her father Jotaro Kujo (Matthew Mercer), and her friends Ermes Costello (Tiana Camacho) and Narciso Anasui (Howard Wang) die in battle with “Stone Ocean” antagonist Enrico Pucci’s (Yong Yea) upgraded Maiden Heaven stand (physical manifestations of one’s soul complete with their own superpowers), which has the power to accelerate time beyond the universe’s singularity point, after which a new universe is created almost exactly the same as the previous one. Those who survive this phenomenon can live through life knowing how it will play out, which Pucci describes as heaven. However, anyone who died before his stand accelerated time at Cap Canaveral, Fla., are gone forever — which seems to include the versions of Jolyne and Jotaro and company that we’ve gotten to know through the anime up to this point.
Pucci is eventually defeated by Emporio Alnino (Casey Mongillo), a stand user and another one of Jolyne’s friends from her time in Green Dolphin State Prison (how and why she was there is a long story). This results in the creation of a new timeline in which Jolyne (she now goes by Irene) never goes to jail, and presumably the Joestar bloodline she is a part of never comes into contact with overall series antagonist Dio Brando/DIO (he’s referred to as Dio Brando in Part 1, but DIO in Part 3 and beyond), freeing them from centuries of bloodshed and misfortune. But at least from this anime adaptation, it is not clear if the versions of Jolyne and company have anything to do with the versions we left back in the original universe where most of “Stone Ocean” and every part of Jojo’s before this takes place in.
I grappled with this in a video on InReview’s TikTok page earlier this week that you can watch below. Yet I am still reeling from this ending.
In that video, I note how I neither liked nor disliked the ending; it’s the definition of the middle-of-the-road for me. In it, our heroes lose their lives, but Pucci’s plan is eventually foiled, and a brighter future is obtained. But it’s also depressing to know that after years of generational suffering — and dozens of beloved characters sacrificed — the Joestars’ struggle with the forces of Dio Brando/DIO ultimately end in failure. The struggles we see this family go through in Jojo’s Parts 1-6 amount to nothing … and yet also something else entirely at the same time (the universe resetting).
Series creator Hirohiko Araki somehow found a way to have his cake and eat it, too. And it feels hollow and bittersweet.
It was a necessary reset for Jojo’s. Its universe of stands and the generation battle between DIO and the Joestar bloodline was getting too complex and convoluted, and “Stone Ocean” takes place close to the present day — there’s not much room forward for this franchise to go. It already had to walk a tightrope retroactively adding details to its world; Parts 4-6 are almost entirely based on plot elements that were either the result of unintended consequences of DIO’s brief reign of terror in Part 3 (such as the emergence of new stand users in Part 4, and his secret son, Giorno Giovanna), or unrealized plans he wasn’t able to execute in that part. It would be very difficult to flesh out this world further without Araki contradicting himself.
Part 7 needed to have the freedom to focus on a story that wasn’t specifically about this version of the Joestars or the aftershocks of Dio Brando/DIO’s action. Even Part 2 — which features antagonists that have nothing to do with Dio, has his shadow cast on it, as a central theme of it is the cycle of misfortune that has seen Joestar men die young for two generations (Jonathan Joestar dies at the end in Part 1 battling Dio and his son, George II, gets killed between Parts 1 and 2 by a zombie Dio created). With DIO himself being dead since Part 3, Araki had the choice of either seeing his follower (Pucci) meet the same fate as DIO, or giving him a partial victory in which the Joestar bloodline as we know it ends (except for Parts 4 and 5 protagonists Josuke Higashikata and Giorno, who don’t appear in Part 6 at all).
Perhaps the biggest reason Part 6’s ending feels hollow to me is that it serves as the grand finale to the Joestar saga we’ve been following since Part 1, but it doesn’t feel like one. In fact, it feels almost like a last-minute decision, with the steaks drastically raised exponentially in the last few episodes of the anime. Pucci’s plan is a huge one the likes we’ve never seen in Jojo’s, and it affects everyone in its universe — including the likes of Josuke and Giorno, who presumably grapple with the consequences of accelerated time like everyone else in the anime’s world. It does feel a little jarring, especially after the anime focused on smaller stories, like the carnage of the serial killer Yoshikage Kira in Part 4, or that of organized crime boss Diavolo in Part 5. Even Dio/DIO’s plots in Part 1 and 3 didn’t have as much weight as Pucci’s plan to reset the universe — he merely wanted to do what every generic supervillain wants to do: Take over the world.
This of course begs the question: How would Araki have written Part 6 to feel like a grand finale to this saga? The only way to do so, in my opinion, would be to bring in Josuke and Giorno and some of their supporting cast, though their presence would run the risk of overcrowding Part 6 and eclipsing Jolyne’s story. It could easily be fan service run amok, something I think Araki has been very good at avoiding. Almost every character that returns from a previous part appears with a clear purpose and secondary role in the story they’re appearing in, never taking the spotlight for long from that part’s unique characters, and it’s partially because of that why I think every part of Jojo’s I’ve seen so far stands on its own as a complete story.
Perhaps my opinion of Part 6’s ending will evolve over time. For now, I will continue to neither like nor hate it, though I admit I’m not sure how I would’ve wrapped this saga up differently. Araki wanted to continue writing Jojo’s stories, but he needed a clean slate — with his perfect ending already used in Part 3 in which the Joestars definitely killed DIO, I’m not sure there was a way for him to wrap up this saga in a way that would please everyone.