Even if I don't usually care about something, when certain periods of time come around, I find it strange and get weirdly angry at it. Angry seasons exist within me, but these "angry seasons" are balanced by "seasons of being attacked."
Once, I shared the following story with my relatives: there's a traffic light on the street in my neighborhood that turns red even when there are no cars passing through. I used to just ignore it and cross the street if I didn't see any cars, but it always felt like a bad idea to me, so lately I've decided not to cross until the light turns green. And then, suddenly, a barrage of criticism began. "Who would even do that these days?" "Aren't you just such a good boy? Jackass." "Because someone saw you doing it and wrote about you on 2ch,[a] you hypocrite?!" Oh no. It seems my "season of being attacked" has arrived.
It's one thing to be attacked for doing or saying the wrong thing, but I hadn't even done anything. I didn't even cross the street at a traffic light. Such is the "season of being attacked." We find ourselves under attack without knowing the reason why. When such a season comes, trying to fight back only leads to further aggression and pain. The only thing you can do is wait for the season to end, like how a person with hay fever has to wait for pollen to stop flying. This season is one where the best defense is not a good offense.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure finally finds its sixth protagonist, Jolyne Cujoh, in the midst of such a "season of being attacked." She has lived in Florida since she was a little girl. Her father was very busy in Morioh back then, so she longed for his affection above all. But she would spend her entire childhood without a father. Despite her tough and cool bloodline, she somehow found herself going down a path filled with anxiety. All she ever received from her mother was nagging. When she fell in love with a boy, Jolyne came to believe in her boyfriend's love. From him she received the love and trust that her father never gave her. But that feeling of love dragged Jolyne into a world of misery. Can Jolyne unravel the thread that binds her and escape that place? And will she grow as a person in the process? That is the background of the protagonist in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6: Stone Ocean.
In the 80's, I drew a short story named Gorgeous Irene with a female protagonist, hoping to take her on a unique adventure. But at the time, I had the impression that women wouldn't feel very comfortable reading my work, so I decided not to make it a full series. It's been almost 15 years since then, and I feel like times have changed. The impression has shifted to the point that girls can get punched, have their fingers blown off, or be pushed off a building, and still be tough enough to go on.
It's all because of her father, Jotaro Kujo. He comes to save his daughter and, in turn, she goes to save her father's life, and her heart grows as a result. A protagonist like her is someone worth challenging in the span of a full-length manga. After all, a bloodline and its legacy are passed down, regardless of whether their recipient is male or female. The title of Stone Ocean symbolizes Jolyne's stone will, as well as the femininity of the ocean. It can also refer to an ocean of stone, the image of the prison in which the story takes place.
While working on Stone Ocean, I visited a prison in Florida on a research trip. The prison was divided into four areas: the juvenile ward, the female ward, the male ward, and the ward for the dangerous or condemned. In America, where punishment is a commercial enterprise, prisons are often privately owned. We were allowed to enter three of the four areas; with the exception of the kitchen where the model prisoners worked, we were not allowed to visit the male ward, which we were told was a dangerous place. It wasn't the kind of large-scale prison Jolyne finds herself in, but rather a high-tech prison building like Roppongi Hills.
Upon entering the prison, we were searched for belongings and had to pass through metal detectors. After that, we took an elevator, walked down a corridor, took another elevator, went down another corridor, and so on, again and again. And each time, a steel door with an electronic lock opened and shut and opened and shut as I entered with the warden and guards. None of us mentioned it, but every time the door closed, the realization sank in that I would never be able to leave on my own free will ever again. I felt claustrophobic, and I became so nervous that I started to hyperventilate and had trouble breathing. The prisoners would call out to us, "I'm from Tokyo," or, "Please let me have a Korean Bible." One of them was a small lady sitting next to a much larger woman, as though the larger one were her boss in a scene from a movie. The larger of the two asked me how old I was through her henchwoman. I eventually told the guard frankly, "I'm so nervous, and it's so hard to breathe in here," to which they replied, "I feel the same way every day. It's always a relief when I get to go home."Jolyne Cujoh... For the entire time I worked on Part 6 of the series, I wondered if she was going to be okay. If I were in Jolyne's shoes, I would've broken down and cried within three hours of being put in there. Out of all of the protagonists in JoJo, I really feel that she might be the toughest, and the one I wanted to be happiest. Especially since she's found herself in the middle of a "season of being attacked."
[Translated by HudgynS]