Stone Ocean Bunko Vol. 1 (04/2008)
"You know, near my house there is this traffic light which turns red even during parts of the day where cars are nowhere to be seen. It didn't really bother me before and if there was no one around I would just go ahead and pass anyway. However, lately I've began to see it as bad conduct, so I've decided to stop and wait until it turns green."
As soon as I finished saying this, I started getting bombarded with a flurry of comments such as "Oh c'mon nobody does that anymore!" and "You are giving me a headache! What, are you trying to play goody two shoes now?!" and even, "You are a hypocrite! You just want someone to see you so he can write about it on 2chan!" Ugh. There it is. The "Season of Aggression" has arrived. If you get attacked for saying or doing something bad there's nothing wrong with that, but I did no such thing. I mean, I didn't even pass the red light. See, this is the "Season of Aggression", that period of time when people get angry at me for reasons that I fail to comprehend. And when it inexorably presents itself again, even in arguments where I could easily counter, I just end up being assailed and suffer even more. Because of this, the only thing that I can do is sit and wait until it passes again, just like people affected by pollen allergies; on hold, until the cause of their nuisance flies away. In these circumstances, the saying, "The best defense is a good offense" does not work.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has finally reached its sixth protagonist, Jolyne Cujoh, and she too is in the middle of this "Season of Aggression". Ever since she was little, she's lived in Florida, and with Jotaro being very busy in Morioh, she grew up without the presence of a father figure. Jolyne has certainly inherited the tough and cool headed side of her family, but she slowly but surely went towards a path of restlessness. Her mother just scolds her. She falls in love with a guy whose affection she blindly trusts. He represents the love and affection that she never got from his father. But it's precisely this sentiment that will drag Jolyne into a crazy world. Will she be able to free herself from it like "unraveling a string"? And will she mature as a person? This is the lay out that I had in mind when writing Stone Ocean and its protagonist.
Some time ago, in the 1980s, the impulse of trying a new creative adventure made me draw "Gorgeous Irene," a short story which had a woman as a protagonist. But in that time period I just, don't know, kinda felt something was off...I perceived a weird atmosphere telling me that a female protagonist wouldn't go well in my works, and so I scrapped the idea of turning it into an actual series. Almost 15 years have passed since then, and I'm convinced that, in some way, the times have changed. Today we live in an era in which, even if a girl takes a punch, or her finger goes flying, or she gets pushed down a building, you can still have a really strong atmosphere. The responsibility is all on her dad's shoulders, Jotaro Kujo. He is the one who initially comes to save his daughter, but ultimately ends up getting saved by her. This, in turn, favors the internal growth of the girl. It seems to me that putting yourself out there by inserting a character like this into a manga really pays off. We can be men and women, but the blood relations and the sentiments which derive from them are elements which we all inherit.
What does "Stone Ocean" mean? "Stone" is the will of Jolyne, while "Ocean" symbolizes women altogether. This Stone Ocean can also refer to the image of the prison in which the story is set. After having decided to draw Stone Ocean, I wanted to collect some material and went to visit a prison in Florida. It was divided into 4 sections: juvenile detention, female detention, young male detention and death row convicts detention that I could only enter after I was granted a permit. In America, there are also "private" prisons in which a penalty discount becomes the equivalent of a commercial enterprise.I could enter three sections, but not the male detention one because it was deemed too dangerous, I was only able to see the kitchen and the model prisoners working there. In any case, it wasn't a huge prison like the one where Jolyne Cujoh was incarcerated, rather it was a very high tech one and in some way reminded me of Roppongi Hills. (Big urban complex in Roppongi, a Tokyo district) At the entrance I was patted down to check what I was carrying with me and possible metal objects. Then I took an elevator, walked, took another elevator, walked again, then another elevator in repetition. At every passage a heavy metal door with an electronic lock would be opened and closed, then another, and another, and so on. On the way, I was escorted by some guards of average rank. Doors can't speak, but it was like they were telling me that I couldn't leave that place anymore, even if I willed it. I'm not sure if it was claustrophobia, but I was very nervous, I felt like I was in a state of hyperventilation and my breathing was ragged. Some prisoners, no matter how many times I told them I was from Tokyo, wanted me to gift them a Bible in Korean. Furthermore, there was a woman with a massive body structure who looked just like the boss from a movie, seated next to her was instead a girl with a slim figure, probably her henchman, through which she asked me how old I was. I would later heartily describe my feelings to the warden, that I was really anxious to the point of suffocation. He replied "It's the same for me every day. I always feel relieved when I can finally get out and go back home.” Writing this sixth part, I keep questioning myself with concern over Jolyne Cujoh. If I was in the same situation, I think that after just 3 hours of being put in I'd probably already feel destroyed. My impression is that, between all the previous JoJo protagonists, she is the toughest one and that I desire for her to be happy the most. Especially because, as if that wasn't enough, she is right in the middle of the “Season of Aggression”.
[Translated by LegoAlex98]
(Translator Note: 2chan or 2channel is a gigantic Japanese forum, in which millions of posts regarding a huge variety of topics are uploaded on a daily basis, these posts are left uncontrolled and go under almost no censorship.)