Good grief. Screenshot: Hirohiko Araki / Viz Media / Kotaku
Although Netflix fumbled the bag with its marketing of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, it managed to avoid a hefty copyright strike from Disney by removing one of the most beloved scenes in the manga.
It’s no secret to JoJo enjoyers that anime adaptations alter the names of their song-lyric-reference villains and stands. In the past, we’ve seen alterations like Vanilla Ice to Cool Ice and Notorious B.I.G. to Notorious Chase and Stone Ocean is no exception. While many fans expected stands like Limp Bizkit to be referred to with names like “Flaccid Pancake” as they were in Stone Ocean’s original manga translation, Netflix instead opted to just flip a few letters instead. Thus Flaccid Pancake, for example, is now “Limp Vizkit.” While slightly altering character names is slightly disappointing to manga readers, it’s come as no surprise that David Production’s opted to outright exclude Mickey Mouse and a multitude of the manga’s minefield of references to famous cartoon characters from the anime.
In the two-part episode “Bohemian Ecstatic” (a clever obfuscation of the manga title, “Bohemian Rhapsody”), Narciso Anasui and Weather Report (now called Weather Forecast) are pitted against a stand user named Ungalo. Ungalo’s stand, Bohemian Rhapsody, has the power to bring fictional characters to life to do his bidding. Said fictional characters then horrifically body-snatch human beings they’re in close proximity to. Scary stuff, that.
In the manga chapter the anime episode’s based on, Anasui and Weather Report were on their way to Disney World after escaping Green Dolphin Street Prison, and Anasui (the voice of the audience) petulantly yelled, “If there’s no Mickey, this shit ain’t Disney!” Apparently, JJBA creator Hirohiko Araki wanted to draw Mickey Mouse in this chapter, but his editors rightly advised him against it. Of course, Araki compromised by sneaking in a drawing of the rat’s tail. The Netflix adaptation wasn’t so bold, and has removed any and all references to Mickey and Disney.
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Though most of these characters have landed in the public domain, had Stone Ocean boldly included the rest of Bohemian Rhapsody’s minions, it would have landed Netflix in hot water.
To illustrate just how quickly this episode would’ve resulted in a swift cease-and-desist, here is a list of all of the copyright strike-worthy references from the manga and the corresponding anime alterations, if any:
Astro Boy (seen and mentioned, no changes)Aladdin (seen and mentioned, no changes)Big Bad Wolf (seen and mentioned, no changes)Disney World (unseen, referenced as “a famous theme park”)Chewbacca (unseen, but name mentioned)E.T. (cut from anime entirely)Fist of the North Star’s Kenshiro and Raoh (unseen, but name mentioned)Giant Robo (seen and mentioned, no changes)Gigantor (seen and mentioned, no changes) Little Red Riding Hood (seen and mentioned, no changes)Leo the lion from the MGM Studios logo (cut from anime entirely)Mazinger’s Mazinger Z (seen and mentioned, no changes)Mickey Mouse (unseen, referenced as “a really famous character”)Mona Lisa (unseen in this part at least, but name mentioned) Peter Pan (cut from anime entirely)Pinocchio (seen and mentioned, no changes)Prince Charming (unseen, but name mentioned)Spider-Man (got turned into Batman: unseen, but name mentioned)Terminator T-1000 (unseen, but name mentioned)Three Little Pigs (cut from anime entirely)Tinker Bell (cut from anime entirely)Tweety Bird (unseen, but name mentioned)Snoopy (cut from anime entirely)Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (seen and mentioned, no changes)Vincent van Gogh (seen and mentioned, no changes)
Jolyne is a spoilsport. Screenshot: Hirohiko Araki / Viz Media / Kotaku
As you can see, David Production had a lot to contend with when it came to delineating which characters to adapt into this particular arc and which were better left alone. Why David Production decided to change Spider-Man to Batman is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, its changes didn’t reduce the silliness of this two-part episode. Personally, I’d take these changes over the previous batch of episodes’ ditching of the scene in which Jolyne Cujoh spoils The Sixth Sense’s famous plot twist. Let my girl be a menace, dammit.