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【Interview】Hirohiko Araki jojo Talking about Manga

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Hirohiko Araki
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Interview Hirohiko Araki

Manga artist 「Hirohiko Araki」 ‘s masterpiece 「Jojo ‘s Bizarre Adventure」 which began serialization in 1987 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017. The work depicts the blood ties of the Joestar family and its causes. From Part 1 to Part 8, which is currently being serialized, the manga’s unique and one-of-a-kind style, including a setting in which the main characters change from generation to generation like a Japanese 「historical drama」 unique onomatopoeia and poses that draw readers into the story, and tense and powerful stand battles, has been a favorite among readers for many years. In recent years, the series has continued to generate a passionate fan base, with a total of more than 100 million copies of its books in print.

The culminating exhibition, 「Hirohiko Araki Original Drawings Exhibition JOJO: Ripples of Adventure」 was held at the National Art Center, Tokyo from August 24 to October 1. The exhibition attracted a great deal of public attention, as it was the second solo exhibition of a manga artist at a national museum in 28 years, after Osamu Tezuka’s. During the exhibition, as many as 140,000 fans came to see the exhibition. The 「Festival by Jojo」 attracted many visitors who were able to experience the world of the manga on an unprecedented scale, including the new 「The Traitor is Always There」 which featured 12 large original drawings measuring approximately 2 meters in size.

      The Traitor is Always There

Citation CNET Japan

A young Hirohiko Araki’s target manga artist.

On November 22, just prior to the opening of the Osaka exhibition, manga creator 「Hirohiko Araki 」visited the Osaka Culture Museum, Tempozan, where the exhibition was held, and spoke about the appeal of Jojo and his thoughts on his work. Surprisingly, Araki himself has only been to Osaka to take a train to Wakayama , and revealed that this was the first time he had actually landed in the city. On the other hand, Osaka was the place that inspired Araki to seriously pursue his goal of becoming a manga artist. 

Araki: When I was in high school, a certain manga artist debuted from Osaka, and in no time at all, they were drawing a series in 「Shonen Jump」 and they were drawing masterpiece manga. Moreover, they were high school students of the same age as me.

That manga artist was Yudetamago, creator of 「Ultimate Muscle」. Araki, who at the time was a 「laid-back, manga-loving high school student,」 was so shocked by this that he began to bring his own manuscripts to Shueisha. As a result, he made his debut at the age of 20.

    Actually, yudetamago is a duo.

yoshinori nakai takashi shimada 

Araki: There were two teachers in Osaka who were drawing manga and who were like admirers and targets for me. (Even in their 30s and even in their 40s, they are still wonderful teachers, always in front of me, or rather, above me. I am very happy that they have shown me such goals, and I am deeply moved to be able to hold the JoJo exhibition here in Osaka, he said of his thoughts on the Osaka exhibition.

Hirohiko Araki Group Interview

On the day of the exhibition, we had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Hirohiko Araki in the form of a small group interview. I will now bring you the contents of the question-and-answer session with Mr. Araki.

–Mr. Araki, did the various superheroes in Yudetamago’s 「Ultimate Muscle」 which inspired you to become a manga artist, have any influence on the characters in 「Jojo」? Also, being the same age, are you aware of them as rivals?

Yes, it is. It was the way of making battles and …… such a worldview that influenced me. There are many characters, and each character has a fan base among readers. Ultimate Muscle is in the ring, but the composition of the battles and other aspects were also influenced by them. Also, (Mr. Yudetamago) they are the same generation as me, so they are very much my target or encouragement. I think I was lucky as a manga artist. In the sense that I am not drawing manga without a goal, I think it is a happy thing.

-Is there any thing that you feel 「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」 has penetrated Japan?

When I was drawing for Shonen Jump, I felt a little lonely, as if I was not understood, but I still tried my best to draw. But as time went by, for example, when I was in the hospital and was told that I was a fan of the doctor while undergoing a gastroscopy, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m being told I’m a fan when they are looking at my stomach. (Laugh.) At times like that, I feel that my manga is making inroads in the world.

-JoJo’s fashion is one of the many charms of her characters. What do you refer to when drawing the costumes?

There are designs in various fields, and I want to bring them to the manga. I don’t have a specific artist in mind, but I don’t distinguish between men and women, and I use floral patterns even though I am a man. I do it because I enjoy that kind of thing. Also, if I like the design of a part of a machine, I sometimes try to draw it (on a character’s costume, etc.).

-What is your sense of beauty? What inspires you?

Music. Music has a certain era, like the 70’s, or the present, or a sick feeling, or something that is nice to listen to in the forest. Also, new forms of dance beats. That kind of thing is stimulating.

-There are many band names and song titles that appear in the name of the stand, but if you were to name an artist you particularly like, who would it be?

You ask me that question (laugh). I like most of the songs, that’s why I draw them in my manga. …… For example, I like King Crimson, and the Pistols are great.

Click on the image to go to youtube. ↓

-In what order do you decide on the visuals, naming, and abilities of the many stands in Jojo?

It depends on the stand from time to time. The last episode had a lot of battle scenes, so maybe I’ll make the enemy move a little slower this time and attack in stages. Or something like that. If I were to verbalize it in words, it would be like “lead melting. I decide in that way, and the order varies. And then I would come up with a name to match the name.

Do you think that the scenario may later change from the way it was originally envisioned depending on the stand?

 That happens often, and that may be everything in my manga. (I didn’t actually plan (how the story would unfold). I only decide on the ending of the story and leave the rest to the flow of the story at that time. So when Kira Yoshikage’s 「Killer Queen」 in Part 4 was too strong, I wondered if the Main character would be able to defeat he (laugh). I really felt that if things continued as they were, the series itself would be in serious jeopardy, or rather, I felt like I was playing 「Shogi」 and had no offensive moves to make. At that time, I pushed myself too hard.

Hirohiko Araki ‘s Thoughts on Paper and Digital Painting

I think that -araki sensei is particular about paper and hand-drawing. What do you think about the increasing number of manga that use digital tools in recent years?

 First of all, I think you can draw whatever you want, as long as you do it very freely. There are many things that are often said, such as what kind of pen line should be used, or the tip of the pen should be a G-pen, or a Kabura-pen, etc. But I think that as long as the line that the artist likes comes out, it doesn’t matter whether it is drawn digitally or with just a pencil.

But when you are drawing by hand, when you apply colors, ……

for example, when you are cooking, there is sometimes a surprise, like, 「What is this taste? 」

That is in the painting. When you are drawing by hand, you sometimes think, 「Oh, wow! 」 I like that. The repetition of this feeling is the charm of hand-drawing. At the moment, I don’t use digital data with a fixed format because I feel that if I taste digital data with a fixed format, I will lose the pleasure of hand-drawing.

Please tell us a little more about the moment when you can feel the unique emotion of hand-drawing.

(Pointing to the background of the illustration of Dio, the key visual for the Osaka exhibition) For example, in my head, I’m thinking of combining yellow and orange colors in this section here, but actually there is a little bit of green or something here. Then, there is a moment when I think, Oh, that’s something nice. Also, this vermilion color is a kind of historical vermilion, like the color you would find in a Heian-period shrine (laugh). I like it when such a picture is accidentally created in a slightly divine way, and “that kind of thing” is unpredictable. It’s only when I actually apply it that you get that ah-ha feeling. It’s like when you are cooking and you think, “I should add a little more olive oil, or I should add salt or lemon juice, or something like that. There is something exquisite, something that can never be made again.

-By the way, Mr. Araki, have you used digital tools in the past?

Yes, But maybe it’s because I’m not very good at it, but it takes a lot of time. It would be faster to draw by hand. But I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t use this or that. Some years ago, I wrote a book titled 「The Art of Manga」 (Hirohiko Araki ‘s Manga Art published in 2015), and even in that book, I didn’t say what pen to use. How a manga should be drawn is something that the artist himself or herself should think about, no matter how he or she expresses it, and I also wonder what the criteria are for saying that a drawing is good or bad. It is only good if the artist has his or her own feelings about it. So, digital and computers are items. I think they are like pens.

Hirohiko Araki ‘s favorite colors and color schemes

-You use many gorgeous colors in your works, but do the colors ever fight with each other?

Oh, I control that part well. I try not to let the colors fight with each other at the very last minute, and if they do, I think I repaint a little bit. If there is a color scheme that is weird, or if it is tacky, I will change it.

-Since around 2012, the combination of 「Jotaro x Mt. Fuji」 has been increasing in JoJo’s key visuals (on the cover of 「JOJOmenon」 magazine, key visuals for the 2012 and 2018 original art exhibitions, etc.), what is the reason for this?

When I was asked to do a painting exhibition in 2012, it was decided that I would draw key visuals with Japan as the theme 「JoJo and the Eight Views of Japan」 a series of eight color original paintings combining JoJo characters and landscapes that give a sense of Japan). So when it came time to include Mt. Fuji as a matter of course, I liked the image of Mt. Fuji and Jotaro, or rather, it fit Jotaro. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, and Jotaro’s most powerful power. I think that’s why I made several pieces in a row. Whenever I am asked to do something, I like that combination. I also have another series called 「Sakura and Giorno」.

-You once described Mt. Fuji as 「universal.

Yes, that’s right. Even in the world of painting, Mt. Fuji is something to be thankful for, and I like that motif.

What is the production period of your new work 「There is Always a Traitor,」 which is a series of 12 large two-meter original paintings that you have drawn for this exhibition, and what kind of materials did you use?

The production period was a little over a month when you add it all up. I made drafts and returned to the serialization of「JOJOLION」(which is currently being serialized), and painted in between. I worked at my workplace and at a secret warehouse of Shueisha because of the large size of the work. As for the drawing materials, I think I had Kent paper pasted over them. There are various kinds of manuscript paper for manga, and there were several kinds of paper that could be made into a large size, so I chose from among them. The paints are called 「Liquitex」 and regular color ink.

What was the most difficult part of creating the large-size original?

I knew I realized that the earth has gravity . The reason for this is that the paint on the canvas drips down, and puddles form due to the dripping. Originally, if the canvas was small, puddles would not form, but before the paint dries, it would move to the bottom of the canvas. The overwhelming thing about the large original paintings was that they made me feel the presence of gravity on this earth. Also, even though I bought all the paints at the art supply store, I didn’t have enough.

-I think the large original picture was a challenge for Mr. Araki as well. Is there anything you would like to try next?

No – maybe next time I’ll have to do another large original painting or the people involved won’t forgive me (laugh). But I don’t think I will do sculptures or anything like that (in exhibitions). After all, I am a manga artist, so I would like to keep it manga-related. It would be nice if I could develop this.

Last interview Hirohiko Araki would like to paint

—If you could paint anywhere in the world, what kind of things would you like to paint?

I would like to draw on paper, after all. I don’t really like walls. I would like to paint on paper or a canvas.

 

Thank you for watching. See you soon!

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Hirohiko Araki

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