- Jojo Interview Hirohiko Araki
Jojo Interview Hirohiko Araki
Mr. Araki’s career as a manga artist began with his debut in 「Poker Under Arms」. You published 「COOL SHOCK B.T.」 and 「BAOH」 before serializing 「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」. Looking back at your early works, how do you feel about them?
Poker Under Arms COOL SHOCK B.T BAOH
Araki: There are two major elements in manga the story and the pictures, and from the beginning I was conscious of the idea of creating a new story that had never been read before. The editorial department of 「Weekly Shonen Jump」 at that time had such a policy, and the atmosphere was such that 「If you draw a royal sports manga, we will reject it」 (laugh).
As for the storyline, I created it by meticulously analyzing the great dramas like 「East of Eden,」 「Sherlock Holmes,」 which I have loved reading since childhood, and horror short stories in my own way. It’s the kind of comic where the story is carefully constructed and there is some kind of foreshadowing leading up to the punchline. Since the time of 「Poker Under Arms,」 I have been making comics with a very adventurous approach, focusing on the storyline to that extent.
East of Eden Sherlock Holmes
Araki: However, I couldn’t reach a point where I was satisfied with the artwork. Top manga artists have drawings that are recognizable at first glance as their own. Tetsuya Chiba, Osamu Tezuka, and others. There is absolutely something about their drawings that no one else can copy. I was lost until I started drawing 「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」 and wondered if I could ever establish such a thing.
Before the serialization of 「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」 began, you went on your first trip to Europe. Did your trip open your eyes in terms of drawing?
Araki: Yes, I had seen pictures of European artistic works in Japan, but I was very impressed by the actual works, which were full of ideas that could not be conveyed in pictures. There was a completely different input from what I saw in photographs in magazines and other media. In particular, the religious paintings and frescoes I saw in Italy, which I had seen in photographs and considered classical works, were innovative and overwhelming in person. I thought that if I learned from this area, I would be able to open the way to my own Picture.
「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」 is a work in which the family tree of the main character has an important meaning. When the serialization began, you had a plan for parts 1 through 3, is that correct?
Araki: I didn’t tell anyone, but I had it in my mind. Jump is a tough world, where if a series is not popular, it will soon be over, but I had ambitions. In particular, I hoped to create a story with a changing generation at its core, as in the case of 「East of Eden.」 Also, I used to like horror stories, so I wanted to include those elements. Manga artists often think about the ultimate choice, for example, who would be stronger in a fight between Ultraman and Gamera. In the same way, when I thought about what is the scariest thing, I wondered if it is being attacked by something that has a grudge against you from your ancestors’ generation. It’s like something that is not a curse is chasing after the Main character who has no memory of being wronged.
「Hirohiko Araki 」One word that led to the creation of the stand
The first part of 「JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure」 takes place in England and the main character is from an English noble family, which was quite unique for Weekly Shonen Jump at the time.
Araki: Yes, that’s right. First of all, at that time, Jump (a weekly magazine) was basically nixed for having a foreigner as the Main character, and stories of Japanese people going abroad were fine. And, the people around me told me that a manga set in a foreign country and featuring a foreigner would “never sell” in the Japanese shōnen manga market. But for me, I wanted to do something different from others in JUMP (a weekly magazine). I also had a personal doubt that it was too deliberate for a Japanese person to conveniently go to a foreign country (laugh). 「Ryosuke Kabashima,」 the editor in charge at the time (currently editorial director of Shueisha Shinsho), also supported my idea. As for the manga work, I tried to make the name 「Jojo」 easy for children to remember by combining the initial letters of the name with 「J 」and 「J 」I also made various efforts.
JoJo went on to Part 1 and Part 2, and in Part 3, 「Stardust Crusaders,」 the existence of 「stands」 appeared for the first time. I think this was a tremendous invention.
Araki: Until then, I had been expressing psychic powers in the form of 「ripples,」 but I wanted to create a more realistic manga-like picture of a person going to strike his or her opponent. I wanted to create a picture of energy, and when the person or object is about to be destroyed, a guardian spirit or something like that appears. That way it would come across to the reader as a manga. Rather than having a psychic suddenly break an object with a thought, as in the past, the actual movement of the stand can express the tingling sense of distance between the opponent and the object. Another reason is that my editor, Mr. Kabashima, started saying, 「Ripple is old-fashioned,」 and that pressure made me think about it (laugh).
In the third part of the series, the Japanese protagonist engages in battle with the enemy on his journey to Egypt. 「The serialization of Part III」 began in 「1989, 」at the height of the bubble economy. Were you conscious of this historical background and did you incorporate it into your work?
Araki: The economy during the bubble era was on an upward trajectory and climbing rapidly. I think that had an impact on the creation of manga as well. At that time, the mainstream of fighting manga was a tournament system in which the fighters fought their enemies and just when they thought they had defeated the top enemy, an even higher peak would appear. But when I read them, I simply wondered what they wanted to do next. I thought, 「This story is going to collapse. 」The editorial department told me that this tournament system would be popular with readers, but I didn’t want to do it.
So I decided to use the backgammon method in 「Jojo,」 in which enemies appear wherever go, and even if the enemies are weak, the places where fight them change. In the third part, we fight the powerful enemy「 Dio」 in the end, but in order for readers to enjoy the suspense of each situation in the backgammon style, I dared not to show Dio’s face in silhouette until the final battle. If I showed Dio’s face, readers would be concerned about the strongest enemy (Dio). I was very careful when I drew Dio giving orders in the middle of the third part.
After defeating Dio, the 「strongest enemy,」 in Part 3, the fourth part, 「Diamond Is Unbreakable,」 took place in Japan for the first time (「morio town,」 modeled on Sendai City), and the strength of the enemies was reset. In a tournament-style manga, an enemy stronger than Dio would have appeared, but this was not done. I think this is one of the main reasons why the 「Jojo」 series has continued for 25 years.
Araki: That may be one of the reasons. In the tournament system, I have to come up with an idea for an enemy that is stronger than the previous one, but in the case of 「JoJo,」 the enemies that appear in the middle of the story can be weak. It doesn’t matter if they have no arm strength and are just cowardly. If even a weak enemy has some kind of personality, I can draw suspense in the manga at that time and show it to the fans as a strong enemy.
Hirohiko Araki 「Jojo’s theme is a human anthem.」
The theme of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is described as a “hymn to humanity.
Araki: This means that human will and growth will solve all problems. God may protect us, but it does not mean that God will come to our rescue or that the most powerful sword will suddenly appear and defeat us after we have been struggling until then. I also don’t like the idea that God will save us from suffering. I think that God is there to help us solve our own problems. When I think about it, I feel that anthropocentrism or the atmosphere of the Renaissance fits well.
This may be a bit of a criticism, but there are manga in which the Main character says he does not want to go to war, but in the end fights. I don’t understand the psychology of people who say they don’t want to fight but fight, and I think they should fight after making up their minds (laughs). In the case of 「Jojo,」 the enemies challenge their allies to fight without any hesitation at all. Everyone believes that they are the ones who are right.
That’s right. In 「JoJo,」 there are both righteous and villainous characters, but I feel that each is going his or her own way.
Araki: Yes, they are all walking forward. In short, I don’t think comics would be interesting if the fighters were troubled. Both the righteous and the villains fight with their best strength and in their best condition. That is why, even when I am drawing, there are times when I think, Will the hero lose this?
When I talked to JoJo fanatics, some of them said that they sometimes even feel sympathy for the villains depicted in「JoJo.」
Araki: In the first part of the book, I was depicting good and evil as black and white, or as opposites, but as I have gotten older, I have come to care more about the aspect that evil has a reason to be evil. For example, President Fanny Valentine in Part 7, 「STEEL BALL RUN,」 is very patriotic. he is incredibly evil from an individual’s point of view, such as the fact that he is willing to sacrifice people to protect her country. But from the perspective of a country, what President Valentine is doing seems to be the right thing to do. I think that people who believe in right and act accordingly are strong. This kind of “justification of a villain” or the technique of showing the character from another angle was also something I was aware of when I was depicting Father Enrico Pucci in the sixth part, 「Stone Ocean.」
t seems that some Jojo enthusiasts, after reading Parts 6 and 7 and figuring out 「Are the villains really villains?」 and then reading the series again from Part 1, wondered Are the Joestar family really justified in the first place?
Araki: Yes, I agree. When you think about what a person is after all, being born, having a family, and then dying again, maybe there is no such thing as justice or evil anymore. After all, it is only by surviving that we can have some kind of meaning. Especially in 「STEEL BALL RUN,」 I wonder what the meaning of the JOESTER FAMILY is.
Hirohiko Araki 「On Jojo’s unique pose」
I would like to ask you about the painting you mentioned earlier. You said that you were quite influenced by actually seeing Italian art, but have you intentionally developed the special poses that you call 「JoJo Pose」?
Araki: Manga drawings are boring if the characters are just standing still, but if you twist the character’s waist a bit, you can create an extraordinary fantasy feeling. It is a fantasy within the reality that exists in the story, and that is a good manga-like feeling. I thought Italian art would be a great reference for the posing, so I decided to try to draw around that. Especially in Part 5, 「Golden Wind,」 which is set in Italy, I think I consciously developed the posing. But, I was surprised to see so many people imitating the 「JoJo pose,」 even though I originally came up with a pose that people could not do. As the author, this was totally unexpected.
Apart from Italian art, are there any other influences on your work?
Araki: Today’s movie posters are all photographs, but in the past, Hollywood movie posters were illustrations. I have seen illustrations by Bob Peake, who drew 「Star Trek,」 and Frank Frazetta, who is famous for his illustrations for science fiction and fantasy films, since I was a child, and they were very exciting. When I draw the cover of 「JoJo,」 I try to keep that excitement in mind, and I think about the impact of the picture as a single image. For example, I want 「JoJo」 to have the same kind of excitement that I had when I saw the posters for 「Jaws」 and 「007」 and wondered what was going to happen.
Bob Peake Frank Frazetta
Color schemes and favorite colors of Hirohiko Araki ‘s manga
On the cover of 「JoJo」 the main character’s hair is blonde or blue, and his clothes change color and design in various ways, which I think strengthens the impression of the picture as a single image.
Araki: Yes, that’s right. 「JoJo」 doesn’t have a fixed color scheme.「 JoJo」 has never been animated for TV before, so I can use colors rather freely. When I am drawing, I sometimes get a fresh feeling in my mind that I have never had before. When I paint purple or emerald green, I think, 「Wow, this is a good color」 and I think, 「Let’s go with this for a while for Jotaro」 (laugh). Also, in my mind, an unbeatable combination is 「cherry blossom color」 and 「the color of the blue sky」. I use them in paintings where I think, 「This is it!」
I can’t draw anything but Jojo anymore (Hirohiko Araki)
Your new work 「JoJoJolion」 began serialization in 「Ultra Jump」 last year, but there are still many mysteries in its development. In previous works, the story has developed with a clear understanding of who the main character is and exactly what the character’s identity is, but in Jojorion, even the identity of the main character has not been revealed.
Araki: In 「JoJoJo Lion」 the main character is at the stage of self-discovery. I hope that as I draw the character’s story, I will be able to reveal something about his family lineage and the meaning of his birth. In the first three parts of JoJo, I depicted the fear that the fate of the ancestors’ time would come back to haunt the protagonist across generations. In Jojorion, I would like to depict how to overcome a kind of curse, for example, if a parent commits a sin, will the child inherit it, or how does the parent’s teaching affect the child? That seems like a very scary thing to do. I feel that kind of fear when I am exposed to recent social incidents when I watch news programs.
Do you already have the climax of 「JoJorion」 in your mind?
Araki: I can’t see it that far to the end. Up until now, the story has developed in such a way that no matter how the last boss and the first character progress in the middle of the scenario, they will arrive there in the end, but 「JOJOLION」 is a little different. But 「JoJorion」 takes place in the same morio town as the fourth part, 「Diamonds Will Not Shatter」 so I feel that there is some connection to the backstory of the 「Higashikata Family」 which was the main character in the fourth part.
Your attitude of always challenging yourself to create new storylines has not changed since the serialization of JoJo began 25 years ago, has it?
Araki: That was imprinted on me by the editorial department when I made my debut, so there is some influence in that area.
I heard that when Mr. Araki first brought your work to the editorial department of 「Weekly Shonen Jump」 the editorial department gave you a rather severe response.
Araki: In those days, the people at JUMP did not hold back with newcomers, and they would say , 「I don’t want to see this kind of work」(laugh). I was suddenly told, 「You left out the white paint」 and later I was told sternly, Don’t make this kind of mistake right after you bring it in, even a child can do it. At that time, I was so shocked that I wanted to go back to Sendai immediately (laugh).
This year marks the 25th anniversary of your serialization, and you have been active in many fields, including a collaboration with Gucci. What do you think about the future? I think there are fields in which you can show your ability, such as creating scenarios for horror films, for example.
Araki: No, I am a manga artist, so I would like to express everything in my manga. There may be collaborations, such as providing illustrations, but I don’t want to stray from that.
Also, with the emergence of e-books and other forms of media in addition to online media, the situation for print media, including manga magazines, is changing.
Araki: What I think is that digital is not something that should be denied, but digital works cannot go back to analog. On the other hand, illustrations and comics drawn on paper can be easily converted to digital. If that is the case, I think it would be more advantageous to draw in analog, and I don’t want to give up my commitment to paper. This time, I am holding the 「Hirohiko Araki Original Drawing Exhibition (JoJo Exhibition),」 which I don’t think I would have been able to do if I had drawn digitally. I think that this commitment to analog is due in no small part to the shock I received from realistic works of art in Europe, which was my original experience.
Future Activities of Hirohiko Araki
Finally, do you have any plans for new manga works other than JoJo’s in your mind?
Araki: I think the only thing other than JoJo is spin-offs. I don’t have any new works in mind. During the past 25 years, I was once asked to try drawing something new. I have always said that I couldn’t draw anything other than Jojo. But I think that was a good thing. If I had drawn a sports manga or something like that, it would have been a bit dangerous (laugh). I am sure that I will still be drawing new strange adventures in the next 25 years.
Thank you for watching. See you soon!
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Hirohiko Araki