Relationship between Manga and the Real World
In recent years, there has been talk of movements such as “JOJO Pose” by “Jojo-comedian” celebrities and dedicated fans. I believe that manga, which existed as an imaginary story, is now influencing reality in a different way than before. How do you see the situation in which such fans are interpreting your work and getting excited about it?
Araki: I was surprised myself about the “JOJO Pose,” and I thought that the world has changed (laugh).
Originally, the poses of the characters in “JoJo” were exaggerated by incorporating poses that could not exist in reality specifically to create a fantasy feel.
The actual range of motion of human joints is limited to this point, but the poses are twisted to a point beyond that limit, and the poses are made to mimic that.
If you look at the pictures, you can see that they have reproduced it perfectly!
Has the human body evolved?
Was it totally unexpected?
Araki: I don’t mean unexpected, I’m not talking about not wanting it to be imitated, but fans have stepped into that reality, even though it was expressed in a way that was impossible to imitate in the first place.
I’m kind of surprised at the very idea of it.
I think they were surprised, but for the teacher, it was also Was that something that made you happy?
Araki: I’m happy…I mean (laugh).
I hope you enjoy it as much as you like. (laugh).
We have heard that recently you also sometimes pose jojo with your fans.
Araki: Because they ask me to do it (laugh).
We were hoping to do the “JOJO Pose” with you today.
Araki: Understood… But this pose, it’s not supposed to be real (laugh).
When I was in junior high school, I remember that my friends and I would imitate each other’s characteristic lines of the characters more directly than we do nowadays.
I think that the Internet has had a big influence on the recent excitement of this kind of thing.
Araki: I think that may be true.
Through the Internet, strangers are connected to each other. I think we live in an age of sharing and empathy. Do you actually feel such changes?
Araki: In the past, word of mouth was limited in scope, but today, I think that the Internet can lead to unpredictable developments.
So on the contrary, it scares me…
Well, human nature comes out unconsciously in manga works.
For example, if a manga work is drawn in a cunning way, readers will probably see through it, and this may be amplified on the Internet.
Do you think that because of these times, we are expected to be more honest?
Araki: Yes, it does. It may seem like a loss at first glance, but if you don’t draw with sincerity, it will surely cause damage later on…
I understand that you once gave a lecture at Tohoku University on the theme of “manga that sells. At that time, you said that it is not about drawing manga for the sole purpose of making it “sell,” but that no matter how good the work is, if it does not sell as a result, it is useless because it does not reach readers.
Araki: That’s right. Readers will recognize the difference between a work that aims only to “sell” and a work that “sells” as a result of delivering to readers the manga that you want to draw.
Also, apart from that, I think that such a spirit will be more clearly detected by what is said on the Internet.
Based on the content of the Internet posts, they might feel, “This person is sneaky.
Do you yourself often check the Internet?
Araki: I don’t do it very often because I am afraid of it (laugh).
Do you try to avoid it as much as possible?
Araki: It is not that I want to keep a certain distance. I’m not “Rohan Kishibe,” but… I feel like I’m going to say something bad in a good mood, I am weighing myself. (laugh).
Rohan Kishibe’s tremendous obsession with manga, which transcends the criteria of right and wrong, can be seen as a little too much. I feel that such an aspect reflects Mr. ARAKI’s feelings toward Rohan.
Araki: In spite of these aspects, Rohan is a form of admiration.
As a super manga artist.
But sometimes he expresses his anger at the lack of frankness in his works and art.
In the short manga “Thus spoke Kishibe Rohan,” there was a scene where Rohan went to Italy for an interview and talked about the importance of the experience by sneaking into a church confessional.
As a fan, I think it is tempting to superimpose the actual teacher in such places.
Araki: That area may indeed reflect a real sense of reality.
Nowadays, you can find information about almost anything on the Internet, but I prefer to draw pictures based on my own experiences.
For example, when I draw a picture of Italian food, I can look at a picture and draw it without eating it, but if it were me, I would want to smell the food and actually taste it before I draw it.
I think this is reflected in Rohan’s work as well.
Overseas Manga Situation
At the International Manga Museum, an exhibit of Mr. Araki’s work, “Kishibe Rohan Goes to the Louvre,” was on view in a special exhibition titled “Manga Meets Five Artists Who Wandered into the Louvre. (Note: The exhibition ran from November 5 to December 3, 2010)
We also heard that in 2009, Mr. Araki became the first Japanese manga artist in the Louvre’s history to have his work exhibited in a special exhibition at the Louvre.
Incidentally, one of the staff members accompanying me this time went to the Louvre to see it.
Araki: Is that true? Thank you very much.
I have heard that it was very well received in France at the time, and I feel that in recent years, manga has come to be appreciated overseas as a contemporary art form that Japan is proud of.
When we were students, the image of manga was rather unfavorable, and I remember that our school teachers and parents told us to “stop looking at manga and start studying. What motivated you to become a manga artist despite those times?
Araki: I guess it was the influence of the “winds of the times” of the 1970s. It was a time when all kinds of manga came out one after another.
There was science fiction, period dramas, yokai manga like “Spooky Kitarou,” and strange manga like Kazuo Umezu’s. It was a time when a lot of different works were coming out at once.The energy was just amazing.
Was that period the peak of energy for the medium?
Araki: Rather, I would say it was the beginning of a new era. In terms of art, it was a renaissance, or the beginning of the golden age of manga, or something like that when I think about it now.
That’s where you were hit by the atmosphere of the times.
Araki: Yes, I was hit, already…I really wanted to be a manga artist.
Not only did you become a manga artist, but you are now exhibited at the Louvre as an artist.
Araki: No, I’m not there yet (laugh)…but back then, Yudetamago-sensei, who drew “Ultimate Muscle,” was already a professional in high school, even though he was the same age as me. That was the era.
I was going to school like any other kid, and I was like, “Wow, someone my age is already a professional manga artist! I was so impatient at the time.
I thought, I don’t have time to go to school anymore!
Then I realized that I had to start drawing and submitting manga as soon as possible to become a professional.
So that’s how you started teaching yourself manga.
Araki: Yes, that’s right. I really wanted to experience being a manga assistant, but I became independent before that… I was allowed to make my debut when I was 20.
As I mentioned earlier, we now live in an age where manga is appreciated overseas as well. How do you feel the environment surrounding manga has changed since your debut?
Araki: I think that manga has a comprehensive artistic appeal that is made up of many different elements, such as an interesting story, good artwork, and wonderful design.
However, I think that a manga can be successful even if only one of these elements is present.
Even if the story is not interesting, if the drawings are good, it can be a professional form.
Even if you look at it in a normal way and think that the story is childish, it will sell.
It sells, or rather, it is evaluated as art.
On the other hand, there are cases where the story is very interesting even if the artwork looks like it could have been drawn by a child.
There are all kinds of charms like that.
But there are some manga that I don’t understand (laugh).
Have there been any manga works in recent years that have impressed you?
Araki: There are so many. The young people are amazing.
But on the other hand, there are also works that are not well drawn, and I don’t understand what is interesting about the story, but they sell well.
In your lecture at Tohoku University, you mentioned that “introduction, development, turn and conclusion” are very important for a story.
Araki: Even manga that completely deviate from that concept have quite a few fans…
That’s great, though.
Such depth may be one of the charms of manga.
On the other hand, how is manga received overseas?
Araki: French manga is called “bande dessinée,” and the way it is drawn is clearly different from ours.
For example, in Japan, the main character is first drawn on the cover.
The main character is drawn in a large size to give the reader a sense of his or her presence.
But the staff at the Louvre asks you not to draw a character on the cover.
The Louvre Museum is painted as a background for the characters, but they want me to paint the Louvre in the background as the main character.
Indeed, if you look at the French bande dessinée, the main background on the cover is the background.
What happens to the main character in that case?
Araki: If you look closely, you can see the main character somewhere in the background, or he is on a plane flying over a building, or he is glimpsed from the cockpit of the car he is driving (laugh).
I was asked to draw such a picture.
On the other hand, in Japan, the main character is always in the foreground, like the cover of a fashion magazine.
That is very different.
So you have the opposite sense of values from Japan.
Araki: Yes, it is. So I drew the manga by explaining to them that this is the way we do things in Japan (laugh).
It was difficult to get them to understand, but I persuaded them, saying, “Since you commissioned a Japanese manga artist, please let me do it using Japanese manga methodology.
I heard that at the time of your debut in Weekly Shonen Jump, the basic rule was to draw a picture that could be recognized as the artist’s drawing even if seen from a distance of 10 meters.
Araki: Yes, that is right.
But in contrast to that, it is okay if people in France cannot tell who drew the picture at a glance, isn’t it?
Araki: It’s like they want you to paint the overall mood first. And how would you paint the Louvre? Like. It was a thoroughly Louvre-centered approach.
Perhaps he was positioned as an artist rather than the author of “Jojo.
Thank you for watching. See you soon.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Hirohiko Araki