JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Shueisha Comic Bunko (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 集英社文庫 コミック版,JoJo no Kimyō na Bōken Shūeisha Bunko Komikku-ban) is a novel-sized release (commonly referred to as Bunkoban in Japan) of the first seven parts of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga that was published by Shueisha Comic Bunko.
Each bunkoban volume is 105 mm (4.1 in) by 148 mm (5.8 in) (A6 size), printed on standard quality paper. Though smaller than the standard tankōbon in both height and width, each bunkoban volume contains more pages and chapters than the volumes in the standard release. The release of the bunkoban edition began with the release of Phantom Blood, now compiled into three volumes, on February 15, 2002. The next five Parts were gradually released over the next seven years, with the series reaching 50 volumes in total. The final volume of Stone Ocean was released on February 18, 2009.
On August 31, 2012, all 12 bunkoban volumes of Diamond is Unbreakable were made available digitally as the monochrome line of JOJO-D. the digitally released edition of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga. Distributed under Shueisha's Jump Comics DIGITAL (ジャンプコミックスDIGITAL) product line, the JOJO-D release allows readers to digitally purchase or read volumes through online outlets. Volumes can also be downloaded to mobile devices through Shueisha's own Jump Store app for iOS and Android. Vento Aureo and Stone Ocean were made available in the following weeks, and Parts 1-3 were made available on September 21, 2012.
Steel Ball Run: Shueisha Comic Bunko (スティール・ボール・ラン 集英社文庫 コミック版,STEEL BALL RUN Shūeisha Bunko Komikku-ban) is the bunkoban release of Steel Ball Run. The first two volumes of this edition were released on February 17, 2017, with the remaining 14 volumes again released over time. The final two volumes were both released on January 18, 2018. Unlike Parts 1-6, JOJO-D digitally published the tankōbon release of Steel Ball Run rather than the bunkoban release, a decision that extended to JoJolion.
This work, "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," runs from Part 1 through Part 6, and although each part is connected to the others by a single bloodline, each story is told by a different protagonist.
In addition, each part was originally supposed to have a subtitle.
I thought about adding a subtitle when beginning Part 3, but the editorial department told me that if I suddenly added a subtitle, the comic would have two different titles (one without a subtitle and one with a subtitle), which would leave readers impossibly confused. With that instruction from the editorial department, I decided, "Okay, no subtitle," and held myself back.
However, when it came time for Part 6 of the series, the editorial department suggested that I publish it as a new series under the title of "Stone Ocean" in order to bring out the novelty of the series. In other words, the title of "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" would no longer be used. As an author, I thought, "Absolutely not." My image of it was "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure 6: Stone Ocean." After some discussion, we decided to just make the words "Stone Ocean" bigger. In other words, it's like the difference between "Indiana Jones" and "Star Wars." The main title of "Indiana Jones" is larger, while in "Star Wars," the subtitle is larger. That's the difference.
And so, with the release of the paperback edition, I was finally able to add the subtitles I had thought about back then for each part. Moreover, I made sure that each part ends on the last page of a book, rather than in the middle of the book. The theme of the entire work is "an ode to humanity." Whether friend or foe, every character "faces the future." There probably isn't a single human being in the story who has any doubts about life. The main characters must overcome those people as enemies.
And so must you, dear readers. What is absolutely necessary is "courage."
About the Memories that Inspired JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
I don't think about it a lot these days, but when I was a boy, I used to talk with my friends about which monsters were our favorites. Statements like "Frankenstein's monster harbors sorrow over its own creation," or "Werewolves are explosions of the primal instincts deep inside human beings," felt as serious to me as the question of "Will there be a nuclear war in the future?"
For my part, the monster that fascinated me most was, by far, the vampire. The dark aristocratic background and fashionable coolness of vampires were what drew me to them. I was also attracted to the fact that they live by certain rules, which I found fascinating because of their intellectual aesthetic.
Like a martial artist who runs 10 kilometers a day and eats scraps of chicken for protein, the most compelling monsters are strong creatures who live by their own rules and believe that, as long as those rules remain unbroken, they will never face misfortune. (Incidentally, I also tend to think like that sometimes. When I was a child, I was told by an acquaintance that toothpaste contains abrasives that grind and whiten your teeth, and from then on I believed that brushing my teeth with toothpaste would cause cavities. Even now, I still live by a rule of only using water when brushing my teeth. I don't have any cavities, though.)
Speaking of rules, I've been told it's surprising, but I really love sports manga, and what makes sports manga so interesting is the rules they follow. In other words, I believed that the story of a manga must follow its own rules. And so, I firmly decided to create a story based on the rules of vampires, which I adore.
"So, it'll be about vampires, but it'll be more powerful than that, too... How should I put it? It'll be like an ode to humanity."
When I said that to my editor at the time, he replied: "That sounds cheap. But then again, I have even darker tastes than you do. Let's do it." That was how JoJo first began to take shape.
What kind of era was the late 1980s, the period in which Part 2: Battle Tendency was drawn as part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure? It's important to consider what kind of impact that has on the process of drawing manga.
First of all, what kind of films were being made? Sound effects and makeup had come a long way, but in spite of that, the number of great horror movies had decreased. Although the number of horror films I liked had dwindled, the number of books about real-life serial killers and the like were increasing. As far as music goes, I found myself fascinated by Prince, whose "black music" exuded a strange and exotic atmosphere in every song he wrote. In art and design, although fashion was usually thought of as beautiful and elegant, fashion designers like Versace and Moschino had begun to emerge. I wondered whether people saw their designs as "cool" or not, and whether European women actually wore clothes like theirs. Around this time, I realized that there's a big difference between how you see a place in books or on TV and what you actually see with your own eyes when you go there. For example, in Europe, there are many strange gardens and sculptures that have been carefully preserved. I went to some of these places expecting to be scared witless, but I actually found myself at ease and found that strange things tend to calm my heart. Strange things are eccentric at the time, but after some time they might turn out to be great things. I realized that both righteousness and darkness are part of a true "ode to humanity," and I decided to depict them both in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
The question that Parts 1 and 2 of JoJo have asked, "How strong can a human being become?" shifts its focus from the ultimate body to the ultimate spirit in Part 3: Stardust Crusaders. I began drawing thinking the part would end after depicting 22 characters (since there are 22 tarot cards), and yet...
When I was a child, I used to fight with my younger twin sisters. Whenever I got into a fight with one of them, the other sister would suddenly start crying. Whatever the reason for their tears, it always ended up being my fault, and I always ended up being scolded by my parents. In reality, this was a ploy between my two sisters to place me in a situation where, no matter how hard I tried to explain myself, my parents would find me completely guilty. I still tear up whenever I hear reports of people being falsely imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit... Back then, I wished from the bottom of my heart for those sisters of mine to disappear without a trace.
But things like that happened to me every day. Eventually, I started to wonder I was cursed to forever be misunderstood by others. Whenever an incident occurred at school, the teachers would often include me on the list of suspects. Why? Was my way of life the problem...?
So back in 1988, when I was writing Part 2 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure for Weekly Shonen Jump, I was searching for a new concept to write about. (This isn't the type of thing I'd normally tell people about, but since it's an afterword, it's probably fine if I jot it down as a memory of mine.) I was looking for a way to depict someone's "strength of mind" through something other than their physical body. Until then, supernatural powers had always been something like, "eyes open wide, the sweat pours out, the blood vessels jiggle, and the rock breaks." But in JoJo, the power itself would appear and smash the rock.
"Isn't this just a wonderful idea? This way, I can express the strength of a person's soul. It's not really a superpower so much as a psychic power, the power of a concept itself. Can any other art form depict this type of thing?"
My boss gave me the all-clear, so I began to draw Part 3 around the concept...
But once I began the project, I only heard comments like, "I don't get it at all!" or, "What's happening in this panel?"
And I thought to myself, "It's happening again. This cursed personality of mine... What should I do? No one's ever going to understand me. Maybe there's not enough dialogue, or maybe the pacing is too abrupt... But how else am I going to communicate it through drawings? This is my talent."
After I first moved out of Sendai to begin my new life as a manga artist in Tokyo, my grandmother prayed at the Buddhist altar whenever she heard news of a murder in Tokyo. She told me once that she was praying the murderer wasn't me. "Now why on earth would I be thinking that...?"
I don't think anyone in my family has ever fully understood me. My readers will probably never understand me, either. In my next work, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 4, I choose to depict a small town. Of course, that was going to be controversial too. But my boss told me to "draw what you want and draw it with confidence. That's what a manga artist does." Somehow, his words inspired some courage within me.
(I wonder, though... Does he really understand me either? Better dealing with him than my sisters, at least.)
Josuke Higashikata, the protagonist of this part, is one of the characters that I like to draw the most. He's a free spirited individual, and that never excessive sarcasm that he possesses gives him a tough guy vibe. That melancholic aura that stirs in his family, I like that quite a lot!
During my first meetings with my editor, when I told him that I wanted Josuke to have a pompadour hairstyle, he commented on how maybe it was a bit too outdated (in the manga world when pompadours and school uniforms are mentioned we are usually entering a comedy genre of manga). To me though, the very same fact of going around with a pompadour in 1999 introduced an element of originality, and Josuke's figure, with him being so caring of his hairstyle, was a perfect fit to impersonate the hero who wanted to protect his city. The third part, Stardust Crusaders, developed by following the long trip from Tokyo to Egypt, it’s for this reason that I had to use the same scheme, in which the antagonists would start chasing the group to then attack them, for every one of my “villains”. This time around though, I wanted to draw the enemies patiently waiting to lure the protagonists into their trap, like spiders on a web... Because of all these reasons, the idea to have the story of this part set into a single town came naturally to me. Additionally I also wanted to give to the reader the impression of being in a familiar setting, a small town center, in which you can turn a corner and stumble upon a bakery. So to make things easier I decided to let myself be inspired by locations where I lived as a kid, those being in my birth town of Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture. The fields, the woods, the mountains and those places in which I went to play or to ride my bike in as a kid went under a sudden development starting from the mid 70s and during the entirety of the 80s, and in that period around Sendai many new urban conglomerates appeared.
Back then, the streets, the houses and the gardens were all cleaned up and brand new, the people living there seemed very happy, but some neighborhoods were built on terrains which previously housed: a scary (and most likely haunted) bumpy cemetery, the remains of an air-raid shelter from WW2 in which thousands died in, or a swamp in which the body of a suicidal person had floated and so on. Places which were then all buried or drained to make space for the houses. At the time I questioned myself where the ghosts that previously resided there had gone and, not being able to find an answer, I imagined that under that serene and well kept appearance something dark and mysterious was secretly lurking. This is the template that I used when creating Morioh Town, the stage in which Part 4 takes place. Furthermore, Morioh Town symbolizes my personal critique towards the destruction enacted in the name of progress, which deprives people of their past. The feeling of not really knowing what the peaceful inhabitants of the outskirts do inside their homes perfectly applies to those who live in the quiet Morioh!
In the second half of the part the killer which plays the role of the antagonist will appear, but I'll hold off on talking about him for later down the line... Be that as it may, out of all the parts of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure that I drew so far, Diamond is Unbreakable is the one that has been more successful between family and friends alike. Everyone was pleased, they asked me if I based myself off on someone for a character, or they implored me not to use their name, or they accused me of stealing one of their lines! In this part more than others I had fun inserting my own memories of food, clothes or shops that I love and I never had to cool my heels like this time around as to not drown the story with my personal interests! If I had the opportunity I would love to create and illustrate an even more detailed Morioh Town, describing all the places of the city that I omitted and designing new characters. I know that I shouldn't get too attached to this small town of the 21st century and its people, but I love these folks so much!
For what reason do people decide to draw manga? I began drawing manga when I was a child. Ever since my first work was published in a magazine 20 years ago, this question may have been in the back of my mind. Why do I draw manga?
Sometimes I think I do it just because it's my job, but whenever I draw manga, my shoulders and hips ache, and I seem to get sick to my stomach. (Also, do you know about "tight glutes"? I sit in a chair for too long, which causes stiffness and fatigue in my hip muscles, as if they were a stiff neck.) Anyway, when I draw manga, there are always times when I put myself in physical pain. During those times especially, I think to myself, "Why do I draw manga? There must be an easier way to live. I can't keep doing this unless there's some meaning to it." If the idea or the work is very well-received, the problem might not be so serious yet. On the other hand, when the physical pain is overwhelming and the work isn't good enough (when you work every day, times like those are inevitable), it really makes me stop and ask myself, "Why do I draw manga?!"
There may not be a definite answer, but it reminds me of a story. Orson Welles, an American filmmaker and actor, performed a radio program in either the 1940s or 1950s. It was a science fiction story about aliens coming to and invading Earth by the title of "The War of the Worlds." When the program was broadcast as a faked news report, people listening to the radio believed that aliens had really arrived, and entire cities started to panic. The confusion was so great that it became a social problem, and Orson Welles was ultimately forced to formally apologize on the air and in the papers, saying "of course, I'm terribly sorry now." But when I heard this story, I immediately imagined the following: when Orson Welles bowed his head and apologized, he definitely stuck out his tongue at an angle where people couldn't see it... No doubt about it! I swear he was laughing in his heart! (I know he was!) This part of the story seems to hold the answer to the question of why I draw manga. It's hard work, but there's a kind of fun to it that no one else knows about... That's what I think.
I'm aware that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable is a work that took a creative stance on many of its aspects. (I'm not saying I cheated the readers. I mean that I drew it in a way that people don't understand and enjoy.) There's no end to the number of specific examples I could give, so I'll leave it up to the reader to imagine what they want to see explained, but I'll tackle the biggest portion of it here: the character of Josuke Higashikata. I had wanted to draw a dumb character for a long time (because I had never drawn such a character before), and I imagined that the intelligent storyline and dumb character would contrast each other perfectly.
I began drawing Part 4 with a promise in my mind: "My older brother, who's a bit of an idiot but has a kind heart, happens to be a Stand User." The first reaction of my editors and readers was: "Huh? A pompadour? What a stupid hero! And do people like that even exist in 1999? Are you sane?!" In short, he was unpopular. I would respond with, "I did it! I really hate to be unpopular, but I'm also a little glad that it wasn't accepted from the beginning." I thought that the perfect contrast would reveal itself later as the pages piled up. Moreover, I had a lot of fun during the creative period designing the character of Josuke. (By the way, Okuyasu Nijimura and Shigechi are also dumb characters...) I felt as if he was a real friend by my side. "This is what creating manga is all about," I thought to myself. Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable ended up being the period in which I learned that lesson.
Even though they were antagonists, Yoshikage Kira and Rohan Kishibe were also characters that I enjoyed creating. They were murderers and unforgivable villains, but (though I don't want to say too much) I found their lives enviable. They must have had difficult childhoods, but they have a positive outlook on life, always affirming themselves without playing the victim, and the strength of their spirit was enough to get them through difficult crises. If you ignore the fact that Yoshikage Kira kills people, I feel like he's the very image of my ideal hero, and drawing him made me feel ecstatic.
But stories and encounters with people always have to come to an end. When I approached the end of the story, I felt really lonely. I didn't want to leave everyone. That's how I really felt. Josuke Higashikata. Yoshikage Kira. Koichi. Okuyasu. Rohan Kishibe. Reimi Sugimoto. Hayato Kawajiri. "Goodbye, Morioh," I said with a tear in my eye.
Recently, I've managed to calm myself down quite a bit... Well, let's just say that instead of arguing, which is something that tires me out, I prefer obeying what I'm being told. During the time I was writing Vento Aureo, I really tormented myself in regards to the matter of "self-censorship" in Shonen Manga. By "self-censorship," I'm talking about the requests from the editorial board to an author to stop drawing or, at the very least, soften certain elements of the story which haven't been deemed presentable (for example: discriminatory phrases, expressions which might appear racist, the way skin color is drawn, violent scenes or abuse on both the weak and animals, callbacks to real-life crimes, the representation of nude bodies, smoking or drinking habits, etc..) I wanna make it clear right away that what I am about to write here isn't a critique towards my editors, but simply the real sensations that I, Hirohiko Araki, felt while writing Vento Aureo.
Having reached the fifth part of the series, I desired to write a story which would deal with topics such as the deep sadness in us human beings, or the pain of being born into this world, and I wanted to do it in a stronger manner than the previous parts. Depending on the circumstances in which they are born, there are people who are lucky from the very start, but how would these individuals act if they had been born in a different place instead, one with much harsher conditions? In Vento Aureo, all the protagonists have, in one way or another, been estranged from society and forced to live on its boundaries. We are talking about an environment in which the strong eat the weak and one where evil pervades everything. In such a situation, is it still possible for these characters to find justice?
When representing the clash between good and evil, it is necessary to describe evil in a realistic way, and it's here that the power of "self-censorship" in Shonen Manga really strikes the heaviest of blows in the story that you're trying to write. Smoking, being relentless towards the weak, sexually molesting an individual, stabbing someone with a knife, cutting off heads, abusing men and women, gouging eyes out, eating brain matter: all these are examples of pure evil. To express the evil shadows of human beings a minimum of cruelty and brutality is essential.
Despite having happened sporadically in previous years, as soon as I started Vento Aureo (around 1996), the editorial board suddenly started sending me more and more requests along the lines of "fix this page", "change that line", "modify this drawing" and so on. I would like to show you precisely which dialogues and pages I'm talking about, but it would be a long list so it's better to leave that out for now. Additionally, these requests were rarely motivated (even if they were, they were never in a convincing manner), the indications given to me were typically like, "...well, it's just that there is kind of regulation, plus the deadline is close and things just go like this with the board. C'mon hurry up and fix it! You'll think about the rest right?!”
I'll say it again, this is absolutely not a critique in regards to my editors, nor am I insinuating that they developed an unprofessional attitude towards me. (Truth is that I've always been very grateful to my editors!) All I'm trying to say is that during the period I was writing Vento Aureo that sensation was there with me. It's nothing else but a simple personal impression.
With all that said, it's easy to imagine just what type of crisis I was in and how difficult it was for me to successfully express, in a satisfying manner, the themes that I was trying to develop. Moreover, I kept asking myself if by any chance a "wall" had been indefinitely built to limit the liberty of expression, if the possibilities for artistic development in manga had run out, or if the ideology of authority and non-stop profit weren't completely stripping away the sprouts of art itself. Even now, despite being in a much more relaxing condition, I can't give myself a definitive answer, but what I felt in that era naturally transpired into the actions and attitudes of my characters.
Giorno and Bucciarati, two of the protagonists, betray the organization which they are part of for the sake of 'justice'. The organization is a symbol of power and moral obligation, almost a second home for them, but they both decide to fight to follow the desire of living according to justice. Even I, as the author, while drawing these scenes felt courage swelling up inside of me. Thinking back on the sentiments of my protagonists never fails to bring tears to my eyes. If these two boys had decided to remain in the shadow of authority, maybe they would have gone on to live safe and comfy lives. Instead, despite knowing the risks, they chose the path of justice, because only in its presence would they have been certain their existence actually mattered. Vento Aureo, between great Italian fashion and all the more creative Stand battles, is a story full of suspense, but I also think, according to my judgment as an author, that it can be considered a really dark work. Having said that and considering how at times we can take on such heavy subjects, I am very proud of it. Just like with all the other parts, I hope with all my heart that you have fun reading it. Regarding the parts that I had to cut, I will talk about this in the afterthoughts of the last volume.
Jotaro Kujo, the protagonist of part three "Stardust Crusaders", sets off on his journey accepting the bond that connects him to his grandfather and his grandfather's great-grandfather (Jonathan's father). There are six generations between them. In that sense, you could say their enemy, Dio Brando, represents both destiny and fate.
I don't think there's anyone who can assert they know anything about an ancestor from six generations prior. From Jotaro's perspective, he doesn't really care if his ancestor was someone who did good things or, rather, someone who made the wrong choices. He simply accepts the blood bond that connects him and his ancenstors, considering it an honor even! While I was writing this fifth part, Vento Aureo, I kept asking myself: "How would someone behave if the mere fact they were born was a source of sadness?"
Men can't choose how they come into the world. Some of them find themselves in happy families, others grow up in terrible places from the get-go. Can those less fortunate do anything if we assume destiny and fate are something already decided by gods or some kind of law that makes stars move in our vast universe? This is Vento Aureo's main theme and both the protagonists and their adversaries need to face it. Giorno, Bucciarati, Fugo, Narancia, Abbacchio, Mista. Every single one of them grew up or rather was forced to grow up, at the edge of society and family. The same can be said about Trish really.
Could they ever challenge fate, destiny, and change them? This was my most recurring thought while working on this story.
I was really down during that period for certain personal matters. What to do? If it were easy for humans to change them just with effort and will, destiny and fate would lose their meanings. It would be too easy. How could the protagonists fight against this sense of unavoidability? The answer, surprisingly, was given to me by the protagonists themselves. They don't try to change their destiny and even in their situation, they choose not to give up their spirit's purity. They firmly believe that happiness and a sense of justice are the same things.
I mean, I'm the author, and yet, while I was writing I ended up learning from my characters and this is what truly gave me courage. In these terms, thinking back, I feel I had the illusion of being accepted among them as a friend, more than just growing fond of Vento Aureo's protagonists myself.
There was one part in this fifth series I absolutely had to delete though. An episode I couldn't write at all. In my head, the story went that between Mista, Narancia, Fugo and Abbacchio, there would be a spy working for the boss and betray Giorno and Bucciarati. At first, I had decided this traitor to be Fugo, but I couldn't do it.
My state of mind was so dark that the stories I wrote were becoming more and more evil, but in my heart, I was starting to hate this behavior as time passed. Also, my heart broke just thinking about how Bucciarati would feel.
I absolutely can't understand betrayal from a trusted friend and this is why just thinking about it physically hurt me. I would have accepted any criticism saying that I "hadn't had the guts to do it" as an author, but I assure you I couldn't write that episode no matter what.
Maybe Giorno would have had to kill Fugo then and I'm sure this would have given a really bad impression to my youngest readers.
This is what lays behind that farewell scene in Venezia, with the publication of Vento Aureo's novel then I was able to have a story written about how Fugo would continue to help his companions from inside the organization.
To conclude, allow me to say something to my characters: Thank you, you are the Golden Wind that blows during the most difficult and sad moments.
There are times where I'll suddenly get overwhelmed, thinking about how weird certain things are which I previously never cared about, and an unusual anger arises. It exists within me, this "Period of Hate," which is often caused by the "Season of Aggression". Some time ago I happened to be with my parents, and so with levity I said this:
"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 her 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 layout 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, she 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”.
(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.)
[Translated by LegoAlex98]
The truth is, I don’t really know what to say about this. Writing this sixth part of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure - Stone Ocean”, I started feeling a great sense of satisfaction regarding the Stand’s powers. I felt like I had reached the peak of my creativity, as an author I had drawn everything my capabilities allowed. ‘Time’ that got faster and faster for humans’ senses to perceive, getting closer to the concept of infinite – given we can’t really comprehend much of it. How could there possibly be a Stand power bigger than this? “There’s nothing more incredible, my creativity has reached the highest point”, that’s what I thought. I normally think that feelings like a sense of satisfaction or personal realization are extremely scary. Finding yourself in a situation where you think everything’s going well and you don’t need to do anything more is without doubt a terrible situation, as a person and as a mangaka, but also if we think about society and the development of science, philosophy, art and culture in general. People act to achieve something, to obtain satisfaction above all else, but what do they do when they reach it? This contradictory feeling crept up my heart while I was coming up with an ending for ‘Stone Ocean’.
Jolyne Cujoh, our protagonist, felt a deep void in her heart too because she was missing the paternal love that brought her to befriend the shady guy that caused her to be imprisoned, after causing a car accident. But what’s important is the progress she makes because of that, because of the actions she has to do to save her father she becomes the strong woman she is. If we look at this story as a telling of the protagonist’s growth, her story had ended. So now what should I do for the accomplishment of this manga? In other words, I don’t have anything more to draw. It’s over. ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ has reached its summit. This is ‘Stone Ocean’. The end. But this is not right, not at all, it feels wrong. The fact that I’m feeling accomplished should not be a good thing. It’s like a red light is in front of me, what should I do? This is what I was thinking then, until I had an idea. Go back to the origins! Isn’t this how Renaissance happened in Italy, going back to Greeks and Romans concepts in classic art? The French painter Gauguin also built a whole new painting going back the origins that Tahiti represented for him.
I need to strengthen further Father Pucci’s Stand power. This way time, the characters, the bloodlines and the whole universe will have a turnaround and go back to their origins. For ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ I had to leave modern days and return to nature. I had to change Stone Ocean’s ending right before the last chapters for this reason, I brought out all the nostalgic feelings I had in my soul and this is why it came out like that. Jolyne Cujoh's memories are different, but I think her love and emotions will remain forever and surely grow. I want the protagonist for the seventh part to be fighting against nature in a way that teaches him how to be mature. These were my thoughts upon writing the sixth part, maybe these things shouldn’t be said or written but this is the author’s afterword right? It came out like this.
In 2004, I started drawing JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 7 “Steel Ball Run”. This was the story of Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli and their participation in the great race throughout the North American continent, going from San Diego on the West Coast to New York on the East Coast. I'd like to now share with you all some memories regarding the genesis of this work.
Part 1: The Protagonists
Each one of them has their own family problems: Johnny's relationship with his dad and Gyro's lineage. It's almost as if their births are a contradiction and their desire to take control of their lives pushed them to enter the race. The other characters have a positive attitude as well and those who hide the power of a Stand are very confident in themselves. That being said, maintaining a positive attitude is a tiresome way to live life. After all, to find a bit of peace they only have 2 choices: retire from the race or reach New York.
Part 2: The Stands
Up until now, I've created Stands with the intent of visually representing elements which are impossible to perceive with earthly eyes yet still very much exist. This includes all physical phenomenons and creations, stuff like transforming flames into characters or drawing time itself. With my previous work "Stone Ocean," I had accomplished a certain sense of fulfillment and was wondering, "What I should do next?" When I started drawing SBR, I had a predilection for rotations (specifically spiral rotations). The flames that I designed resembled whirlwinds, splashing water flew like vortexes, body joints bent as if screwed together, hair grew in a sinuous way, the branches of plants and trees connected curved into the main stem, petals of flowers were like spirals, the shadows of rocks seemed like they were rotating, etc.. By constantly drawing things like these, I reached the conclusion that rotations and spirals gave a clear explanation to every phenomenon in this world of ours. Had I made a Stand out of them it probably would have been extremely powerful. Additionally, by connecting the concept of "rotation" to "rebirth," then ideally the story would return to its starting point. It's through this reasoning that I convinced myself that SBR had to be set in the same time period as Part 1, that being the end of the XIX century.
Part 3: Research
I love stories in which characters grow throughout a journey and I believe tends to be a universal experience. These days, you can obtain information on anything you need through searching on the internet, and as a result research trips are no longer necessary. However, there are places where its necessary to be there in person, in order to really perceive their magnitude. To truly comprehend the other side of the coin, we must live in these places to experience their miseries and inequities, and understand what would happen if, for example, we were to find ourselves without milk. Pushed by the desire to experiment with these sentiments, I went on a discovery trip on a Cessna and in a car starting from a desert in the Far West. It wasn't necessarily related to SBR, but I was particularly fascinated by the abandoned crash sites of planes right in the middle of nowhere.
Later on, I hiked for 5 days and 4 nights in the mountains of Kumano Kodo (a group of ancient pilgrimage footpaths, patrimony of UNESCO since 2004) in the prefecture of Wakayama in Japan. I wanted to find out what would happen to me if I walked 20 kilometers every day, and so I did. Maybe this experience in particular has some relevance to SBR. Everyday, the marvelous view offered by the forests would become increasingly darker after 4 o'clock, more than you could imagine. One day I happened to see an old lady all alone, coming out of the dark and saying "If I hadn't met that kid I would have certainly been lost and I would have been in trouble!" (what kid was she talking about?!). After 2 days of walking my muscles started to hurt a lot, the phone had no signal and it seemed so heavy that each day I would ponder the idea of just throwing it away. The contradictions of useless inventions.
Part 4: The Enemies
President Valentine, who appears in the second half of SBR is the final boss, the worst enemy, the big bad, an extremely evil person. However, I would like to explain why he is a villain from the POV of the protagonists, Johnny and Gyro. President Valentine uses the Steel Ball Run race to collect the treasures necessary to transform his native country into the greatest and biggest nation in the world and to steer it towards a new era. Basically, through this event, he plans to conquer the sympathy of the people and obtain the rights for his fellow countrymen. He is aware that the future will bring forth the movement from horses to machines, and knows that democracy means the acquisition of the rights of a capitalist economy. That being said, a person who doesn't know egoism is truly terrifying. In practice, the ideas of President Valentine are much more valid than those of our protagonists Johnny, Gyro, Steven Steel, etc.. As a result, this president who wants to follow the rightful path is the antagonist by 'antonomasia'. In him resides the contradiction that exists between good and evil. It's sort of a paradox. However it may be, what is happiness? If happiness coincided with the victory of truth, then would it have to be the objective of this era? In the end, will Johnny and Gyro really be able to achieve it?
Part 5: Area
The publication of this work switched from Weekly Shonen Jump to the monthly Ultra Jump, not just because after many years the weekly deadlines began to feel stressing, but also because I felt that in SBR the "area" which I could draw had grew a lot (I'm referring to the number of pages per chapter). I sensed that I could improve on the proportions between backgrounds and characters and also felt that I had found an ideal rhythm to develop this manga which, by its nature, is more suited to being monthly.
At the end of Volume 1 of this edition of Steel Ball Run, I had shared some memories which encompassed the entirety of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series. As such, I want to now focus on writing something more specific about its endings.
This may seem like a given when creating a manga series, but between the writing, researching, personal anxieties, etc...the beginning of a manga serialization can be a pretty tough undertaking. However, when it comes to ending a series, I’m under the impression that the task is even more challenging.
It'll depend on the work, but there are times where the editorial department or the manga author themselves will want a series to approach some kind of conclusion. Even if that's the case, requests from the audience can make it difficult for an author to write that closing word, "End." During this time, it's always necessary for us as authors to separate ourselves from the characters that have accompanied our story, the ones we've grown attached to as the days go by, the ones we've shared many important moments with. Similarly, it is also necessary to leave behind the setting and world that we've created and built up. On the other hand, we can’t abandon the answers behind the main mysteries or the destinies of our characters. We must close the curtain in the best way possible. “Will this ending satisfy the readers?” This sort of doubt generates anxiety and a certain sense of importance. Even after we finally finish drawing, there's a certain sensation that nothing else remains and you start to ask yourself: “What do I do now?!” This is what happens with the end of a serialized manga.
It may also happen to have a strong ending like in this case, but with this work and for the third part of JoJo, Stardust Crusaders, I chose a plot structure that had a very obvious finish line and readers would be aware of the fact that a conclusion would be inevitable. So, without a sense of loss or desperation, the closure was nothing else but a way to conclude a journey and so this way I could finish as necessary. When I reach the finishing line of these works, I only had the feeling of having completed a task and of having obtained a good result, and that gave me a sense of gratitude.
One of the ending scenes of Steel Ball Run that I particularly enjoyed drawing is the one in which Johnny and Gyro confide their personal secrets to each other and Gyro reveals to his friend his true name, while Johnny tells him about his fetish. They were just frivolities, but can a secret become eternal? Or, if one survives, will that secret continue to live on in their heart? While I was creating those panels, I found myself crying.
Postcard released alongside the Stone Ocean box
Phantom Blood's logo
Battle Tendency's logo
Stardust Crusaders' logo
Diamond is Unbreakable's logo
Vento Aureo's Logo
Stone Ocean's logo
Steel Ball Run's logo
The box sets for the first three parts have the same number of volumes as the JoJonium releases.