"You won't find a more Royal Road manga." - The reason why Hirohiko Araki continues to draw 'JoJo' 8/17 (Fri) 9:26 P.M. Distribution
From August 24th, the 'Hirohiko Araki JoJo Exhibition: Ripples of Adventure' will be held at the National Art Center, Tokyo. It is the first solo exhibition of a manga artist in 28 years since Osamu Tezuka at the National National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure", which has continued for more than 30 years, supports the golden age of Weekly Shōnen Jump. There are more than 120 volumes of the tankōbon with spin-off works also produced. There are many creators representing various fields and people in the manga world who profess they're fans. Despite being called a 'Heretic in Jump' due to its unique designs and storyline, Araki-san asserts that "You won't find a more Royal Road manga." The key phrases are 'walking on the path of belief' And 'the power to open up'. (Satoshi Ishido / Yahoo! News Feature Editor)
'Heretical' goes against the Royal Road
Araki-san inking at his usual work desk.（Photo: Seiji Tonomura）
Hirohiko Araki, 58, running a pen at a large desk by the window. On the desk there is a horse figurine and an origami frog that he used as a reference for drawing. It is for pick it up as an object.
The 'reality' of the details is the lifeblood of the work that is supporting the world. It is a desk where you can catch a glimpse of such a strong commitment.
"All I need is this desk. And then I can draw manga..."
The figure that became the key horse motif in Part 7 of 'JoJo'. (Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
Araki-san has been drawing the story of 'JoJo' for more than 30 years, mainly for Shōnen manga magazines which are mercilessly discontinued if they are not popular. Many people now profess to be fans, but for a long time it was a "heretical" existence. Rather than a work that most of the class talked about, it was the kind of manga where a few people would gather in secret and confide in each other, saying "Actually, I like 'JoJo'" and "Me too." The reason for this is it's unique setting and storyline.
The serialization began in 1987. Four years earlier, 'Fist of the North Star', which began serialization, became a major breakthrough when it was adapted into an animated television series.'Dragon Ball' had started three years earlier and 'Saint Seiya' two years earlier. According to Araki, it was a time when blockbusters by "Geniuses in Shōnen manga" were made one after another.
A number of manga that Araki found interesting are lined up on the top shelf of the bookshelf.（Photo: Seiji Tonomura）
The hero defeats the enemy. Then, even stronger enemies appear, and even stronger enemies appear after them, and manga that develops the story in a so-called 'Tournament Format' is the 'Royal Road' of Shōnen manga, and the number of copies and popularity were concentrated. The main character is often a Japanese boy or young man, to make it easier for readers to identify with them. The setting was regularly a town or school with a sense of familiarity.
'JoJo' went against the Royal Road in all respects.
The story, which has been going on for more than 30 years, begins like this. The setting is in England in the 19th century, 1880. Dio Brando, a boy from the slums who is adopted by Sir George Joestar, a prestigious aristocrat, after the death of his father, secretly plans to take over the Joestar family. Little by little, he hunts down George's only son, Jonathan Joestar - but...
From "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" Part 1, "Prologue". Jonathan (above) and Dio meeting scene © Hirohiko Araki / Shueisha
However, Araki-san asserts.
"You won't find a more Royal Road manga"
Why is that?
Overcoming the heyday of the 'Tournament Format'.
Ryosuke Kabashima, who was the first editor in charge of 'JoJo' and had seen Araki's work before his debut, looks back on those days.
"We were prepared to cancel it early on, and we were concerned about the setting."
Bookshelves in the studio lined with materials of various genres.（Photo: Seiji Tonomura）
There was a reason for this. All of Araki-san's serials before 'JoJo' were short-lived. Kabashima-san analyzes the reasons for this.
"There weren't enough engaging characters. No matter strong the protagonist is, it will not be possible if there are no rivals or enemy characters who can stand alongside him or her. Then he says that his next work is set in 19th century England and has an nobleman as the main character. I became worried. There's no way a foreign protagonist could possibly succeed."
However, Araki-san did not fold.
"So, I started. The storyline was originally highly praised, so the editor-in-chief at the time gave the OK. What I thought was different was the villain. The villain, Dio, was really good."
Kabashima-san says that it is the villains that enhance the appeal of Shōnen manga characters.
"The nobleman Jonathan can't do anything wrong, he must be a gentleman at all times. A 'Good Boy Character' who is only righteous will not win sympathy. The story shines when Dio, the villain who wants to surpass human beings, is placed in contrast."
Even so, 'JoJo' was slow to gain popularity.
Tools that support the drawing of 'JoJo'. (Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
Here, Araki-san makes a move that surprises even Kabashima-san. It's a change of protagonist.
In the first part, Jonathan was the main character, and in the second part the story was livened up to a bright adventure drama with Joseph Joestar as the main character, a descendant who inherits Jonathan's will.
At the same time, this also had the effect of avoiding the Tournament Format. Since then, 'JoJo' has been portrayed through eight main characters leading up to "JoJolion".
"At that time, we were heading towards the bubble economy, so the atmosphere of the times was going up, up, up. Manga that adopted the Tournament Format coincided with the prevailing mood of the times. I couldn't get into that atmosphere. What should I do if I go up and eventually plateau? That's what I think."
That is why it was important for him to draw the manga he wanted to draw without being carried away by the times.
"I want to draw suspense, and that (Tournament Format) is not the manga I want to draw. If you wobble around what you want to draw, the manga is over."
(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
And break on 'Stand'
By continuing to draw what you believe in, the time for a break will eventually come.
Adopting a road movie approach, the third part marks a turning point as Japanese high school student, Jotaro Kujo, who inherits the Joestar family lineage, and his friends travel to Egypt to defeat the revived arch-enemy of the family, DIO.
For the first time, the idea of the "Ghostly Ripple (Stand)", the personification of psychic powers that symbolise the worldview of 'JoJo', was used. Kabashima-san thought, "Now, that's a hit.".
"The supernatural 'Ripple' ability used in Parts 1 and 2 was plain, and I thought it was not good enough to enhance the interest of Araki's story. So I told him to come up with a new idea for the part 3. That is how the Stand was born. It's an idea no one has seen before, and in part 3, both the heroes and villains are fit for it."
The scene where Stands are discussed in detail for the first time. From Part 3: Jotaro Kujo, Part 3 © Hirohiko Araki & LUCKY LAND COMMUNICATIONS/Shueisha.
Everyone's stand ability is different. Instead of following the Shōnen manga pattern where forces clash and the stronger one wins, he established a method of called 'brain battles' that uses the compatibility of abilities and intellect.
An enemy character who is too weak, on the other hand, becomes tough when even playing cards and video games were incorporated into the battles. Brain battles is a method that many Shōnen manga use nowadays, but you could say that 'JoJo' paved the way for it.
"I was told that Ripple was no good, so I wondered what to do. As an extension of the idea of expressing supernatural powers, I came up with the idea of personifying it. In Jump, it was also NG(Not Good) to be thought to have used other senseis' ideas, I wanted to do something I would never do. Perhaps because of that, it was hard to understand what a stand was at first. I was often asked, 'What's a stand?'"
The 'JoJo' series has continued for over 30 years, up to Part 8, 'JoJolion'(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
Until Jotaro and his friends head to Egypt, they visit India and other places and fight there. Even if there are no strong characters or stands one after another like in the Tournament Format, the story unfolds well.
Araki-san thought that it would be good if there was 'necessity' in the battle. Enemies that make use of their abilities are more "scary" than powerful enemies that simply appear. If there is fear, the story moves forward.
In Part 3, which also became very popular, DIO was defeated and the story concludes gracefully. In Part 4, the setting is also changed boldly, and it was set in the small town of Morioh in Japan. It incorporates a more suspenseful tone in which the protagonist, high school student Josuke Higashikata, searches for a serial killer lurking in town.
Araki-san has such a strong attachment to Josuke Higashikata that he chose him as his favorite character in his art book 'JOJO A-GO!GO!' published in 2000.
"I think that part 4 was the first time I was able to depict everyday life. Until then, I felt like I was drawing a myth. Jotaro is cool and, in a way, complete. But I feel like Josuke is around there (pointing to an empty chair). It's a character that's right next to you."
The protagonist of Part 4, Josuke Higashikata. He's usually mild-mannered, but when his hairstyle is criticized, he goes 'crazy'. From "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" Part 4: Jotaro Kujo! Meet Josuke Higashikata Part 1 © LUCKY LAND COMMUNICATIONS/Shueisha
Having developed the ability to depict the horrors that lurk in everyday life, the JoJo model is completed, and the story progresses while greedily incorporating new elements until Part 8.
"You must always be positive"
The main character and setting change, so why does it continue as a single manga? That's because there is a consistent theme of 'human praise'. In his previous work, Araki-san says:
"It's a positive affirmation that 'humans are wonderful'. When faced with difficulties, it is through the power of human beings to solve them and pave the way. Convenient coincidences such as a god suddenly coming to the rescue or a magic sword suddenly falling out of the sky, being picked up to fight with and win never happen in JoJo" (from Hirohiko Araki's Manga Techniques).
Araki-san says that JoJo is a "Royal Road" because it has a theme that runs through the work and follows the rules of Shōnen manga.
(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
"I call 'JoJo' a royal road because the aspirations of the characters, be they protagonists or villains, are positive. I don't draw people who are troubled by it. It's normal to worry about life, so it's boring. I draw on the idea that when positive aspirations collide with each other, chemical changes and suspense are created. The character's vector must always be positive. Growing is the main principle. Don't worry about fighting. And when you fight, you must be alone."
Whether the characters in 'JoJo' are the protagonists or villains, they face the reality of 'lineage' and 'Destiny' that they cannot control on their own, and try to resist them and forge a path with their own power.
"The rule is that the characters in Shōnen manga must always be positive. If you put in the negative elements of being backwards and continuing to worry about fighting, readers will get fed up. 'JoJo' adheres to this rule faithfully. That's why I said it's Royal Road. Drive the protagonists into harsh situations and let them carve their way as they grow. You can't have 'JoJo' if you're relying on chance or someone else to do the fighting for you, you have to face it alone."
Part 8 "JoJolion" is underway（(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
Even the villains are positive
Araki-san applies this rule even to antagonists.
"Take, for example, the serial killer Kira Yoshikage, the boss of Part 4. What Kira does is unforgivable, but he has no regrets or hesitation. He acknowledges himself. For the sake of his own peaceful life,he is still willing to fight and make his own way even when the protagonists are hunting him down. That's why the Stand ability also grows.
Araki-san says that good and evil are actually "two sides of the same coin." The enemy has his own beliefs and reasons to fight. The president, the biggest villain of Part 7, also had a motive beyond his own self-interest to make America prosperous in his own way.
"The final judgment of right and wrong depends on the reader's point of view. It changes depending on the character, and it also clashes. The characters in 'JoJo' just want to grow. Even if you are an malicious enemy, if you stick to your beliefs and are virtuous, you will gain sympathy from readers. This is important. It's scary if you're positive."
By placing a positive villain with the same vector as the main character, the sense of fear that is essential to the worldview of "JoJo" is increased.
(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
"However, there is a line that must be kept between good and evil. 'JoJo' villains are happy to take advantage of others to achieve their ideals. II depict it from the perspective that no matter how noble an idea is, it is unacceptable. I'm able to draw more complicated villains than when I started the series, but that one point hasn't wavered.If you want to realize the philosophy, you have to do it even if you are alone. Don't take advantage of others."
JoJo isn't a manga that always depicts victory on the hero's side. Defeat is also depicted as an important scene as much as victory. Araki-san says that there is another theme put into JoJo.
"I portray them as defeated, but never inferior. It's not the catharsis of victory that I want to depict. Maybe that would be more popular, but it deviates from what I want to draw. I am interested in what a person chooses to do in the process of fighting. Death is not the end of a person. Another theme of "JoJo" is to leave a will to those who are left behind and to pass it on. Even if defeated, someone will inherit the will. I think that's the beauty of being human."
Manga artists are also 'painters'
There is a word that Araki-san often uses as a set with 'Royal Road'. It's "suspense". Suspense is what Araki-san thinks is the foundation of 'good' stories and 'interesting' stories.
Exciting developments continue in Part 8 (Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
“Around the time I made my debut as a manga artist, Truffaut (a leading director of the French film movement 'New Wave' since the late 1950s) interviewed Hitchcock in a book called The Art of Pure Cinema. That's where Hitchcock, the master of suspense, explains his films in detail one by one. From the position of the camera, to the techniques for depicting psychological expression, and how to shoot the film, it is really detailed. While reading this, I studied by watching videos and Hitchcock's films again at the Masterpiece Theater."
(Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
He wants to draw suspense. With that in mind, he extracted theories from his favorite movies and incorporated them into his own manga. Even now, in pursuit of universal "interesting" things, input is necessary.
Araki also professes the influence of Italian paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and others. With the full cooperation of the Louvre, he has painted works set in the Louvre.
"Manga artists are also 'painters' because they draw pictures. I want you to see it as a picture," says Araki.
"I think you will see something completely different from the printed manga. The original picture has a charm different from the printed one. Originally, I didn't draw with the intention of being printed. Regardless of the form in which it is printed, I have drawn it properly. I think you can feel its charm from the original drawings."
"The unique 'JoJo Stand' pose that fans all imitate is also cool when you see it in the original picture, isn't it?", Araki replies without pause.
Beside the work desk, there is a favorite calendar. The figure of a woman looks somewhat like a "JoJo Stand" (Photo: Seiji Tonomura)
"Thank you, I really want you to see the details."
Araki-san has continued to draw new manga for over 30 years, while not being swept away by the times, but flexibly incorporating changes.
Finally, we asked about the development of the Part 8 'JoJolion', which is about to enter its climax.
"I don't draw a story with a detailed plan. I don't decide on the goal from the beginning, but think about it as I draw. The overall composition and fight are the same. From now on, the stage of Part 8 will move to the hospital. I think the story is finally coming together."
Heading to a climax that has not yet been decided, Araki is still thinking about it today as he sits at his desk and runs his pen. 
[Translated by LocacacaFarmer]