Araki Hirohiko and me (by Taku Hachirou)
I have known about Araki for several years.
I got into his comics back when I saw a Shounen Jump magazine in a cafe close to my Suginami apartment. That Jump issue was freshly off the presses and I gave it a quick look while drinking my coffee.
Cool Shock B.T., Baoh the Visitor and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure…
I was completely ensnared by the magical and crafty charm of those stories.
During our talk, Araki emphasized, and I agreed, that the world of his comics is definitely not obscure, but an actual major player.
However, I do believe that it is also a world that appeals to fanatics. If it weren’t, it would have probably not become such an abnormally charming world.
Back in 1990, when I fell in love with Araki’s work, I reviewed Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in a weekly publication. The series had already reached the third part, which introduced Stands, a unique expression of super abilities.
My analysis was also featured in a special feature of this magazine’s previous number. I would like you to read the previous issue as a guide for today’s rather wild conversation (by the by, the psychiatrist Saitou Tamaki mentioned in Eureka that the best analysis of Araki’s works belongs to Taku Hachirou).
I also wondered if the writer himself would find my analysis satisfactory. I met Araki right after the announcement and we became friends, Mrs. Araki included.
I was surprised once we started talking, not only by his personality, but by how similar we were in some respects. This is how we started visiting each other’s homes (mostly by invitation) and how we are now here today.
I do have the feeling that Araki and I are also the type of psycho friends who tell each other "hey, you’re a weirdo" (laughs).
Another thing I want to mention is that apparently Araki has incredibly few friends [not acquaintances, but actual friends, which are two: Koseki Kouji (manga artist) and Taku Hachirou (geek critic)] (testimony: Mrs. Araki).
A strange man, Araki Hirohiko.
~The sins of the times – How Jojo came to be~
I don’t really like Evangelion
Taku: I want to learn about the very origin of your comics today, but first can you tell me what kind of manga you used to read?
Araki: I used to read the works of Kajiwara Ikki and, of course, Shirato Sanpei. I loved Judo Icchokusen and Kyojin no Hoshi in particular. Also, Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s Babel Nisei, of course. As you mentioned before, add some bizarreness to those and you get Jojo.
Taku: So you’re confirming the bizarre part (laughs). The good thing about Yokoyama’s manga is that his protagonists don’t spend too much time thinking about difficult things.
Araki: They are extremely straightforward. It’s nice.
Taku: Contrary to the apparently humanist Tezuka Osamu, Yokoyama Mitsuteru puts aside that kind of concepts from the very beginning. Think about the difference between Astro Boy and Tetsujin 28. I personally lean towards Yokoyama.
Araki: Yokoyama’s manga is rather exceptional. It’s got that hardboiled feeling.
Taku: Current Jojo is the same, but Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s Iga no Kagemaru, the original, was like this too. For example, isn’t the idea of ninja fighting with scrolls (Nanatsu no Kageboushi arc) similar?
Araki: That’s the basis. That manga is basically the Bible for writers of a certain period of Shounen Jump.
Taku: It’s genius. I also love both Yokoyama’s ninja and super abilities, but also robot (Tetsujin 28, Giant Robo) manga. Yokoyama doesn’t introduce difficult concepts and doesn’t attempt to draw something too fantastic. He doesn’t hesitate, he’s basically completely different from anime like, say, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Araki: Erm, I don’t really understand how Evangelion or Gundam style protagonists who don’t want to fight can become manga protagonists (laughs). They’re not inspiring at all! I wish they pushed their way forward without worrying about anything else. Full of energy.
Taku: You’d want them to live their lives full of energy! I don’t really get stuff like Evangelion, it makes my head ache. Our Eva synchro rate would basically be minus 500!
Araki: That anime really isn’t for me…
Taku: I feel that the protagonist of Eva gets bullied precisely because he’s got that sort of personality (laughs). I really, really don’t want to see timid and cowardly characters like him. Also, when it comes to the female characters, even the super popular Ayanami Rei feels somehow like a gloomy and nasty woman (laughs).
Araki: It is also strange how much appreciation it receives.
Taku: It’s a super hit. It’s basically the evolution from Zambot 3 to Gundam to Ideon. The culmination of the timid, troubled and hopeless type. Yokoyama’s works don’t have that sort of darkness to them.
Araki: I think Ishinomori Shoutaro’s Kamen Rider is part of the same category.
Taku: Definitely. Same with Android Kikaider.
Araki: The message is basically "I don’t like being a cyborg". I personally would love that. Not jealous, but I would simply consider myself lucky.
Taku: Exactly! That world is a bit feeble. It feels feeble and indecisive.
Araki: Basically "I don’t want to fight".
Taku: I also don’t like it when titles like Cyborg 009 reveal at the end that the real enemy was humanity all along. The boss of the Black Ghost organisation said some really unpleasant things at the end – "In order to kill Black Ghost, you need to kill all humans on Earth, because Black Ghost was born from the hearts of all humans." (Underground Yomi Empire arc). I also wish we got less parting threats (laughs).
Araki: Kira Yoshikage from Jojo, from example, became a murderer in an affirmative way in a sense. He may be a troubled person, but his entire train of thought is focused on the idea of winning. Life shouldn’t be all worries and troubles, I wish characters worried while still moving forward.
Taku: So Kira would basically worry about what kind of woman to kill and maim next, right?
Araki: Yes, exactly (laughs).
Taku: So full of energy!
I can’t draw Jonathan anymore
Taku: When did you decide to become a manga artist?
Araki: I had this vague idea ever since I was a child, but I guess I only decided to become a professional when I was in high school. I hated studying for exams, so it might have also been a sort of escape for me.
Taku: Have you ever thought about becoming something else? Maybe a fashion designer? (laughs)
Araki: (laughs hard) No way! I studied fashion at a design school and for some time I did make-up for mannequins. That was a lucky year, since my debut manga had just been accepted, so I chose to become a manga artist.
Taku: If your debut work were accepted later, you would have a been a mannequin make-up artist now.
Araki: I may look back fondly on it now, but things were truly difficult for a newcomer like me. I have lost count of all the times I had to redraw things, which sometimes amounted to 10 pages out of 20. Sometimes I would spend the whole night working and in the morning I’d be told "This page isn’t good at all…", "Redo this until tomorrow!".
Taku: Were you told your work wasn’t intense enough? Or maybe that the composition was bad? Or maybe that it was useless, useless, useless? (laughs)
Araki: I was told that the protagonist’s face looked different in every panel. In the beginning I couldn’t really find a balance when it came to drawing emotions.
Taku: On the other hand, if a manga artist finds a balance, the only way to tell characters apart will be through the hair style (laughs).
Araki: There’s only one type of beautiful face. Aesthetics are unique. The lines become more and more inflexible. This will happen to any artist, no matter how good. Take Ikegami Ryouichi for example.
Taku: Not to mention that your style keeps changing. Even the art of Jojo has changed over the past ten years, which is a long serialisation time in Shounen Jump. It’s basically the oldest title after KochiKame.
Araki: You really make me feel old now. Sometimes when I get tired I also think I should retire.
Taku: Do you usually stay up all night to work?
Araki: No way, I can’t do it anymore. It would have been fine in the very beginning, maybe, but you would really need pills to keep doing it for ten years (laughs). Manga artists really do feel like the type of people most likely to take pills (laughs). It’s not strange at all. Everyone feels like they’re taking drugs (laughs).
Taku: What do you spend most time on when you draw?
Araki: Definitely the art itself, even more than the storyboards. My limit nowadays is 6 pages per day, even if I have more assistants.
Taku: Which parts are yours and which are theirs?
Araki: This depends on each manga artist, but I for one draw the characters myself and always will. When it comes to groups of people, I draw the main lines and leave the rest, like clothing patterns, to the assistants.
Taku: It’s all about the feel of the art. Sometimes I also wonder if it looks consistent. You see, I am a perfectionist who suffers from obsessive-compulsive neurosis. When my works are gathered in a volume, I correct even the smallest phrases, even though the readers wouldn’t have noticed them in the first place. Do you do this for your art?
Araki: I see what you mean! I don’t really redraw anything, but if I feel like doing it, I will do it any time. This is why I ask my editor to give me thirty minutes before I submit my weekly draft. I actually do get everything done before handing it in, but I might just want to add a little something at the very last moment.
Taku: I’m the same, somehow I just can’t bring myself to hand in the draft (editor laughs).
Araki: That is why I tend to overdo it when I draw too much (laughs). That is almost like being in a trance, I lose all track of time when I start drawing.
Taku: Your drawing style changed between parts 2 and 3. You can’t draw in your part 1 style anymore, can you?
Araki: I can’t, so it is quite awkward when someone asks me to draw Jonathan. Nooo, I can’t draw Jonathan anymore! (laughs)
Taku: I can’t recognise Jonathan Joestar when you draw him nowadays, like in magazine posters (laughs).
The reality of Kira Yoshikage
Araki: You love Kira from part 4, right?
Taku: You drew Dio, the strongest enemy, in part 3, so trying to surpass him would have led to a Fist of the North Star type of situation. You had this fated rival, Dio, the strongest character, who fought different generations over a hundred years. And then, just as we were wondering what kind of powerful enemy would succeed Dio, we got a pervert! (laughs) Not to mention that he’s also a bomber. I was so super grateful.
Araki: That was definitely me rejecting the tournament type of development. You win, you win, you win again… what’s going to happen after doing this over and over again? If you look at Jojo, the titles themselves make it obvious each part is separate. Truth be told, I was planning to take a break and start something new, but the editorial board would hear none of it (laughs).
Taku: That is why, frankly speaking, I thought that writing part 4 was a struggle.
Araki: Ah, yes, this happened too. I always waver and accept criticism in the beginning, but I realised that if I draw prepared for and ignoring the criticism, the readers will like what I do.
Taku: I do wish you went even more wild with Kira.Araki: I would have thread on some dangerous ground then.
[Translated by Dijeh]
Araki: Yes, I suppose so.
Taku: What are they? Come on, tell me~.
Araki: Err, let's not......
Taku: (suddenly taking a serious tone) Did Mona Lisa give you an erection?
Araki: (laughs) That was just a gag.
Taku: Come on, Araki-san. Let's be honest today.
Araki: ......Well, there is one thing. My own experience with nudity is quite similar to his. Though instead of a photo, I was really into western paintings like the nude depiction of the goddess Venus.
Taku: So you like that type of thing [to the point of getting an erection].
Araki: When I saw it as a kid, I thought "Ah, so this is what a woman looks like naked." You could say I was greatly influenced by goddesses and the like.
Taku: Oh, so western paintings...[give you an erection].
Araki: Yes, the silhouette of a female body wrapped in silk really gets me.
Taku: Oh, so it really gets you [erect].
Araki: Actually, I had lots of other ideas for Kira, such as taking a bath and even going to the toilet with the severed hands of the women he murdered. However, they stopped me saying, "that's too much". I was going to make him use the woman's hand to wipe his butt on the toilet, for example.Note: Square brackets are Taku's inner thoughts.
[Translated by MetallicKaiser (JoJo's Bizarre Encyclopedia)]
Araki: A man and woman hugging, even while wearing clothes, is considered an allusion to sex. That is why Kira being there was strange (laughs). He’s not a moral character, he rubs readers the wrong way, what if people will object to him? I was made to cut a lot of his scenes because of that. Still, it was rather disagreement, not outright rejection.
Taku: It’s not like ORA ORA ORA ORA means having sex (laughs).
Araki: Indeed (laughs), but even that scene about sexual positions, was deemed too risque, even though it resembled mannequins. On the other hand, when I drew risque things expecting to be told to redraw them, I was surprised to see them go through with no problems, the Mona Lisa story being one of them… I think I would have been able to draw more if Kira showed up in a seinen magazine. Leaving more to the imagination is good too though.
Taku: It’s like stopping right before the end.
Araki: I also heard stories about artists who were told to not draw religious establishments (temples and the like) as backgrounds because they might be targeted by violent people.
Taku: This reminds me of the case of Rushdie and The Satanic Verses. It’s scary, imagine being attacked with a knife out of nowhere.
Araki: You’d be told "Coming for you tomorrow!" (laughs)
Hirohiko and Hachirou, the two criminals?
Taku: We do tend to get too close to each other’s weak spots in our conversation, don’t we?
Araki: I’m not that terrible! Just a bit (laughs).
Taku: By the way, I love part 3’s Death 13, the nightmare Stand, even though it’s incredibly scary. Don’t you have nightmares? Might be because of my neurosis, but my nightmares, sleep talking and even screams are really loud.
Araki: I do, I do! I talk in my sleep. I scream too.
Taku: (laughs) All right, maybe this is just me, but I imagine your screams show up in your particular sound effects (laughs). Anyway, do you remember your dreams?
Araki: No, not really.
Taku: Do you fall in your dreams?
Araki: Yes. Also, I think I kill people a lot (laughs).
Taku: Same here.
Araki: In legitimate self-defence though (laughs).
Taku: Not the same here, I’d say (laughs).
Araki: I fight and I shower my opponent with blows.
Taku: What about getting killed? Both have happened to me.
Taku: Or cutting hands, Kira style (laughs). Speaking of nightmares you can’t wake up from, it would be scary if you drew a scene about human body reconstruction, like in Cyborg-009 or Kamen Rider.
Araki: Hmmm, that would be interesting.
Taku: If you got serious about drawing only human body reconstruction surgeries, you’d end up like Miyazaki Tsutomu. He testified that he performed reconstructive surgery on little girls like he’d seen on TV. I think he was talking about Kamen Rider (laughs).
Araki: Are they still investigating that incident?
Taku: No. He was sentenced to death, although I do believe it’s an illogical sentence from a judicial point of view. Speaking of terrible crimes, when something like the Sarin Attack happens, then the world of manga is completely overwhelmed. I mean, reality is even more terrible. Did you see the news?
Araki: It was impossible not to.
Taku: Fugo’s Purple Haze is very similar to sarin gas. The ultimate lethal weapon.
Araki: I know, right, it’s incontrollable. Releasing it without thinking is one thing, but you’ve got to think about the consequences (laughs).
Taku: If Purple Haze showed up on a subway, it would cause a true Armageddon. No magazine would want to publish that, shounen or otherwise.
Araki: Would it though, makes you think (laughs).
Taku: Speaking of which, you accidentally mentioned a while ago that you had loose socks on your mind. Does this mean you stalked high school girls?
Araki: No way! I just saw them! I was just observing!
Taku: (laughs) I understand though, shadowing used to be a hobby of mine back in the day. I even recorded people on camera. Ah, is lumping them together bad?
Araki: They’re similar in a way. I also check the routes of the neighbourhood cats. Observing them is a lot of fun.
Taku: I talked to your wife, you know, and it seems the neighbourhood cats hate you.
Araki: Huh? What do you mean?
Taku: They see your face and run away. Remember when you showed me a custom made air rifle? It looks like you shoot at cats with it. Your hobby is shooting cats!
Araki: N-no! (fretting) I was only trying to intimdate some cats that were pooping in my garden. It’s not like I do it all the time. I just want to play around and pursue them like a hunter would. Cats have regular paths they take every day. I memorise them, let the cats run away, take a shortcut and then pop up in front of them and scare them (laughs).
Taku: So you shoot at the cats (laughs). Back in the day, I figured you’d want to see a S&M confinement torture room from a certain place in Tokyo, just like in Ooyabu Haruhiko's crime novels. It was called "The Room of the Rat Humans". If you kept writing about Kira, it would have involved stalking, observation and torture, right? I have expectations for the future in that regard.
Araki: Mhm, I do want to write about stalking in the future.
Taku: I can help you with details. I am a pro stalker after all (laughs).
Taku: Kishibe Rohan is quite the dangerous person, isn’t he? There’s got to be something wrong with the state of mind of a manga artist who suddenly introduces a manga artist in the middle of the story, right? (laughs)
Araki: Huh…………………is that so (laughs)
Taku: You make mirrors feel dangerous too, but not on the level of Lacan. There’s also the young girl Sumire with precognition who shows up in Baoh The Visitor. At one point we see a man jump right out of her sketchbook. A pretty psychotic scene.
Araki: Indeed. When I think about mirrors, I think about imitations. Like the imitations in Ultraman, every time they show up it’s all trouble. They also do it out of desperation.
Taku: Tezuka Osamu showed up quite a lot in his own manga, remember? I found that strange when I was a child. He also bathed still wearing his beret.
Araki: He even got killed sometimes.
Taku: It’s strange to see the author show up in his own fictional story.
Araki: But you could clearly see that the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan short story was Kishibe Rohan’s original work, drawn by Araki Hirohiko (laughs).
Taku: You were also judge for a Rookie of the Year award. In Rohan’s name. It was strange having Rohan review the selected works. You basically used him as a mouthpiece because you don’t like being too tough on newcomers, didn’t you?
Araki: Mhm, I’m too soft for that.
Taku: That was why you had Rohan tell it straight, and it was totally not you (laughs). I noticed your brief reviews were rather harsh, like "Boring!" (laughs).
Araki: I can’t say it myself, but Rohan can (laughs)
Taku: Oh, and speaking of dangerous things, you draw a lot of severed limbs. Sounds a lot like a hand fetish (laughs). It’s not like actually Kira collects hands either.
Araki: I don’t intend to make them look grotesque though. It’s all about aesthetics, even splurting blood has to feel like a drawing.
Taku: Aesthetics, huh. Are you suuure? Well, I guess it’s fine as long as you introduce ideas like Josuke’s body healing Stand abilities (laughs).
Araki: I have to heal them, or things will go crazy (laughs). Like, it would be a real problem if characters kept dying because of the flow of the story. Sometimes characters do have to die, there are times when there’s no escape.
Taku: You might even kill them by mistake. By the way, there was a character in Ishikawa Ken's ninja manga, Fuuma Kotarou, who got cut into pieces by a saw while still alive. Where are the ninja arts in that? (laughs) That was published in Shounen Sunday. It felt a bit like a Yamada Futarou work.
Araki: I found Motomiya Hiroshi's portrayals of katana cutting off hands scarier. They’re all done with a bam, like "This is who I am!" (laughs).
Taku: What is that even (laughs).
Araki: It’s upsetting, but I seem to be regarded as a rather obscure artist. I personally think I follow the classic approach to manga and am part of the orthodox school of thinking.
Taku: I understand wanting to follow the classic approach and I can recognise that, but at the same time I do believe that not being dragged around by the type of maniac fans you dislike is also a correct decision.
Araki: Yes, you are right.
Taku: I may call your unique depictions "biopunk", but they are just so varied. Kira is definitely not what I’d call the "classic approach" (laughs). I think that people who started reading right now wouldn’t really get the idea behind Stands. They wouldn’t get why there’s another self, like a background spirit.
Araki: That’s the flaw of long running manga. It would be nice to end them in one chapter.
Taku: It might be that Stands are too good of an idea, they are such a particular power, you can basically do anything with them.
Araki: Heh, I wonder about that (laughs). I'm not really sure. Just a coincidence.
Taku: Do you ever lose track of the inherent workings of Stands?
Araki: Yeah, I do, to be honest.
Taku: Let’s take part 4’s Yukako’s hair for example. I don’t know how much of it is a Stand and how much is her hair, and even though Stands were originally supposed to be invisible to normal people, hers is visible to everyone.
Araki: (laughs) This is true.
Taku: This is because the concept of Stands underwent some transformations halfway through and we got long distance or multiple Stands. This makes "Stand principles" difficult to explain to others.
Araki: On the other hand, I do believe things should be described in as few words as possible, like "Dinosaur movie!" or "Alien attack!" (laughs).
Staging in Araki’s comics
Taku: Still, your ideas took me by surprise. Kira’s Bites the Dust is amazing. It makes time explode and goes back in time. People not well-versed in sci-fi, like readers of Be-bop High School, for example, wouldn’t get it though, would they (laughs).
Araki: Oh, no, I think they’d understand. I love Be-bop myself! I may love the world Yokoyama Mitsuteru created, but I also love Kajiwara Ikki’s Ai to Makoto. The world of delinquents is so good, even the pure love of Ai to Makoto is revealed to be quite twisted. Also, I love that more unscrupulous air as a contrast to sci-fi, both the dirty parts of the human soul, but also the chivalrous spirit found in manga like Motomiya’s. Of course, I do read manga because I like them, but the ones that make me curious about what’s going to happen next week and make me rush to the book store are those "dirty" ones. Yokoyama Mitsuteru is cool and I love him, but the one I’m looking forward to is Motomiya Hiroshi.
Taku: Yeah, I do get what you mean. I also love, for example, Emblem Take 2, serialised in Young Magazine.
Araki: When it comes to sci-fi though, I truly love Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s direction and the way he creates suspense. The image of Tetsujin 28’s shadow is also really good.
Taku: In the town at night he roars~
Araki: Yeah, yeah, with eyes shining in the dark.
Taku: What about 8 Man?
Araki: I thought his design was really cool, but when it comes to direction, Yokoyama Mitsuteru is the clear winner. I guess you could say he feels like a sort of trickster, with those scenes where a character shows up right behind someone all of a sudden. Makes your heart skip a beat.
Taku: I know, right! I love 8 Man’s design too, it’s so sharp. I also love the type of scenes where a man who disappears in the flames comes back, like in Kagemaru. Han Solo is also that type of big brother figure who returns. It’s a pattern we often see in action movies, the big brother type everyone thought was dead returns when the hero is in grave danger…
Araki: Like a guardian spirit…
Taku: ….and then dies after saving the hero (laughs).
Araki: Tatsunoko Pro love doing that in anime. Like the father being actually alive and so on… Tatsunoko’s art is really good.
Taku: Your manga also features a lot of instances of older brother figures. Even if the characters are not real brothers, the big brother’s sacrifice is what prompts the younger brother’s growth. I think this is one of your particularities.
Araki: I see. So it is.
Taku: By the way, you’re not watching any anime right now, are you?
Araki: Not really. I don’t like anime. I used to as a child, but… once I stopped for a bit, I couldn’t get into it again.
Taku: Indeed, you really can’t get into it again, especially since some titles are really oriented towards certain fanatics nowadays…
Araki: For example, you’re lost if you don’t watch Evangelion from the beginning. I have a feeling that my fans don’t watch too much anime either.
Taku: I can understand that, they love your particular touches. This is why if a studio wanted to animate your works, it would need to forget all about budget limits and maybe it would be able to do it… it would need some crazy people to work on it… like me (laughs).
Araki: The popularity of an anime equals the popularity of the manga it’s based on, not of the artist. Let’s take Rurouni Kenshin as an example, they are fans of the manga and not of the artist himself.
Taku: Yes, that is why Araki fans are Araki fans because they love your art and your depictions. See, it’s not about flying heads or hands, even though I love that too.
Araki: Do you actually love this kind of weird stuff? (laughs)
Taku: No, no, not just weird depictions (laughs).
The future of Jojo
Taku: Part 4 was about hidden fear.
Araki: I was influenced by Stephen King. It was something I couldn’t include in part 3.
Taku: That’s because part 3 had a very clear purpose. The enemy is Dio, the destination is Egypt, now let’s go!, basically. I laughed at how similar Jotaro’s route and Saruganseki’s route were. It was so strange.
Araki: You’re right, I was watching the show and kept thinking that that route looked really familiar (laughs). Politically wise though, that’s the only route you can take. It doesn’t matter you have a Stand, you just can’t win against politics (laughs).
Taku: The action of the third part stretched all over the world, from Asia to the Middle East, but then part 4 suddenly moved to Morioh. That is actually your hometown, Sendai, right?
Araki: The world got smaller all of a sudden, but I was able to draw the idea of lurking fear in a peaceful town because it was drawn from my own experience.
Taku: You even had a haunted house, like in King’s books. The feeling of slow entrapment was important.
Araki: Then, when Morioh needed a bit of a jolt, I introduced Kira. I had to pay attention to the timing, since readers of weekly publications will only have eyes for the strongest character as soon as he shows up. That’s why I only used black shadows at first, like I did with Dio in part 3. Serialisations are hard, I kept thinking about that while drawing.
Taku: This is how staging goes for weekly serialisations. Still, part 4 had a really good run, I think. You even managed to introduce Kira chapters halfway through.
Araki: I make full use of that kind of technique, and that’s precisely why I was told I put the story development on hold. There were also some parts I wanted to draw similarly to Kochikame (laughs).
Taku: The mix of the normal and abnormal of daily life? Now that I think about it, you didn’t really kill off people in the beginning of part 4 and in the end most of the bad guys became good people.
Araki: Some even befriended our heroes.
Taku: That’s a classic technique that shows up in stories like Momotarou or Hakkenden as well – first they are enemies, then they realise they get along with the protagonist and they become friends.
Araki: I love that kind of stories.
Taku: By the way, part 5 debuted over a year ago, but it still really feels like it’s in its introductory phase. I just can’t see the general picture, I can’t read ahead.
Araki: You can’t read…. well, neither can I (laughs). Frankly speaking, there are some things I haven’t thought about yet (laughs) and this is because Jojo was supposed to end with part 3. It does have a theme, so this should make you feel a bit better.
Taku: The protagonist decides from the very beginning that he is going to defeat the Boss, but the story now has him fight the ones who betrayed the Boss.
Araki: You are right. I think this also happens in companies, for example – you may think that you will eventually replace a certain person, but at the moment it’s more advantageous to support them, so you end up collaborating for a while.
Taku: A political decision (laughs). Group intent, sort of.
Araki: Indeed. What I want to write about in part 5 is the meaning of justice. The logic yakuza use is one example. Like in The Godfather.
Taku: You can’t tell what justice is in The Godfather. No one complains about it either.
Araki: No complaining! It’s all about moving forward. Kira is also a forward-moving person, someone who lives according to his own logic. He’d hate to be pitied and I’m sure the readers would feel the same. Anyway, for the time being, I decided to write in detail about each character.
Taku: What makes me happy about part 5 is Giorno’s ability, he creates so many beings, like snakes or piranha. I really like how you added another type of biological weapon, after Ultimate Being Kars and Baoh. You also had that scene where Giorno uses his own right hand for a rocket punch, then turns it into a piranha that devours the enemy from the inside. That one which goes zuboh and gyaaa. It’s all so sudden, readers wouldn’t even understand what’s going on (laughs). They’d think the author lost his mind (laughs harder).
Araki: I won’t deny that. You can’t be shy when you write for Shounen Jump, I learnt this from Kurumada Masami (laughs). This is an example from Shounen Sunday, but it has those "haha, just joking" comments on the side of the page.
Taku: Oh yeah, to hide their embarassment.
Araki: However, there are no such excuses for Jump.
Taku: I see. How much longer will Jojo continue?
Araki: I can’t think of a Jojo family tree. Even part 4’s Josuke was the result of an affair. This is why I think part 6 can only feature a clone.
Taku: But you said a while ago that you can’t write futuristic settings.
Araki: Even creating a setting in reality makes my head hurt. That’s what I mean when I talked about futuristic settings.
Taku: I see, you can’t write a 22nd century out of nothing. That’s what made Tezuka Osamu amazing, he even had futuristic urban planning maps in his head.
Araki: You also need to fill in details and the more details you add, the more the story ends up resembling Blade Runner. That type of setting is not bad at all, but what happens to the essential themes and suspense? Won’t they end up neglected? This is why simple is better, like a story about soldiers entering a jungle or so.
Taku: So a story about the dangers of the jungle (laughs). Then it doesn’t need to take place in the future, like a period drama adapted into a futuristic setting. Star Wars, for example, is originally based on Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress.
Araki: It’s only the style that’s new. There’s also a writing style with advanced ideas, but a lot of it is encountered in hard sci-fi, like in Philip K. Dick’s junkie filled world.
Taku: Dick, you say (laughs). So you’ve read hard sci-fi too.
Araki: I don’t like it though. What I found strange is that there is a certain type of fantasy readers. It was so unexpected. I thought they were just a small group of fanatics, but there seem to be a lot of them nowadays.
Taku: This is also reflected in the popularity of the social phenomenon anime, Eva.
Araki: Do you read fantasy? I tried it out too, but I just can’t like it.
Taku: I can’t read stuff full of magic or that leans too hard on religious stuff. I can’t understand that type of otherwordly tales.
Araki Hirohiko loves movies
Araki: There are some instances, even in movies, where the craftiness of the story makes you feel you are taken for a fool. Not superior, just crafty, and so painfully obvious. I guess though that that’s what makes it interesting.
Taku: I see what you mean. For the sake of argument, Kurosawa, who is a second-rate director or at least that his movies are.
Araki: His directing style is basically crafty; his direction is about fooling people, like a magic trick. He goes "Gotcha", but that’s just one of the general prerequisites. Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s got that kind of charm.
Taku: I loved the part in Iga no Kagemaru where ninja fought using hypnotism, it even affected me and I fell asleep (laughs). I guess this kind of thing can happen too.
Araki: Ah, yes. But there are also readers who don’t understand and make fun of it. I believe that without that sort of thing, you can’t reach its true nature.
Taku: I realised while reading part 3, the D’Arby brothers parts more precisely, that you must also like 12 Angry Men.
Araki: I like Sherlock Holmes style stories. And speaking of crafty, there’s also Lupin III. I consider it an absolute masterpiece.
Taku: It’s said that tricks don’t have too classy, but Kurosawa is called the emperor of movies. But if you pay attention to his movies, they are B grade after all.
Araki: No one says anything because he’s praised abroad.
Taku: Ah yes, the Oscars. But in truth his work is more like Kayou Suspense Gekijou (laughs).
Araki: Come on, it’s not that bad (laughs).
Taku: Yeah, I guess Kayou Suspense is not that bad either (laughs). Still, Kurosawa’s golden age, during his collaborations with Nakadai Tatsuya or Mifune Toshirou, was super B grade. Like all that blood in Sanjurou.
Araki: Mhm. For example, when the camera approaches the face and then "enters" the mouth until it reaches the stomach makes you think you’re it’s all a joke, but it is an important aspect of manga.
Taku: Even Jojo uses techniques similar to those in movies like The Shining or Speed.
Araki: You’re quite knowledgeable (laughs).
Taku: By the way, do you have a favourite movie actor?
Araki: I’ve always loved Clint Eastwood. As a writer and director too.
Taku: His dub actor is Lupin’s Yamada Yasuo.
Araki: However, my favourite movie is The Great Escape. Steve McQueen’s unrelenting personality is the base of all Jojos. He doesn’t sulk and complain about having to fight either.
Taku: Ah, so McQueen was playing the Jojo role all along!
Araki doesn’t want to be liked by Taku
Taku: The Great Escape is a rather dark film though. Only three character or so survive. Have you seen any Bruce Lee movies?
Araki: I have, but I didn’t really get the characters.
Taku: I see. Climbing up the tower and encountering stronger and stronger enemies is basically the classical manga pattern.
Araki: You are right.
Taku: I still want you to write someone like Kira again… Fana……..
Araki: …tic (laughs).
Taku: I love Stephen King too, even my high school nickname was Shining (laughs). Apparently I also wrote that Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a religious experience……
Araki: (accepts) But it actually has points you don’t understand.
Taku: Mhm. Star Wars is incredibly interesting though. On the other hand, I don’t really like Steven Spielberg’s movies, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T., since I’m not fond of fantasy at all.
Araki: You really need something to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Taku: I’m the type who prefers movies that stimulate me and get more and more exciting. I’m not an addict though (laughs). I just like something that keeps me in high spirits. Like Jojo.
Araki: I…. I don’t think I want to be liked by you (laughs).
Taku: But I love your manga!
Araki: Somehow I can’t take this as praise… (laughs)
Taku: I also love manga like Ii Hito, which is serialised in Big Comic Spirits. I may look like this, but I’m the type of man who will cry at Ippai no kakesoba. The type of man who will cry at Ippai no kakesoba and cry laughing at The Shining. But yes, Ii Hito is good.
Araki: Are you sure you’re not reading too much into it?
Taku: No, no, I just think it’s good. It makes me want to be nice to people (laughs).
Araki: But don’t you think that if you became a good person, you’d turn after into a scary person immediately after?
Taku: I do and it feels a bit like a horror story. Having someone like the guy from Ii Hito walk around the town would feel like a horror.
Araki: It makes you feel like he’s going to do something sooner or later.
Taku: I saw Kusanagi from SMAP in some TV drama, he was so well cast. Definitely scarier than KimuTaku.
Araki: He’s definitely the type to get mad. He even went to a school.
Taku: Kusanagi should play Kira in a live action Jojo.Araki: Oh yeah! (everyone laughs)
[Translated by Dijeh]