Interview and Graph: Hirohiko Araki
I want to, throughout my own work, express the wonders of life, and its sanctity. Both up until now, and continuing on from here.
I've liked manga ever since I was a kid. But I wasn't really an enthusiast. It was Osamu Tezuka-sensei's era of prosperity, so naturally I read Tezuka-sensei's works, but, if anything, I really liked dramatic comics. This was the beginning of the era of dramatic comics, after all. Particularly Ikki Kajiwara-sensei's works. I also often read Sanpei Shirato-sensei's works.
In terms of when I was attending school, I also often listened to rock. My number one favorite is Led Zeppelin, but I really was listening to all sorts of bands. I didn't have much money as a kid, so I would lend and borrow albums with my friends and peers, and keep tape recordings. The names of the Stands that appear in my manga are taken from the names of groups and album names I liked in the olden days. For example, there's one named after The Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers. The CD jacket is a pair of jeans, so in the middle, there's a zipper attached. CD jackets had become quite the hot thing back in the day, but just seeing that jacket, it was just so interesting being able to open and close the zipper, or at least I thought it was. The Stand born from that concept is called Sticky Fingers.
The '70s, thinking about it now, were a great time. That very era had a certain impact, and the idiosyncrasies of hard-working artists also shone brightly, I think. In manga terms, it's the vibe of "a character rising up". This isn't restricted to the music scene, the same feeling exists in things like film, doesn't it?
I started tackling seriously becoming a manga artist in high school. The manuscript I first approached a publisher with was a cowboy story. I think it stood out because there weren't any cowboys in manga (laughs). But, as expected, I received a lot of precautions from the editors. They'd start out by saying basic things like "You absolutely must not allow any lines to go over the edge", but they'd also utterly tear into the actual contents of the material. It seems that's where most people completely jump ship, but I was like "Let's try harder next time." So, when I next brought in a work, I made sure I came in holding something as perfect as I thought possible. I also gave replies in regards to any and all questions and critiques. And so, obviously, there was a lot I had to say, but this was all me trying to address those received precautions, which they recognized, and surely thought "Oh, this kid seems really serious, doesn't he?".
The time up until my debut was really short, so I had no experience as an assistant. So if I were to then be an assistant, I wouldn't have any idea how to do things that anyone could quickly understand. For example, if, say, you paint a star on a black background, I would do something like slather the paint and cover up shape of the star, wouldn't I (laughs)? I heard that from other manga artists and thought "What? Is that so?".
When the first tankobon volume of "JoJo..." came out, a senior in Weekly Shonen Jump, Osamu Akimoto-sensei, already had 51 volumes of "KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops" out. That's so amazing, isn't it? I thought so, until "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" also came to number 55 volumes. I don't think I can challenge Guiness like Akimoto-sensei very much does, but I still feel strongly about it.
The Stands that appear in "JoJo..." take after guardian spirits. Surely something called a guardian spirit protects humanity, right? It's that, but a little more upfront. It was born from the concept that, if there's a person who comes and attacks the person they're protecting, it could simply bring its fists out and attack back.... In drawing so many varied Stands, it's completely possible to write a Stand that is entirely too strong and perfect. Like, "Oh, this one can't be defeated, it's hopeless" (laughs). But, ultimately, something will somehow defeat it, and I'd theoretically have to put narration in the panels that explains it. It's a bit overbearing, but it's understandable, you know? Books that scientifically investigate something impossible exist, and I really like those.
Currently, I'm serializing 1 work. I draw manga 4 days out of the week, and spend 1 day on the storyboard. I'm not really able to stay up all night. Work requires about 5 days. As a manga artist, I sit in my house and work, so I don't really see much joy, and the truth is, it's hard work. When I'm drawing something like a battle scene, I exert incredible strength into my shoulder. I wonder if, when I'm not young, work will be impossible. Maybe I should try drawing other genres? Like seinen, for example. There's a voice saying things like that, but as far as I'm concerned, "JoJo..." is a work I draw with complete devotion. Now, if I were to draw other manga, they would all completely turn into "JoJo...", I'm sure of it.
On my off-days, I watch movies and listen to music, and apply my own studying as much as possible. This is an era where, if they don't progress every day, people will get totally tired of a work in 2-3 years, regardless of popularity.
Movies are a hobby, but at the same time, they're also precious research material. I like mysteries and the like, but there's a certain proceedure to make mystery movies. Well-established works, they're all made up of precise calculations. The position of the camera's view, the camerawork, the scene composition, etc., they become, more than anything else, the best references for when I'm drawing my work. In "JoJo...", I draw close-up scenes. To show a scene where, say, something comes out of the tip of one's finger, I would draw a close-up of the fingertip, and that's a technique in mystery movies. Referencing the camerawork in movies is good for deciding compositions.
But lately, I've been getting the impression that movies, as well as other works, have been getting smaller-scale. I wanna see a work that surprises me.
These days, I'm crazy about Italy. Renaissance art stimulates my senses. And the food is also delicious. Currently, "JoJo..." is also progressing dramatically in Italy. I want to draw a work with themes about the beauty of life through violent battles. And that won't ever change.
Day by day, I want to evolve. I want to keep changing.
A hymn for life.
A Prince protected by Saints
I like countries with history. So Europe is more charming to me than America.
When I draw battle scenes, there must be extreme power. I hold my pen in my hand and send a burst of strength through.
The current me draws "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" with complete devotion. So if I ever draw other works, they would all completely turn into "JoJo...", wouldn't they? My favorite Stand is Crazy Diamond. It's because being able to fix broken objects would be useful.
I draw manga 10 hours a day. The characters and text are drawn by my hand.
I want to draw more for Shonen Jump from here on out. Because Jump is my birthplace....
[Translated by Irene (JoJo's Bizarre Encyclopedia)]