Araki: That's right. I was very honored for him to receive the title.
Was it your intention to make Rohan Kishibe a "detective"?
Araki: Rohan...a detective? I guess so (laughs). When I draw short stories that play out like mysteries, it becomes like Detective Rohan Kishibe, who is both an investigator and a storyteller. That's the kind of character that developed while I was drawing.
Araki: I'm always thinking about what kind of ending I should create. It's not always possible to come up with a solution from the beginning. But Yoma Hashimoto is still out there somewhere. I wouldn't mind bringing him back for a revenge battle.
Has there been any change in the way you portray Rohan Kishibe now compared to 25 years ago?
Araki: I'm a bit more conscious of Rohan's manners now, having gained a certain respect for the way things were done in the past. For example, had it been his Part 4 self who was dealing with the sacred tree in "Hot Summer Martha" (From JOJO Magazine 2022 SPRING), Rohan would have likely gone a little too far and suffered divine retribution (laughs), but now he fights while maintaining some level of etiquette. I think such a philosophy is important. Rohan has become much kinder nowadays and will actually help people. Even if he dislikes his editor, Kyoka Izumi, he'll still help her should she need it.
Murderers often appear in your work. Even in the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan series you depicted “a person who committed a murder” with “Mutsu-kabe Hill,” and the villain of the fourth part of JoJo is a serial killer called Kira Yoshikage terrorizing the town.
Araki: In the Sendai I grew up in during the 70s to 80s, before the economic bubble, mountains were demolished and many residential areas were built. That being the case, the people who moved in there became mysterious unknown people. Then comes along books such as The Silence of the Lambs (written by Thomas Harris) depicting Hannibal Lecter, and the Encyclopaedia of Murder (written by Colin Wilson) which stirred my imagination for mystery, leading me to think, “It is true that you can never know what your neighbor is doing.” And so the culmination of this is Morioh Town, the setting of the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan series and JoJo Part 4, where I depicted a site where there’s something eerie about the place despite its beautiful cityscape.
The Morioh Town depicted in the fourth part was chosen as the setting for the eighth part, JoJolion, appearing again in different form. Has your depiction of “murderers” changed since then to now?
Araki: There was also the combined factor that I was writing for a shonen magazine, but back in Part 4 the places where murderers inhabited seemed like a different world, or that they were a fantasy which you had a bit of a longing for. But nowadays, there's more realism regarding murderers. As to exactly what's different, back then I didn't depict any “weaknesses” of being a murderer for Kira Yoshikage. I just wrote him as a bad guy of the protagonists. If I were to write him now, I would like to write Kira Yoshikage going, “Ahh, so a murderer I am,” where he feels something like his sadness.
I feel like I would have wanted to see that vulnerability of Yoshikage Kira.
Araki: Yet, the more you write those emotions, the weaker the enemy becomes. If I did that, then compared to the villain of Part 3, DIO, the audience would go, “What's up with this guy?” (laughs). This might also do with the fact it was a shonen manga. Now that the times and medium are changing, I've been able to write this lately. That's why the enemies I wrote in Part 8, JoJolion, are both an evil which seems to be residing right beside you, while also carrying their own dilemmas—my writing started to lean toward that.
Your way of writing villains has changed, adjusting to the times. The villain Funny Valentine of the seventh part, Steel Ball Run, is also not just simply a villain but advocates for a “justice” which could have easily placed him in the position of the protagonist, if you looked at the matter from a different angle.
Araki: Everyone has a positive outlook despite being villains in JoJo. Since they don't regard what they're doing as something they dislike, they don't waffle when they clash with the protagonists. The enemies have their own ideologies too.
What do you do when you can’t come up with a solution?
Araki: I guess I often cheer on my protagonist and tell them to give it their all, or I ask God to help them out. But that might be a good thing since it helps show the reader how serious the stakes are. That’s why I sometimes like to write without an ending in mind.
As a result, it becomes an interesting mystery that even the readers don’t know how to solve.
Araki: It’s okay to have a mystery that may not be solved, right? Or is that bad? (laughs)
I don’t do that only for mysteries, but even for my drawings. I sometimes start drawing without knowing what I’ll end up with. I often find myself thinking, “I wonder how I should draw this part,” or “Oh, I screwed up this color.” In such cases, I say, “God, I’m sorry, please help me.”
I am curious how you usually find ideas for mysteries.
Araki: There are mysteries in my everyday life. For example, I have a friend, a lady who keeps an eye on what I’m doing all the time.
…What do you mean?
Araki: I have a friend who doesn’t directly monitor me, but she guesses my whereabouts based on information she gets from others around me and would say “That’s where you’re going.” But her motive is a mystery to me. I always wonder what that person is trying to do (laughs). Even though I have no idea, I like it that way. Every day for me is a mystery. That’s life, isn’t it?
Is there anything you would like to draw in the future with Rohan Kishibe?
Araki: There are currently two volumes in the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan series, so I don’t want to do anything too similar to what I’ve done so far. How about a change of scenery? I’d like to draw a story where Rohan travels to a place he’s never been before, like the Americas. I can’t wait to see where he goes next. I’d also like to draw a game-like fight against the people who live there, similar to in “Rock-Paper-Scissors Kid.”
Last year, you completed the eighth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, JoJolion. What more can you tell us about the future of the series?
Araki: I’m currently planning out Part 9. Of course, it’s going to be a story about the “Joestar bloodline”. “Joseph Joestar” appeared at the end of Part 8, which was foreshadowing that this story will be about his descendants.
Finally, do you have a message for the readers?
Araki: I think human life is a mystery. Mysteries are the royal road of stories and even life itself. I’ll continue to draw “mysteries” from here on out, and look forward to your continued support.