Interview:Mainichi.jp (May 2022)

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Incomplete translation
Manga
Published May 23, 2022

An interview with Hirohiko Araki from Mainichi shinbun, a major newspapers publisher in Japan. The article was released in two parts, the first on May 23, 2022, and the second May 24, 2022.

Interview

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a popular manga series that has sold more than 120 million volumes, is celebrating its 35 anniversary. From Part 1 to Part 8, JoJo is loved by fans of all ages. The author of the series, Hirohiko Araki (61), gave us a special interview discussing his favorite moments, such as the creation of JoJo, the origin behind Stands, and the hidden themes present in his work. This introduction to The World of Araki will be released in two parts.

A studio located in an apartment building in Tokyo, a bookshelf full of reference materials, a large well-worn desk, and a sound system hidden away in the corner: This is where JoJo is created. "It's very outdated. This place hasn't changed much the entire time I've been here, and I haven't made any attempts at refurbishing it. I've been using this same drawing board for about 30 years now", Araki says with a smile. On weekdays Araki usually works on JoJo from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

The first part of JoJo ended in late 1986 with an intense battle between the protagonist, Jonathan Joestar, and his most powerful rival, DIO. The story afterward depicts the bizarre fates of their descendants. "The idea wasn't well-received by the editorial department, as it was hard to market to their young male demographic." The setting and main protagonist were also foreign, which was frowned upon. "It just didn't feel right to have a Japanese person in a story featuring vampires. I also wanted the main character to have both initials start with "J" so that it was easier to remember, like Steven Spielberg (S.S.)," Araki continues while laughing wryly.

The JoJo as we know it now is currently split into eight parts, however, you originally only intended it to be three. This is very similar to the novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which was later adapted into a movie starring James Dean. It tells of a family conflict based on the feud between Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. Araki responds, "I was very drawn to the concept of passing the baton from one generation to the next. Since 'inheritance' is the theme of the series, the protagonist no longer had to stay the same. This allowed me to write scenarios where the main character is killed, which wasn't possible in Shonen manga."

Today, the title "JoJo" has become synonymous with Stands, a supernatural power that takes the form of a guardian spirit. Before, the protagonists used the "Ripple" to attack, but after Part 3, Stands suddenly started popping up. Araki replies, "it all started when the editor in charge at the time jokingly told me, 'Can you stop it with the Ripple? Think of something else.' He also told me to draw something that was easy for readers to understand. So I came up with the concept of Stands that mimic supernatural powers. I always wondered why the guardian spirits in other manga don't throw punches."

The Ripple, which was once formless, had finally been given a humanoid form. For Araki-sensei, Stands were clearly meant as an extension of the Ripple, hence the name Ghost Ripple. However, this decision stirred up a lot of problems for the series. According to Araki, "the readers at the time didn't get it all. Even the editors and people working on the manga were confused about the change." It wasn't until about a year later that the readers finally started catching on with Stands. Once he won the reader's trust, Araki was able to get a lot more inventive with his fights. The battles against their archrival, DIO, were no longer limited to just punching and kicking. With this, Araki could create a variety of recognizable battles, such as a dangerous game of playing cards, a struggle against magnetism, and a clash in someone's dreams...

"A strong opponent almost always needs to look cool. But with Stands, even an ugly opponent can be strong. Because Stands are tied to the user's wit, it's possible to create weak characters who are still strong. The possibilities are endless."

[Translated by Morganstedmanms (JoJo's Bizarre Encyclopedia)]

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