NEWTRAL (April 2009)

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Published April 1, 2009

An interview with Hirohiko Araki published on the free NEWTRAL Vol. 1 newspaper and online on their website.


Interviewer: I'm so nervous today....

Araki: Oh, don't worry. I not here to make anyone nervous today, my goal is to be healing others: Really, please don't be nervous.

I: Thank You!

A: Oh no, Thank you.

Part 1: Hirohiko Araki, Road to becoming a Manga artist

I: Well my first question is, what kind of 22 year old were you, and what was your life like after graduating from high school?

A: Um... Well, it was the 70's. The manga artists at that time were a generation after people like Tezuka-sensei, Akatsuka-sensei, and Fujiko-sensei. And it was a time when the genre of manga really diversified. Not only manga, but music too, like jazz crossing over to rock music. I spent my teen during a time when everything was fusing together, so I kind of caught the momentum of that, and then Yudetamago-sensei, who was the same age as me debuted when we were about 16 or 17. Then I realized that I can't be wasting time. Of course I studied too, but as a student, I also was really interested in art, like manga, music, film, and fine arts. I really aspired foreign countries as well.

I: How old were you when you became interested in such things?

A: Well, from around high school, or maybe even middle school... Then I dreamed of being a manga artist or have a job relating to that.

I: So, you actually read Yudetamago-sensei's works?

A: Read it, and, well, there were many manga artists, and I couldn't do anything about that, but I felt like I had to something myself.

I: Interesting, so that was your turning point in life?

A: Probably... It may overlap with some questions later but can I keep going on?

I: Yes! Please, go ahead.

A: Well, how should I put it... You know how you learn from your elders? Back then was a time when doing the same thing as your elder was really looked down at. You had to do something different. If there were several paths that your elder paved, it was like finding somewhere in between that no one else has gone before. Kind of like that.

I: So it was about doing something different?

A: Well, you had to kind of make sure not to mimic anyone, yeah. It wasn't necessarily about going your own way, but learning from your elders and not stepping in their footsteps. You were looked down if you ever stepped in it. People would say “you're just doing the same thing, just coping!” or something, and look at you with scornful eyes.

I: What did people actually say towards your works?

A: Like, “This looks looks that,” or “that story development is identical to so-and-so,”

I: At times like that, where did you get inspiration to paved your own way?

A: Um... so, I had influences from my favorite manga artists, but also came up with my own things, or added on to it. Draw an area that hasn't been explored by others... and like that, for example, I now think there's a theory, and following a “theory of hit” makes you feel like you have to do something that sells. I didn't think of that at all, so I guess I was pure in a sense, yeah.

I: Not a manga only for the sake of selling?

A: Its about drawing something that's never been drawn.

I: Interesting. This gets a little personal, but going to art school, I really understand what you mean. You take a class with a teacher and you get drawn towards your teachers style, but are punished if you fully adopt that style.

A: Yeah, its pretty much like that, but more intense with a strong 70's feel to it

Part 2: What it feels like after becoming a Manga artist

I: So, what was it like to actually become a manga artist?

A: Well, I was worried sick and couldn't sleep during earlier works, and even when starting JoJo. I wasn't sure if it was alright.

I: And did you have a strong support, someone backing you up?

A: Ahh, yeah. In my case, I based my works on works of art from the past that I felt sure, and things that were done by people I was sure about, so even if someone said something bad or negative, I always was able to feel sure. And the told me that I had to be bold if I wanted a serialized series. Failing a serialized series is losing to yourself, so I think it works out well for an optimistic person.

I: Do you think most manga artists are optimists?

A: I think people who can keep doing it are like that. More like someone confident than an optimist. Many of them have absolute confidence in themselves. Many seems like they go beyond narcissism. So, you don't want to cripple their pride, you have to nurture it. They're probably simpletons. Out in the real world, you have to be careful not to be scolded for that.

Part 3: Araki's Manga-ism

I: Manga has really infiltrated our society nowadays, what does “manga” mean to you?

A: Like I said earlier, its about the beauty of the art and training your “eyes for judging beauty.” Its kind of like a training. Um... I'm drawing and sometimes fall into meditation, and skip time. Kind of like that.

I: How do you feel about other manga and works?

A: Well, yeah, I like some of them, but I'd also like to recognize those I'm not sure whats fun or interesting about them. Maybe not recognizing them, but try to think while I read them. Not only in manga but also in films, the kind of story that I don't feel interesting is when the protagonist doesn't have a reason to progress. For example, there are some that are negative towards fighting, and I personally think that's a no-no. So, if there's going to be war, it should be like “Yeah! I love war!” That's an extreme example, but fighting in war while denying war I'd say is negative story-wise. If the is a “zero,” the denial makes it a “negative.” But fighting for one's own satisfaction, or fighting war to save one's mother, that kind of elements that makes the story “positive” is really interesting. The kinds of film fit in that. And because they fit in, I analyze from there. So, if you like “negative,” and gather a lot of “negative,” you start compiling those kinds of movies, but there are many perspectives, so there's not really a right or wrong direction. Its up to your own preference.

I: So the kind of things you're not interested are things that are negative.

A: Yeah. I can't get psyched watching or writing things like that.

Part 4: Relaxing, Araki style

I: You have been doing manga for a long time. I've heard in other interviews that you never miss an due date, and we see you as always being on schedule. Do you ever have trouble coming up with new ideas?

A: Its not really about the lack of ideas, but the scariest thing is the lack of the will to draw. Lack of idea is really losing the will to create. If you're willing to write, you will get ideas, so you shouldn't be afraid of the lack of ideas. Just keep putting things out there, and save nothing. Feeling like you don't care is the worst thing.

I: Have you ever felt like that?

A: Well, yeah, I start feeling like that when I get exhausted.

I: And how do you cope with that?

A: Um, in my case, I go discipline myself a little. Nothing serious, but go out on a walk to shrines, like that. I don't go out in waterfalls but that takes away my worries. It kind of weird, but going on a walk or a bicycle trip alone, discipline through a little exercise.

I: Not only use your mind, but also your body...

A: I exhaust myself, and there's many things. Like carrying a heavy load, and you start to realize what's really necessary. I start to think I don't need a cell phone because its heavy and I wanted to toss it, and I had no signal anyways... but I feel really healed by an iPod for some reason.

I: Why is that?

A: Somehow music is really good. So I really only need water, raincoat, and an iPod. I went to a place called Kumano Kodo once. It said Kumano (Kuma = bear in Japanese) so I figured there will be bears in this place, so someone told me to take my cell phone. I took it, but didn't get any service... Then my feet starts to hurt, and I really started getting sick of all my luggage. I brought some bread with me but I ate it. And I started to realize that those things are not necessary. You don't need it to survive.

I: What do you feel like when you're out training at places like that.

A: Empty, and then I come back from that and start working again.

Part 5: Other Dreams

I: Your art works has been featured in fashion, a science magazine cover, and now in the Louvre. What is the meaning of working on projects besides manga?

A: Um, its the drawing... if there's story and drawing, I guess I'm better at drawing . I don't know, I'm a manga artist, so I have to draw, or otherwise people won't think me as an manga artist. There are manga artists famous for their story, but I'm more on the drawing side, so I want to draw the ultimate picture, something really good.

I: Do you not have enough time at the moment to do that?

A: You know, like the Louvre and the science magazine, especially the science magazine, there's more to that one, but I tend to think all of them as one. Physics, literature, there all the same in a sense that they are searching for the truth. Its nothing alien. So, the person who asked me the science magazine project felt the same way too. He thought that I can illustrate his scientific theory.

I: Was there anything else you were asked to do?

A: Something weird? Is there any thing weird? Maybe the CD cover? The t-shirt designs? I guess the Cell project was the weirdest, but that doctor's medical theory and my philosophy of stands were the same, so he asked me to draw. That way of thinking makes me happy, happy because its kind of like DaVinci. That really is a theory that no one can understand, borderline crazy. No one who sees those sentences agrees to the theory. It might be wrong. And if you write something wrong, someone is going t object later. So that project was a little risky.

I: What do you wish to do next, do you have any requests?

A: Umm... yeah, I probably want to do a series of pictures.

I: You mean like a CD cover?

A: Um, something like the "The Dancing Girl of Izu"

I: Oh!

A: The "The Dancing Girl of Izu" was a little different too. They asked me to draw the cover of "The Dancing Girl of Izu," and I couldn't believe it. They just asked me to do a work based on a famous literature.

I: So, did you choose that?

A: Yeah, but only from the Shueisha Bunko series.

I: Why the "The Dancing Girl of Izu."

A: I kind of wanted to draw the emptiness of youth.

Part 6: Message to 22 year olds today

A: I think people's actions should be based on their “eyes to judge beauty.” How to judge what's beautiful. Are your own actions beautiful, or not. And by beautiful, I don't simply mean the appearance of something, but does something fit in, can you understand it. I think studying is for training your “eyes to judge beauty.” For example, whether its physics, sociology, or literature, its a way to find out how the pieces fit together nicely, and the study of medicine is the way to discover a theory to cure beautifully. And as you layer those theories together, you are able to judge things, and if you know how judge you will be able to make a decision. I want young people to train their “eyes” so they can judge things, theories, and themselves, and I don't want them to study only as a way to become rich or for a high academic record. I think having such evil or not is important. It may sound fancy, but being something like a hero for the good is really important.

[Translated by BlackHoleSun][1]




第一部 漫画家への歩み



高校生の時に、同じ年のゆでたまご先生が16歳か17歳かでデビューしたんですよ。で、「あ、こんなことしてらんない」って、そのときちょっと焦ったっていうか。 のんきなことをしてる場合じゃないんだ、って。「自分も切り拓いていかなくちゃいけないんだなぁ」という感じでしたね。




でも先輩を学ぶにしても、こう「ヒットするセオリー」みたいなのを追おうとすると、どうしても売れてるところをもってこなくちゃいけない感じがあるじゃないですか。 「こういうのが流行ってるから取り入れよう」とか、そういうのは全然考えてなかったですね、うん。だからなんか純粋だったかもしんないですね。




とにかく何でも見たり読んだりして、凄かったですよ! 『1年で映画を200本見る』とか決めて、語り口やストーリー構成、作家さんの事まで全部分析したりとか。200本つっても、DVDもない時代だから大変なんですよ! 全部、映画館で見るわけだから。

あと、当時仙台に住んでたんですけど、投稿だと意見が聞きにくいんですよ。ニュアンスっていうか。電話とか手紙になるから。FAXもなかったですからねぇ。 で、直接意見が聞きたくて、わざわざ電車で東京まで作品持って行きましたね。まだ新幹線通ってなかったから、片道4時間かかるんですよ(笑)




第二部 荒木先生の『第二思春期』


例えばその、初期の作品とか、『ジョジョ』を始める時も、大丈夫なのかな~っていう… 不安で眠れないときもありましたよ。




そうですね。あとなんだろうな、「図太くないと、連載はやばい」って言われたんですよ。連載が失敗するっていうのは、不安に…自分に負けることなんですよね。 連載が続いてる人には、楽観的というか、自信家な人が多いですね。自分に絶対的な自信を持ってる、自惚れ…を超えてるような雰囲気の人が多いですねぇ。でも、そういうのって必要なんですよ。だから、その人たちの天狗をへし折ったらだめなんです。伸ばしてあげないと(笑)そこを叩かれないように立ち回んなきゃいけないんだろうね、社会に出るとね。

第三部 荒木飛呂彦の「漫画論」


例えば「これ、どこがおもしろいんだろう」と思う漫画も、それなりに認めたいですね。認めるっていうか、「こうなんだろうなー」って考えながら読むっていうか。 「こういうことを描こうとして、こうなったのか」って推理する感じ。ワケわかんないから排除、はしたくないっていうか。そういう感じはあります。


そういう話を、ストーリー的に「マイナス」って僕は言ってるんですけど、作品のスタートがゼロだとしたら、「嫌だ」っていう動機でマイナスになるんですよ。 そういうのは見てても、描いてても燃えないんですよね。いろんな見方があるから、どっちがいいとかっていうのはないんですよ。自分の好みっていうか。ただ僕は前向きなプラスの要素がほしいんですよね。



そうですね、最初に意志表示をしないと作品に迷いが生まれてしまうので。人間賛歌っていうのは、簡単に言えば「前向きに生きよう」というか、 人間を否定する動きをあまり描かないという意味なんです。第四部 息抜き方法---荒木先生は、現在まで長い期間連載されていますが、アイデアに困ったりする事はありますか?











そういう感じになったときに、「これは要らないなぁ」とか悟るんですよ。生きるためには要らない物が結構ありますね。だけど、iPodは何かすごく癒されるんですよ! なんかね、音楽は良いんですよー。なので、その時必要だったのは、水と雨具とiPodですかね(笑)

第五部 漫画以外での活動




なんだろうな、やっぱり漫画家だから絵を描かないと、というのが僕にはあるんですよ。ストーリーと絵があったら、僕は絵の比重の方が上なのかな、っていうか。 以前「文学作品の名作のカバー絵を描いてください」って依頼されて、『伊豆の踊子』(集英社文庫)を描いたんです。自分で選んで。なんかね、『伊豆の踊子』の持つ、青春の儚さを描きたかったんですよ。うーん、だから絵だけのシリーズとか、描きたいですねぇ。究極はね、やっぱり一枚の本当に良い絵が描きたいです。

第六部 社会に出る人達へメッセージ

僕は「審美眼」で人は行動すべきだと思っているんですね。「美しさをどう判断するか?」っていうか。自分が行っている行動は美しいのか、そうでないのか。 「美しい」っていうのは、単に外見とかの問題じゃなくて、しっくり馴染んでいるかどうか、納得できるものかどうかということなんだと思うんですよ。 勉強って、その「審美眼」を培うためのものだと思うんです。

例えば、物理でも社会学でも文学でも、しっくりくる方法を探すためのものだし、医学とかも「美しく治せるかどうか?」というのを探し求めている理論だと思うんです。 それで、その理論が積み重なると判断できるようになるし、判断できれば、決断もできると思うんですよね。




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