Tohoku University (November 2007)

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Published August 7, 2007
Tohoku University (November 2007)
Interview Archive

Tohoku University logo

The following interview is a transcription of two lectures given by Hirohiko Araki at the Tohoku University and the Aoyama Gakuin University, on respectively November 2nd and November 3rd, 2007.


Lecture Introduction (Starting with a joke on why he accepted the offer because he has a hard time with lectures.)

Tohoku University Version: "As someone from Morioh-cho, there was no way I could turn down an offer from the hometown university." (A wave of excitement in the audience.)

Aoyama Gakuin University Version: "My daughter is going to take the entrance exam for this school next year and if she manages to get in, I don't want people to tell her, "So... your father refused to come last year, didn't he..." So, I had to accept the offer. (The audience laughs).

●Childhood memories
"As a little boy, I liked to chase mysteries. Like the mysteries of UFOs and ghosts, I always wondered why Picasso painted such strange paintings. My curiosity got the better of me and at the age of 5, I slipped head first into a lake while looking at the fishes. My parents say I've already died one time. When my mother found me, I was drowning at the bottom of the lake. She grabbed my legs and swung me upside down to revive me."
"During the Winter in Sendai, you could see animal tracks in the snow when the morning came. As a child, I used to enjoy following these tracks. One day, while following the tracks, I fell into a 'manure pit' that was underneath the snow. I managed to turn around and grab the edge the moment I fell, which saved my life, but one more step and I would've been a goner. When I went back home, my parents wouldn't let me in because of the smell. Despite it being the middle of Winter, they sprayed me down with a hose. I felt closer to death from that than the manure pit (laughs). After that terrible experience, I developed a more cautious personality. I started letting other people try new foods first, see how they react, and then eat it myself. When Plasma TVs came out, I saw as other mangaka rushed to get one and thought to myself, 'In 2 to 3 years, it'll probably be cheaper and have more features.' Several years have passed and I still watch on a CRT to this day (laughs)."

●How to write a worthwhile manga
"This lecture's name is a little much, but it's called 'How to write a worthwhile manga'. Essentially, how do you get your manga printed? If you can't get this step done, you'll never make it big. When I look at the state of the world recently, I see lots of politicians who want fame and power so badly that they suck up to people and take them out for dinner, and make loads of money from it. Or they focus only on sales numbers and destroy the environment. They ignore their employees and act recklessly. The manga world is very similar in that people only want manga that will sell well, which can lead to lots of pitfalls that not only the publisher, but also the author can fall into. The author might want people to read their manga so desperately that they make some crucial mistakes in the name of selling copies. For that reason, one needs a 'map' of sorts. If you plan on climbing an uncharted mountain, you at least need a map to find the base of the mountain. If you don't even have that, how are you even supposed to find said uncharted mountain? If you at least have the 'base map', even if you run into some difficulties climbing, you can always return to the safety of the base of the mountain. You can always go back there if you find yourself in a slump. That's why we absolutely need a 'golden map'!"

"'A man needs a map to cross these wilds. A map inside his heart.' (Steel Ball Run Volume 4)

● Art
"The first thing the reader meets with is your art. There are lots of art styles that different people choose to pursue, like classical art, maybe something cool, maybe a fantasy style, or something realistic. However, the most important thing is for someone to be able to see your art from 15 meters away, and go, "I know that character!". That's what I think the true mark of good art is. When I was new to writing manga, that's how I felt when I saw manga like 'Ring Ni Kakero', 'Captain Tsubasa', and 'Fist of the North Star'. Even recently there are manga like 'One Piece' that I can recognize even from far away. Even when you see a particular Picasso painting for the first time, you can immediately tell, 'Hey, this is Picasso". You can tell it's mickey mouse even with just the shadow of three circles. It's not just classical artists like Michelangelo, but even newer artists like Barnett Newman, you can tell it's him even if it's just some orange on a canvas. Ultraman, Spiderman, Michael Jackson, you can recognize all of them with just one look. Even on a tiny screen, Michael Jackson is unmistakable. In that sense, I feel that the goal of art is to draw something that people can recognize easily. Of course, being a great artist is a very nice asset, but it's not really all that important."

"The next thing that jumps out at the reader after art is the characters. A hero is a person that fights alone. Even if they have allies, in the end, heroes that fight alone move me the most. A hero isn't someone who says, 'I'll leave it to you' (laughs). Even if they're a weirdo that's been cast out from society, they keep on fighting from the shadows. That's the basis of a real hero. Characters are split into 'good' and 'evil'. In terms of evil, whether it's DIO or Kira, it's always a lot of fun to write them. It feels like my stress just flies away (laughs).

Even the evil characters have their own philosophies though. Kira just wants to live a quiet life, for example. I think that's something that readers can really relate to. It's really fun to think about the details of the bad guys' characters. For example, how Kira collects his nails to check his health, or how DIO is really into girls, but he doesn't mind guys either. It's fun to think of stuff like that (laughs). On the other hand, it's difficult to write the good guys on the Joestar end of things. Depending on how you write things like a sense of justice or courage, readers might start to think, 'What a little goody-two-shoes', and end up hating the character. Still, though, heroes and villains support each other (in the narrative), so you need to endure the difficulty and write them. Like how white paper needs black ink, you need both black and white for characters, as they fall apart without one another.

To me, a manga without any good guys just feels sort of empty. There are people with beautiful hearts in the real world, so writing something like that in your manga should be your goal. If you don't have a main character that embodies things like hope, good, and justice, and all you write is evil, your manga might get popular for a little bit, but if you truly wish to make something that stands the test of time, you need that universal piece of humanity called 'good'. A terrible setting would be something like a duo of Mr. Stupid and Mr. Dumb, who do things like leaving their weapons and phones and home. You shouldn't write stories like that. They should obviously have those on them, plus, if they start doing things like running up to the second floor when they should just run out of the building, readers will get sick of them. It's fine for them to have weaknesses like being afraid of bugs, but no matter what, heroes should be fighting alone for the sake of the world."

"Story is the thing that combines your art and characters and makes use of them. There are four major points (introduction, development, turn, and conclusion). Some manga authors will say that 'as long as you have some characters, the story will work itself out'. That being said, even with good characters, a manga without a story will never be one of the greats. Characters need a solid story in order to shine.
(1) The main character is suddenly thrust into a bad situation. (2) The character tries to overcome that hardship. (3) They do their best, but the situation somehow gets worse. (4) Finally, a happy ending.

This structure isn't just limited to battle manga, but it even applies to things like romance manga. For example, the love interest of the main character has a boyfriend -> it turns out she's dating the main character's brother. Like that, things get worse, until there is finally a happy ending. That kind of structure is tried and true. Manga that don't even try this map will not be received well. However, once you know this formula inside and out, it's ok to deliberately break the rules a little bit to create new art.

There are sometimes happy endings where the main character loses. For example, they lose, but save their friend, or they die in order to leave something for their descendants, or they die for a beautiful soul. These kinds of endings are sad, but I still view them as happy endings.

Also, my goal is to pull in readers with step one of that structure. If the reader gets bored before finishing that, obviously they'll never even see step two (laughs).

This was my thought process for the one-shot Rohan spinoff I wrote for Jump SQ : I get nosebleeds a lot. In the spring, I blow my nose because of pollen, and blood comes out. In the summer, my nose bleeds because of the heat. In the fall, my nose bleeds from the dryness, and in the winter I eat too much chocolate and my nose starts bleeding. What if the blood just kept on pouring out? I thought that would be terrifying, so I made a note of it and turned it into the one-shot manga."

"Bringing everything we've talked about all together is what we call theme - the philosophy of the author. First, you tie the characters and story together.

The art exists to connect those two together, and wrapping all of that up is the author's philosophy. Theme - your perspective on life. For JoJo, that theme is the greatness and beauty of humanity. The one thing you should absolutely not do, though, is lecture your readers. If you start lecturing them, they'll think "why should I listen to what *you* have to say?", and stop reading. Your theme should be in the background. You can express your theme through small things, like characters' actions, characters' final lines, that sort of thing. When new manga authors have their work looked at, lots of them only focus on their theme, that's no good, alright? It's not smart to write main characters that go on and on about "this is what I'll do!" while fighting. I think that hiding your theme in the background is the basis of creative writing."

●Q&A Section (Araki and two others answer students' questions.)
A - Araki
Q - Student asking question
O and K - The two other people being interviewed

(Q) Congratulations on 20 years of serialization for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure!
(A) Thank you very much.
(Q) How does it feel to hit 20 years?
(A) I'm really grateful that all the young actors and musicians are celebrating. If I had gone twenty years without anyone saying anything, I might have gotten a little lonely.
(Q) Is there anything that sticks out in your memory after all these years?
(A) There are quite a few things, but when I first started making stands, the people around me often said "the readers don't understand this", and I wasn't getting popular at all. At that time, there was only one editor who stuck by my side, and gave me the courage to keep going.
(Q) In Steel Ball Run, Gyro doesn't use a stand, but rather a steel ball.
(A) It's like his version of hamon. He's a Zeppeli after all (laughs).
(Q) What were some big changes that happened when you switched from weekly to monthly publication?
(A) I had to write 80 pages weekly, which was getting really hard on my body as I entered my 40s. Plus, there is a lot more wiggle room in terms of how many pages a chapter is for monthly publications, which makes it a lot easier to draw what I want to.
(Q) Do you ever feel stuck when writing?
(A) Sometimes my lower back hurts so much that I feel stuck (laughs). I always try to pay attention to the mysteries I see in my daily life. I find that that keeps the ideas flowing very well. The artist Paul Gauguin went to Tahiti in search of mysteries, mysteries are the root of ideas.
(Q) When you're thinking of stands, do you figure out the abilities based on the artists' names? Or do you name the stands after you gave them their abilities?
(A) I find something that fits my idea, and try to use it in a way that doesn't get me into too much trouble (audience laughs)
(Q) What's your favorite stand?
(A) Shigechi's Harvest. Back then, I collected stuff like CD coupons, and when I dropped them under my bed or something, I thought "man, Harvest sure would come in handy here" (laughs).
(K) Why did the part four characters like Hazama and Tamami suddenly go from tall to short?
(O) Didn't they end up at like 60cm? And Koichi must've been around 55.
(A) For design reasons dude (laughs). It was a weekly publication so I couldn't really go back on it. I could have kept it consistent if it was a monthly publication.
(In a later conversation about this, Araki says that "It reflected Koichi's state of mind. at first, Tamami looked scary, so he seemed bigger to Koichi".)
(Q) Were the landmarks in Morioh based on something? For example, Angelo.
(A) That's right. Angelo was based on some rock in Matsushima.
(Q) You've had stories set in Italy and America, where do you want to have the next story take place?
(A) I want to go back to Morioh after all. When I finished writing that Rohan one-shot, it felt like I was home. I want to keep writing about it.
(Q) What are some strange experiences you've had?
(A) This was quite recently, but I was taking a shower at a sports gym, there was a middle-aged guy with a tail. I was shocked and reported it to the staff, but they just looked at me like "is this guy crazy?".
(K) Just like Dio's dinosaur transformation (laughs).
(A) Also, a cat in my neighborhood got hit by a car, and then suddenly shot up and (mimicking running sound) 'ta-ta-ta-ta' - ran away. "Wow, this guy must be invincible", I thought. I was seriously impressed, so I told the author Sako Toshio about the incredible cat. He told me, "the cat just didn't realize that it had been killed yet". But surely enough, the cat was still there the next day, so it must have been immortal after all (laughs).
(K) Notorious BIG...
(Q) Let me guess, next the cat fused with some grass?
(A) Hey, I really did see it, just so you know! (audience laughs)
(Q) What do you consider to be the backbone of JoJo?
(A) Definitely bloodlines.
(K) Avdol's bloodline's sure got it rough.
(A) Avdol, huh... (audience laughs)
(Q) The three of you seem really close, how did you come to know each other? Is it because of JoJo poses after all?
(The three of them spent some time doing JoJo poses during the event)
(A) Around two years ago, I heard rumors of something really cool, and saw it on my computer. Somebody was doing some kind of earth art in front of Osaka castle, it almost looked like they were trying to start a new religion or something (audience laughs). It was a kind of art I had never seen before, it felt like it was from a different world. After that, I started having him come to parties and stuff.
(Q) What character are you most attached to?
(A) Josuke Higashikata. The characters up to Jotaro felt like legends, but Josuke felt like I was writing a friend. I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Josuke and Okuyasu were chatting.
(Q) Is there anywhere you really want to go when you visit Sendai? (Araki's hometown)
(A) I'll definitely have to get some cow tongue. Our town wasn't really known for its cow tongue while I was growing up, but someone must've made it really famous since then (laughs).
(Q) What do you think of young manga authors being influenced by JoJo?
(A) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I would love people to keep imitating me and developing the world of manga.
(Q) Is there anyone you see as your successor?
(A) I'd have to go with Dai Amon (audience laughs)
(Q) Are you really ok with his material?
(A) He comes over to apologize pretty often (audience laughs)
(O) I've got every volume he's released (laughs)
(Q) On the opposite side, is there anyone who has influenced you?
(A) I'm influenced by all of the older manga authors, but especially Yokoyama Mitsuteru's "Babel II", where he expresses things in a way that supersedes emotion. He writes pure suspense, without dwelling on feelings. Also, Ikki Kajiwara's "Star of the Giants" really showed me how to write a good line. The confidence that characters have with their lines is definitely because of Ikki Kajiwara.
(Q) I was really surprised seeing the line "press-fest", where did that come from?
(This is referring to the scene where Scarlet Valentine asks Lucy Steele to sit on her face and give her a "press-fest".)
(A) My wife will sometimes charge at me and say "It's press-fest time! It's press-fest time!" (audience laughs)
(K) Gyro's "mozzarella cheese song" was pretty good too (laughs).
(A) Serious stories need some differences in pacing and tone, so I like to put the readers at ease before thrusting them into terror (laughs).
(Q) I also liked the 4 2 0 joke as well
(Referring to the part where Gyro makes 4, 2, then 0 with his hands, which can be interpreted as "excuse me" in Japanese.)
(A) That kind of conversation is important. Josuke and Okuyasu also had a similar dynamic. That kind of casual conversation is very important in order to actually convey how close the two characters are. You can really tell that they would never betray each other.
(Q) Do you have any plans to mix it up by writing something like a love story?
(A) I could definitely put some romance into JoJo, but the scene where they meet would have to be special, like one of their fingernails comes off or something (laughs).
(Q) Is there anything else you'd like to say to these young students?
(A) College students eventually graduate and go out into the world. If they have that basic map and stray from it, they can always come back to safety. However, if they stray without having the map, they might become lost and reckless. Today, I wanted to teach you that through the lens of manga.

Lecture 冒頭あいさつ(講演が苦手なのに引き受けた理由をジョークで)

「僕は謎を追うのが好きな少年だったんです。UFOやお化けの謎と同じように、ピカソはなんであんな変な絵を描くんだろうって疑問に思っていました。好奇心が昂じ、 5歳の時に池で魚を見ているうちに滑って頭から落ち、親が言うには僕は一度死んでいるそうです。母親が見つけた時は池の底に沈んでて、足を掴んで逆さまにふって生き返らせたんです。







(1)主人公がいきなり困難な状況に突き落とされる (2)その困難を主人公は乗り越えようと努力する (3)乗り越えようとするが、悪化してさらに絶体絶命になる (4)最後はハッピーエンド

あと、 1頁目で読者を引きつけるのが僕の目標なんです。1頁目を読まれなかったら当然2頁にいきませんから(笑)。



by @JOJO(Thanks!) まずキャラ(主人公)とストーリーが結びつき、

それをひっくるめて表現する為に絵があり、 すべてを包んでいるのが作家の哲学・人生観 であるテーマ。ジョジョで言う“人間讃歌”!

Q&A Section (学生)ジョジョの奇妙な冒険、連載20周年おめでとうございます。



(先生)若い芸人さんやミュージシャンの方が盛り上げて下さるんで有難いなぁと。20年やってきたのに何も言われないのは寂しい じゃないですか。


(先生)色々ありますが、スタンドを初めて描いた時、周囲の皆から「読んだ人は分からないよ」と言われて、人気も全然出なくて、 その時に一人の編集者だけが味方をしてくれて、それで勇気づけられて描いたことですね。




(先生)週刊だと月に80枚描かねばならず40歳を超えるとすごく体力的に辛いんですよ。それに月刊はページ数の制約が週刊より 自由なので描きたいことが表現しやすいです。


(先生)腰が痛くて行き詰まることがあります(笑)。生活の中で常に謎を意識していればアイデアは湧きますね。画家(ゴーギャン)が タヒチまで行って絵を描くのも謎だし、いろんな謎からアイデアは出てきます。





(K)4部といえばどうして間田や玉美は最初身長が高かったのに小さくなったのですか。 (鬼)あれ、最後は60cmくらいじゃないですか?康一君は55cmくらいで。

(先生)デザイン上の理由っす(笑)。週刊だから直せないんですよ。月刊なら直せるんですが。 ※これについては後の会話で「あれは康一君の心理が反映されていて、最初は玉美が怖くて大きく見えたんです」とも。






(先生)つい最近なんだけど、スポーツジムでシャワーを浴びてたら、あるオジサンに尻尾が生えてたんですよ。ビックリしてその事を ジムの人に報告したら“この人頭おかしいんじゃないか”という目で見られました(笑)。


(先生)あと、家の近所で猫が車にひかれたんですが、その猫はパッと立ってタタタタって走っていったんですよ。“アイツ、不死身だなぁ”って 感心したので、漫画家の迫先生に“スゴイ猫がいるんですよ!”って話をしたら「先生それね、死んでるのに気付かないんですよ」って。 でも次の日もいましたからね、そいつ。絶対あの猫は不死身なんですよ(笑)









(先生)一昨年くらいに、噂でスゴイのがあるって聞いてパソコンで見せてもらって、大阪城の前でやってるのが、なんかこう、地球(アース)アート みたいな感じで、それに新興宗教みたいな感じもして(場内爆笑)、今までにない異世界というか、新しい芸術として僕は感じていて、 パーティーの時とかにこうやって来てもらってるんですよ。


(先生)東方仗助です。承太郎までは神話的な憧れの人物だったけど、仗助は友達を描いている気がして、億泰と仗助が喋ってる 場面は描いててもすごく楽しかった。











(先生)先輩全員から影響を受けていますが、中でも『バビル2世』の横山光輝先生は感情を排した表現がすごいなと。『バビル2世』 はサスペンスだけをひたすら描いて、感情とかはあまり描かないんですよ。あと、『巨人の星』の梶原一騎先生からはセリフの言い回しの 影響を受けてます。「~だ!」と言い切る感じは梶原一騎なんですよ。






(先生)ああいう会話が大事。仗助と億泰との関係もそうだけど、何気ない会話で読者に仲の良さを伝えたいんです。この2人は 絶対に裏切ったりしないんだなっていう。




(先生)大学生はこれから社会に出て行くわけじゃないですか。基本地図を知ってて外れるのは戻ってこれるからいいんですけど、 知らないで外れると暴走するんじゃないかと、今日はそのことをマンガを通して言いたかったんです。


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