Two new JoJo works are born!
―Congratulations to Mr. Kadono on the release of Purple Haze Feedback and to Mr. Nisio on the completion of OVER HEAVEN. To begin with, I would like to ask about Feedback, which released in September... Why did you choose Fugo to be the subject of the novel?
Kadono (K): The subject could have been anything. I thought I could tackle anything in the world of JoJo. But Fugo was convenient for the novel. I had a few other candidates in mind, but... I simply had to write about him.
Nisio (N): I'd like to hear more about those stories, too.
K: For instance, where exactly did Stroheim die in Stalingrad? (laughs) I don't know whether readers actually want that type of thing, but I enjoy the thought of it... It's a weird thing to say, but I was also thinking of using JoJo to tell a story in the style of Futaro Yamada,[a] instead of challenging Araki directly. Since it deals with Part 5, one might call it Italian Ninja Scrolls.
N: The original work's flow definitely has the atmosphere of Ninja Scrolls, doesn't it?
K: It sticks to the format of Ninja Scrolls, where the members of both teams play against each other individually. It's what they call a Jump-style presentation (laughs). And for another thing, what becomes of Fugo is simply never shown in the manga itself.
N: In the afterword of the paperback edition, Araki said, "I wanted to depict Fugo as a traitor, but in a shōnen manga whose primary audience is children, it was impossible for me to depict such a character." ...or something like that, at least.
K: When I began to actually write the novel, I got the feeling that it couldn't be a shōnen manga, because it would've been far too bleak.
N: For a start, Fugo's ability houses a homicidal virus, which is quite dangerous by itself.
K: It might've been possible in the 70s or 80s, when people were willing to put up with a little more violence.
―Was it any more difficult writing a novel based on JoJo than if you were writing an original novel?
K: Quite the opposite, actually. It was so easy to write that I rarely got stuck while developing the story, and I actually got a bit exhausted from continuously writing for so long. Maybe that's what it feels like to write as quickly as Nisio (laughs).
N: I, on the other hand, found myself struggling this time around, so I'm impressed that you were able to write so smoothly. The characters in JoJo have their own little quirks, so it's difficult to convey them very well in prose.
K: I broke all the rules in that regard, didn't I? I took various lines and scenes from the original work and wrote them directly into the text. I even faithfully reproduced the little "tsu" katakana, which is rather backwards, to say the least. So I didn't encounter any difficulty in writing what Nisio calls "JoJo-like." What I discovered while writing was that the little "tsu" is rarely used in narration and such, and it would be more JoJo-like to only use it in the dialogue. Also, in phrases like "jaa ne (ain't)," I made sure to always use the more emphatic form of "jaa," with the extra A. Really, it's all about the details.
N: No matter how hard you try to make it feel JoJo-like, there's a fine line to cross.
K: To begin with, I don't even think Araki himself knows what it means to be JoJo-like. The tension of Araki's writing style is already JoJo-like as-is. Also, readers might not pick up on this, but Feedback doesn't use the word "Stand" at all in the main text. To complement that, I went to the trouble of inserting explanations of each Stand in the spaces between chapters. There were already so many things in the work that needed an explanation, like abilities and viruses... So I decided not to explain what a Stand is.
N: That's very JoJo of you, I think.
K: I'm like Futaro Yamada in that respect. As long as it starts with "Ninjutsu," you can explain almost any strange technique.
Made with reverence to the source material... Read Purple Haze Feedback!!
―What did you think of Feedback, Mr. Nisio?
N: It was wonderful! Beyond the theme of Part 5, various elements of the original work pop up throughout the text, making it a joy to read. Usually, no one would've expected that one Stand to appear out of nowhere, would they? How did you pick which Stands would appear in the book?
K: Well, I didn't really have a choice when it came to the Part 5 characters.
K: When I started working on the novel, I wanted an enemy character from the original work to help with the initial exposition... and they were the only ones left!
N: And those few survivors meet a much worse fate in Feedback... Also, the first line that really stuck out to me was, "The boy's name is Pannacotta Fugo." I thought to myself, "He has such a weird name, doesn't he...?" (laughs) And instead of trying to gloss over that strange name, he had his grandmother call him "Panny" to emphasize the point. I thought that was really interesting.
K: I told myself that maybe the name wasn't that strange for an Italian, and I dared to let it slide.
―Mr. Kadono, were there any scenes you were particularly engaged in while writing?
K: I think it would have to be the battle scene. I was so focused on writing it down all at once that I found myself exhausted afterward. On the other hand, the difficult part of it was the part where I quoted from the manga. Since the manga scenes casually transition to and from original scenes between them, I had a hard time connecting them together.
―You use quotes from the original work to great effect throughout Feedback.
K: From the beginning, I was determined to include the farewell scene between Fugo and Giorno's group. Without it, I had nowhere to start from. But when it came time to quote it, even though it was exactly the same as in the original, Giorno came off as a bit creepy in the novel. Maybe it's because he seems strangely calm, or maybe it's because we don't know what he's thinking. Well, in the novel, Giorno is already the reigning boss, so I gave him less dialogue to convey that impression of fear, since he was already scary enough.
N: Seeing his presence in the novel, you realize that he really is Dio's son. Also, do you like Bucciarati? He appears in Feedback quite a bit.
K: I like him, of course, but whenever Bucciarati appears, the story tightens up just a bit. A righteous character like him makes the story clearer. Personally, I see Bucciarati's role in Part 5 as "a righteous person unable to be righteous, until he meets Giorno and reaffirms his righteousness."
―Which came to you first, the story or the Stands?
K: I came up with the Stands first, but aren't the Stands already the material for the battles themselves? Especially since the main character is Purple Haze this time around, so each battle is decided by a single attack. I tried to see how much more exciting I could make each battle with clever use of the enemy's Stand. I also attempted to depict a certain change in Purple Haze itself.
N: That was the best part!
K: Purple Haze's deadly force is that of a young man when he snaps. When he loses his temper without heeding his surroundings, no one listens to him, but when he steps backs a little, a solution is born... That's the impression I got from the change I came up with.
Nisio Isin takes on DIO... OVER HEAVEN!!
K: Nisio, didn't you also finish writing your work? How did it go?
N: Like I said before, I struggled a lot. It really reminded me of just how hard it was to write a novel.
―Where did that difficulty come from?
N: It was the JoJo-like style I mentioned earlier... the JoJo-like dialogue. If I tried to write the same kind of thing myself, I would just end up with crude dialogue.
K: I don't think it's good for the writer to be too conscious of it. For my part, I decided on the characters without paying much attention to the JoJo style, and I wrote the character as if I had already decided, "This is the kind of guy I'm going to write about! I wrote the characters without being conscious of the "JoJo" style, as if I'd already decided, "Yep! This is the guy!"
N: Even so, there was no end to the number of things I had to worry about, like the tone of the character.
K: In my case, it was only to the extent that the characters would speak somewhat verbosely. For example, I would have them repeat the same word three times in the dialogue. My supervisor would read it over and ask, "Isn't this a bit too much dialogue?" But I didn't fix it (laughs). I haven't changed the novel's sense of rhythm from my usual works, though, if only because I'm not that deft. The parts that I quoted directly from the original work inherit Araki's rhythm, so there I again felt the difference between Araki's rhythm and my own.
K: The diary so evil that it had to be burned.
N: I wrote OVER HEAVEN to be that diary itself. So the novel itself is Dio's narrative. For the sake of maintaining that tension, I didn't have Dio write the kind of phrases you'd expect him to, like "URYYYYYYY!" (laughs) At first, I didn't quite know what to title it. Since it's Dio's diary, I thought at one point, maybe I could title it D-Note... But that'd be in bad taste, since I'm already involved with that.[b]
K: The Egypt DD Murder Cases (laughs).
N: At the beginning of Part 3, when Joseph talks about Dio after taking a photo of him, he says, "He is hiding somewhere in this world, plotting something..." That vague reason was their motivation to defeat Dio. Later, their reason for defeating Dio changed to saving Holy, but Dio's purpose and ultimate aim in gathering Stand users was never revealed. Going by his way of speaking, he aims "to stand at the pinnacle of the world," but he never mentions a clear goal in the entire story... That's what I thought at first, but then I read in Part 6 that he wanted to go to Heaven. I thought I would try to write what Dio was thinking... but that turned out to be quite a difficult task. Why did I have to choose Dio?
K: There's nothing for it (laughs). Since that premise was decided from the beginning.
N: When the project first started, I was told that I could write about anything, so I picked him. He's my favorite character in the entire story, and he has a lot of charisma as a main villain.
K: Nisio's a big fan of the strongest characters, isn't he? Even reading Medaka Box, there are a lot of characters who say things like, "I'm strong!" "I am strong!" I feel like he's continued with that style in this project. But doesn't Dio almost always lose? What do you think about that, as a fan of the strongest characters?
N: Dio really does always lose, doesn't he (laughs)?
K: He even cried when Jonathan beat him up in Part 1.
N: He always loses and never manages to achieve his goals, but why does he keep referring to himself as an emperor, and why is there no doubt in his mind? That's what I'm most intrigued by. Of course, this isn't a comedy, but rather a serious character study (laugh).
What is the charm that draws them to JoJo?!
―Who is your favorite JoJo character?
K: I like all of the main characters and allies. That's why in Feedback I didn't pick characters by prominence. I even had the Stone Mask appear as the story ramped up, even though only the oldest fans would understand it.
N: Young readers today might not even know what that is.
K: Also, Stroheim had this weird rule in his mind that "Stroheim must always declare his own name!" (laugh). That's why I picked Fugo and Purple Haze to be the main characters: not because they meant anything special to me, but because they were easier to write, like I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, I also did want to write about a young person who easily loses his temper. Fugo is described as having a short fuse, but the original story actually only had him "snap" once, so I thought, "Well, let's make that fuse even shorter."
―Fugo's background and personal life were also explored quite a bit in Feedback, weren't they?
K: I wrote something along the lines of, "Actually, my family is quite rich..." Is that alright?
N: You started by explaining Fugo's life in a basic description, and at the end you added the line, "We must have a title!" That line was very JoJo-like. I get the impression that Araki explores each character's past in order to reinforce their emotions. Maybe I could have made Dio more ambitious, too...? Well, I still have the galley proof, so I'll keep working on it until the last minute (laughs).
―Mr. Nisio, do you have a favorite character or a Stand that you would like to have?
N: I'll have to think about this one, so people don't find out I'm a slave to trends (laughs)... Generally, I'd have to answer a question like that with Rohan Kishibe's Heaven's Door. Also, Tonio's Pearl Jam. When it comes to the kinds of Stands I want, it has to be Part 4.
K: I think the fact that there's such a wide range of abilities is due to Araki's ability to take abilities that seem weak and expand them in creative ways. In this project, I challenged myself to see how much I could take abilities that I myself considered weak, like the ability to know what others have said about you behind your back, and make them stronger.
N: While writing OVER HEAVEN, I reread the original story and discovered that Dio didn't actually have a Stand when he was revived. He awakened it later with the Bow and Arrow. I wondered whether he could fight a Stand user under those conditions... but surprisingly, I think he'd actually win. Only a Stand can defeat another Stand, but with his Freezing Technique and eye beams, he can definitely defeat a Stand user (laughs).
―Going by Mr. Nisio's idea, what kinds of opponents would Dio fight without a Stand?
N: I scrapped the idea, but wasn't there the guy who had Wheel of Fortune, the guy with the car? I was thinking of a story about Dio beating him with his eye beams. Then, after he saw Dio's technique, he came up with the gasoline shooting technique he used on Jotaro and the others (laughs).
K: Being a vampire, Dio wouldn't die even if he was burned alive, so Wheel of Fortune doesn't stand a chance (laughs).
N: Right. The more I wrote, the more I thought, "Dio is just too strong!" and the more difficult it became to develop... because I did actually take it seriously while writing it, you know? Purple Haze in Feedback offered an overwhelming depiction of triumph after a tough battle.
K: If you examine the situation calmly, unexpected dangers may present themselves. That said, in order to keep readers guessing at how victory will come about, I tried to enrich the story with detailed descriptions of the adversaries and techniques only possible in the novel format.
N: I felt that part of Feedback was very JoJo-like. Battles in JoJo always have to be hopeless battles, don't they?
Stand users are drawn to each other—and novelists influence each other.
―As novelists, how has JoJo influenced the two of you?
N: There are so many things I could list, but the first that comes to mind is that a so-called "nondescript antagonist" can have one of the strongest abilities. On the other hand, Dio, the main villain, can only stop time for a few seconds (laughs). When Josuke's Crazy Diamond was first introduced, I thought, "Is this ability really suitable for the protagonist of a shōnen manga?" But that ability was awesome! In other words, even abilities that seem difficult to use at first glance can be made valuable within the story, and vice versa. I like that unexpected element in JoJo. When I read a book, I want to be surprised, and JoJo surprises me more than I could ever expect. That's why, when I write a novel or an original manga, all I can think about is surprising the reader like JoJo does.
K: For me, it's the blueprint for how to structure a conflict. Questions like, "Why are they in conflict?" This is especially true in Part 1, where both Jonathan and Dio have their own reasons to fight each other. From the protagonist's point of view, the enemy is evil, but the enemy is serious about his own life and has a good reason to fight. For that reason, if the protagonist falls short, the enemy might just eke out a win. Usually, the story is made to support the protagonist, and the enemy only exists to be defeated. In JoJo, the enemy is serious, so the protagonist needs to be serious as well. I felt that I wanted to emphasize the desperation of these characters... That said, in my own Boogiepop series, all of the antagonists stand out, and I eventually had to challenge them as well, since I couldn't just let them beat the protagonist (laughs).
―Each and every enemy in JoJo is a fascinating character in their own right, aren't they?
K: That's why I thought it was important to depict justice. In noir-type works especially, all of the bad guys tend to have vicious battles. But if your characters don't insist to each other that they embody justice, I won't be particularly excited or attracted to them. Even in a story, you can't allow evil to reign free.
―The enemies in Feedback also each had a strong presence.
K: Mr. Araki drew illustrations of the characters and Stands for me, and I find it tremendously strange. I had come up with them myself, but they no longer seemed like my own work, and I started to question whether I was describing his ideas. Could this be the power of the source material? I was also surprised and pleased that Mr. Araki was able to follow the detailed visual descriptions of the characters and Stands throughout the novel.
―Mr. Nisio, you've taken part in an interview with Mr. Araki before, haven't you?
N: I remember going on and on about how great Rock-Paper-Scissors Kid was. Come to think of it, I wonder why I was so obsessed with Rock-Paper-Scissors Kid... Surely there were other things to talk about (laughs). I believe I also said, "If I say Part 3's my favorite, people will think I'm basic, so Part 1's my favorite," and that "If I were to write a novelization, I would write about Part 2." I made that declaration so powerfully, but I forgot all about it, and here I am now writing a novel about Dio (laughs).
―Mr. Kadono, what would you do if you had the chance to talk to Mr. Araki about Feedback in the future?
K: The most I could do would be an earnest apology (laughs). "I'm so sorry." Or maybe I should talk about Rock-Paper-Scissors Kid too?
The golden future of VS JOJO!
―Do you two work on or perceive novelizations any differently, compared to your usual novels?
N: Everything is different each time I write a novel, so it was probably business as usual.
K: As I said earlier, it was really easy. I had a reference book called the source material, so it was like playing a game while looking at the strategy guide. Even if I got stuck on an idea somewhere, I had it all written down. On the contrary, I worried that I'd get too used to it (laughs).
N: People often say that when it comes to novelization, it's difficult not to destroy one's image of the original work. But for me, it was more difficult working on it on a parallel schedule to my weekly serialization. At the same time my manuscript of OVER HEAVEN was being checked, I had to come up with character names for Medaka Box. I felt trapped, but strangely enough, I also felt like the quality of both works was improving. Maybe it was the sense of crisis (laughs).
K: When you're pushed to your limit, your ability awakens, or something like that.
―If you were to write another JoJo work, what would it be about?
K: Another JoJo work... How desperate for material do you have to be (laughs)? If I had to write a second one, I'd like to base it around Josuke from Part 4. And since I have an image of Josuke as a reckless person, I'm sure the story would also turn out as reckless as possible.
N: I want to tackle JoJolion, which is currently being serialized. I wanted to publish a novelization even before the first volume released (laughs). I also want to write a story about Dio's surviving subordinate zombie from Part 2 of the series, as well as a romantic comedy about Jotaro (laughs).
K: Now that you mention it, I wonder what Mr. Otaro Maijo, who will also be writing a work after you, will center his story around. I thought I heard something about it the other day...
N: I heard about it too. I think he's got his eye on a great concept. I can't say much about it here, though.
―Finally, please tell us about the appeal of JoJo.
N: I see JoJo as a mystery. The mystery of the enemy's Stand is presented, and you have to ask how the famous Joestar family of detectives will solve it... It's a story about deducing the enemy's ability from the phenomena around it and solving its mystery. Take my word with a grain of salt, since I love mystery novels (laughs), but at the very least I find the solving of the mystery appealing.
K: JoJo is a huge mystery in and of itself, isn't it? Araki constantly challenges the readers, to see whether they can figure it out. And the mystery can never be solved! That must be the charm of it. Personally, while I didn't discover anything new while writing the novel, I feel like the depth and mystery of the work has only increased. And yet, that's what I love about it!
―Thank you very much.