This year marks the 20th anniversary of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. With the seventh part of the series currently being serialized and still going strong, JoJo is becoming the topic for hot discussion. Araki-sensei must be feeling the excitement, but what are his thoughts on it?
Araki: When I first heard that people were doing "JoJo Poses", I visited a website about it on my computer. And to my surprise, I was blown away at how amazing they all were--it was like modern art. (laughs) After that, a lot of TV personalities who were fans of my work started recommending JoJo on their shows. What I found more interesting though is that most of these TV personalities were people in their 30s. I guess its true that you become a lot more vocal once you reach your 20s. (laughs) This also made me wonder if all the boys and girls who read JoJo in school when it first came out were finally growing up and starting to show off their talents to the world.
These youngsters sure like being vocal about their opinions without listening to the older generation--they also like making hour-long programs about JoJo. (laughs)
Araki: Yes, that's true. (laughs) On a side note, Shonen Jump is a great magazine that takes very good care of its authors. To help concentrate on our weekly schedule, authors were never expected to take interviews--but I usually took them anyway. Maybe that's how I came to notice the little changes in the air around JoJo over time. Whenever someone came up to me for an interviews, I would just go out and do it. It wasn't until recently that I started doing formal requests. I never initiate anything myself.
How do you feel about the fact that you've been drawing JoJo for 20 years?
Araki: My editors often tell me to draw new works. That way, the editorial department can write big headlines about how the author of JoJo is working on a new series, which would be big news and would attract a lot of attention. My response is usually "Huh? I can't draw anything but JoJo," and then I go, "Okay, maybe I'll change protagonist," and so on for 20 years. For me, when the main character changes, it's the same feeling as starting a new series. It's a lot of hard work, as I have to create all the characters and settings from scratch. So, in a way, it doesn't feel like I've been drawing the same series for 20 years.
What do you mean by "I can't draw anything but JoJo"?
Araki: When you create a character, you start becoming curious about who their father is. I always want to know exactly who both parents are and how they were raised. It's only after I have all this information that the character is truly born. I feel like these aspects give the character a more real presence about them. This way, you get to know the father a lot more when the bloodlines are continued--maybe that's why I'm so particularly fond of JoJo.
What was it that started your interest in parents and bloodlines?
Araki: When starting out, I wanted to draw a horror manga, centered around terror and suspense. This got me thinking hard on stuff like "Who's the strongest man in the world?", "What's the scariest thing in the world?", and so on. Is the strongest man in the world just a person with big muscles and powerful punches? No matter how strong your opponent is, if you strike their weak points, you'll be able to take them down. Or so they say.
When I thought about it, what's really frightening is being attacked by something completely out of your control, like ancestral karma, even if you're innocent. Characters like Josuke and Jotaro are under siege of a grudge that happened generations before they were born that they knew nothing of. I think a world where you can't escape your fate is the scariest thing in the world, perhaps more so than death. That's why I'm so obsessed with the concept of bloodlines and lineages.
Araki: As for Part 7, which is currently being serialized, I got stuck on a lot of things after Part 6 ended. (laughs) Firstly, I can't go any further into the future than 2011. Osamu Tezuka's a manga artist who is great at depicting distant futures, like in Phoenix, but I can't do it at all. I want the setting my main characters are in to be as realistic as possible. The concept of drawing flying cars or the year 2200 is completely out of the question. (laughs) In terms of developments in civilization, I would only be able to go as recent as the cell phone. Manga that feature fantastical inventions are also far beyond me. I always strive for something more realistic. So, I decided to end the series here and go back to where it all started.
Each person has their own individual Stand ability, so there’s an infinite amount of ways to define power. Since there's not a single idea of what power is, the logic of defeating an "impossible" or "ultimately powerful" enemy is interesting.
Araki: That side of it quite philosophical. Behind the scenes there's possibly a battle of the strength of each person's philosophy, "I believe this" versus "I believe that." When I made Stands, I thought that I would be able to have a large variety of battles, so my imagination was able to run wild.
There isn't a lot of romance in JoJo, is there?
Araki: That's because JoJo is a fighting manga. I try to center the series around horror and psychological battles, so whenever romance is involved, it becomes rather dull (laughs). It just isn't exciting. The last time I did romance had to have been the story between Koichi and Yukako in Part 4.
I guess that's the JoJo-style of romance, where even love is a battle (laughs).
Araki: When I drew Yukako, I had been married for about two years. I might get in trouble for saying this (laughs), but I think my experience being married was reflected in my work. Instead of drawing women just for the sake of it, I started trying to draw the other side of women that you don't usually get to see. I think getting married and having a family has added a lot of depth to my work.
In past interviews, you've discussed the idea of retiring at 50 and planning up to Part 9...
Araki: The amount of time I have left to sit at my desk and work is getting shorter and shorter. My joints are also starting to get sore from drawing. These physical limitations might only be associated with professional athletes, but they apply to manga artists as well. If I could, I would probably keep on drawing forever.
I tend to draw the bizarre things I've encountered in the past. Even so, there are still many mysteries about human beings, such as why they become murderers, or why they suck up to their bosses. In theory, as long as humanity doesn't go extinct, mysteries will continue to be born. Knowing this, I think I could continue working on JoJo indefinitely. However, considering my age, I think I'll probably keep going until about the ninth part.
[Translated by Morganstedmanms (JoJo's Bizarre Encyclopedia)]