Via Billboard Japan, Special interview with Hirohiko Araki on ‘Walking Together’ with Prince throughout ‘Jojo.’
In a new article, Hirohiko Araki gives a comprehensive interview on the influence Prince and other artists have had on his creative process throughout the Jojo series. Full interview at billboard-japan.com here’s some highlights:
On concluding 10 years of Jojolion:
Billboard Japan: Congratulations on concluding Jojolion’s serialization. How are you feeling right now?
Araki: Since I was able to properly end the story, instead of leaving it kind of vague, I’m satisfied creatively. When you work like this every day, it takes a physical toll on you. So now I’m “resetting” myself.
Billboard Japan: The story arc was serialized over a period of 10 years, making it the longest of the series. When it began in 2011, the story was deeply influenced by the [Tohoku] earthquake disaster, which you yourself commented about in the manga. And in terms of approaching the “Dilemma,” there are depictions that call to mind the coronavirus pandemic. It seems like it’s been a rough 10 years.
Araki: These 10 years were rough, and it also felt like a decade of climbing ever upward, as if I were headed toward a singular goal. The previous series (Part 7), “Steel Ball Run,” was also a story in which the hero pushed forward toward his goal. So it feels like the end of an era, like I was able to finally bring the story to its proper conclusion.
On Prince’s symbols and ‘codes:’
Billboard Japan: The part of ‘Jojo’ I think of as full of Prince love is that one episode in Stardust Crusaders. The one with the scene where Muhammad Avdol feeds chickens named “Michael,” “Prince” and “Lionel,” and with Judgment and Jean Pierre Polnareff with “Hail 2 U!” You use English notation, right?
Araki: It’s nostalgic. “2 U” or “4 U” is also kind of shocking, isn’t it? I wrote it this way. It feels like a Symbol or a cryptographic Code.
On avoiding being ‘too obvious’ with the Prince references:
Billboard Japan: In Part Five, “Golden Wind,” Giorno Giovanna’s stand was named “Gold experience.” For the first time, Prince’s work appears as a stand name.
Araki: I avoided that is much as I could, but ‘Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’ is all about diamonds, stones, and minerals, and when I think, “What if it’s gold?,” there’s “The Gold Experience.”
Billboard Japan: What did you avoid?
Araki: Do you call it azato* when it’s just about Prince (laughs)? (*trying overly hard to get someone’s attention)
Billboard Japan: In Jojolion, Josuke Higashikata’s stand is named “Soft & Wet” and Yasuho Hirose’s stand is named “Paisley Park,” from Prince’s work.
Araki: “Soft & Wet” seems to have returned me to my roots, and I thought that the name matched the soap bubbles. With Yasuho, I wanted to use traffic notation in the design, so I thought about the images of “P” or “parking” and decided to make it “Paisley Park” to unify it with Prince.
On music, positivity, and Araki’s recent interest in ‘bad people:’
Billboard Japan: You said that when you listen to music it places you next to the musician’s way of thinking, their fashion, and the attitude of their times. Please tell us a little more about what music means to you.
Araki: Music symbolizes a way of thinking and the times in which it was recorded. I don’t like to show the negative side of things so much, instead I have a desire to be positive. It’s the same thing with ‘Jojo.’ But a new type of feeling has taken over me, that there are works that aren’t positive, and I think I have to learn from those works too. So right now, I’m interested in bad people. I like those people. I’m interested in people who are falling apart.
Billboard Japan: What’s a bad person?
Araki: People try to improve their lives or their standing, don’t they? “I want to be great,” in some sense, or “I want to be rich.” I’m interested in people who aren’t that way, who instead are heading toward ruin, or harming the world or hurting their families.
Araki on buying physical CDs and how he organizes his library:
Billboard Japan: How do you usually listen to music?
Araki: Sometimes I listen to it after downloading it, but I’d prefer it to be a basic CD. I’ll go out and buy them, one by one. I want to read all the information in tiny letters. Also, I want a jacket, above all else. I want a jacket with a strange picture. I have a CD cabinet in my house, and I really like looking at it. While the order of the songs is important, the order of the albums is also important, and I arrange them in the order of their release. I wondered where to put Prince’s “Black Album” [recorded in 1987 but released in 1994].
On Part 3 and the changing acceptance of women MCs:
Billboard Japan: The Joestar party in Part 3, including Jotaro Kujo, was racially diverse.
Araki: That’s right. But women couldn’t be included. I thought I couldn’t put a cute girl out there into a life-and-death fight or into a scene where, if they were a villain, they’d have to take an ORAORA punch. With Jolyne Kujo in 'Stone Ocean,’ that kind of thinking has disappeared.
Billboard Japan: Was it the times?
Araki: I wonder if it was the era. The readers of Jump don’t mind it at all anymore if I draw women. But in the old days, that would get rejected by the readers. So, even in shōnen manga, I think the way we view gender and social conditions is changing. In Part 3, I really wanted to put a girl there, and I felt that way for a while…
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