Hirohiko Araki - The Man Behind JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Series

Hirohiko Araki is one of the most famous mangakas in the west. He has inspired an entire generation of anime fans in Japan and then all over the world. His work, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series, has, in recent years, taken the west by storm and brought back the old aging series into the limelight.

But even though the Manga and especially the Anime of JoJo are soo well known, most new JoJo fans and even a plethora of seasoned enthusiasts do not know much about Hirohiko, and some even have a lot of misconceptions about JoJo's author. 

Therefore, in this article, we will cover everything, Hirohiko Araki related, going over his life before he became a mangaka; How his professional mangaka journey has evolved him over the years? And most of all; What makes Hirohiko Araki and JoJo soo special?

So, with that out of the way, let's just get into it.

Hirohiko Araki's Early Life:

For those who do not know, Hirohiko Araki was born on June 7, 1960, in Sendai, Japan, which is the capital of the Miyagi 

Hirohiko Araki manga

Prefecture, located further up north of Tokyo. Although there is not much known about his family, but what we do know is that Araki's father was a Japanese Salaryman who used to collect art books as his main hobby. His mother was a stay at home mom, and he also had two identical twin younger sisters.

Hirohiko Araki's Trouble with his little sisters:

Now, Araki's sisters here are the main reason which got him interested in manga in the first place. He describes them as annoyances where they would take his things, eat his food and, just annoy him in other ways. Araki Describes the emotions he felt of his sisters when growing up as feeling a sense of exclusion and ill-will towards his sisters, and because of that, he did not like going back home after school and would often spend most of his time in his room reading manga from the 70s and going through his father's Artbook collection.

Heck, he even went as far as to say," Things might have gotten out of hand, and I might have killed my sisters." If he had not started spending more time in his newfound interest. 

Hirohiko Araki described his early life during his lecture at Tokai Junior & Highschool and in that, he also emphasized that the manga that influenced him the most was Ai to Makoto and was particularly inspired by the works of the famous French artist Paul Gauguin to actually to start drawing and making his own manga.

He began his journey as a manga artist quite early on in middle school when he was in 4th grade, and when a friend actually complimented his manga, he thought he could also become a successful manga artist.

Hirohiko Araki's Struggle as an aspiring Mangaka:

Hirohiko Araki thinking

Araki fast forward, now finally a high schooler, started submitting his manga at a variety of different magazines, but all of those submissions were rejected. Araki, perplexed by this new development, started to improve his art and, after completing his Highschool, began majoring in Designer Fashion at the Miyagi University of Education to further solidify his foundations as a manga artist. But, during this time, a mangaka duo Yudetamago, featuring Takashi Shimada and Yoshinori Nakai, who were roughly the same age as Araki, made a huge debut in the manga industry, and another much younger mangaka Masakazu Katsura also started making big splashes.

Araki now could not hold himself back anymore and decided to take a four-hour trip to Tokyo to find why his works were getting rejected. He went there with a 100-page draft of a one-shot manga called Poker Under Arms and, at first, he was going to visit Shogakukan but then got scared off by the size of the building. He then decided to just go to Shueisha next door, which had a much smaller building at the time. There, he met a rookie editor, who, after looking at his draft, criticized each and every panel extensively and pointed out a lot of Araki's big mistakes. But then at the end, he encouraged Araki that his draft had potential, and he should clean it up and submit it to Tezuka Awards, which was going to be held in 5 days.

His one-shot, Poker Under Arms, then won the best runner up award at Tezuka Awards 1980, and Araki, following his first debut, quit his Designer Fashion Degree before graduating and started working as a full-time Mangaka at Shueisha.

Hirohiko Araki's Life as a professional Mangaka:

Hirohiko Araki thinking

Hirohiko's first one-shot, Poker Under Arms, had a wild west theme, which was quite popular at the time, and continuing on this trend, he made another one-shot man, Outlaw Man, in 1981. And then again in 1982, he made a Sci-Fi based one-shot manga Say Hi to Virginia. Till now, it was well known that the western themes enamored Araki, but his one-shots were not successful. Araki then again in 1982, made his second debut with a short series called Cool Shock B.T.

But the detective theme of the series did not go well with the Shonen Jump at the time, and Cool Shock B.T. was cut off after just six chapters serialized at the time. 

But, in 1984, since Sci-Fi was gaining more popularity with works like Dragon Ball, Hayao Miyazaki's Daydream Data Notes, Cypher, etc. shaping the manga industry with a new genre. Araki also took part in the Sci-Fi evolution in Japan with his Manga series, Boah, which featured a story about a boy who gets kidnapped by an evil organization and gets transformed into a Bioweapon. He then, with a 9-year-old psychic girl, Sumire, fights off the evil organization. Although the manga was somewhat popular at the time, financially, Boah suffered and was cut short to only nine chapters.

Now, Boah was the most successful endeavor By Araki in his four years working as a professional Mangaka at Shueisha. It featured his iconic Gore style and had a lot of the elements that we see in JoJo today.

After his first successful run, which was quite popular among the teenagers at the time, Araki took a Trip to Italy with Shueisha for more inspiration.

Araki After his Trip to Italy:

Hirohiko Araki after trip in italy

Araki, now being a semi-successful mangaka with a very small niche following, was slowly gaining traction, but it was after his trip to Italy that his art truly started to bloom. 

Araki was getting more creative with his work, and influenced by his trip to Italy; he decides to create another one-shot manga series, Gorgeous Irene, where Araki's inspiration for his current art style can be observed. But Golden Irene was not at all popular among the Shonen Jump readers at the time. But Araki wanted to create a manga that utilized his newfound inspiration to draw flamboyantly in 1985, and Gorgeous Irene was just that. 

The style that was foreshadowed in Boah was in full bloom in Gorgeous Irene, and had hints of his wacky over the top artwork that is now synonymous with JoJo.

But Gorgeous Irene had a female protagonist, and the art was exceptionally dazzling, to say the least. But Gorgeous Irene had an especially severe Flaw. Araki liked to draw more, rather than adjusting the story itself and Gorgeous Irene was extremely similar to another mangaka, Higashi Eguchi's work at that time. Araki got blasted off by his editor, Ryōsuke Kabashima to never make anything soo derivative ever again.

So, Araki, desperate at this point with Gorgeous Irene getting cut off from Shonen Jump after just two chapters, which were serialized in Shonen Jump and the 1st issue of Super Jump, was looking for something new to inspire him to draw more manga in his new flamboyant art style. 

Araki, when compared to his colleagues: (1986)

Gyro Zeppeli JJBA Anime

At this point, Araki had spent six years as a full-time mangaka with all his one-shots either being unsuccessful or just not being popular enough for Shonen Jump. His colleagues at the time, Yudetamago, were destroying the top charts with the anime adaptation of Kinnikuman, and even Masakazu Katsura's Wing-man had gotten a live adaptation two years prior.

Araki was not making it big in the manga industry as he had hoped to, and at this point, anyone would start doubting their abilities as a manga artist. But Araki, despite his failures, was driven by his passion for drawing and down in a slump after Gorgeous Irene, he starts working on a new concept called that he called JoJo.

Hirohiko Araki's New Manga Debut and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Series.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Manga

In 1987, seven years after his initial debut, Araki started working on a new concept based on the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone styled characters set in the late 19th century London. At the time, there was not a single manga in Shonen Jump that had foreign characters and as much influence of a foreign culture that Araki portrayed in his work through his unique art style. Hirohiko Araki, at this point, was already a huge fan of European art and influence artists like Paul Gauguin and other Italian artisans works; Araki went on to create something unique with the original JoJo.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The Phantom Blood:

Jonathan Joestar Phantom Blood

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood was set in the late 19th century London where the story followed Jonathan Joestar and his struggle against his adopted brother, Dio Brando. Here, the latter kills their father to get his share of the inheritance and becomes a Vampire, and Jonathan learns a new breathing Technique called Hamon and tries to defeat his rogue brother.

The Phantom was although, was not the magnum Opus for Araki, but he finally had a long-running, 44 chapters long manga serialized in Jump. After seven years of hard work, Araki was making a comeback with JoJo Phantom blood, which bolstered his confidence in his abilities as a mangaka who wanted to make it big one day.

Phantom Blood was then compiled into five Volumes, and it was the first successful, well-recognized work by Hirohiko Araki that led on to its sequel, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Battle Tendency. 

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency:

JJBA blog

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2 was even more popular with the Japanese Jump Readers at the time than Phantom Blood, and during its serialization in Jump, JoJo Battle Tendency sparked a whole new era for Hirohiko Araki. 

He was finally realizing his dream, even though in small increments, but his popularity was growing. Then in 1989, the Battle tendency was finally serialized, with 65 chapters in Shonen Jump, which continued on the Joestar Family's story. It was set right after the events of The Phantom Blood, where Jonathan's wife Erina survived and somehow reached the shores of the new world on a Coffin. And 50 years later, with DIO's miraculous return and with Jonathan's grandson, Joseph taking on the helm of the Joestar Family, the stakes were higher than ever before.

In this part, Jonathan’s struggle against Pillar men, the creators of the stone mask that DIO used to became an immortal Vampire. And this struggle in JoJo part 2 actually propelled JoJo more in the limelight, and the future of the series was looking greater than ever before.

In 1989, Araki, after seeing success with JoJo: Battle Tendency, started his work on another manga series called, The Lives of Eccentrics with his assistant, Hirohisa Onikubo. The new manga was based on real-life events that were JoJofied by Araki in his well-known JoJo art style that we attribute to his works today. 

But still, JoJo was Araki's main focus, and JoJo, despite its popularity, still had not gained the notoriety that the big-name manga enjoyed at the time. But that was about to change with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders:

JJBA Blog Jotaro Kujo

JoJo part 3 Stardust Crusaders is by far the most popular and well-recognized part in not only the Japanese but also on the broader anime community. And this part in 1990, actually propelled the series against the big-name titles, making JoJo one of the biggest assets that Shueisha had at the time.

But that was not all; JoJo itself went through a vision change with the Hamon Battle system revamped by the now new Stand Combat system that has now become iconic and synonymous with the JoJo Franchise,

Why Hirohiko Araki Stopped Using Hamon?

Araki, in one of his interviews, mentioned that on his editor's advice, he changed the Hamon system into the Stand based power system. And this in of itself was one of the main reasons JoJo Stardust Crusaders gained soo much fame among the Japanese fanbase.

Discover more about this subjet on our article! Why Hirohiko Araki Stopped Using Hamon?

The Success of JoJo: Stardust Crusaders:

JoJo Part 3 was the turning point of the series. It is the part that foreshadowed what JoJo is going to be like and had all the cool elements of the series. With the new, now iconic, power system and over the top characters in even more so Bizarre poses, JoJo became a sensation in Japan that even Araki was surprised by.

JoJo had created an identity for itself with an amalgam of different cultures, coming together to create a unique experience, unlike any other.

Hirohiko Araki, in his 1993 interview when asked to describe JoJo in one word outlined that:

" JoJo is a work that can't be said described with one word. That's a demerit, but I think that is also a merit. I like to draw people in this world, so I like to create various types of characters. So, to the people who read, buy JoJo comics or JoJo anime, from now on, I hope that they enjoy human characters. It's a wish I want you to do that kind of view."

Other Parts of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Series:

All JoJo's Characters

JoJo, since the success of its Part 3, has continued on its serialization, and right now, at the time of writing, it has eight main parts. The five consequent parts of JoJo like JoJo Part 4 Diamond is Unbreakable, JoJo Part 5 Golden Wind, JoJo part 6 Stone Ocean, JoJo Part 7 Steel Ball Run, and finally JoJo Part 8 JoJolion have been critically acclaimed to be among some of the best, well-known manga of all time. Not only in Japan but after the success of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure anime, it has become one of the best known and well-recognized anime Franchises in the west. JoJo's new popularity in the west is unprecedented and quite perplexing, to say the least.

What Makes JoJo soo Popular?

JoJo's Iconic Pose

JoJo, despite all this popularity, is a very unique anime, with even more so unique art and over the top characters/premise. And because of these unique, Bizarre attributes, many people have trouble understanding JoJo and how the events on paper or on-screen are proceeding. One might think that because of these demerits, the series would never gain any popularity or even recognition in the west.

But on the contrary, JoJo uses its Bizarre premise and all those so-called demerits to its advantage. With its ever so absurd and strange situations that make each and every situation, interaction in JoJo not only entertaining but also incredibly amusing to everyone and anyone reading or watching the long-running series. Araki takes normality’s in life and fills even the most serious matters with absurd gags that the fans can't help but fall in love with. 

For more on this, head over our super article dedicated! What Makes JoJo's Bizarre Adventure So Popular?

What Makes Hirohiko Araki so special?

Hirohiko Araki pose with friends

Hirohiko Araki, for seven years, did not give up on his dream to become a mangaka, and now he is one of the greatest mangakas that this new generation of anime fans look up to as an artistic inspiration.

He has become an icon for modern, out of the ordinary manga, where Araki is not afraid to challenge social norms and just draw what he likes and how he likes to.

He has transformed all of his experiences, let them be, a very young Araki practicing at home, making one-shots to get his first debut as a high schooler, or going on a four-hour long trip to Tokyo get answers. Araki has molded each one of his experiences into a unique outlook on life that only he has and imparted that specific outlook into a manga that only he can ever make. 

He has been in the anime industry for as long as anyone now currently active can remember and has, over a very long period of time, became one of the best household names in the Japanese anime industry.

There is truly no other personality like Araki in the anime industry that is as dedicated to their craft as Araki is, and he has proven through sheer will and dedication what his style of anime is like and what he, as a professional Mangaka, can offer to his fans and anime industry alike.

JoJo Over the Year:

JJBA Golden Wind - Vento Aureo

Araki has been a Mangaka for 40 years now, and JoJo, his masterpiece, has been in serialization for 37 years. Most of Araki's colleagues have either moved on with their careers to other works or simply have fallen off the grid over time. The younger, or even much older manga fans are either unfamiliar with many of the manga that dominated the 1980s and 1990s outside Japan, but a huge portion of anime fans in Japan do not know many of the old manga series.

The domineering manga like Kinnikuman have either fallen off the grid as old manga or just have been forgotten, lost, and obscured into absurdity.

But Araki's long-running manga series has not only aged well, but with his continued evolution as an artist, JoJo has become a timeless series, just like Hirohiko himself, that fans from all ages, backgrounds, experiences can sit back, relax, enjoy and take their time while navigation through the complex world of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Series. 

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