When I initially cooked up the idea of running through my favorite artists and posting examples of their work I was still living in Japan. I would rummage around Book Offs (an ever present used book store chain) all over Tokyo hunting for discounted manga I could slice up, scan, then write about. I was too busy job-hunting at the time to write, and I found I couldn’t bring myself to destroy manga for articles so I put the idea in the back of my head for later.
Hirohiko Araki (荒木 飛呂彦) was one of the artists I always had in mind for this project. His comparatively realistic anatomy mixed with his unique attention to fashion yield a wholly remarkable style. He has a knack for design which is evident in the vast array of characters he has designed for the various Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures titles over the years.
I first came across Araki’s art via the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure video game for the PSX. It follows the Stardust Crusader arc of the manga and probably has the weirdest plots of any fighting game out there. The story was told both through traditional one on one fighting as well as through minigames (in one you are forced to battle an orangutan on a ship). They recently rereleased in on the PSN, so I recommend checking it out.
In trying to remember some of my favorite moments of the video game, I started skimming the wikipedia for the Stradust Crusader arc and I was flabbergasted how many characters had names that were influenced by music. For example: Steely Dan, Pet Shop (Boys?), Iggy (Pop), Kenny G, (Captain &) Tennille, Oingo Boingo, Mariah (Carey), Dio, and Vanilla Ice.
Jojo’s is sort of like Japan’s gonzo answer to Dragon Ball. The story is decades long, the plot is labyrinthine, and all of the books are gorgeously illustrated.
I haven’t had the chance to read through Jojo’s is in it’s entirety, but it is definitely a goal of mine if I ever come across a set of the manga that’s reasonably priced. I have read Rohan at the Louvre, as well as pored over his artbook Jojo 6251. I picked up a book containing the first 1000 pages of Jojo’s as well, just to see where his style came from. All are definitely worth checking out.
Enjoy some more of Araki’s excellent work below: