An essay about the work of Hirohiko Araki and his fans.Posted: June 16, 2012
The poster for “The Hiraizumi Declaration on the Tohoku Restoration” became a popular point of mention on the internet. Hirohiko Araki drew the illustration for the poster.
Iwate Prefecture announced “The Hiraizumi Declaration on the Tohoku Restoration” on July 3rd. Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku (northeast) region of Japan, there was a large amount of damage from the March 11th Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Hiraizumi, a city in Iwate Prefecture, has had several cultural heritage sites inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in June. This declaration was announced to not only commemorate these sites, it was also to inspire a sence of resolve and revival from the disaster. Then, Iwate officials requested Hirohiko Araki to draw an illustration for the occasion.
I heard that the governor of Iwate is a big fan of Hirohiko Araki’s work, “Jojo’s Bizare Adventure” and he requested work from Araki. Although Araki is not from Iwate, he is from Miyagi prefecture, where they also suffered serious damage from the earthquake and tsunami.
It’s not the first time that Araki was commissioned by an unexpected party. In 2007, one of Araki’s illustration decorated the cover of an American science journal “Cell.” “Cell” is one of the most authoritative journals in the world on biology. It is said that “It is highly likely you will win the Noble prize if your thesis appears in this journal three times.” This journal is especially serious among science journals, and the cover is usually a microphotograph of a cell etc. It is a rare and unprecedented case that an illustration by a manga author appears on the cover of such a journal. Why did such a thing happen? There is an article about this incident on this fan site. http://kajipon.sakura.ne.jp/art/jojo-cell.html 「祝！米科学誌『Cell』表紙を荒木先生が飾る！」 （Congratulations! Mr. Araki graces the cover of the science journal “Cell” !)
In fact, the top thesis of this journal was written by a Japanese research team. And the team leader, Professor Sutou and the other members on the research team were big fans of Jojo. So they asked Araki to draw the cover.
According to Yahoo news, they discovered a certain protein cell that concerns nerve transfer. It is expected that this discovery will lead to the elucidation of the cure for a cranial nerve disease (It’s probably too difficult for me to explain and translate properly.) This protein cell was named “Scrapper.” Araki’s illustration character-izes this “Scrapper” and expresses the work of the cell.
I think that this news tells of the peculiarity of his work in “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” and the fans of the manga. “Jojo’s…” was not always the No. 1 manga in the Weekly Shonen Jump. There were more popular manga like “Dragon Ball” or “One Piece” in the Weekly Shonen Jump and these manga has much bigger audience and their appeal spans all age groups. “Jojo’s…” is not a commonly likable manga compared to them. However, this manga has deep and dedicated fans. It’s the reason why the manga has been the second longest manga series in the Weekly Shonen Jump. Often people become fans of Jojo in their teens, and they remain fans of Jojo even when they became adult. Then, some of them commission Araki’s work for various situation. I wrote about how Araki participated in the “Bande Dessinee Project,” Musee du Louvre in France before. At that time, I heard that the reason why Araki invited to join project was because the curator of an art museum in Japan, who was a project adviser, was a Jojo fan. Of course, that shouldn’t be the only reason. He can always be relied on to produce high quality work, so they felt comfortable commissioning Araki for such an important project