Hirohiko Araki Reveals That JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Was Inspired by Sherlock Holmes

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure creator Hirohiko Araki mentioned in an interview in the Japanese literary magazine Kotoba that he would never have created the famous manga and anime series if he hadn’t read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

Araki said that he learned the fundamentals of storytelling from Sherlock Holmes, particularly narrative structure and how to create charismatic characters.

Holmes’s genius-like observation skills coupled with his antisocial tendencies makes him a compelling and mysterious character to Araki. “What makes Holmes great is that he may be a genius, but he’s also clearly a jerk,” Araki said. To him, Holmes is also a lonely figure. “I’ve often thought that one of the conditions for being a hero is loneliness. When push comes to shove, a hero has to be able to fight and solve a case by themselves, otherwise you can’t call them the hero. You wouldn’t even be able to say that they suit the role of protagonist of a series.”

The other major inspiration Araki drew from Arthur Conan Doyle is telling the story through the point of view of a character closer to the audience (i.e. Watson). If Holmes had been the point of view character in his own stories, it would have contradicted his own personality, and a story where the protagonist has no motivation is boring, Araki claimed.

“Actually, it’s even harder to depict the ultimate side character in the form of Watson than it is to depict the protagonist. Holmes is complete as a character, so the question becomes how will he and Watson face off with each other? I believe that the perfect story has charismatic characters and a style of storytelling that conveys their charisma.”

Araki’s first weekly serialized manga was Mash┼Źnen B.T., a mystery series and an homage to Sherlock Holmes. Araki also cited Rohan Kishibe from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable as a very Holmes-like character because of his endless curiosity and tendency to perceive other human beings as research subjects. Even the setting of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood is inspired by Sherlock Holmes – the presence of thick fog and castles hidden away from the world summon an aura of mystery and the feeling of a different time.

Araki also cited Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs as another one of his inspirations for writing characters. He has discussed some of his other influences and approach to drawing manga in his book Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga.