The most important thing to keep in mind when working on the scenario was to make it clear what each story was about. Once the theme of each episode was clear, that would inevitably determine how it should be directed. The line producer, Hisataka Kasama, made the assignments according to the aim of each episode, keeping the individuality of the director in mind rather than just rotating through them. Naokatsu Tsuda was for comedy and daily life, Kenichi Suzuki for action, and Toshiyuki Kato for highly dramatic episodes. On the other hand, the directors had various thoughts and feelings about the masterpiece of JoJo.
“Since we were entrusted with the original manga, we couldn’t just twist it to suit our own needs, so we wanted to somehow re-experience Mr. Araki’s ideas. The book ‘Hirohiko Araki’s Strange Theory of Horror Movies’ (Shueisha Shinsho), which was published right around the time of pre-production, was very useful. I was able to understand that this episode was based on this movie, and that this is what he wanted to do, and I feel like I was able to better determine the direction of the animation.” （Naokatsu Tsuda）
“I tried to trace what Mr. Araki was thinking at the time of writing. Through the movies he was watching and the music he was listening to at the time, I was able to trace his thoughts in my own way. The finished product was already out in the world in the form of manga, but my biggest mission in expressing JoJo was to feel the feelings behind it.” （Kenichi Suzuki）
“The original manga is very powerful, so I wanted to make the most of that to the degree that I could. Personally, I was moved by the scene in Part 4 where Hayato Kawajiri wishes, ‘God, please let me kill people.’ I felt that there was no other shonen manga that could make an elementary school student say such a thing, and I definitely wanted to direct that scene myself.” （Toshiaki Kato）
“I joined the project starting with Part 5, and at first I was a bit confused about how much I should try to match the way things had been expressed before, but once I started working on it, I realized how free I was. It made me realize all over again that JoJo is a work with great capacity.” (Yasuhiro Kimura)
“The main theme of Part 5 is how young people living in despair should go on living, so I was always conscious of the keyword ‘sadness.’ I tried to bring out the mature side in my own way.” （Hideya Takahashi）
Initially, the production team wanted the first part of the original manga, “Phantom Blood,” to run for one season and the second part, “Battle Tendency,” to run for two seasons. However, the producer, Hiroyuki Omori, requested that the series be broadcasted in two seasons together. The final result was 26 episodes instead of 24, which was a rather drastic strategy. Omori said, “I thought that by seamlessly broadcasting the first and second parts all at once, people would feel the impact. They thought they were on a roller coaster, but before they knew it, they were on a water slide (laughs).” For “Phantom Blood,” in particular, the 44 chapters of the original manga were turned into 9 episodes of anime, which means that each episode of the anime contains almost 5 chapters of the original manga.
What is noteworthy is that despite running through the story at such speed, almost no stories were omitted. This can be said to be the result of the efforts of the writers, led by Yasuko Kobayashi, who worked on the series composition. In any case, it is this sense of speed that attracted many viewers and opened the door for the production of the next part.
In contrast to the first season, which emphasized speed, the second season, “Stardust Crusaders,” was able to have a much more relaxed structure, which allowed the audience to fully enjoy the powerful stand battles unique to the third part of the original manga. The scenario as a whole reproduces the original manga at a very high level, but there are also many scenes that are original to the anime, which increases the “road movie” feel of the journey to Egypt.
In particular, in episode 25, “Iggy the Fool and Geb’s N’Dour, Part 1,” a scene has been added where all six members of the Joestar group take a group photo. This photo was displayed on Jotaro’s desk in the fifth part of the original manga, but it was not clear when it was taken. Tsuda said, “This was the only timing I could think of, so I consulted with Mr. Suzuki, who was in charge of the storyboard and direction, and he put it in.”
Speaking of original scenes, episode 18, “The Sun,” is also impressive. In the original manga, it is a comedy episode that ends after only two chapters, but in the anime, it was composed as one episode. As a result, more than half of the scenes are original scenes, and Tsuda, who worked on the scenario and storyboard, was able to demonstrate his impressive sense for comedy in this episode.
The third season, “Diamond is Unbreakable,” (Part 4 of the original manga) has the most dynamic structure in the anime series, which is clearly shown from the beginning of the first episode, “Jotaro Kujo! Meets Josuke Higashikata.” The horror of a murderer’s crazy breakfast scene is shown against the background of the cheerful MC of Morioh Radio. It suggests the existence of the last boss, Yoshikage Kira, who only appears in the latter half of the story in the original manga, while also beautifully expressing the theme of the fourth part of the original manga, which is abnormal scenes hidden in the shadow of peaceful everyday life. It is an excellent restructuring of the original story.
Kato, who served as the series director for the third season, said, “Unlike the previous stories, the fourth part does not end with the main character directly defeating the last boss, but with all the characters working together to defeat him, or more specifically, the town of Morioh town itself is structured to bury the murderer, Yoshikage Kira. In order to achieve a suitable ending, we had to pay attention to the atmosphere of the town and the depiction of the residents.” Tsuda also said, “I think the fourth part of the series was the most successful in terms of composition. We knew from the beginning that Kira Yoshikage was the final boss, and the whole story takes place in one town, so we were able to use him to our advantage.” From the frequent use of Morioh Radio to the cameo appearances of characters who appear in the latter half of the season, this was a season in which the exquisite composition was on full display.
The most significant aspect of the fourth season, “Golden Wind,” (Part 5 of the original manga) is that it emphasizes the team battle more than the original manga. In the original manga, the names and appearances of the members of the assassin team are revealed in the order in which they appear as assassins, but in the anime, the faces of the entire assassin team are revealed in episode 10, “Hitman Team.” Furthermore, by depicting them eating at a restaurant, it is clear that they are also working as a team, just like Giorno and the others. As the assassin team is very popular among the fans of the original manga, the addition of many original scenes is a great service to the fans, and at the same time, it is effective in clearly showing the three-way battle of the fourth season. On the other side, moving up Mista and Abacchio’s past episodes and adding a past episode for Fugo allowed Giorno’s side to feel a sense of unity as a team early on.
Kimura, who served as the director of the 4th season, commented on this point: “The assassin team is very popular among the fans of the original manga, and they are very attractive because they are determined people. They are not attacking on their own, so I hoped that by portraying them as a team, I could convey their conviction.”
In episode 28 “Beneath a Sky on the Verge of Falling,” one of the most famous scenes in the series, Narancia is distraught over the death of Abacchio, and the entire B part of the episode is used to recreate the scene in a way that greatly expands on the original manga. Director Takahashi, who was in charge of storyboarding and direction, said, “In the last shot of this part, there is a whole flower blooming on the ground where Abacchio is lying. When Narancha died, Giorno hid his body with plants. But in the original manga, there’s no description of what he did to Abacchio. I’ve wondered about that since I was in high school (laughs). I thought Giorno would have done the same thing for Abacchio, so I added the final shot,” he said, sharing the story behind the famous scene.
Interviewing and writing by Daisuke Okamoto