I recently watched the Violence Jack OVAs (errhgmm) and remembered I had Nagai Go’s foreword/volume one afterword from the aizouban/complete 18 volume edition released in 1996. Nagai shares a part of his thought process while writing the manga, a few ruminations on the character of Jack and SPOILERS. No, seriously, he spoils a major character’s death, so if you don’t want to step into a nasty surprise (like I did), better avoid reading this. Or stop halfway through, your choice.
Under the cut!
My Energy and Its Results
What I wanted to do in ‘Violence Jack’ was to revive the struggle between the warlords of the Sengoku era and bring it into the present times. I aimed to paint my own grand scale scroll of a great battle between all kinds of heroes who fight for dominance.
The character of ‘Jack’ thus came to me naturally, as a symbol of the energy that moves the times and the story forward. Jack is the wind; he is the flame, the sky, the land and the sea. He embodies an energy that surpasses the imagination of humans, so he reflects all things in nature and changes his shape depending on the ones who interact with him.
If people met an elephant in the dark and someone only touched the ears of the big elephant that is Jack, they would say ‘Jack is a couple of thin flappy ears’, someone else would say ‘Jack is the legs’ and someone else would be led to believe he is the tail or the trunk. When interacting with gentle people like Aila or Kikunosuke, he becomes the symbol of ‘love’, while when in contact with people like Saotome Mondo, a soul filled with ambition and hate, his sharp blade will lead everyone into a fierce battle. Also, the entire image of Jack comes to the surface depending on the way he interacts with various characters. Jack is basically a ‘mirror’ that reflects the real self hidden deep inside the ones he meets.
When I start writing a story, I never really decide on how it’s going to evolve too far, because if I am too fixed on details, I’ll get completely absorbed in that and won’t be able to go forward with the story. If I decide on the characters and the setting properly, I’ll empathise with them a lot and let them evolve from there, while inspiration will help the story advance.
When the serialisation of Violence Jack began, I intended for it to be a story similar to the Sengoku period, where the characters who come into contact with Jack become stronger and, leading their own groups, face each other in an ever expanding battle for dominance. Speaking of which, every person who confronts Jack keeps dying, so often that even I, the artist, was surprised. Saotome Mondo’s death in particular was unexpected.
In the end, it was strange how Jack’s final confrontation with Slum King, as well as Mondo’s revival in ‘that shape’ ended up related to Devilman. Even I, the creator, kept drawing while worrying about how the story would eventually end, so when I managed to wrap it up properly, I genuinely felt at ease. ‘Phew, I did it!’.
Because of its tough content, Violence Jack was moved from a weekly shounen magazine to a monthly one, and eventually to a seinen publisher, needing in the end 17 years to reach its conclusion. That is why I was truly perplexed when the serialisation in Weekly Shounen Magazine ended, since I could already see in my mind the ending of the story once I had concluded the El Dorado arc. During the last confrontation of Jack and Slum King, the Man Dog jumps at Slum King and saves Jack. ‘I want to draw this scene already. I wonder when I’ll be able to do it. I mustn’t forget about it.’ I went on with these thoughts in mind. Sixteen years later, I was finally able to draw the image that had dwelled in my brain all that time and I felt like my head had already gotten lighter. The happiness of release.
Having gone through so many changes, Violence Jack is both a single story and two halves released separately by two different publishers. Even I, the writer, always dreamed that one day it would receive a complete release.
This time, Violence Jack has finally been released in a single edition (‘aizouban’) by Chuko. My years long wish has finally been granted. I am overwhelmed. With this occasion, I adjusted the composition a bit, included a few new pages and had fun adding everything else needed for a complete edition. Now I can finally present everyone the ideal form of Jack’s story.
Just as Jack’s divided soul was united again, the series was also brought together into one final version, so I hope all readers will enjoy the true charm of Nagai Go’s longest series!