Jōji Morikawa (森川 常次), often romanised as George Morikawa (森川ジョージ), is a Japanese manga artist affiliated with Kodansha. He was born January 17th, 1966 in Tokyo and is a graduate of Matsubushi High School (松伏高等学校, Matsubushi Koutou Gakkou) in Saitama Prefecture.
1966-1989 - Birth of Morikawa Jouji and the Road to Hajime no Ippo
He was born January 17th, 1966 in Tokyo. When Morikawa was 4 years old, he would watch the anime, Harris no Kaze (ハリスの旋風) by Chiba Tetsuya, who he became a big fan of, and aspired to become a mangaka (Manga Artist). He would always get into fights during middle school and high school. On the other hand, he also served on the student council. When he was 17, Morikawa released his debut manga, Silhouette Night, while still in high school. Later, he became a graduate of Matsubushi High School (松伏高等学校, Matsubushi Koutou Gakkou) in Saitama Prefecture.
He wanted to join Weekly Shonen Magazine because that was the magazine that Chiba Tetsuya was published in. His first published manga series in 1986 was a soccer series, Kazuya NOW, and then a Formula 1 series, Signal Blue, in 1987. Unfortunately, all of his serialised works were cancelled before completion, but the editing staff would always give him another chance. However, he had a wife and child and times were so hard for him. After the third serialisation was cancelled, Morikawa told the editor in charge that the next one will most likely be the last.
Not knowing what kind of series to make, he has trouble with the storyboard. The person in charge at the time was very persistent and encouraged Morikawa until late at night, even to the morning to redo things with the storyboard. Being well-known for having an unparalleled likeness for boxing, he was asked if he wanted to draw a boxing manga, but refused, believing he shouldn't do one just on boxing. They then explained "This is the last one, challenge with your favourite genre, in case you come back.". Morikawa had trouble responding, wanting to come back while having the words, "Last..." and "Challenge..." circling around his head.
Then all of a sudden, his hands moved and made a sketch of a boxer. He then became determined and accepted the challenge to make a boxing manga. Remembering Ashita no jō, he stated "I'd like to approach boxing differently", "A High School Boxing Club, I'd like to make amateur boxing the theme".
And so, he began making the Hajime no Ippo manga series of his favourite sport, boxing. Started in 1989 and still in serialisation as of 2020, Hajime no Ippo became a huge hit and has indeed become the flagship series of Weekly Shōnen Magazine. It has sold more than 96 million volumes.
2019 - Hajime no Ippo's 30th Anniversary
On January 17, 2020, Morikawa announced that he would be at an art exhibit in Miyagi, taking place at the Ishinomori Manga Museum in the exhibition room on the second floor from February 22, 2020 to April 12, 2020.
Videos of Morikawa Drawing
List of Works
For examples of all his various Artwork check out: Morikawa's Artwork
- Silhouette Night - ( シルエットナイト) - 1983
- Kazuya NOW - (一矢NOW) - Two Volumes - 1986
- Signal Blue - ( シグナルブルー) - Two Volumes - 1987
- Hajime no Ippo - (はじめの一歩 ) - 122 Volumes (On going) - 1989 to 2018
- Hajime no Ippo: Gaiden - The Naniwa Tiger Side Story - ( はじめの一歩外伝 浪速の虎) - One Shot - 2008 (Included in Hajime no Ippo volume 84)
- Ai ni iku yo (I'll be seeing you!) - ( 会いにいくよ ) - One Volume - 2012
- The Pride of the Beaten Dog (殴られた犬の誇り) by Takahashi Naoto (October 2004 cover illustration)
- Mou, Shinasen kara Volume 4 by Nishimoto Hideo (December 2006 cover illustration)
- Ring Magazine (September 2019 cover illustration)
- The Squeaking Technique of Tsunekatsu (常勝の鳴きテクニック) by Ken Sonoda and Zero (February 2020 cover illustration)
- Fukushima Manabu vs Momotaro Kitajima (August 28, 1999)
- Fukushima Manabu vs Oscar Larious - Super Bantamweight Interim WBC Title (August 24, 2002)
- Fukushima Manabu vs Vladimir Sidrenko - WBA Bantamweight Title (Match Cancelled)
- Emiko Raika vs Ann Saccurato - Women's International Boxing Association World lightweight Title (Nov 10, 2007)
- Promotional Posters for Ryōta Murata vs Rob Brant I - WBA (Regular) Middleweight Title Defence (October 21, 2018)
- Hajime no Ippo Featherweight Tournament - Quarter Finals (November 19, 2019)
Other Related People
Mangaka that Morikawa worked for as an Assistant
- Shigeno Shuuichi - (しげの 秀一) - Mangaka known for Initial D (頭文字D) and Baribari Densetsu (バリバリ伝説). The series that Morikawa worked on with Shigeno was Baribari Densetsu.
- Mafune Kazuo- (真船一雄) - Mangaka known for Super Doctor K ( 슈퍼 닥터 K).
- Tatsuya Hiruta - (蛭田達也) - Mangaka known for Kōtarō Makaritōru! (コータローまかりとおる!) series.
Note: In an interview, Morikawa mentions he occasionally helped other mangaka when he was starting out from time to time like with Mafune Kazuo and Tatsuya Hiruta.
Past Assistants of Morikawa
- Kentaro Miura - (三-浦 建太郎) - Mangaka of Berserk ( 베르세르크). He was once an assistant to Morikawa. When Hajime No Ippo reached Round 1000, he sent a drawing of Takamura as a Tribute.
- Masahito Soda - (曽田正人) - Mangaka of Capeta ( カペタ ). He filled in as an assistant for a few times when he was starting out. When Hajime No Ippo reached Round 1000, he sent a drawing of Ippo and Kumi as a Tribute.
- Nishimoto Hideo - (西本 英雄) - Mangaka known for Mou, Shimasen kara ( もう、しませんから). Morikawa is known to appear as a character in Mou, Shimasen kara, where he is portrayed as a bully like Takamura. In volume 108, there is a chapter of Mou, Shinasen kara included as part of the volume extra drawn by Morikawa. Hideo been friends with Morikawa for over 20 years. He's even took part in a baseball game that Morikawa set up. (Photo in volume 56.)
- Saki Kaori - ( 咲香里 ) - Mangaka known for Smash! ( スマッシュ! ). She was an assist for Morikawa for about 2 years. She has also appeared as a character in Mou, Shimasen kara.
- Fukushima Manabu - (福島学) - Former pro boxer that debut out of JB Sports Gym. In 2002, he had lost a WBC title match against Oscar Larios in which Morikawa helped worked as a 2nd in. Later on, Manabu became the OPBF champion for super bantamweight.
- Takahashi Naoto - (高橋ナオト) - Former pro boxer that helped run JB Sports Gym for Morikawa. His nickname was "Prince of the Reversal". Miyata Ichirō was partially modelled after him. His rematch (Naoto Takahashi vs Noree Jockygym) was the under-card for Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas in Tokyo that Morikawa was known to attend.
- Raika Emiko - ( 来家 恵美子 ) - Female pro boxer that Morikawa drew a fight poster for.
- Ryōta Murata - (村田 諒太) - Current WBA middleweight world champion and Olympic Gold 2012 medallist. Morikawa has drawn several posters for the Ryōta Murata vs Rob Brant world title fight in October 21, 2018, which Ryōta lost. He later won the title back in a a rematch on July 12, 2019.
- Naoya Inoue - (井上 尚弥) - He is the current Unified WBA, IBF and The Ring (magazine) Bantamweight Champion. He previously held the WBO junior-bantamweight title from 2014 to March 2018, and the WBC light-flyweight title in 2014. Nicknamed "The Monster", Inoue is known for his devastating punching power and brutal body attack. Morikawa drew the September issue of The Ring magazine that had Naoya Inoue on the cover for it's monster issue.
Interviews with Morikawa
- Shonen Magazine Online Interview with Morikawa about drawing (2019/01/09):
- Mangaka Seo Koji (Hitman) interviews Morikawa with his first Editor (2018/06/13):
- Interview with Morikawa that appeared in Shonen Magazine (2018/04/01)
- Interview with Morikawa about starting out
- How to be a Manga Artist (2016/08/25) :
- Morikawa talks about Hajime no Ippo: Rising (2014):
Gallery with Morikawa Jouji
- Morikawa enjoys fishing, which is more than likely why Ippo's family runs a fishing boat rental.
- Nishimoto Hideo, author of Weekly Shōnen Magazine's Mou, Shimasen kara., often draws Morikawa in his manga as a bully character. In return, Morikawa drew the cover art for volume 4 of the collected series.
- Morikawa is listed in the Guinness Book of World records for taking part for World largest Greeting card during the Fukushima Revival Festival. Video about it.
- Morikawa designed the characters for his high school.
- Morikawa appears in a Promo Video advertising Shirts for Uniqlo and Weekly Shonen Magazine as part of it 60 year celebration.
- Morikawa is born on January 17, which is the same day of birth as Cas Damato (the famous boxing trainer who raised Mike Tyson) and Muhammad Ali. He joked in an interview thought it was his destiny to draw boxing manga.
- Morikawa has acted as a 2nd for various boxers boxers for his boxing gym, JB Sports.
- In February 1990, Morikawa attended the Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas match at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
- The Volume 3 cover of inner panel, it show a picture of Morikawa standing outside of the Tokyo Dome in front of a billboard for the match.
- One of the under-card matches for it was Takahashi Naoto vs Noree Jockygym, where Takahashi Naoto later became the manager for his boxing gym.
- Another under card of the match was Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who had his 2nd match. Joichiro Tatsuyohi has appeared in (and referenced to) in the story, where he been photographed with Morikawa on a few volume cover, and on the cover of Round 183.
- Morikawa and Weekly Shōnen Magazine paid for Fukushima Manabu's World title match against Oscar Larious, that Fukushima ended up losing it.
- There was a special "documentary" between the boxing manga series and the boxers in real life. It included the famous mangaka of Ashita no Joe, Chiba Tetsuya, other remarkable names of professional boxers as the super flyweight WBO Champion Naoya Inoue, middleweight WBA Champion Ryōta Murata, Former super featherweight WBA Champion Takashi Uchiyama as well as the veteran WBA Champ Yoko Gushiken, appeared in the Hajime no Ippo Sports x Manga Special.
- On January 12, 2019, Tamura Ryoichi became the JBC Super Bantamweight Champion. He fought for the vacant title against Mugicha Nakagawa (武田勇太). It was the first time in 19 years, that JB Sports Gym had a boxer when the JBC title.
- On November 30, 2019, Tamura Ryoichi won the Super Bantamweight OPBF Silver title by defeating Moensaku Yor at Sunworld Dynasty Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.
- Hajime no Ippo was used to promote the match in order to promote Pro Boxing in Taiwan since it is licensed in Taiwan as The Fighting (第一神拳), where Morikawa helped promote the event.
- The entire match was stream for free online, where you can see Morikawa act as a 2nd during his boxers matches.
- Morikawa is a big fan of Mahjong.
- In March 2019, he released drawings of various Hajime no Ippo characters wearing jersery from various Mahjong League teams for the 2018 M League Finals.
- In September 2019, Morikawa drawn various Hajime no Ippo character wearing Team uniforms for M League for the start of M League 2019 in October 2019.
- For the first opening match, it features teams involved: Mashiba Ryō (SEGA SAMMY Phoenix) , Takamura Mamoru (Shibuya ABEMAS), Miyata Ichirō (TEAM RAIDEN / Raiden), and Alexander Volg Zangief (U-NEXT Pirates).
- In the second opening match, it features teams involved: Sendō Takeshi (Akasaka Dorvans), Mashiba Kumi (KONAMI Mahjong Sports Nippon), Makunouchi Ippo (EX Furin Kazan), and Sanada Kazuki (Sakura Nights)
- On October 20, 2019, Morikawa took part in Mahjong Saikyosen 2019. It is a celebrity Mahjong Tournament. He played on table A against Nobuyuki Fukumoto (福本伸行), Ayame Mizusaki (水崎綾女), Daisuke Suzuki (鈴木大介), where he ended up losing in the first round.
- In December 2019, Morikawa appeared on Mahjong Play BAR (麻雀遊戯BAR), a mahjong show on youtube hosted by Nobuto Sanuki (壱岐信人) and Nobuo Hoshino (星野信夫). He appeared with Ken Sonoda (園田賢), a member of M League team Akasaka Drivens (赤坂ドリブンズ).
- On January 10, 2020, Morikawa took part in the annual New Years Mahjong Tournament sponsored by Japan Professional Mahjong Association, where a lot of famous professionals and famous people from various fields participate every year. Some participants attend the event in Cosplay. Morikawa was paired with Ken Sonoda for his match.
- Morikawa illustrated Ken Sonoda for the cover his pamplet, The Squeaking Technique of Tsunekatsu by Ken Sonoda and Zero, on modern Mahjong.
Tributes to other Mangaka
- Over the years, Morikawa has drawn tributes to other mangaka when they reach a milestone, or to honor their work. For examples, visit his Artwork page.
- Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji - by Nobuyuki Fukumoto
- Heroic Legend of Arslan - by Yoshiki Tanaka
- Fairy Tail - 10th Anniversary - by Hiro Mashima
- Fairy Tail - by Hiro Mashima
- UQ Holder - by Ken Akamatsu (Negima! Magister Negi Magi)
- Grappler Baki - 20th Anniversary - by Itagaki Keisuke
- Grappler Baki - 25th Anniversary - by Itagaki Keisuke
- Detective Conan - by Gosho Aoyama (Not shown)
- KochiKame - by Akimoto Osamu
- JJM - Joshi Judoubu Monogatari by Makoto Kobayashi
- Mou, Shimasen kara - vol 4 cover - by Nishimoto Hideo
- Diamond No Ace - by Yuji Terajima
- Ashita No Joe - by Tetsuya Chiba
- Fuuka - by Kōji Seo (For Anime get made)
- Kamen Rider - Ippo
- Capeta - by Masahito Soda - Chapter 100
- I won't do it anymore - by Nishimoto Hideo
- Kindaichi Shounen - by Fumiya Satō - 100 million volumes sold