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.
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.
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 serialized 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 serialization 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 serialization as of 2019, 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.
On April 24, 2019, Morikawa announced that he is sponsoring a Class A Tournament for Featherweight boxers with Dangan Promotion to help promote boxing and 30 years of Hajime no Ippo, where 8 boxers will take part to win a prize of 1 million yen.On May 10th, 2019, Morikawa received the 43rd Kodansha Manga Awards.
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
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. Hideo been friends with Morikawa for over 20 years. He's even took part in a baseball game that Morikawa see 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 undercard 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 was a second before he started the serialization of the series Hajime no Ippo.
- Morikawa enjoys fishing, which is more than likely why Ippo's family runs a fishing boat rental.
- 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.
- Nishimoto Hideo, author of Weekly Shonen 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 has drawn a few tributes or homages to honour other manga series (See above).
- 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 -(Anime)
- Kamen Rider - Ippo
- 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 1/12/19, Tamura Ryoichi won the fight for the vacant JBC Super Bantamweight Title against Mugicha Nakagawa (武田勇太), he is now the current JBC Super Bantamweight for JB Sports Gym that Morikawa owns. It is the first time in 19 years that it has a JBC Champion. Tamura later lost the belt in his first title defence.
- Morikawa is a big fan of Mahjong. In March 2019, he released drawings to celebrate the 2018 M league.
- Morikawa appears in a Promo Video advertising Shirts for Uniqlo and Weekly Shonen Magazine as part of it 60 year celebraton.
- On 10/20/2019, 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.