The Final 5 Top Manga Artists (so far)

5. Kensuke Nishida

The writer and artist of the manga series, I Am a Hero in Nagasaki, Kensuke Nishida is an up and coming mangaka. One of the three spinoff series of the I Am a Hero series by Kengo Hanazawa, I Am a Hero in Nagasaki follows a photographer Yamada. Suffering from a form of Anthropophobia, Yamada and his former classmate Nirei Aya try to live on Hashima Island, under threat by zombie and humans. Nishida is currently the artist on the Jagaaaaaan manga series.

4. Sakurai Gamon

Gamon is the illustrator and writer of the Ajin manga series. The original writer Tsuina Miura quit early in the manga’s creation and Gamon continued without him. Gamon an avid gamer loves to incorporate gaming references into his manga. Ajin is a seinen manga series that focuses on those resistant to death, Demi-Humans. Kai Nagai is killed during a traffic accident, he survives to reveal that he’s a demi-human. Kei must navigate a world that hates what he is.

3. Atsushi Okubo

Okubo is the author and artist of Soul Eater and Fire Force. He was an assistant for Rando Ayamine on the GetBackers series. He also created work for the Lord of Vermilion video game and character designs for Bravely Default. He won a contest at Square Enix’s magazine Gangan with his first series B.Ichi. He began Soul Eater in 2004, ending in 2013. In 2015 he began his current series, Fire Force.

2. Shinichi Sakamoto

One look at Sakamoto’s artwork you instantly know why he’s one of the best mangakas. The realism in his artwork is unreal. One of the manga series that illustrates his best work is Innocent and Innocent Rouge. The story is a dark seinen series focusing on a family of executioners in France during the French Revolution.

1. Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama is the one of, if not the greatest mangaka of all time. The creator of Dr. Slump, Dragon Ball, and Dragon Ball Z manga series that collectively have sold over 300 million copies, Akira Toriyama is credited with popularizing Shonen. He’s also the inspiration for many of the manga artists I featured on these lists. Dragon Ball Super is his current series. His art style can be seen as simple and childlike. However, I think that’s what makes his art so impactful. Hirohiko Araki once said that Toriyama’s art style is best typified as “Realism and signification oppose each other like water and oil, but is possible to use both at the same time.”

Well, that’s all the mangaka artists that I considered among the best. I know that can’t possibly be ALL of them. Any suggestions of who can make a future top 5 mangaka list? Let me know.

5 More Top Mangaka Artists

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5 More Top Mangaka Artists

5. Hiroya Oku

Oku is a mangaka who created Gantz (2000 – 2013) and Inuyashiki (2014 – 2017). His manga is often featured explicit violence, gore, and sexual content. In 1988 he won the Youth Manga Awards. He’s also designed a character (Shura) for the Soulcalibur 4 fighting game.

4. Akihito Tsukushi

Tsukushi is the creator of the manga and anime series, Made in Abyss. The series follows an orphan named Riko, as she and her friend Reg explore the Abyss searching for her mother. Made in Abyss is known for its childlike characters that contrast with it’s more serious tone and narrative.

3. Hiromi Arakawa

Hiromi Arakawa is the writer and manga artist for the critical acclaimed Fullmetal Alchemist series. Set in a universe where alchemy is used for science and war, Fullmetal Alchemist centers on the brothers Edward and Alphonse. They aim to find the philosopher’s stone to restore their bodies that were destroyed after failing to resurrect their mother. Fullmetal Alchemist has sold over 70 million copies and has spawned two anime series.

2. Junji Ito

Ito is a horror mangaka, known for his series The Enigma of Amigara Fault, Tomie, Uzumaki, and Gyo. In 2019 he received the Eisner Award for his manga adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Ito has cited Hideshi Hino, Yasutaka Tsutsui, and H.P. Lovecraft as major influences. Many of his series feature body horror, societal breakdowns, and deep-sea organisms.

1. Yusuke Murata

Murata is best known for illustrating the series Eyeshield 21 and One Punch Man. Murata is a fan of Kinu Nishimura, the concept artist for capcom. He also claims Akira Toriyama as another influence. His art has been praised by many with June Shimonishi stating that “every inch [is] filled with details and no gag left unseen.” Deb Aoki stated that “his art not just there to look pretty – it’s there to tell a story.” Murata has also created several Spider-Man covers.

Even More Top Manga Artists

Even More Top Manga Artists

5. Kamome Shirahama

Kamome is best known in the states for her work on DC and Marvel. As a comic book cover artists, she has done covers for Star Wars, Birds of Prey and Batgirl. Witch Hat Atelier is the manga series that she is best known for. If you notice anything about her artwork it will be her line work.

4. Katsuhiro Otomo

Akira is one of the greatest anime/manga series ever created. It makes sense that the artist, Katsuhiro Otomo would be one of the best manga-ka. Otomo became the fourth manga artist inducted into the American Eisner Award Hall of Fame and was the first manga artist to receive the Grand Prix de la Ville d’Angoulême. He was also responsible for the anime adaptation that emulates his art style.

3. Takehiko Inoue

Inoue’s Slam Dunk series is one of the best selling manga series of all time. Slam Dunk has been adapted into an anime and sold over 120 million copies. The series focuses on the basketball team from Shohoku High School. Inoue current series Vagabond portrays a fictional account of swordsmen Musashi Miyamoto. It has sold over 80 million copies so far.

2. Hirohiko Araki

Araki’s first manga series was Cool Shock B.T., but he’s best known for his current series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. First published in 1987, Jojo has sold over 100 million copies. Known for its references to Western rock music, fashion, and Italy. Jojo is currently divided into eight parts. Each one follows new protagonists that bear the name “JoJo.” Araki’s art style is unique, easily recognizable to anyone familiar with it.

1. Kentaro Miura

Like many of the other manga-ka on this list, Kentaro’s series, Berserk, is one of the most influential manga series. Berserk is a dark fantasy series set in medieval Europe. Centering on the character Guts, a lone mercenary. As of January 2016, Berserk has sold over 40 million copies. Berserk features detailed artwork of giant grotesque demons.

5 More Top Manga Artists

5 More Top Manga Artists

5. Hiro Mashima

Hiro is the creator of Rave Master (1999-2005), Fairy Tail (2006-2017) and Edens Zero (2018 – present), as well as several spin-offs. Fairy Tail, his most successful series has sold over 60 million copies. Like many mangakas, Hiro was inspired by Akira Toriyama. He also claims the videogame series Dragon Quest and Kinnikuman as inspirations.


4. Oh! great

Ito Ogure is known professionally as Oh! great. His most popular manga series are Tenjho Tenge and Air Gear. His artwork is most famous for his highly sexualized female characters and the large use of fanservice. He’s also designed characters for Tekken and Soulcalibur series.


3. Boichi

Boichi is the pen name of Mujik Park. A South Korean artist, he’s best known for his Dr. Stone manga series. He majored in physics as preparation for drawing science fiction. His first series was Sun-Ken Rock. His art style is easily recognizable. Particularly his detailed shadow use, his linework, and thick eyebrows.


2. Kohei Horikoshi

Horikoshi’s current series My Hero Academia is among the most popular series in production. A graduate of Nagoya University of Arts and a former assistant for Yasuki Tanaka (Hitomi no Catoblepas, Kagijin), he credits manga series Naruto, One Piece and Akira as inspiration.


1. Masashi Kishimoto

Naruto is hands down one of the greatest manga series of all time. Kishimoto’s art is part of this success. Currently, Naruto has sold over 250 million copies. Inspired as a child by the works of Akira Toriyama and Katsuhiro Otomo, Kishimoto is now ranked among them. He’s also mentioned that he was inspired by Yoshihiro Togashi (Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter).

My Top 5 Manga Artists

My Top 5 Manga Artists

Personally, I’ve always preferred anime to manga. Animation is more dynamic and expressive. The fluid nature of my favorite kind of animation, Sakuga, has particularly captivated me. Action sequences are far more exciting when animated. That’s not to say that 2D art can’t do such things. However, it’s much more difficult. Like comic books, when deciding to read a manga series the art style is more important to me that the story. I will even read a manga series with an average story if the art is good. So what do I think constitutes good art?

Generally, manga is presented in black and white. This means unlike American comics, the shadow takes a more prominent role. Without the advantage of color, an artist must use black, white and gray to convey depth. Lines become more important. The use of hatching and cross-hatching, along with white space can help a manga-ka distinguish their artwork from others. With hard work and technical proficiency, artists can make a name for themselves. Personally, I look for good character designs, details, I favor realism but I don’t mind surreal art. I managed to collect at least 20 artists, but here is the first five:


5. Inio Asano (Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction)

Asano combines detailed backgrounds with childlike characters. His characters are notable for having eyes that are far apart, but his characters don’t look deformed. Asano’s most recent work is the seinen manga series, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction. A spaceship appears over Tokyo three years prior to the beginning of the story. However, the story focuses on humans not the aliens. It’s a brutal series (for the aliens) but worth the read.


4. Makoto Yukimura (Vinland Saga)

Vinland Saga became a big anime hit last year. While it feature amazing animation, it’s Makoto Yukimura’s art style that stands out. His artwork isn’t too realistic, but has a high level of realism. This type of art is important for depicting the historical setting and characters of the series. His art often features a great deal of detail.


3. Eiichiro Oda (One Piece)

One Piece is one of the best manga of all time. Eiichiro Oda’s pirate series has a distinct art-style. He plays with portion. Many of his characters are extremely tall with long limbs (but they’re not giants), some of Oda’s characters are top-heavy with short legs. One criticism I would have of Oda’s art style is that his female characters are too similar.


2. Tite Kubo (Bleach)

One thing that you may not notice right away about Tite Kubo’s art in Bleach is that he doesn’t draw backgrounds. Or at least he rarely draws them. This results in a lot of white space being used. Kubo makes great use of his white space often filling it with characters with heavy shadow.


1. Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman)

I consider Ryoichi Ikegami to be one of the best manga-ka. His artwork is stunning and detailed. His characters feel real and the clothing he draws is amazing. One thing I notice is that Ikegami is one of the manga-ka that features many black characters. Part of what makes Ikegami’s art style so distinct is that each character looks different from the other. However, that difference is more subtle than other manga. I would encourage you to read his Crying Freeman manga series.


Do you have a favorite manga-ka and/or art style? Why do you think you were drawn to them?