Lists · Top 5

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?


Vinland Saga Episode 24: Recap & Review

In the final episode of season 1 of Vinland Saga, King Sweyn enrages Askeladd with an insult of his lineage.
Askeladd’s rage

Season 1, Episode 24: End of Prologue

Askeladd’s end is just the beginning

From the start of Vinland Saga, Askeladd has been the most interesting character. Thors the former warrior turned peaceful family man was more predictable, even if his end was a tremendous act of sacrifice. Thorfinn becomes a bitter, angry young man. While it’s completely understandable, it means that Thorfinn is the simple character. At least for now. Vinland Saga has also emphasized from the beginning that violence should never be engaged in lightly. Most important, a warrior should value his life. Askeladd seemed to be the cold and calculating villain. He turned out more complex than that. While capable of horrific acts, he never made them out of simple cruelty. There was always a reason them. Askeladd valued his life, but he always was prepared for it end.

Askeladd’s final plan

When King Sweyn announced his intention to invade Wales, Askeladd is caught of guard. He can’t figure his way out of this one. When Sweyn insults his lineage once more, Askeladd becomes enraged. However, he never loses his reason. Askeladd begins to insult and threaten King Sweyn, he’s already set in motion a plan to had Canute the throne. For Canute to successfully become the next King, he cannot be seen as responsible for his father’s death. Before decapitated King Sweyn, Askeladd announces the name he was given by his mother. Lucius Artorius Castus, true heir of the English throne. In his “madness,” Askeladd begins cutting down the soldiers. Canute tells Thorkell to “wait” to cut down Askeladd, while pointing out that he knows exactly what Askeladd is doing.

This is an important moment that proves that Prince Canute has learned from the master. Askeladd had always intended to make him King, this was the nail in that coffin. Thorkell despite his appearance and personality is also aware of the moment. If Prince Canute is to become King in the eyes of them me, he must be the one to “put Askeladd down.” He does so, solidifying himself as a leader in the soldiers eyes. Askeladd’s death grants Canute his crown, but what of Thorfinn. It was always his plan and desire to be the one to kill Askeladd. I expected rage from Thorfinn, what we got was desperation. While, both he and Askeladd pretend that they couldn’t care less about each other, neither was telling the truth.

What’s left for Thorfinn

While I believe that Thorfinn still wanted revenge, his relationship with Askeladd was more than that. Whether he noticed or not, Askeladd became a father figure. Before Askeladd dies, he imparts some wisdom to Thorfinn. He asks him “how will you live?” Reminding him that he’s the son of “Thors,” Askeladd tells Thorfinn to become a “true warrior.” Blinded by his rage, Thorfinn didn’t consider what would become of his life after Askeladd death. After Askeladd dies, Thorfinn gives Canute a look of bewilderment. He has no idea what to do with himself. Running on instinct he resorts to one thing that has remained constant in his life, violence. In the final moments of this season, Thorfinn drops the dagger his father gave him. It’s difficult to know what will become of him now that he’s lost both his fathers. I can’t wait to find out.

A heartbroken and enraged Thorfinn is carried off
A heartbroken and enraged Thorfinn is carried off

It’s not certain whether there will be another season (I doubt there won’t be), but a series of this quality will probably take years to produce anyway. I very tempted to begin reading the manga. Vinland Saga’s managed to balance realism and over the top action well. Blending the stories fantasy elements with historical ones was a nice touch. The violence itself is presented in typical epic anime fashion, it’s purpose isn’t only to entertain. The deaths never felt cheap or for shock value. Crying after Thors death made sense, but I never though I would be in tears over Askeladd’s. Vinland Saga wasn’t perfect, some of the middle episodes didn’t add much in my opinion. However, with stunning direction, impressive animation and great characters, Vinland Saga is as good as an anime can get.

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Lists · Top 20

Top 20 Anime from the 2010’s (Part 3)

10. Vinland Saga (2019)

Studio: Wit Studio | MAL: 8.61 | Genre: Historical

Vinland Saga is dark, violent series with a depressing protagonists that never smiles. If like me you have a love of Viking and Norse mythology this anime is for you. Wit Studio of Attack on Titan fame, continues to produce stunning animation. Vinland Saga balances the epic battles with realism well. Conflict manages to both feature superhuman feats with human consequences. The first scene in the first episode sets the tone, bloody, gorgeously rendered, outstandingly directed action. The quality remains consistent throughout. Vinland Saga also features complex characters and great world-building. It’s an anime series that simply cannot be missed.

Check Out My Review of Vinland Saga Episode 1

9. The Promised Neverland (2019)

Studio: CloverWorks | MAL: 8.69 | Genre: Mystery

The Promised Neverland shocked me. Not since Made in Abyss (also on this list) have my expectation been undermined for the better. Orphans housed in the Grace Field House live as a family under the watch of Isabella or “Mama.” Tested daily, the children are largely permitted to do as they will. Except they are not allowed to venture past the bridge. Being children they don’t question the world they inhabit much. However, the three eldest and smartest siblings begin to become suspicions of what’s happening. What they uncover is a conspiracy in which children are cattle for a mysterious alien race. You’ll need to suspend some disbelief as some of the plot can be convoluted, however, The Promised Neverland is never dull and will pull at your heartstrings.

Check Out My Review of The Promised Neverland Episode 1

8. Yuri on Ice (2016)

Studio: MAPPA | MAL: 8.07 | Genre: Sports

Is it possible to like an anime based on a sport and not care for the sport itself? To be honest I have watched some ice skating, but I can’t call myself a fan. Regardless, Yuri on Ice made me love ice skating at least for a while. Yuri on Ice’s main protagonists is Yuri Katsuki. Unlike a typical sport anime protagonists, he’s . . . well a loser. Literally. At the beginning of the series Yuri is crushed as he suffers another humiliating defeat at the Grand Prix Finale. At the age of 23, Yuri is old (in skating anyway) and his window is closing. He return home to supportive family and friends. Outside of the public view, Yuri performs a routine from five time world champ, Victor Nikiforov. This performance goes viral, inspiring the actual Victor to come to Japan to become Yuri’s coach.

Check Out My Review of Yuri on Ice Episode 1

7. My Hero Academia (2016)

Studio: Bones | MAL: 8.35 | Genre: Superhero

Izuku Midoriya subverts the expectation of a shonen hero. He’s born without any powers (in My Hero Academia they’re called quirks). Where characters like Monkey D. Luffy or Goku lack intellect but possess great power, Midoriya is the opposite. Sure he gains great power from the greatest hero All Might, but he struggles to control and master it. Izuku is highly intelligent, often stopping in the heat of battle to analyze the situation. Unlike most shonen anime, Midoriya is routinely outclassed by classmates, Todoroki and Bakugo. The series even switches from the heroes to the villains. Often the villains are already fully grown, in age and power. However, in My Hero Academia they must learn to be effective villains. Like the young heroes they develop new powers and simultaneously an affection for each other. This coupled with amazing action and humor, makes MHA on of the best series of the last decade.

Check Out My Hero Academia Episode Review

6. Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)

Studio: ufotable | MAL: 8.92 | Genre: Supernatural

If Izuku Midoriya is the start of a new type of shonen hero, Tanjiro continues the trend. Driven by the sole purpose of returning his sister back to a human, Tanjiro embarks on a journey that results in him joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Tanjiro Kamado is smart and courageous hero, but his kindness is what makes him stand out. He will give his life to stop the demons, but when he defeats them he is compassionate as he helps them into the next life. However, his relationship with is sister, Nezuko, is probably the heart of the series so far. She can be forgotten sleep in her box for hours, but she manages to display human traits despite being a demon. Characters like Zenitsu and Inosuke add humor to the series, although they’re an acquired tasted. Finally, the only true evil in the series isn’t the lower level demons, but Muzan Kibutsuji. There’s no nuance to him. He a monster that takes advantage of the weak and expects them to give in to his will. Demon Slayer is a top tier series with amazing characters and action to match.

Check Out My Review of Demon Slayer Episode 1


Vinland Saga Episode 17: Recap & Review

Season 1, Episode 17 of Vinland Saga. Thorfinn enraged at the though of someone else killing Askeladd
Thorfinn enraged at the though of someone else killing Askeladd

Season 1, Episode 17: Servant

Thorkell finally gets his duel with Thorfinn

When we last left Vinland Saga, the traitors surrounded Askeladd, Thorfinn, Bjorn and Canute, while Thorkell and his men approach. Askeladd tells the traitors that “all they need to do is line up in the river to join Thorkell.” However, Torgrim counters that they need the Prince. He tells Askeladd that he doesn’t want to kill him. Considering that Askeladd has survive battle with both Thors and Thorfinn, Torgrim is in over his head. Meanwhile, Thorkell and his men continue to scale down the mountain. Askeladd tells his men that despite spending so much time together, he “hated them.” He calls them “worthless Danes,” that are “worse than pigs.”

Askeladd decapitates several men with one swing. Torgrim panics, telling the men to get the Prince. Thorfinn attacks them with daggers, while, Askeladd cuts down the others. Bjorn rides off with Thorfinn, the priest and Prince Canute. Torgrim orders his men to follow. Thorkell watching, notices that they’re fighting. Thorkell is outrage. He doesn’t understand why they would start fighting without him. He begins to run down the mountain. Elsewhere, the men on horses gain on Bjorn and the others. Thorfinn is out of daggers. Atli tries to reason with Bjorn. However, the only way to stop Bjorn is to kill him. One of the men hits a horse in the head with an ax, causing Bjorn to crash.

Thorkell preparing to face off against Thorfinn

Askeladd verses 50 traitors

Thorfinn grabs a horse and runs in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Bjorn and Prince Canute survive the crash. He eats a mushroom, telling the remaining men to prepare to die. Thorfinn rushes to “save” Askeladd. Meanwhile, Askeladd is struggling to defeat all the traitors. He frantically tries to find an opening to escape as Thorkell is coming. When he’s struck in the back by an ax he becomes enraged a cuts the man in half. Seeing how Askeladd cut through the helmet of that man reminds the men of what there up against. Weirdly, Askeladd apologizes for getting mad and losing his temper. The men begin to use their arrows. Seeing the unlikely hood that he would survive, Askeladd tell Torgrim that he “needs him” if he wants to get the Prince from Thorfinn and Bjorn. Torgrim orders his men to “aim for his legs.”

Askeladd is hit with several arrows in his legs. The traitors surround him. Thorfinn arrives and charges to save Askeladd. At the same time Thorkell and his men arrive, killing several of the traitors. Torgrim tries to gravel to Thorkell, but he quickly deduces that Askeladd was the leader. When he learns that Thorfinn is alive and not involved in the rebellion, he orders his men to kill them. One of Thorkell’s men tell them to pick up their weapons and fight like warriors. As the traitors are being slaughtered, Torgrim faces off against Thorkell. We’ll kinda. In the face of such a powerful foe, Torgrim loses conscience. Meanwhile, Thorfinn pushes through the fighting to reach Thorkell and Askeladd. Excited, Thorkell kills Thorfinn’s horse with one punch. Of course, Thorfinn only cares about saving Askeladd so that he can kill him. Thorkell and Thorfinn will duel for him.

Read More: Vinland Saga Episode 16 Review


Vinland Saga Episode 16: Recap & Review

Thorkell excited to kill
Thorkell excited to kill

Season 1, Episode 16: History of Beasts

Askeladd deals with betrayal

In Vinland Saga Episode 16, Askeladd tells Prince Canute that Ragnar died fighting the English. Askeladd wanted to kill Ragnar to help strengthen Canute’s resolve, but he also felt that Ragnar got in his way. Bjorn thinks that Canute’s “weakness” makes him easier to control. Askeladd is making a “gamble.” He thinks they might get lucky and Canute will turn out to be a great leader. However, Bjorn wonders what would happen if he just becomes depressed. Askeladd says he would just abandon him. Meanwhile, Askeladd’s men are torturing a Christian captive. As they compete to see who can kick him the hardest, Askeladd asks for some “shears.” Askeladd wants to know three things. First, how many reinforcements there are? Secondly, how long until they get here? Finally, how did they find their location?

A history lesson from Askeladd

Askeladd uses the shears on the man’s fingers. Cutting them off by “accident.” After the third finger, then man still refuses to relent. He calls the Danes “beasts” for burning down his village and for killing his wife and daughter. When the man claims that this land belongs to the English, Askeladd gives them a history lesson. According to him, the first inhabitants were the Celts. Ancestors of the Welsh, the lived in the forest. Until the Romans came. The Romans ruled the lands, in turn they gave the Celts, knowledge, technology and culture. When the Romans left, the Anglos and Saxons arrived. They gave nothing to the Celts, merely driving them off the land. Before Askeladd can cut the man’s nose off, he’s interrupted. Soldiers are coming. It’s Thorkell and his men.

Thorfinn, Canute and Bjorn surrounded by enemies
Thorfinn, Canute and Bjorn surrounded by enemies

The news of Thorkell’s arrival spread through the village. He tells his men to surround the village and kill anyone but Prince Canute and Thorfinn. Attempting to flee, Prince Canute is unwilling to abandon Ragnar’s corpse. Sensing that the men are faltering at the thought of face Thorkell, Askeladd tells them to choose their leader. They will march until Thorkell reaches them. The men that deserted Askeladd are chopped to pieces by Thorkell. He found their cowardice to be off putting. Askeladd and his men cross the bridge then destroy it so Thorkell’s men can’t follow. Despite the fact that they haven’t meant Thorkell in direct combat yet, his presence has already had consequences.

The traitors among them

Several of Askeladd’s men have deserted him and now several more are preparing to betray him. Torgrim has convinced half of the men to join Thorkell and take the prince as a gift. We already know that this will be a death sentence for the traitors, as the Thorkell already made clear he hates cowards. Of course Askeladd won’t allow them to take the prince without a fight. Torgrim tires to convince Atli to join him. Destroying the bridge turned out to be a waste of time. Thorkell’s men took another route. With a smile on his face, Thorkell hurls a spear through several men. The sight of Thorkell strength sends the men over the edge. Torgrim becomes feed up. Askeladd knows that they can’t defeat Thorkell. He asks Torgrim for “one more day.” As the traitors surround Askeladd, Thorfinn, Bjorn and Canute, Thorkell and his men begin to move.

Read More: Vinland Saga Episode 15 Review