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?