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When you pick up a manga, the first thing you look at is the artwork. Sometimes, the artwork is so captivating that you don’t even bother to read what the manga is about. You just dive right in!
Manga artists, or mangaka, have the responsibility to give each manga its own style and personality. These manga artists deserve attention and respect for their skill at drawing (and writing) some of the most amazing fictional universes and characters.
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1. Osamu Tezuka: Astroboy
You can’t talk about manga without mentioning Osamu Tezuka. This man has been dubbed “the father of manga,” as he spurred the manga revolution in Japan.
In addition to creating the popular Astroboy series, he also penned the unfinished Phoenix series before he passed away in 1989. His art has an iconic cartoonish style that almost resembles the style of his idol, Walt Disney.
2. Naoki Urasawa: 20th Century Boys
Not surprisingly, Naoki Urasawa was influenced by Tezuka’s revolutionary manga. His manga has a very distinct appearance, and his stories are impeccable.
Urasawa is most famous for 20th Century Boys, a manga that follows Kenji Endo and his companions. They seek to stop a cult-leader by the name of “Friend” who aims to eliminate their childhood memories.
3. Kentaro Miura: Berserk
Kentaro Miura created Berserk, a manga that went on to become one of the most brutal anime of all time. His artwork will leave you in awe, both because of its depiction of grotesque violence and its extreme detail. Miura does an amazing job at shading, making each page worthy of staring at for several minutes to admire his work.
4. Hirohiko Araki: Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure
Hirohiko Araki has one of the most unique art styles out of all the mangaka. His characters’ faces are well-defined, with the male cast having both a manly, yet glamorous appearance.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is the prime example of Araki’s vibrant drawings. Better yet, it’s now available in full color, allowing you to enjoy the supernatural plot and lively artwork even more.
5. Junji Ito: Tomie
If you’re a horror fan, you’ll appreciate the work of Junji Ito. He’s the horror king of manga, producing works so creepy that they’ll freak out even the most stoic person.
Ito doesn’t write about the typical horror tropes like vampire and zombies—he creates psychological thrillers that haunt you. Tomi, for example, follows a manipulative succubus who triggers the deaths of many men around her. Ito’s crisp art style will give you goosebumps.
6. Sui Ishida: Tokyo Ghoul
Sui Ishida incorporates watercolor into his art, making for an unforgettable and beautiful style. The covers of Tokyo Ghoul encompass this faint, pastel look, directly opposing the dark and gory plot of the manga. You may not get the same watercolor look inside the manga, but the artwork and plot are still just as noteworthy.
7. Go Nagai: Devilman
Go Nagai was considered a controversial mangaka in the past. He combines an innocent-looking art style with violent and risque themes. However, his work isn’t considered scandalous today by any means.
Devilman is Nagai’s most popular manga. It follows a teenager who’s been possessed by a devilish creature and must fight a war against his fellow demons.
8. Eiichiro Oda: One Piece
What makes Eiichiro Oda so notable is his commitment to his work. He’s written over 900 chapters of One Piece, and he still hasn’t stopped.
Oda’s quirky and charming art style makes his manga a fun read. Plus, any mangaka who’s hasn’t run out of ideas (or hasn’t gotten tired of drawing the same characters over and over again) demands respect.
9. Oneyusuke Murata: One Punch Man
Oneyusuke Murata combines a minimalist art style with utter complexity—you’ll especially see this contrast in One Punch Man. He sometimes draws the protagonist, Saitama, with extreme simplicity—in other scenes, he makes Saitama look lifelike.
10. Hiromu Arakawa: Fullmetal Alchemist
Not only is Hiromu Arakawa one of the most legendary mangaka because of her artwork, but she’s also one of the most inspirational. Arakawa has defied stereotypes—she wrote and drew a shonen manga, a genre typically dominated by male mangaka.
Fullmetal Alchemist is her most famous work for its creativity and steampunk style. It’s versatile enough to be enjoyed by manga and non-manga fans alike.
Manga Artists Deserve More!
Mangaka usually don’t get credit when it comes to their work. Almost everyone is guilty of reading manga, but paying no attention to the person who created the story and art.
It’s always disappointing to find out that your favorite manga doesn’t have an accompanying anime. Check out this list for manga that deserve anime adaptations.