Learn about some of the most talented and renowned mangakas of all time
In Japan, all comic strips are called manga. The word combines two kanjis that mean informal (漫 man) and drawing (画 ga). In the West, the term is used to refer both to comics and Japanese-style drawing.
In 1814, artist Katsushika Hokusai began to illustrate short stories where samurais took center stage and which depicted the wars and victories experienced in Japan. He coined the word 'manga.' From then on, Japanese graphic art combined with western comic strips started to spread throughout Japan. However, it wasn't until 1945 that this art was established as a modern entertainment industry at the hand of Osamu Tezuka. The Japanese animator and mangaka (the name given to artists who write or draw mangas), who is considered the god of manga, wrote The New Treasure Island, followed by Astroboy.
The manga universe includes many styles, talents, and stories. Technical competence and artistic style are also constant in this universe. Some series and creators particularly stand out for their visual impact. Many titles are highly detailed, even more than their anime counterparts. We have created a list of the most impressive mangas and mangakas of all time and included some of the geniuses who set up an industry for this Japanese art.
Pillars of manga
A considerable amount of dedication and time is put into each panel of a manga. Attention is given to each small detail; creativity and effort are required to create exciting storylines and give life to characters who transcend the paper. Gekkō Kamen, by Yasunori Kawauchi; Mach Go Go Go, by Tatsuo Yoshida; Doraemon, created by Hiroshi Fujimoto; Mazinger Z, by Go Nagai; or Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball, both created by Akira Toriyama are examples of such artistry.
Japan has its list of the 30 most respected mangakas. The first five are Hideaki Sorachi for Gintama, Eiichiro Oda for One Piece, Akira Toriyama for Dragon Ball, Hiromu Arakawa for Full Metal Alchemist, and Hirohiko Araki for Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Great artists and their manga titles
Masashi Tanaka - Gon
Masashi Tanaka, a Fine Arts graduate, found great success with his comic series based on a small tyrannosaurus called Gon. The comic series is at times violent, at times moving, but with exquisite attention to detail and an artistic style tending towards an exact representation of animals, together with beautiful backgrounds and the absence of dialogs or interjections. It results in a charming combination of caricature and realistic nature.
Katsuhiro Otomo - Akira
For many, Akira is considered the best manga ever written due to the modern style of its dialog, plot, and characters. It has received many awards for the best graphic fiction piece ever created. Its creator, Katsuhiro Otomo, a fan of US cinema, published it in 1982. It received immediate success and became an epic piece, highlighted by its beautiful backgrounds and panoramic views.
Hiroya Oku - Gantz
Hiroya Oku created one of the best stories, combining science fiction and gory action. It is considered a visual artwork due to its technical mastery. Hiroya Oku did a fantastic job of using 3D renders to create a uniform look for his world, without forgetting details. Not one stain or beheading clashes with the rest of the images.
Makoto Yukimura - Vinland Saga
A historical title where every strip brings something to the story. Makoto Yukimura created one of the goriest mangas, thanks to the highly realistic and precise battles depicted. His weekly issues had to be changed to monthly to include the highest possible level of detail. The results are incredible and won him the Grand Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2009.
Junji Ito - Uzumaki
From an early age, Junji Ito was inspired by his older sister's drawings and Kazuo Umezu's comics, which spurred an interest in creating horror comics. Uzumaki, like the rest of Junji's work, is wonderfully horrific. Terrifying yet fascinating, the images tell the stories and keep the reader in constant tension.
Yusuke Murata - One Punch Man
This is a comic action manga with detailed artistry, smart writing, and precise drawings. Murata is the pillar of the new generation of Japanese artists, thanks to his work with color, lines, and details. His technique, character designs, and ease with which he combines his marks and the narration have brought him to collaborate with Capcom, Marvel, and Pokémon.
Asano Inio - Oyasumi Punpun
Asano Inio is acknowledged for his realistic stories spanning from the mundane to psychological horror. In 2001, he won the first prize in the GX competition for young manga artists. The newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun described Asano as "one of the voices of his generation". Oyasumi PunPun is a story about adolescence and the somber reality of the transition to adulthood. His diverse aesthetics provide intense, realistic atmospheres and different emotions.
Kentaro Miura - Berserk
This is considered one of the five best mangas in history for its creativity, fascinating narrative, and artistic execution. This is a work of art in the Western world, both in its storyline and in the designs. Its creator, Kentaro Miura, is trained in various inking techniques and is incredibly skilled in creating highly fluid, precise, and intense fight scenes. He uses crude shadowing techniques to add a surrealist feel to his work.
Hiroaki Samura - Blade of the Immortal
Hiroaki Samura is an expert in human anatomy, enabling him to draw unique and expressive postures and points of view. He is renowned for the attention he gives to hands and feet and his atmospheric backgrounds and landscapes, using pencil and ink shading. Blade of the Immortal combines storyline and art, with a remarkable result of style, flow of action, and a perfect balance between the details and the atmosphere's simplicity.
Takehiko Inoue - Vagabond
Vagabond is considered a piece of art in motion, with beautiful surroundings, mixing intense beauty with a harsh aesthetic. The illustrator, Takehiko Inoue, is a well-respected mangaka, whose most famous work is Slam Dunk. With Vagabond, however, he gained recognition for his detailed and realistic character designs, all utterly different from one another and characterized by excellently accomplished shapes, perspectives, and lines.