10 manga with the most unique artistic styles
For over 70 years, manga has become a cultural phenomenon that has had an undeniable and lasting effect on the art world. Its longevity and diversity are largely due to the countless innovative mangakas, or mangaka, which bring their own style and personality to the media.
What started out as a somewhat niche art form and alternative to comics quickly exploded into the mainstream, influencing hundreds of artists. The manga evolved into animation, even inaugurating an entire genre; lively. With its popularity comes varying degrees of quality, and some franchises stand out from the crowd.
Blame!, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi manga by Tsutomu Nihei, follows protagonist Killy who wields a powerful weapon, the Gravitational Beam Emitter. The manga revolves around his search for the “Net Terminal Gene,” which allows humans to access the “Netsphere,” or city control network.
The setting, called “The City”, is designed in a gritty cyberpunk environment with incredible detail. The illustrations of mechanized characters in The City are reminiscent of HR Giger and evoke a dark and grim future as Killy seeks to prevent the growing expansion of the “Megastructure”.
9 JoJo’s bizarre adventure
JoJo’s bizarre adventure, created by Hirohiko Araki, is a stylish manga adapted into popular anime. The series mixes reality with fantasy elements and revolves around the powerful Joestar family and their connection to the supernatural.
The artistic style evolved noticeably throughout the life of the manga, eventually becoming a stylistic and dynamic masterpiece. The characters are drawn with dramatic, sometimes disproportionate poses and angular lines, helping the art to flow naturally as the action peaks on each page.
8 Pure trance
Junko Mizuno’s first manga series, Pure trance, features a distinct illustration style that is not only eye-catching, but has a particularly modern look. The series is set in a fictional post-war future, where Earth has turned inhospitable, forcing humanity to flee underground. To survive the post-apocalyptic world, underground dwellers rely on nutritional capsules, called “Pure Trance”.
The style is deceptively simplistic and beautiful to watch, with imaginative characters whose “cute” designs contrast delightfully with the darker thematic elements of the manga.
For many fans of the genre, Osamu Tezuka is affectionately known as the “godfather of manga”, gaining worldwide recognition for Astro boy in the early 1950s, and is revered as a pioneer of this art form.
Phoenix, considered his magnum opus, captures his unique and complex style in a series that lasted over 12 years, never receiving a conclusion due to Tezuka’s death in 1989. The 12-volume series takes place over different time periods, allowing to Tezuka to illustrate symbolic and very stylized content.
6 Kokou no Hito
Kokou no Hito is the story of a lonely high school student, Mori BuntarÅ, who develops a deep interest in mountaineering after being transferred to a new school. The mountain climbing theme throughout the manga represents BuntarÅ’s coming of age, as he deals with isolation and depression.
The illustrations in Kokou no Hito Encapsulate the conflicted and reclusive protagonist, with hyperrealistic designs mixed with darker abstract elements. Each panel attracts the reader, evoking feelings of loneliness and beauty.
5 Voynich hotel
Voynich Hotel, a horror comedy manga created by Douman Seiman, takes place in a small hotel in Blefuscu, a small war-torn island. The story follows Kuzuki Taizou, a former member of the Yakuza, who travels to Blefuscu to escape a life of crime.
The diversity and uniqueness of the hotel’s eclectic and villainous characters, including the owner who wears a wrestling mask from his former glory days, put Seiman’s artistic skills in the spotlight. The style is fresh and immersive while adding a comedic touch.
4 Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita)
Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita), created by Yukito Kishiro, has seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the release of a live-action adaptation in 2019. Set in a dystopian future, the manga focuses on the main character, Alita, a cyborg with no memory of her pass . Her partial body is discovered by Daisuke Ido, who reconstructs her and gives her the name Alita.
The illustrations featured in the 9-volume series paint a grim picture of an abandoned society forced to live in the town of “Scrapyard”, with pieces of junk falling from “Zalem”, the utopian town above. The intricacy of the manga’s futuristic character designs and cyberpunk setting provide a timeless style that continues to inspire artists today.
For manga readers looking for a dark fantasy action series with violent and incredibly detailed artistic illustrations, Dorohedoro is a great place to start. The manga, created by Q Hayashida, was recently adapted into an anime and takes place in a post-apocalyptic future that takes place in two different dimensions.
The two dimensions are very different, one located in a dreary city occupied by humans and the other inhabited by wizards who can travel between dimensions. Considering the themes, the manga is naturally teeming with beautiful and intricate artwork with a recognizable “rough sketch” feel, helping to set the tone for the series.
2 Horror collector
As indicated by his name, Horror collector is a fantasy horror manga centered around two main characters, Evillice and Sin. The purpose of the two protagonists to exist is to amass collections of two types of objects; cursed items and items used for murder. The story follows Evillice and Sin and their particular obsession with an old doll, cursed by a woman Evillice once loved.
The illustrations are hyper stylized and have a gothic feel, with angular lines and slender, stretched proportions. Each panel is spellbinding and darkly romantic, capturing the essence of the overall themes.
Homunculus is a psychological horror manga originally serialized in Big Comic Spirits and even had a live-action film adaptation. The manga deals with “trepanation”, the macabre medical procedure of making a hole in the skull. In Homunculus, many believe that trepanation is the key to unlocking psychic powers.
The protagonist, Susumu Nakoshi, a homeless man living in his car, agrees to undergo a trepanation for a large sum of money to get him back on his feet. The procedure allows Nakoshi to see “homunculi” or humanoid creatures. The illustrations are dark and haunting, but masterfully complex and well drawn.
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