January 27, 2007
John Jakala wrote an excellent post in response to the semi-regular flurries of complaint that “All manga looks the same,” a subset of “All manga is crap.” He notes some of my favorite manga-ka in the process, but I wanted to throw out a few other names of creators whose work strikes me as particularly distinctive:
Hiromu Arakawa: Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist is popular shônen adventure, but the look of Arakawa’s work doesn’t remind me of anything else in the category.
Junko Mizuno: Mizuno may appropriate most of the elements of the “cutesy manga style,” but she makes such a psychedelic hash of them that her look crosses over into something entirely unique. Just look at Princess Mermaid.
Kaoru Mori: Not a flowery or sparkly background in sight, but Mori still manages to pack her panels with emotion, but she does so through understatement and specificity. Mori also delivers the best “chat with the author” pieces in the business.
Kiriko Nananan: Nananan’s “Heartless Bitch” and “Painful Love” were some of my favorite pieces in Secret Comics Japan, and while I wasn’t overwhelmed by Blue, I always find her visual style very arresting. If CPM ever actually releases Sweet Cream & Red Strawberries, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
Kan Takahama: Kinderbook remains one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever read, and I’m sure Awabi won’t disappoint. (The first thing Fanfare/Ponent Mon needs to do is get its distribution sorted out. The second is to revise its web site to make direct links to individual titles possible.)
Jiro Taniguchi: Gorgeously precise and detailed and able to put his style into the service of a wide variety of stories, from the everyday (The Walking Man) to the historical (The Times of Botchan) to the violent (Benkei in New York). The Ice Wanderer is due to be released by Fanfare/Ponent Mon sometime soon.
Ai Yazawa: One of the most stylish artists in print. Also a wonderful storyteller, as evidenced by Paradise Kiss and Nana.