What he said

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.
  • 6 Responses to What he said

    1. […] Sporadic Sequential, John Jakala opens up a can of whupass on the all-manga-looks-alike crowd. David Welsh adds his list of manga creators who eschew the big-eyes-big-hair style. And ChunHyang72 drops in to […]

    2. […] side of the fence just keeps coming. Here’s Christopher Butcher on the subject, here’s David Welsh on the subject, and here’s […]

    3. CPM actually sent me a photocopy of Strawberries before they all but imploded. It’s quite good. I really hope it sees the light of day sometime soon.

    4. davidpwelsh says:

      I’m just happy there’s proof that the book exists, Chris, even in photocopy form. Thanks for sharing the sighting.

    5. peter s says:

      What about Taiyo Matsumoto? His “Black & White” series is one of my favourite mangas, and his art looks like nothing else coming out of Japan. It’s a bit chicken-scratch and I didn’t like it at first, but it really grew on me.

      Good call on Junko Mizuno, Kiriko Nananan and Jiro Taniguchi, mind; they’re three other favourites of mine!

    6. davidpwelsh says:

      Oh, good call. I’ve heard Black & White being praised before, but I’d never really looked for samples of Matsumoto’s work. Looks gorgeous.

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