12 Best Manga Artists – Legends And New Masters

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This article consists of some of the best manga artists ever. While it’s easy to confuse anime artists and manga artists, there’s a clear difference between them.

Usually, manga artists draw manga art for comic books, whereas anime artists draw, for example, key animation for an anime series or movies.

Let us learn more about the great manga artists whose works the world has enjoyed for years already.


Key Takeaways

  • Osamu Tezuka is considered the grandfather of manga due to his pioneering techniques and innovative redefinitions of genres.
  • Akira Toriyama is most likely the best manga artist ever walking the earth.
  • Akira Toriyama’s work has influenced many award-winning manga artists.
  • Multiple manga artists (in this list) have won numerous awards, such as the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, the Eagle Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, American Anime Award, etc.
  • Eiichiro Oda is probably one of the most financially successful manga artist ever.

Katsuhiro Otomo

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AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Otomo is a renowned Japanese manga artist, screenwriter, animator, and film director born on April 14, 1954, known as the creator of Akira.

He has received several accolades, such as the Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005, the American Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Purple Medal of Honor from the Japanese government in 2013.

Otomo was born in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, and grew up in the Tome District. He began his career as a professional manga artist after graduating from high school and started by adapting Mateo Falcone’s short story A Gun Report.

He created his first science-fiction work, Fireball, in 1979, and in 1982, he started what would become his most famous work, AKIRA.

Fun facts about Katsuhiro Otomo:

  • As a child, he grew up in the rural Tōhoku region and spent his time reading manga.
  • Otomo’s first published work was a manga adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s short story, Mateo Falcone, titled A Gun Report in 1973.
  • He is best known as the creator of the iconic manga series and animated film Akira, which he began serializing in 1982.
  • In addition to his work in manga, Otomo has also worked as a screenwriter, animator, and film director.
  • Otomo has won numerous awards for his work, including the Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Winsor McCay Award.

Osamu Tezuka

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Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka.

Osamu Tezuka was a prolific Japanese manga artist, cartoonist, and animator who is considered the father, godfather, and god of manga (also regarded as the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney.) for his innovative and pioneering techniques that redefined genres.

His notable works include Astro Boy, Princess Knight, Kimba the White Lion, Black Jack, Phoenix, and Buddha, which won several awards.

Tezuka’s mother was a significant influence on his work as she often took him to the Takarazuka Grand Theater. He also drew inspiration from Disney movies, Suihō Tagawa, and Unno Juza’s works.

Tezuka began the manga revolution in Japan with his New Treasure Island, published in 1947.

Fun facts about Osamu Tezuka:

  • He is often referred to as the “Father of Manga,” “Godfather of Manga,” and “God of Manga” due to his pioneering techniques and innovative redefinitions of genres.
  • Tezuka was a Disney movie buff, having seen Bambi over 80 times in a row.
  • He drew comics from a young age and adopted the pen name “Osamushi” after finding a ground beetle that resembled his name.
  • Tezuka studied medicine at Osaka University while simultaneously publishing his first professional works.
  • Tezuka’s legacy lives on with a museum dedicated to his memory and life works in Takarazuka and many posthumous awards.

Takeshi Obata

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Death Note: Takeshi Obata

Takeshi Obata is a highly acclaimed manga artist and illustrator from Japan, known for his detailed and dynamic artwork.

His most famous works include the manga series “Death Note” and “Bakuman,” both of which have been adapted into successful anime and live-action TV series.

Obata has won several awards for his work, including the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize. His illustrations have also been featured in various magazines and art books, showcasing his versatility and range as an artist.

Fun facts about Takeshi Obata:

  • Obata is known for his highly detailed and realistic art style, which often features intricate character designs and elaborate backgrounds.
  • Obata collaborated with writer Tsugumi Ohba on the manga series Death Note, which was first serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006. The series was a critical and commercial success, and has since been adapted into an anime series, live-action films, and a TV drama.
  • Obata’s art in Death Note has been praised for its realism and attention to detail, particularly in his depictions of the characters’ facial expressions and body language.
  • In addition to Death Note, Obata has won several awards for his work in the manga industry, including the Shogakukan Manga Award, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and the Eagle Award.
  • Obata is known for his love of American comics, particularly the work of artists like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane, and has cited them as influences on his own work.

Ken Sugimori

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Pokémon: Ken Sugimori

Ken Sugimori is a well-known video game designer and illustrator from Japan, best known for his work on the Pokémon franchise.

He is credited with designing the original 151 Pokémon and has continued to contribute to the series’ creature designs for over 20 years.

Sugimori’s artwork has been featured in numerous Pokémon games, anime series, and merchandise, and he has received recognition for his contributions to the gaming industry, including induction into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2021.

Fun facts about Ken Sugimori and the Pokémons:

  • Sugimori was born on January 27, 1966, in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Sugimori joined the video game company Game Freak in 1989, where he worked on the original Pokémon games for the Game Boy.
  • Sugimori is responsible for designing the original 151 Pokémon, as well as many of the characters and environments in the early Pokémon games.
  • Sugimori’s artwork for the Pokémon series is known for its colorful and imaginative designs, and has become a hallmark of the franchise.
  • Sugimori is known for his love of cars and has a collection of classic and vintage automobiles. He has also incorporated his love of cars into his artwork for the Pokémon series, with several Pokémon designs inspired by different types of vehicles.
  • Sugimori has won several awards for his work in the video game industry, including the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Japan Game Awards in 2018.
  • The Pokémon franchise has won numerous awards, including several Guinness World Records for the “Most Successful RPG Series of All Time” and “Most Collectible Card Game Sales.”

Akira Toriyama

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Dragon Ball: Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama is a highly influential manga artist and game designer from Japan, renowned for his iconic style and humorous storytelling.

He is best known for creating the widely popular manga series “Dragon Ball,” which has since been adapted into anime, movies, and video games and has gained a huge following worldwide.

Toriyama’s innovative character designs and dynamic action sequences earned him numerous awards and recognition, including getting into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2019. He continues to inspire and influence new generations of manga artists and game designers with his unique vision and creativity.

Fun facts about Akira Toriyama and the Dragon Ball series:

  • Toriyama was born on April 5, 1955, in Nagoya, Japan.
  • Toriyama got his start in the manga industry in the early 1980s, creating several short manga series for Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine before beginning work on Dragon Ball in 1984.
  • In addition to Dragon Ball, Toriyama has also created several other popular manga series, including Dr. Slump and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman.
  • Toriyama is known for his distinctive art style, which features clean lines, dynamic action sequences, and a focus on detailed character designs and backgrounds.
  • Toriyama has won numerous awards for his work in the manga industry, including the Shogakukan Manga Award and the Eisner Award.
  • In addition to his work as a manga artist, Toriyama has also worked as a character designer for several video games, including the Dragon Quest series and Chrono Trigger.
  • The Dragon Ball franchise has had a significant impact on popular culture, influencing numerous other anime and manga series, as well as video games and other forms of media. The series has also been credited with introducing many Western audiences to Japanese animation and manga.

Hiromu Arakawa

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Hiromu Arakawa

Hiromu Arakawa is a talented manga artist and illustrator from Japan, known for her captivating storytelling and unique artistic style.

She is best known for creating the popular manga series “Fullmetal Alchemist,” which has been adapted into anime, movies, and video games and has won critical acclaim worldwide. Fullmetal Alchemist has also been voted as one of the best anime series ever.

Arakawa has received numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and her illustrations have been featured in various art books and magazines. She continues to be recognized as one of the most influential manga artists of her generation, inspiring fans and fellow artists alike with her creativity and dedication to her craft.

Fun facts about Hiromu Arakawa:

  • Arakawa was born on May 8, 1973, in Hokkaido, Japan.
  • Before becoming a manga artist, Arakawa worked on a dairy farm and as a waitress to support herself.
  • Arakawa’s manga series Fullmetal Alchemist was first serialized in Square Enix’s Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine from 2001 to 2010, and has since been adapted into several anime series, movies, and video games.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist series has won numerous awards, including the Shogakukan Manga Award and the American Anime Award.
  • Arakawa has also created several other manga series, including Silver Spoon and Hero Tales.
  • Arakawa is known for her distinctive art style, which features detailed character designs and backgrounds, and a focus on realistic depictions of action and movement.

Hajime Isayama

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Attack on Titan: Hajime Isayama

Hajime Isayama is a renowned manga artist from Japan, known for his distinctive artwork and compelling storytelling.

Isayama’s unique vision and masterful storytelling have earned him numerous awards and recognition, including the Kodansha Manga Award and the Harvey Award. He continues to be an inspiration to aspiring manga artists and writers, and his work has been praised for its exploration of complex themes such as power, morality, and human nature.

Fun facts about Hajime Isayama and the Attack on Titan series:

  • Isayama was born on August 29, 1986, in Oyama, Japan, and grew up in a rural farming community.
  • Attack on Titan was first published in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in 2009, and has since become one of the best-selling manga series of all time.
  • The anime adaptation of Attack on Titan premiered in 2013 and quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, with fans tuning in to watch the gripping storyline and intense battle scenes.
  • The series has been praised for its animation, music, and character development, as well as its themes of survival, sacrifice, and the consequences of war.

Masashi Kishimoto

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Naruto: Masashi Kishimoto

Masashi Kishimoto is a Japanese manga artist who is best known for creating the popular manga series Naruto. He was born on November 8, 1974, in the Okayama Prefecture of Japan.

Kishimoto began his career as a manga artist in 1995, publishing his first manga series, Karakuri, in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Kishimoto’s manga series Naruto has been widely acclaimed for its engaging storylines, memorable characters, and stunning artwork. Kishimoto has won numerous awards for his work, including the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and the Hop Step Award.

Fun facts about Masashi Kishimoto and Naruto:

  • Before creating Naruto, Kishimoto created a one-shot manga called “Karakuri,” which won him an honorable mention in the 34th Annual Shonen Jump competition.
  • Kishimoto’s favorite character in Naruto is Kakashi Hatake, the enigmatic and skilled ninja known for his aloof demeanor and devotion to the rules.
  • In 2015, Kishimoto revealed that Naruto was heavily influenced by the works of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. Kishimoto was also inspired by the ninja movies he watched growing up.
  • The Naruto manga has sold over 250 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series ever.

Tite Kubo / Noriaki Kubo

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Bleach: Tite Kubo

Tite Kubo is a Japanese manga artist and writer best known for creating the hit manga series Bleach. He was born on June 26, 1977, in the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan.

Kubo began drawing manga at a young age, and he was inspired by the work of other popular manga artists such as Akira Toriyama and Masami Kurumada. He started his professional career in 1999, publishing his first manga series, Zombiepowder, in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Kubo’s manga series Bleach has become a cultural phenomenon, with its unique blend of action, fantasy, and supernatural elements.

Fun facts about Tite Kubo, the creator of Bleach:

  • Kubo’s real name is Noriaki Kubo, but he chose to use the pen name Tite Kubo because he thought it sounded cool.
  • Kubo’s first manga series was called Zombiepowder, which ran from 1999 to 2000 and was canceled after four volumes. However, it helped him establish a name for himself in the industry.
  • Kubo’s next series, Bleach, debuted in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 2001 and became a huge success, with over 120 million copies sold worldwide.
  • Kubo is known for his distinctive art style, which often features detailed, Gothic-inspired designs and strong characterizations.
  • Kubo has cited the works of Akira Toriyama, Katsura Hoshino, and Kentaro Miura as influences on his own work.
  • Kubo has won numerous awards for his work, including the Shogakukan Manga Award and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

Clamp

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Code Geass: Clamp

Clamp is a Japanese all-female manga artist group consisting of four members: Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Satsuki Igarashi. The group was formed in the mid-1980s, and they are known for their unique art style and storytelling.

The members of Clamp often switch roles, with each member contributing to different aspects of the manga, such as writing, illustration, and design. They have created several successful manga series, including Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.

Fun facts about the Clamp:

  • The name “CLAMP” is actually an acronym derived from the first letter of each member’s name. “C” for Mokona’s real name, “L” for Igarashi’s real name, “A” for Nekoi’s real name, and “M” for Ohkawa’s real name.
  • CLAMP’s first major success was with their manga series, Cardcaptor Sakura, which was adapted into an anime series and a movie.
  • The group is known for its unique art style and often explores themes of romance, tragedy, and the supernatural in their works.
  • CLAMP also created the manga series xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, which are both set in the same universe and features crossover characters. Code Geass, on the other hand, was a collaboration with Sunrise studio, and CLAMP was responsible for the character designs.

Yusuke Murata

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One Punch-Man: Yusuke Murata

Yusuke Murata is a Japanese manga artist born on July 4, 1978, in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Murata began his career as a manga artist in the late 1990s, working as an assistant to several established manga artists. He gained recognition for his work on the manga series Eyeshield 21, which he co-created with writer Riichiro Inagaki.

Murata is also known for his work on the manga series One Punch-Man, which he illustrated after being approached by the original writer, ONE.

Fun facts about Yusuke Murata and the One Punch-Man:

  • Murata is known for his highly detailed and dynamic art style, which has earned him a large following of fans and admirers.
  • Before becoming a manga artist, Murata worked as a designer for a game company and created the original designs for the characters in Blue Dragon, a popular JRPG (Japanese role-playing game).
  • Murata has cited several artists as his influences, including Akira Toriyama, Masamune Shirow, and Katsuhiro Otomo.
  • The One Punch-Man series follows the adventures of Saitama, a superhero who can defeat any opponent with a single punch, and his attempts to find a worthy opponent.
  • One Punch-Man started as a webcomic in 2009 and gained a large following on the Japanese website Niconico Seiga before being published in print.
  • The series has since been adapted into manga, anime, and video games and has become a global phenomenon with fans worldwide.
  • One Punch-Man has been praised for its humor, action, and unique take on the superhero genre and has won numerous awards, including the Shogakukan Manga Award and the Sugoi Japan Award.

Eiichiro Oda

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One Piece: Eiichiro Oda

Eiichiro Oda is a Japanese manga artist who is best known for creating the wildly popular manga series One Piece. He was born on January 1, 1975, in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan.

Oda began his career as a manga artist in the mid-1990s, publishing his first series, Wanted!, in Weekly Shonen Jump. He gained recognition for his work on One Piece, which he began serializing in 1997.

One Piece has become a cultural phenomenon, with its engaging storylines, memorable characters, and intricate world-building. The series has sold over 480 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series ever.

Fun facts about One Piece and Eiichiro Oda:

  • The One Piece anime adaptation began airing in 1999 and is still ongoing, with over 1000 episodes as of 2023.
  • There have been a total of 14 One Piece movies, with the first one being released in 2000 and the latest one in 2019. The movies are generally non-canon, meaning they don’t follow the manga’s main story.
  • Oda has won numerous awards for his work on One Piece, including the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and the Shogakukan Manga Award.
  • Oda has stated that he plans to end the One Piece manga in five years, but it’s unclear when exactly the series will conclude.

Other Notable Manga Artists:

  • Tetsuo Hara – Fist of the North Star
  • Hiroiko Araki – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
  • Junji Ito – Uzumaki
  • Naoko Takeuchi – Sailor Moon
  • Kentaro Miura – Berserk
  • Takehiko Inoue – Vagabond
  • Makoto Yukimura – Vinland Saga

Feature image credits belong to Katsuhiro Otomo.

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