8 most iconic manga art styles

A colored version of one of the late Kentaro Miura's most iconic spreads in Berserk (Image via Reddit/anime_mylife)
A colored version of one of the late Kentaro Miura's most iconic spreads in Berserk (Image via Reddit/anime_mylife)

One of the easiest ways for a mangaka (an industry term for someone who is both the author and illustrator of their series) to make their work an iconic manga stand out is by a unique art style. While individuality alone isn’t enough to become a household name, pairing a unique art style with exceptional quality helps to make any series stand out and become an iconic manga.

Famed series such as illustrator Yusuke Murata’s One Punch Man manga and author and illustrator Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga both fulfill these requirements. Each creator pairs exceptional quality with their unique art style, leading to their series becoming some of the most iconic manga of all time, as have others.

Here are eight of the most iconic manga art styles to ever be published, ranked in no particular order.

Unique art and exceptional quality helped make these 8 iconic manga become a household name

1) One Punch Man

Shueisha’s One Punch Man manga is an adaptation of the Webcomic of the same name by ONE, who also appears on this list with another series he’s responsible for the artwork of. One Punch Man, however, is drawn by Yusuke Murata, who many call one of the best illustrators to ever work in the industry.

Murata’s artwork within this iconic manga helps make it a household name, bringing a level of detail and clarity that is rarely seen by others in the industry. Fans particularly praised his work from the latest issues of the series, which have quite literally taken the manga's overall quality to a cosmic scale.

2) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series boasts one of the most individualized and iconic manga art styles in the medium's history. Despite having been serialized for more than 35 years as of this writing, it remains one of the most unique art styles ever.

The blocky style was quintessential during its debut but has slowly evolved to become smoother and more refined over the series’ 35-year run. Nowadays, the art style matches nearly any other in beauty, refinement, overall quality, and iconism.

3) Mob Psycho 100

Mob Psycho 100 is the aforementioned series for which ONE is both the author and illustrator, also called the mangaka. The series’ art style is somewhat dichotomous, frequently flipping between minimalism and extreme detail. However, this only makes the series an even more iconic manga, showing the range ONE has with a pen.

Many often point to these mundane and minimalist panels and use them as evidence that ONE can’t draw, which is why he lets Yusuke Murata draw the One Punch Man manga. An alternative viewpoint is that his ability to easily swap between art styles, even within a single issue, is a mark of true iconism and skill.

4) Uzumaki

Junji Ito’s Uzumaki is undoubtedly one of his most iconic manga, both for the story, subject matter, and art within. Fans often point to it as being a true evolution in the famed horror mangaka’s skill and quality, comparing it to his prior work Tomie to further these points.

The art within is unnerving for many fans, emphasizing just how exceptional Ito is in his specified craft. Also exceptional about Uzumaki’s specific artwork is Ito’s use of the spiral motif, including it in scenes subtly and obviously with great juxtapositional success.

5) Sun-Ken Rock

Boichi’s Sun-Ken Rock is where many fans feel he has perfected his iconic manga art style, creating hyper-realistic drawings with exceptional detail down to the most minute aspects. While his work on other series, such as Dr. Stone, strikes a similar tone with softer lines and less-intense realism, Sun-Ken Rock exemplifies his skills in these areas.

Every scene is incredibly crisp, to the point of taking readers’ breaths away as they go from spread to spread, page to page, and even panel to panel. It instills within readers the sense of painstakingly working away at something until it’s absolutely perfect, which was likely Boichi’s process with this incredibly drawn series.

6) Berserk

Kentaro Miura’s Berserk is often called incredibly influential in the dark fantasy genre, both within anime and manga and generally for various reasons. However, one of the most significant aspect is his artwork, which many call the most extraordinary art any mangaka has ever made, period.

The details within are absolutely breathtaking, with horizons and backgrounds just as detailed as the forefront of a panel or page. Like ONE, the late Miura also excelled at juxtaposing his art from incredibly crisp and clean to rough and almost angry, displaying the characters' feelings and those of a scene with great effect.

7) One Piece

While some criticize author and illustrator Eiichiro Oda’s art within One Piece for being somewhat childish and simplistic, it’s no doubt one of the most iconic manga art styles ever. The softer and gentler overall approach perfectly matches the demeanor of the series’ protagonist Monkey D. Luffy. Similarly, Oda's art can become serious and intense as Luffy leans towards these emotions.

Oda is also praised for his excellent character design and scenery work, with the series having some of the most detailed, memorable, and emotion-evoking panels in all of manga. There’s little doubt that Oda and his signature style are some of the most iconic in manga history.

8) Dragon Ball

Finally, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball and its gentle and soft approach were unique in an era where serious series and artwork dominated. The happy-go-lucky Goku even seemed to infect Toriyama himself with optimism, resulting in art that feels extremely positive in emotion, tone, and origin.

This is juxtaposed incredibly well with the series' action scenes, where a lighthearted adventure turns into a conflict with severe consequences, often to the point of being grave. This legendary series is undoubtedly solidified as having one of the most iconic manga art styles in history.

Note: This list is subjective and reflects the writer's own views.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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