Best Manga With Unique Art Styles
Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between.
With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to those strongly focusing on manga with unique art styles. From those with a dash of realism and others that lean more toward surrealist endeavors, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them!
Blame – Tsutomu Nihei
Blame is a great manga with a mesmerizing art style. It takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk world filled with immense, sprawling structures and desolate landscapes, and Nihei’s art brings this world to life with breathtaking precision. The shading, intricate line work, and attention to detail in each panel create a sense of scale. This immerses and entices readers to continue reading it.
Blame follows Killy, a man who spends his life killing monsters that roam his universe. He possesses incredible powers and uses those abilities to defeat every foe. He’s determined to find someone with a specific gene that’ll save the world.
While Tsutomu Nihei’s visual storytelling approach won’t be to everyone’s liking, Blame delivers enough satisfying material to hold readers’ attention.
Goodnight Punpun – Inio Asano
Goodnight Punpun is an emotional tale drawn and written by the talented Inio Asano. The artwork in this series is distinctively illustrated with a blend of simplistic and stylized linework. The use of abstract and surreal visuals throughout the manga highlights the characters’ psychological states, making it a visually striking read for manga fanatics.
Our tale examines the life of Punpun Onodera and the relationships he fosters over the course of the tale. It delves into ideas concerning love, family, and his concerns with adulthood and adolescence. While it has its joyous segments, Goodnight Punpun is known for showering audiences with many tragic scenes involving abuse, health, and loneliness.
If you’re looking for a beautifully drawn manga that addresses realistic issues and scenarios, check this out.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Hirohiko Araki
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an impressive action-adventure manga with an engaging art style, interesting premise, and wonderful lore. The series spans multiple generations of the Joestar family, each with their own unique abilities and enemies. The intricate plotlines and cleverly interwoven story arcs create an expansive and immersive world for readers to get lost in.
Araki’s detailed and dynamic illustrations bring the characters and their powers to life, showcasing his skills as an artist. The exaggerated poses, intricate costume designs, and attention to detail create visually stunning panels that are instantly recognizable. The fusion of his art style with his manga’s offbeat storytelling elevates the series to a level of visual excellence unparalleled in the medium.
If you’re looking for a tale with intricate story arcs, visually stunning battles and character designs, and great action, check this out.
Vagabond – Takehiko Inoue
Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond is one of the best manga of all time. It contains stunning artwork, an excellent stance on human nature, and immersive storytelling. Inoue’s detailed and realistic illustrations bring this world’s feudal Japan setting to life. His skillful use of light, shadow, and texture techniques creates a visual spectacle on every page.
Each panel is well-crafted, conveying the weight of the character’s emotions and the intensity of their battles. From the intricate swordplay to the serene landscapes, the artwork in Vagabond is a true feast for the eyes and showcases Inoue’s mastery as an artist.
In addition to crafting a tale that explores a samurai’s journey of ambition, honor, and pursuit of greatness, Vagabond is definitely a tale you need to read once in your life.
Pure Trance – Junko Mizuno
This manga stands as a unique tale known for its distinct art style, surreal storytelling, and handling of dark themes. Junko’s illustrations evoke cute and grotesque responses from readers. She applies bold lines, vibrant colors, and highly detailed imagery to make Pure Trance stand out. The characters and settings are visually striking, creating an unsettling atmosphere that keeps readers hooked from page to page.
The manga follows Tammy, who journeys through a bizarre world. As the story unfolds, Mizuno weaves a narrative that delves into themes like body image, consumerism, and the pressures of society. The plot takes unexpected turns and keeps readers guessing. Tammy meets many strange creatures, undergoes bizarre transformations, and navigates a world filled with wonder and danger.
On top of exploring taboo ideas like drug use and violence, you’ll end up enjoying the crazy tale brewing within Pure Trance’s narrative.
Phoenix – Osamu Tezuka
Phoenix is an old but great manga from one of Japan’s most noteworthy manga authors. With its epic scope, profound themes, and masterful storytelling, Phenoix has left a major mark on the landscape. The manga is divided into several self-contained tales, each set in a different time period. They explore different facets of humanity from ancient civilizations to distant futures.
This grand scope allows Tezuka to delve into philosophical questions concerning life, death, and despair. Moreover, Phoenix has an impressive visual style. Tezuka effortlessly switches between different art styles through Phoenix’s run. Whenever he’s focusing on a more realistic aspect of the tale, he applies a more historical art style, but when he wants to dabble into his tale’s comedy, he can shift gears and apply a more comical approach.
His willingness to experiment with different styles allows him to make Phoenix feel more unique compared to other works in the genre.
The Climber – Shinichi Sakamoto, Jiro Nitta, Yoshi Nabeta
The Climber is known for being a therapeutic tale with an emphasis on self-discovery and growth. Its tale went through drastic changes at the start but managed to carve a healthy fandom for itself due to the core themes and beautiful imagery rooted within its pages. Our tale follows the life of Muri Buntarou, a lonesome boy who gets thrust into the world of rock climbing after a brief excursion with his classmates.
The Climber is the series to read if you’re after one that specializes in visual storytelling. The imagery in this series is cinematic and unparalleled. The artists in this manga phenomenally capture Mori and the other characters’ expressions, reactions, and thought processes well through the tale’s realistic imagery and compelling line work. You’ll be smitten by the level of polish and detail that went into the series’s landscape shots too.
The Voynich Hotel – Sayman Dowman
The Voynich Hotel is a superb manga that blends dark humor with dynamic storytelling. Sayman Dowman wonderfully weaves moments of comedy and tragedy to create a unique narrative for readers to enjoy. The story follows various characters, each with their own quirks, and flaws, as they navigate a bizarre and chaotic hotel. The humor you’ll find in this series ranges from slapstick to clever wordplay.
Moreover, Dowman masterfully crafts a tale that weaves multiple plots and character arcs, creating a rich tapestry of tales. The manga explores themes like love, family, and personal growth. Dowman manages to keep readers invested in the character’s fates while delivering unexpected twists and moments of emotional resonance. Moreover, the story’s comical art style lends itself to feeling refreshing and original. This makes it a great candidate for someone who is after something that’s funny and new.
Battle Angel Alita – Yukito Kishiro
Battle Angel Alita offers a great blend of sci-fi, action, and philosophical themes. It’s set in a dystopian setting where humans coexist with cyborgs, and follows Alita, a powerful cyborg who embarks on a quest for self-discovery and redemption. Kishiro’s exploration of issues concerning identity and humanity elevates the story beyond typical action manga and will resonate with readers on a deep level.
Kishiro’s careful attention to detail is evident in every panel. Readers will admire the intricate designs given to this manga’s cyborgs and dystopian cityscapes. The action sequences are dynamic and visually stunning, combining fluid movement with a sense of weight and impact. The art style effectively captures the gritty and oppressive atmosphere of the world, immersing readers in the story.
On top of having a well-written and established ensemble cast, Battle Angel Alita is worth adding to your reading logs.
Homunculus – Hideo Yamamoto
Hideo Yamamoto’s Homunculus is a groundbreaking manga that delves into the depths of the human psyche and challenges societal takes on attractiveness and mundanity. It contains thought-provoking themes, wonderful character development, and a mesmerizing art style that enhances the experience with it.
The story follows Nakoshi, as he undergoes a procedure that allows him to perceive people’s inner thoughts. This allows him to confront his own inner demons and develop a deeper understanding of himself and others. One of the story’s best features lies in its handling of complex themes. Yamamoto tackles subjects regarding identity, sexuality, and trauma in nuanced ways, leaving viewers in deep contemplation.
Moreover, this tale features an extravagant visual style that appeals to many readers. From Yamamoto’s insertion of visual motifs to the way he depicts the human body, you’ll be mesmerized by this work’s bizarre grandeur.
If you’re on the hunt for a mind-numbing horror with great visuals and storytelling, check this out.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best manga with unique art styles through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!