Manga Artists and Their Stylistic Progression: A Video Demonstration

A while ago, I found a series of videos on Nico Nico Douga wherein manga characters from the first volume of their respective titles are compared to their later incarnations in the same series. In most instances, this is done to show some kind of great contrast, either by a marked improvement in drawing ability or an unusually large shift in style. I think it’d be to everyone’s benefit to take a look, and because I understand that not everyone has a Nico account or wants to fumble with the Japanese language registration, I’ve taken the liberty of uploading all three videos to Youtube. You can find them at the bottom of this post.

Regardless of how exactly the change comes about, the shift or transformation in art style seems to most often come from increasing familiarity. Speaking somewhat from personal experience, when you first start to draw a character, even if you’ve planned them out extensively, there’s still a period of struggle where the character’s design and by extension their personality and physical language are not yet ingrained in your psyche. The more you draw the characters, the more natural they feel to you, possibly eventually reaching a point where you’re so comfortable with them that your aesthetic sense and personality start to shine through the characters, almost subconsciously. It’s like your body and mind start to prioritize what’s really important to you, and I think you will definitely see this happening for at least a good number of your favorite artists.

So take a look, be amazed, and lay down your own thoughts and feelings about art in manga. If you’d all prefer, I can even compile a list of all of the artists and titles mentioned here.

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13 thoughts on “Manga Artists and Their Stylistic Progression: A Video Demonstration

  1. Good to see Jing in there. He literally looks different in EVERY SINGLE VOLUME of the manga. I think Kumakura did it that way on purpose, though.

    LMAO yugioh song~ talk about a change from that one! Jeebus!

    Enjoyed seeing the massively improved art in Berserk and Hellsing, both of which always looked great but just looked that much more great later.

    Interesting how a lot of artists went hard to soft and others went vice-versa. A number of them weren’t even a progression but a straight-up total change in style. I was really surprised by how many manga went from a highly-detailed style to an incredibly minimalist one. A number also seemed to *change* but not necessarily *improve*

    Lol early Lucky Star looked like shit. Just part of the reason I gave away my copy of vol. 1 >.>

    Ichimaro and I’m sure some others are a little unfair because they’re style was overhauled within like 3 chapters into what it is now. I’d have rather seen a comparison of post-overhaul to most recent issue.

    I also think it’s interesting to note that some of the changes are due to characters aging, or at least maturing.

    Anyway, cool vids~

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    • One thing I forgot to mention that I find quite interesting is the way styles changed as one decade moved into the next. A lot of artists who once had that 80s Takahashi Rumiko-esque flair would go on to draw in a way more associated with the 90s etc.

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      • Haha yeah, I especially saw that with 3×3 eyes. When I was first getting into anime/manga, I remember believing it was from ‘the maker of Inuyasha’ and being surprised when I was wrong. The style definitely changes over the years, though.

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  2. Some great stuff here – I’m 9:30 in on the first video, and saw a series I didn’t recognize, but when it switched to the later art it was immediately obvious who it was.

    I’d be interested in seeing similar comparisons for western comics – not the big ones like Superman that have had thousands of different artists, but single-artist titles (even Scott Pilgrim evolved between volumes 1 and 6). A webcomics version would be good as well.

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  3. Very interesting, it’s one of those things I noticed but no interest in putting effort to make something like this.

    I think it’s also worth nothing that most (that I noticed) is usually the mangaka’s first long work.

    You don’t mind if I share it to my fellow aspiring artists, no?

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  4. There are several things at work here, aren’t there?

    Years of practice (Oh my goddess! has been running for 20 years).

    Maturing into a style (you noted the Takahashi-esque transformations to an into a more distinct style).

    Learning short-cuts, maybe even getting tired of the characters and the work. In a number of the examples I thought the art style got worse from early to late.

    Hiring assistants to take over some of the drawing — though supposedly the assistants primarily do backgrounds and the like, I imagine they end up doing a good deal of character art as well. When some series start out you can see echoes of the mangaka’s former employer in their new work (I remember thinking that early One Piece was reminiscent of side-characters in Rurouni Kenshin then discovered that Eiichiro Oda was, in fact, an assistant on that series).

    And thanks for posting the three videos side-by-side (or top-by-bottom, I guess). It meant you could play all three at once (which admittedly lessens the impact a bit, but saves a lot of time).

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  5. Being unfamiliar with most of the titles and artists mentioned, I want to be the oddball out here and ask if you could maybe make a list of them in a future post or even just through a comment on their respective YouTube videos.

    A lot of the series showcased have a particular type of drawing style that I find appealing, but since I can’t read any of the titles my inquiry is kind of at a dead end here. xD

    Knowing a chunk of artists for general knowledge would be great for future reference too.

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  6. Very amusing to see Koji Kumeta’s change in style, starting with a very straight 80s style in Go!! Southern Hockey Club, then ending up with a more stylized look, then from that in Katte Ni Kazo to an even more abbreviated style similar to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

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  7. Pingback: The Stylistic Progression of Manga Artists | Geek Love Affair

  8. Pingback: The Loveable Manga that Has Something for Everyone: Berserk | We Remember Love

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