The “Nervous” Visual Style of the Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Manga

Last week I wrote a post comparing the Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai anime and manga (neither of which are the original source material) and showed that I have a clear preference for the manga and its visual style. I gave image comparisons to try and show exactly what I meant, but while some readers got it, I noticed that others were still confused as to why I think the manga looks better, especially because of how “rough” the art is in comparison to the more “stable” designs of the anime. Because of that, I’m going to elaborate on why I find the visuals to be more interesting and more aesthetically pleasing so that even if people disagree with me, I think they can see where I’m coming from.

Let’s start with a visual aid, the first panel in Chapter 19. This time, I’m using an untranslated version of the manga because the points I’m making don’t have anything to do with what Sena is saying, nor does it have a mirror scene in the TV series. I want to emphasize that I do not think the anime should necessarily look just like the manga. This is just straight-up analysis of the manga without having to compare it directly to the anime. If you want more of that, you can check out JP’s response to my comparison.

Sena is cropped from the chest up in the panel, and we can clearly see that she has large breasts, but the thing that stands out most in the entire panel is her expression. She’s blushing heavily, her eyebrows are furrowed in an unusual manner, her eyes are to the side, and her index fingers are touching each other, all indicating that Sena is quite nervous. You can tell that as she’s talking, she’s in an uncomfortable position for whatever reason. That nervousness takes absolute priority over the fact that she has a nice body, and so it becomes the most noticeable thing about her in that panel.

While the line quality of the manga doesn’t approach Robert Crumb levels of jittery, it still creates an interesting sort of tension in the comic. The “sketchiness,” as I’ve seen some people refer to it, results in characters and environments that indeed make the art look “incomplete” if you associate completeness with firm inks and closer pursuit of anatomical correctness in the hands and such, but that mildly quivering line also makes the entire comic feel like everything does not quite fit comfortably within it. When it comes to a series all about people with generally very dire personality flaws,  the fact that the art looks somewhat uncomfortable in its own skin in itself contributes to the sense that the entire series is about people who have trouble making friends. Their nervousness bleeds from them, through the panels, and into the very “texture” of the comic itself. At the same time, it still sticks to fairly conventional character designs to emphasize the cuteness of the girls such that element is still definitely there. It’s just that some of the cuteness also comes from the “instability” in the art style because it shows that they themselves are a little (a lot?) unstable.

I hope this did a better job of helping people to understand my point of view, but if this has only made you more confused, don’t hesitate to ask me more questions in the comments.


One thought on “The “Nervous” Visual Style of the Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Manga

  1. I like the art style of the manga, but there are times when I think it comes off as TOO rough. Sometimes it’s better when you have a clear idea of what you’re looking at.


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