Top 10 Ranked: Which Manga Has The Best Art?

    Ah, manga. One of the only mediums of storytelling where you don’t just write the story, you visualize it too. With a heavy focus on top visual design and good pacing, the art style of a mangaka is a make-it-or-break-it point for many enthusiasts. And boy, are there some mangas that belong in a museum for their art.

    Manga is very personalized and depends heavily on its character’s expressions to sell a narrative, very much like its western cousin i.e., Comics or Graphic Novels. Often they consist of beautiful set pieces coupled with gorgeous character designs that leave fans overwhelmed.

    Of course, not all manga are equal. You can’t just have pretty pictures without any substance to the story, that defeats the purpose of the medium. Good manga should have a nice art style and a decent story. The best ones, however, have both art and story so poignant, that it moves the reader. It has backgrounds that look so realistic, it’s like looking at a photograph. The settings are so intricate, that you can pick it apart for hours and find something new to marvel over.

    But what classifies something as good art? Isn’t beauty meant to be in the eye of the beholder? Just because we might like a certain art style, doesn’t mean the other person feels the same way. For example, preferring a Monet over a Da Vinci.

    However, some mangas are universally acclaimed for their art. They are the ones where very few people can dispute their reputation as being masterpieces. And I, for one, love it when I can find a manga with art so surreal, that I lose myself in its world. If that sounds like your thing as well, then here are my top picks for a manga you can’t skip as an art enthusiast.

    1. Berserk

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper

    C’mon, is it even a surprise that Berserk is the first manga we’re going to talk about here? We’ve already harped poetic about Berserk’s amazing plotline and characters that have inspired dark fantasy as a genre. But the art deserves its mention here.

    The fact that Kentaro Miura, the creator, did most of the art by himself is astounding. The art is so complex, with monsters that often invoke Eldritch roots in their scale and scope when compared to our beloved Guts. And the backgrounds experiment with hyperrealism and fantastical magic, creating a world that’s rich and immersive. Even the character designs and expressions are so elaborate and well done. You can discern the weight of any scene simply by the way the characters move in the panels.

    The art for Berserk itself is a storytelling device, with each stroke selling the mood perfectly.

    2. A Bride’s Story

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Otoyomegatari

    This one deserves an award for some of the most intricate costume designs I have ever seen.

    A Bride’s Story is a historical Seinen set in 19th century Central Asia, with illustrator Kaoru Mori at its helm. And the story itself is very nuanced, more focused on the history and traditions of the land versus any actual romance. But where this manga shines is in its near ornamental art style, with details and flourishes so intricate, it’s mind-blowing. Everything, from the architecture to the natural scenery, is painstakingly opulent. And the characters anatomically look quite normal, but the hair and outfits are like a love letter to the region it’s based on. Very true to form, with precise detailing that is crisp without being crowded.

    Do I think you should read this manga solely for its art design? Yes, I do.

    3. Vagabond

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Vagabond

    Vagabond is already a great story, but the art pushes it to the top. Takehiko Inoue isn’t a new name but his art is right up there with the likes of Kentaro Miura and Katsuhiro Otomo.

    Each panel looks like a different camera angle on a still-life scene. The fluidity of the fight scenes is immaculate. The character designs carry this grit that adds depth to the story, but never take away from how smooth and detailed the scenes are. Its art style is rooted in realism, with stunning illustrations.

    Vagabond is often compared to the cult classics such as Berserk and Blade Of The Immortal. And it’s not hard to see why.

    4. Vinland Saga

    Vinland Saga Wallpaper

    Vinland Saga was one of the most critically acclaimed anime to come out recently. But there’s a reason why the original manga reigns supreme.

    Makoto Yukimura’s Viking Epic pulls from western influences but makes them incandescent in the manga format. The art isn’t just pretty, it elevates the story as a whole. With stunning backdrops that alternate between the sparse Northern wild and intricate foliage, it emulates how the emotions shift in the manga’s narrative. Even the action has this movement, where it explodes larger than life but then fizzles into a slower, more streamlined conclusion.

    I’m not a fan of the cold. The bleak plains of Scandinavia shown in Vinland Saga shouldn’t appeal to me. But the way Makoto presents the story is engrossing enough to get me on board.

    5. Goodnight Punpun

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Oyasumi Punpun

    I’m going to preface this one with a warning: Goodnight Punpun by author Inio Asano is not a manga for everyone. It is nihilistic, pessimistic, and borderline depressing. But it is also a masterclass in art direction and technical storytelling.

    The art in Punpun’s world is harrowingly beautiful. It works hard to invoke the emotions of a world rooted in realism, that often comes off as bleak. The characters are just as textured as the situations they are going through. Sometimes the art style overwhelming, but that only adds to the hyper-realistic feel.

    This might not be a feel-good slice of life, but it is a cult favorite for a reason.

    6. Uzumaki

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Uzumaki

    Junji Ito is highly regarded for his contributions to the world of horror. And Uzumaki is often heralded as his magnum opus in terms of art and design.

    How does one make a pattern menacing? How do you make a simple shape so terrifying, that you start seeing its insidious influence everywhere? Only Junji could visualize a world so strange and uncanny. It isn’t the horrific, grotesque designs, but the Lovecraftian illustrations that scare you. That truly gets you uncomfortable with the panels alone.

    This is one manga I recommend if you’re a fan of the bizarre side of horror.

    7. Afro Samurai

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Afro Samurai Wallpaper Hot

    Afro Samurai is a deviation from your typical manga stylings, but boy. It is a deviation done well.  

    The artist, Takashi Okazaki, put his love for everything soul and hip hop into every facet of this manga. The story about the Afro Samurai, hell-bent on revenge in a dystopian Japan, just works so well with the futuristic design. Bursting with style and flow in every panel, Afo Samurai catches your attention and doesn’t let it go. It’s weirdly crunchy, but that layering adds to the character and feel of the manga.

    Hey, if Samuel L. Jackson liked it enough to make an anime adaptation, you will too!

    8. One Punch Man

    Wallpaper King Saitama One Punch Man

    I know I keep talking about life-like art but the illustrator for One Punch Man, Yusuke Murata, recently went viral for the manga so we have to talk about this one.

    It’s One Punch Man. We know the character designs are minimalistic, to say the least. But Murata is regarded as one of the best artists of his generation thanks to his backdrops for the manga, which is incredible. It’s like the objects come to life, the hyper-realism contrasting with the simpler character design in a downright terrifying way.

    He’s just that good. And so is the manga. While fans of the anime might have complaints, the manga enthusiasts are pretty satisfied.

    9. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

    Manga With Best Art Wallpaper Sailor Moon

    Yes, really. Must we go on about how Naoko Takeuchi revolutionized an entire genre with Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon?

    The art itself may not be lifelike, but it is gorgeous. The way Naoko pulled character designs and outfits from real-life haute couture collections and adapted them to the world of Neo Tokyo, it’s sublime. I adored reading the manga because no character wore the same thing twice. It was so incredibly pretty, with an aesthetic that cemented itself in our collective consciousness. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten bored of the pretty flowing visuals and beautiful background designs in the manga panels.

    Sailor Moon is the face of the Magical Girl art style, and we all know it.

    10. X/1999

    Wallpaper X/1999

    I mean, it’s CLAMP. What else could we say about the All-Stars that brought us xxxHolic, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, and Cardcaptor Sakura?

    CLAMP is known for their pretty visuals and prettier characters that look like they came straight out of a Shojo. And X/1999 plays with that art so deceptively well. While it has the gorgeous detailing of a Shojo manga, it portrays those characters in a very Seinen manner. The conflicts are oozing with style but precise and sharp in their flow. The art is ornate, it’s elegant, but with an edge, that’s razor-sharp rather than flowery.

    It’s that dichotomy that makes this manga such a delicious feast for the eyes!

    So, those are our picks for some great art-heavy manga, but the list is ever-changing. Let us know which manga you consider top tier for their art!

    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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