Yes, you read the title right. You really don’t need to be talented at art to be a successful mangaka. I know that some manga and anime fans may disagree with me. I’ve had friends come to me saying they couldn’t finish an anime because they thought the art style was “trash.”
The following article will contain photos of panels from recent One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100 chapters.
The example I’m going to discuss today is ONE, the famous author of One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100. One-Punch Man follows Saitama, a bald hero wearing a yellow suit and a red cape, who can defeat any villain with one punch. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.
Originally, ONE published the One-Punch Man webcomic on his personal website. He still continues to do so because being a mangaka is a hobby for him. However, One-Punch Man’s popularity originally relied on the reader’s ability to stick through a comic despite its mediocre art. To the average reader, ONE’s story looks like it hasn’t been sent through the final redraw process and was just published after storyboarding.
Lucky for ONE, Murata Yusuke, the artist for Eyeshield 21, was a fan of the webcomic and offered to redraw ONE’s story. Murata’s redrawn version of One-Punch Man is the manga that we’re all familiar with today since it’s officially published with Shounen Jump. With its presence on the widely-read magazine, One-Punch Man became even more of a hit and received its own anime adaptation, which is currently available to watch on Netflix.
Following One-Punch Man is ONE’s next hit, Mob Psycho 100. Mob Psycho 100 focuses on middle-school student Mob, or Kageyama Shigeo, who is an esper. Mob works under Arataka Reigen to learn how to properly hone his powers while also keeping them a secret from the public. However, Mob experiences internal conflicts, such as his struggle to socialize and his wish to become desirable for his crush, that chip away at Mob’s seemingly stable exterior. While Mob Psycho 100 may be a bit overshadowed by its immensely popular predecessor, it’s earned its own fan base with fans completely dedicated to the story’s characters.
The time frame between One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100’s releases is three years (2009 vs. 2012). It’s obvious that these three years have greatly improved ONE’s art style. In Mob Psycho 100’s early chapters, ONE begins to use screentoning and has a steadier hand when drawing lines. Below is a comparison between One-Punch Man Chapter 2 (left) and Mob Psycho 100 Chapter 1 (right).
This improvement is also visible in One-Punch Man webcomic’s most recent chapters. Below is a comparison of Chapter 1 (left) and Chapter 133 (right).
Even though Mob Psycho 100 wasn’t redrawn, One-Punch Man’s popularity gave fans the impression that ONE’s stories are worth sticking through. In reality, ONE’s drawings aren’t that bad. Yes, some human characters aren’t anatomically correct (Saitama’s head is drawn almost 10 different ways just in the first chapter) and ONE doesn’t color inside the lines sometimes. However, the reader can make out the characters, the dialogue, and can make sense of what’s going on in the scene. ONE’s artistic ability doesn’t lessen the impact of his story at all. His talent for writing also makes readers somehow become emotionally attached to his anatomically incorrect characters. He is proof that literary talent is what makes a manga a masterpiece rather than a combination of writing and artistic skills.
In the end, ONE is just one example out of many popular manga with mediocre artists. ONE’s manga taught me to not judge a manga by its art style, which has opened my eyes to other manga I may have overlooked.
Give a manga or anime a chance, even if the art is bad, because are you here to just look at the drawings? Or, are you here to experience the story?
Gabriella is a 21-year-old writer and artist from Texas and currently goes to university in New York. Her favorite anime shows include Mob Psycho 100, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, and Kill la Kill. In her free time, Gabriella likes to watch anime, read manga, and play the newest games on her Nintendo Switch.
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