The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Japanese Comic Artists. The pantheon dataset contains 174 Comic Artists, 64 of which were born in Japan. This makes Japan the birth place of the most number of Comic Artists.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Japanese Comic Artists of all time. This list of famous Japanese Comic Artists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Japanese Comic Artists.

Photo of Osamu Tezuka

1. Osamu Tezuka (1928 - 1989)

With an HPI of 76.91, Osamu Tezuka is the most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages on wikipedia.

Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫, b. 手塚 治, Tezuka Osamu; (1928-11-03)3 November 1928 – 9 February 1989) was a Japanese cartoonist, manga artist, and animator. Born in Osaka Prefecture, his prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the God of Manga" (マンガの神様, Manga no Kami-sama), "the Father of Manga" (マンガの父, Manga no Chichi), and "the Godfather of Manga" (マンガの教父, Manga no Kyōfu). Additionally, he is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during Tezuka's formative years. Though this phrase praises the quality of his early comic works for children and animations, it also blurs the significant influence of his later, more literary, gekiga works. Tezuka began what was known as the comic revolution in Japan with his New Treasure Island published in 1947. His output would spawn some of the most influential, successful, and well-received comic series including the children mangas Astro Boy, Princess Knight and Kimba the White Lion, and the adult-oriented series Black Jack, Phoenix, and Buddha, all of which won several awards. Tezuka died of stomach cancer in 1989. His death had an immediate impact on the Japanese public and other cartoonists. A museum was constructed in Takarazuka dedicated to his memory and life works, and Tezuka received many posthumous awards. Several animations were in production at the time of his death along with the final chapters of Phoenix, which were never released.

Photo of Akira Toriyama

2. Akira Toriyama (1955 - )

With an HPI of 72.77, Akira Toriyama is the 2nd most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Akira Toriyama (Japanese: 鳥山 明, Hepburn: Toriyama Akira, born April 5, 1955) is a Japanese manga artist and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for his highly successful manga series Dr. Slump, before going on to create Dragon Ball (his best-known work) and acting as a character designer for several popular video games such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger, and Blue Dragon. Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists that changed the history of manga, as his works are highly influential and popular, particularly Dragon Ball, which many manga artists cite as a source of inspiration. He earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga with Dr. Slump, and it went on to sell over 35 million copies in Japan. It was adapted into a successful anime series, with a second anime created in 1997, 13 years after the manga ended. His next series, Dragon Ball, would become one of the most popular and successful manga in the world. Having sold 250–300 million copies worldwide, it is the third-best-selling manga of all time and is considered to be one of the main reasons for the period when manga circulation was at its highest in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Overseas, Dragon Ball's anime adaptations have been more successful than the manga and are credited with boosting anime's popularity in the Western world. In 2019, Toriyama was decorated a Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to the arts.

Photo of Tsugumi Ohba

3. Tsugumi Ohba (1950 - )

With an HPI of 68.79, Tsugumi Ohba is the 3rd most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Tsugumi Ohba (Japanese: 大場 つぐみ, Hepburn: Ōba Tsugumi) is the pen name of a Japanese manga writer, best known for authoring the Death Note manga series with illustrator Takeshi Obata from 2003 to 2006, which has 30 million collected volumes in circulation. The duo's second series, Bakuman. (2008–2012), was also successful with 15 million in circulation. In 2014, Ohba collaborated with My Little Monster creator Robico for the one-shot "Skip! Yamada-kun". Another series with Obata called Platinum End began in the December 2015 issue of Jump SQ on November 4, 2015.Ohba's real identity is a closely guarded secret. They have cited Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujiko Fujio, and Fujio Akatsuka as manga creators by whom they are heavily inspired. As stated by the profile placed at the beginning of each Death Note manga, Ohba collects teacups and develops manga plots while holding their knees on a chair, similar to a habit of L, one of the main characters of the series. There is speculation that Tsugumi Ohba is a pen name of Hiroshi Gamo, pointing out that in Bakuman the main character's uncle was a one-hit wonder manga artist who worked on a gag super-hero manga, very similar to Gamo and Tottemo! Luckyman in all aspects, and also that the storyboards drawn by Ohba greatly resemble Tottemo! Luckyman in style.

Photo of Rumiko Takahashi

4. Rumiko Takahashi (1957 - )

With an HPI of 68.77, Rumiko Takahashi is the 4th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  Her biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Rumiko Takahashi (高橋 留美子, Takahashi Rumiko, born October 10, 1957) is a Japanese manga artist. With a career of several commercially successful works, beginning with Urusei Yatsura in 1978, Takahashi is one of Japan's best-known and wealthiest manga artists. Her works are popular worldwide, where they have been translated into a variety of languages, with over 200 million copies in circulation. She has won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice, once in 1980 for Urusei Yatsura and again in 2001 for Inuyasha, and the Seiun Award twice, once in 1987 for Urusei Yatsura and again in 1989 for Mermaid Saga. She also received the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême in 2019, becoming the second woman and second Japanese to win the prize. In 2020, the Japanese government awarded Takahashi the Medal with Purple Ribbon for her contributions to the arts.

Photo of Leiji Matsumoto

5. Leiji Matsumoto (1938 - )

With an HPI of 68.48, Leiji Matsumoto is the 5th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Leiji Matsumoto (松本零士, Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto 松本晟), (born January 25, 1938, in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan) is a Japanese mangaka, creator of several anime and manga series. His wife Miyako Maki is also a manga artist.

Photo of Go Nagai

6. Go Nagai (1945 - )

With an HPI of 67.79, Go Nagai is the 6th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Kiyoshi Nagai (永井潔, Nagai Kiyoshi, born September 6, 1945), better known by the pen name Go Nagai (永井 豪, Nagai Gō), is a Japanese manga artist and a prolific author of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotica. He made his professional debut in 1967 with Meakashi Polikichi, but is best known for creating popular 1970s manga and anime series such as Cutie Honey, Devilman and Mazinger Z. He is credited with creating the super robot genre and for designing the first mecha robots piloted by a user from within a cockpit with Mazinger Z, and for pioneering the magical girl genre with Cutie Honey, the post-apocalyptic manga/anime genre with Violence Jack, and the ecchi genre with Harenchi Gakuen. In 2005, he became a Character Design professor at the Osaka University of Arts. He has been a member of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize's nominating committee since 2009.

Photo of Masashi Kishimoto

7. Masashi Kishimoto (1974 - )

With an HPI of 67.29, Masashi Kishimoto is the 7th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Masashi Kishimoto (岸本 斉史, Kishimoto Masashi, born November 8, 1974) is a Japanese manga artist. His manga series, Naruto, which was in serialization from 1999 to 2014 and has sold over 250 million copies worldwide in 46 countries as of May 2019. The series has been adapted into two anime and multiple films, video games, and related media. Besides the Naruto manga, Kishimoto also personally supervised the two canonical anime films, The Last: Naruto the Movie and Boruto: Naruto the Movie, and has written several one-shot stories. In 2019, Kishimoto wrote Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru which ended in March 2020. From May 2016 through October 2020 he supervised the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations manga written by Ukyō Kodachi and illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto. In November 2020 it was announced that he had taken over as writer on the series, replacing Kodachi.A reader of manga from a young age, Kishimoto showed a desire to write his own manga, citing authors Akira Toriyama and Katsuhiro Otomo as his main inspirations. As a result, Kishimoto spent several years working to write his own shōnen manga for Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine which he was a fan of.

Photo of Eiichiro Oda

8. Eiichiro Oda (1975 - )

With an HPI of 66.34, Eiichiro Oda is the 8th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Eiichiro Oda (Japanese: 尾田 栄一郎, Hepburn: Oda Eiichirō, born January 1, 1975) is a Japanese manga artist and the creator of the series One Piece (1997–present). With more than 490 million tankōbon copies in circulation worldwide, One Piece is both the best-selling manga in history and the best-selling comic series printed in volume, in turn making Oda one of the best-selling fiction authors. The series' popularity resulted in Oda being named one of the manga artists that changed the history of manga.

Photo of Monkey Punch

9. Monkey Punch (1937 - 2019)

With an HPI of 66.16, Monkey Punch is the 9th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Kazuhiko Katō (Japanese: 加藤一彦, Hepburn: Katō Kazuhiko, May 26, 1937 – April 11, 2019), known by the pen name Monkey Punch (モンキー・パンチ, Monkī Panchi), was a Japanese manga artist, best known for his series Lupin III.

Photo of Shotaro Ishinomori

10. Shotaro Ishinomori (1938 - 1998)

With an HPI of 65.69, Shotaro Ishinomori is the 10th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Shotaro Ishinomori (石ノ森 章太郎, Ishinomori Shōtarō, 25 January 1938 – 28 January 1998) was a Japanese manga artist who became an influential figure in manga, anime, and tokusatsu, creating several immensely popular long-running series such as Cyborg 009, the Super Sentai series (later adapted into the Power Rangers series), and the Kamen Rider series. He was twice awarded by the Shogakukan Manga Awards, in 1968 for Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae and in 1988 for Hotel and Manga Nihon Keizai Nyumon. He was born as Shotaro Onodera (小野寺 章太郎, Onodera Shōtarō) in Tome, Miyagi, and was also known as Shotaro Ishimori (石森 章太郎, Ishimori Shōtarō) prior to 1986, when he changed his family name to Ishinomori by adding the no (ノ) character in katakana.

Pantheon has 64 people classified as comic artists born between 1920 and 2000. Of these 64, 55 (85.94%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living comic artists include Akira Toriyama, Tsugumi Ohba, and Rumiko Takahashi. The most famous deceased comic artists include Osamu Tezuka, Monkey Punch, and Shotaro Ishinomori. As of October 2020, 6 new comic artists have been added to Pantheon including Monkey Punch, Yukito Kishiro, and Momoko Sakura.

Living Comic Artists

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Deceased Comic Artists

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Newly Added Comic Artists (2020)

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Which Comic Artists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 7 most globally memorable Comic Artists since 1700.