The Most Famous

COMIC ARTISTS from Japan

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This page contains a list of the greatest Japanese Comic Artists. The pantheon dataset contains 226 Comic Artists, 68 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 71.03, Osamu Tezuka is the most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages on wikipedia.

Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫, born 手塚 治, Tezuka Osamu, (1928-11-03)3 November 1928 – 9 February 1989) was a Japanese manga artist, cartoonist and animator. Born in Osaka Prefecture, his prolific output, pioneering techniques and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the Father of Manga" (マンガの父, Manga no Chichi), "the Godfather of Manga" (マンガの教父, Manga no Kyōfu) and "the God of Manga" (マンガの神様, Manga no Kami-sama). 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 manga 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 manga revolution in Japan with his New Treasure Island published in 1947. His output would spawn some of the most influential, successful and well-received manga series including the children's 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 - 2024)

With an HPI of 66.63, Akira Toriyama is the 2nd most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Akira Toriyama (Japanese: 鳥山明, Hepburn: Toriyama Akira, April 5, 1955 – March 1, 2024) was a Japanese manga artist and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for creating the popular manga series Dr. Slump, before going on to create Dragon Ball (his most famous work) and acting as a character designer for several popular video games such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger, and Blue Dragon. Toriyama came to be regarded as one of the most important authors in the history of manga with his works 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/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 260 million copies worldwide, it is one of the best-selling manga series 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 Leiji Matsumoto

3. Leiji Matsumoto (1938 - 2023)

With an HPI of 61.53, Leiji Matsumoto is the 3rd most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Leiji Matsumoto (Japanese: 松本零士, Hepburn: Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto (松本晟); January 25, 1938 – February 13, 2023) was a Japanese manga artist, and creator of several anime and manga series. His widow Miyako Maki is also a manga artist. Matsumoto was famous for his space operas such as Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. His style was characterized by mythological and often tragic storylines with strong moral themes, noble heroes, feminine heroines, and a love of strange worlds and melancholic atmosphere.

Photo of Tsugumi Ohba

4. Tsugumi Ohba (b. 1950)

With an HPI of 61.28, Tsugumi Ohba is the 4th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 33 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, Platinum End, was serialized in the monthly Jump SQ from November 4, 2015, to January 4, 2021.

Photo of Rumiko Takahashi

5. Rumiko Takahashi (b. 1957)

With an HPI of 60.70, Rumiko Takahashi is the 5th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  Her biography has been translated into 43 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, she 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; making Takahashi one of the best-selling authors of all time. 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 Eiichiro Oda

6. Eiichiro Oda (b. 1975)

With an HPI of 60.54, Eiichiro Oda is the 6th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 51 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. With more than 523.2 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. Since November 7, 2004, Eiichiro Oda has been married to Chiaki Inaba (稲葉ちあき, Inaba Chiaki), a former model and actress whom he met in late 2003 during Jump Festa festival 2004. Oda and Inaba have had two daughters; the eldest was born in mid-2006 and the youngest in 2009.

Photo of Kentaro Miura

7. Kentaro Miura (1966 - 2021)

With an HPI of 60.23, Kentaro Miura is the 7th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Kentaro Miura (Japanese: 三浦 建太郎, Hepburn: Miura Kentarō, July 11, 1966 – May 6, 2021) was a Japanese manga artist. He was best known for his acclaimed dark fantasy series Berserk, which began serialization in 1989 and continued until his death. By 2023, Berserk had over 60 million copies in circulation, making it one of the best-selling manga series of all time. In 2002, Miura received the Award for Excellence at the sixth Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

Photo of Naoki Urasawa

8. Naoki Urasawa (b. 1960)

With an HPI of 60.01, Naoki Urasawa is the 8th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Naoki Urasawa (Japanese: 浦沢 直樹, Hepburn: Urasawa Naoki, born January 2, 1960) is a Japanese manga artist and musician. He has been drawing manga since he was four years old, and for most of his professional career has created two series simultaneously. The stories to many of these were co-written in collaboration with his former editor, Takashi Nagasaki. Urasawa has been called one of the artists that changed the history of manga and has won numerous awards, including the Shogakukan Manga Award three times, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize twice, and the Kodansha Manga Award once. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho called him "the greatest storyteller of our time", while Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz proclaimed Urasawa to be a national treasure in Japan. By December 2021, his various works had over 140 million copies in circulation worldwide, making him one of the best-selling authors of all time. Urasawa's first major work was illustrating the action series Pineapple Army (1985–1988), which was written by Kazuya Kudo. The first serial that he wrote and illustrated himself, and his first major success, was the sports manga Yawara! (1986–1993). He then illustrated the adventure series Master Keaton (1988–1994), which was written by Hokusei Katsushika and Nagasaki, and created the sports manga Happy! (1993–1999). The thriller Monster (1994–2001) was his first to receive international acclaim and success, which continued with the science fiction mystery 20th Century Boys (1999–2006). Following the acclaimed Pluto (2003–2009), which is a re-imagining of Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka, one of Urasawa's biggest influences, he and Nagasaki created the mystery series Billy Bat (2008–2016). After two short series, a sequel to Master Keaton with Nagasaki and Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams, Urasawa began his currently ongoing Asadora! in 2018.

Photo of Go Nagai

9. Go Nagai (b. 1945)

With an HPI of 59.77, Go Nagai is the 9th 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; designing the first mecha robots piloted by a user from within a cockpit with Mazinger Z; as well as helping pioneer 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 Yoshihiro Togashi

10. Yoshihiro Togashi (b. 1966)

With an HPI of 58.42, Yoshihiro Togashi is the 10th most famous Japanese Comic Artist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Yoshihiro Togashi (Japanese: 冨樫 義博, Hepburn: Togashi Yoshihiro, born April 27, 1966) is a Japanese manga artist. He began drawing manga at an early age, before being recognized for his talent by publishing company Shueisha while attending college. Togashi has authored several manga series in different genres during the past three decades. He is best known for writing and illustrating the YuYu Hakusho (1990–1994) and Hunter × Hunter (1998–present) series, both of which are some of the best-selling manga in history. Togashi is married to Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon.

People

Pantheon has 77 people classified as Japanese comic artists born between 1892 and 2000. Of these 77, 62 (80.52%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Japanese comic artists include Tsugumi Ohba, Rumiko Takahashi, and Eiichiro Oda. The most famous deceased Japanese comic artists include Osamu Tezuka, Akira Toriyama, and Leiji Matsumoto. As of April 2024, 10 new Japanese comic artists have been added to Pantheon including Yumiko Igarashi, Keiko Takemiya, and Ōten Shimokawa.

Living Japanese Comic Artists

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Deceased Japanese Comic Artists

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Newly Added Japanese Comic Artists (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Comic Artists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 12 most globally memorable Comic Artists since 1700.