Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Manga Artist: Inoue Takehiko

               INOUE TAKEHIKO

This time I'd like to introduce the manga artist Inoue Takehiko. Best known for creating the High School Basketball manga series Slam Dunk, and more recently Vagabond, a manga that follows the trials and tribulations of legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Actually, the background for this blog is Miyamoto Musashi from this manga, so obviously I'm a big fan of his artwork. I've even got an awesome artwork book of his of pictures of characters from Vagabond painted using water colours. Theres supposed to be another book (which I defnititly will by the next time I visit Japan) where he uses in "Sumi-e" style, a traditional way of painting with black ink and brush.

He recently (past few years)...? well I have often heard of him painting murals of his characters using black ink and opening exhibitions of them. I find it amazing how well he is able to do this especially since you can't just rub out mistakes like pencils, and yet he finishes them perfectly. I guess he's just one of those guys you call Tensai (geniuses).

Personally I think his character designs are extremely cool. He has a good balance with how to make characters not too cartoony but not too real so that it still passes as artwork for manga. His background artwork is also quite detailed making the worlds he creates that much more believable.

He's a big fan of basketball....and its obvious if you look at the body of his work, which is often based on the sport. First of was Slam Dunk, a story a high school basketball team of misfits and their struggle to become Japan's number1 high school team. Its one of the most popular manga ever in Japan, and definitely one of my favourites, if not my most favourite one ever. At first you would think it would be pretty boring from just reading a brief description of it but its actually extremely good, as I have found out.Well it is in Japanese at least...I don't know what its like in English. It has a great mix of comedy, exciting basketball matches and emotional scenes. Its one of those stories where you actually come to care about the characters and hope that they succeed in the end, which i find quite rare. It also made me appreciate the sport much more, and I'm absolutely not the only one, as this manga created a basketball boom back when it was serialised (early 90's), and basically turned
 basketball from an small, relatively unknown sport, to one of the most popular in the country. If you are interested in Slam Dunk, I would recommend reading the manga, and not the Anime. The anime was made in the early/mid 90's so its not the greatest quality show you would see. I found that (the parts that I've seen anyway, which is not much) to be slowly paced, and static, and use repetitive uses of various scenes, typically of the general anime from that era. Anyway, the point is is that Slam Dunk is awesome and you should experience its greatness also. 
His following mangas also were basketball related, Buzzer Beater (haven't read yet) and is apparently about an intergalactic basketball competition...yeaahh haha. Weird plot, but probably still good and worth a shot when I remember. Its only 4 volumes and not very well known, since he originally released it on the web.

Slam Dunk team of Shohoku High
(From left) Hisashi Mitsui, Ryota Miyagi, Kiminobu Kogure,
 Hanamichi Sakuragi, Takenori Akagi, Kaede Rukawa
The other basketball manga is called 'Real'. 10 volumes have been released so far and it hasn't finished yet so I can't really say how great it is as a whole but so far it has been very interesting and pleasant experience. This time its about wheelchair basketball, and also explores the various struggles that are faced by the disabled/handicapped people, such as the inferiority that they feel as a result of their physical impairments.It mainly follows 3 young adults/ teenagers, one a high school dropout with nothing left in his life but basketball, a disabled guy who once had a dream of becoming a sprinter, and another guy who starts off as a free walking teenager but is hit by a truck after a few volumes (was his own fault by the way (-_-)\), which results in him being unable to use his legs anymore. The transformation of this character, who was originally a popular jerk after his accident is interesting and a very unusual but important (in my opinion) topic to be drawn on manga. This is another manga that I highly recommend.

Miyamoto Musashi

The most recent manga that he's been working is Vagabond, which as mentioned before, is the story of the legendary of Miyamoto Musashi swordsman. Miyamoto Musashi is famous for writing the Book of Five Rings, basically a text book on how to be a bad ass warrior. I've read very little snippets of it before, and vaguely remember a part explaining how to correctly stare down opponents, which is pretty cool. I haven't read all of the series fact I haven't read most of it although I really should. The main reason for this is that I don't like starting to read unfinished manga, as I hate waiting for the latest volume/chapter to come out. When I start reading a series and find that I like it, I tend to blaze through the manga not stop until it when I can't get to the next part of the story ...fuu#**k!! is basically what i think. I find it way more satisfying to be able to go through the whole series without this feeling, so I will probably wait till the series finishes, which is quite frustrating as well..although I think i won't have to wait too much longer since theirs already over 30 volumes. Mangas usually start ending around then. Unless if its some insane series like Golgo 13 (160 volumes!!!wtf?) or Kochikame (171!! even crazier).

Ahhh yepp thanks for reading the post. If you did...well done and stay tuned for the next post ..if there is one ..........


  1. Omg Inoue Takehiko! (I didn't know he lost so much hair lol)
    This guy is a real swordsman of pencil.
    I like his conception of drawing, through Vagabond he said readers could see his progression with art while his main character was improving his technique as swordsman (whereas Inoue Takehiko's technique was already very good). I still didn't read Vagabond though for the moment (lack of time) but it looks very promising.

    I agree with Slam Dunk, this manga is great and even more. My favorite character was Hisashi Mitsui because of his past and his evolution.
    There are so much to say about Slam Dunk that it's not easy to know where to start.
    Inoue has a lot of talent to depict slice of life stories and to draw facial expressions.

    I love the various commercials he did for Shiseido, like these:

    I wish I could see one his murals one day:

    Did you see his recent drawings he did to support Japan?

  2. Yeah! He's such a great artist. I really like what you called him, "Swordsman of the pencil". He's without a doubt my favourite manga artist.

  3. Thanks for the info on this artist. I love his sumi-e works.

  4. Your welcome! Yeah I wanted to buy the sumi-e artbook when I was in Japan but it was too heavy to get both that and the watercolour one...>_<