When someone is learning about manga for the first time, I’m sure that the sheer number of important series and mangaka can prove to be a little intimidating. However, as much as I love to talk about many of the classic mangaka such as Shotaro Ishinomori or Mitsuteru Yokoyama, it’s true that there are a great deal of very talented mangaka working in the modern industry. One of the more notable is an individual called Naoki Urasawa, a particularly interesting mangaka whose body of work has seen both strong critical and commercial success.
As a child, Naoki Urasawa idolised the work of Osamu Tezuka, later naming him as one of his two heroes alongside Bob Dylan. Despite this, he didn’t initially end up pursuing a career as being a mangaka and it was only chance that he ended up becoming a mangaka. While visiting Shogakukan in search of a job in business, he decided to bring along some of the manga he’d drawn and, after initially struggling to get the attention of editors, he ended up running into one who submitted it to a contest for the 1982 New Manga Artist award. He proved to be quite surprised when he won and decided to begin working as a mangaka.
After working for a while as an assistant, he finally got the opportunity to produce a serialised work called “Pineapple Army”. Naoki Urasawa served as the mangaka for the series while Kazuya Kudo served as the gensakusha and it ended up running in Big Comic Original from 1985 to 1988. However, the major breakthrough for Naoki Urasawa was his series “Yawara!” for which he served as both mangaka and gensakusha. Running from 1986 to 1993 in Big Comic Spirits, Yawara! proved to be a major hit, winning the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1990, being adapted into a live-action film, a long-running anime and several anime films and, as of 2021, has sold more than 30 million copies.
After finishing Pineapple Army and while he was producing Yawara!, he ended up doing the artwork and co-writing a manga called “Master Keaton” which ran from 1988 to 1994 in Big Comic Original. He then created a manga called “Happy!” to follow up after Yawara! which similarly followed a woman into the world of sports and ran from 1993 to 1999 in Big Comic Spirits. However, arguably his most famous manga was produced from 1994 to 2001 in Big Comic Original, “Monster”, which follows a doctor who, several years after a disastrous social incident, learns that a patient he saved has become a serial killer.
Another series that he’s particularly known for is “20th Century Boys”/”21st Century Boys”, a series he serialised in Big Comic Spirits after the completion of Happy! from 1999 to 2007 and, as far as I’m aware, has become his best-selling manga with an estimated 36 million copies sold. In 2003, Naoki Urasawa began serialising “Pluto” in Big Comic Original, a manga that drastically remakes one of the most famous stories from Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, The Greatest Robot on Earth, and ran until 2009.
Since then, Naoki Urasawa has continued to release more manga series such as Billy Bat, Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams and Asadora! but has also produced short story anthologies, worked on films, music videos and even hosted a TV series called “Urasawa Naoki no Manben” which saw him interview various mangaka and see what their workplaces are like.
Naoki Urasawa is a fascinating modern mangaka and his body of work is highly impressive and fascinating. Let me know your thoughts on the interesting mangaka Naoki Urasawa, which manga of his that you’ve read, whether you liked them or disliked them, what you think about his style and any additional information you might have on the topic.
Hopefully you have found this article interesting and informative and, if you wish to seek any of the works I mentioned, don’t hesitate to use amazon.co.uk or amazon.com for all of your needs!