Young American artists seem unduly influenced by the formulaic style called “manga.” Isn’t this detrimental to the developing artist, and why is manga so popular a style that it stunts their own developing art abilities?
I will also be showcasing anime art styles in this answer, because the manga and anime art styles are very similar, except one is animated.
First of all, what is manga?
Manga is a fairly stylized art style originating in Japan. It is used for Japanese illustrated comic books called manga, and they are illustrated by mangaka (meaning manga artist).
While each mangaka has their own style of manga, common themes in lots of manga styles include big eyes, small mouths, little to no noses and unnatural hair colors.
Some art styles lean towards the more realistic direction, such as Attack on Titan which gives their characters realistic noses and more realistic bodies.
Whereas some other art styles under the manga/anime art style are more stylized, such as in Lucky Star. Extremely different, but these are both considered manga art styles.
Why is the manga art style so popular among young American artists?
For a start, the art style itself is generally quite appealing. It’s a unique art style for sure, but many of the attributes are quite likeable (big eyes, small/no nose, small mouth) particularly among young people.
Manga is different from the western cartoon style. Here’s a screenshot from the American cartoon South Park.
Looking at that, you might be thinking something along the lines of.. “Hold on, the South Park art style also uses big eyes, small mouths and no noses. Why isn’t it popular like the manga art style?”
The reason for this is quite simple. The South Park characters were not designed to be pretty, or cute, or handsome. They were designed to be funny.
On the other hand, the manga art style prioritises beauty/cuteness/handsomeness in their characters, because the characters are idealised. They are ‘perfect humans’.
Why are they idealised? For marketing, of course!
It makes sense young people are more interested in the conventionally beautiful characters. You can’t really blame them for that.
The manga art style is also used in lots of games, like Genshin Impact. The main marketing point for this game is, you guessed it, the characters.
On top of that, the manga art style itself is also easy enough to replicate for a new artist with no prior experience. All these factors combined make the art style very appealing to young American artists.
Is the manga art style detrimental to the developing artist?
In my opinion, it really depends on what the developing artist in question is planning to do in the art world.
Image from @Natalico on Twitter.
If the developing artist is planning on drawing professionally, then I think yes, it is detrimental if it is the only art style they learn.
I think young artists should learn to first draw realistically (or in a more realistic art style than manga) so they get a good idea of art fundamentals, basic anatomy, form, perspective, etc and then they can worry about art styles later on.
Heck, even if they’re planning on becoming a mangaka, it is still a key asset to learn to draw realistically as the manga art style still uses these fundamentals etc, even if it is greatly stylized in the art.
Neither images are mine!
As you can see, realistic art fundamentals are also used in your typical manga art style. Examples are ears and eyes lining up and the line arching up to the eyebrow is visible when the face is turned at a 3/4 angle.
So if a developing artist is planning on drawing professionally, then it is detrimental to their growth to only learn manga art. I think aspiring professional artists should learn to draw realistically or in a style more realistic than manga.
Beautiful realistic portrait art by Jennifer Healy.
But what about if a developing artist does not planning on drawing professionally? What about if they’re just planning on drawing as a hobby?
In that case, I’d say its completely up to them if they want to draw only manga, however it will affect the quality of their art.
If you only draw manga, you can learn about art fundamentals but they might be a bit harder to learn, since you would learn them by first applying them to a (typically) highly stylized art style.
However, this doesn’t really matter because they won’t be looking to get paid for their art. So its really up to personal preference of the hobbyist developing artist: and while not exactly detrimental, it is rather just something that isn’t as desirable as other options.
Manga is an art style originating in Japan. It is used in Japanese comic books called manga, which are illustrated by mangaka.
The manga art style itself is so popular because of the beauty of its characters, relative easiness to learn, and lots of popular manga/anime becoming popular in America.
Is it detrimental to the aspiring professional developing artist? Yes.
Is it detrimental to the hobby developing artist? No, but if they want to make “good art” they should also learn to draw in other, more realistic art styles.