Manga is a visual storytelling medium. It combines story and art together in such a way that it could easily paint a scene in our head and move our heart at the same time.
But there are times when we simply want to gawk at the marvelous art of our favorite mangaka without having to immerse ourselves into the story. And art books are the perfect format for that occasion.
Though what is considered as beautiful artwork may be different from one person to the next. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this selection of mind blowing artworks.
To give you a glimpse into what you’ll find inside each book, I attached the relevant flip-through videos from various channels on YouTube.
1. Tokyo Ghoul:re Illustration: Zakki by Sui Ishida
From iconic scenes to brand new illustrations, you can see Sui Ishida’s masterful brush work in this art book. All drawn with funky and vibrant colors that successfully depict the beautiful madness of Tokyo Ghoul:Re.
There’s actually another book in this series, dedicated solely to the first half of Tokyo Ghoul. Other than great illustrations, you’ll also find some author’s notes there.
But if I had to pick one, I’ll get this Tokyo Ghoul:re version in a heartbeat. The reason is simply because I feel like Sui Ishida really goes all out with the design, the strokes, and the colors that graced every page of this mesmerizing book.
2. The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Vision by Junji Ito
Junji Ito has created a shit ton of manga. And there’s even more materials that haven’t been officially translated in English yet. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the horror master has only ever made one art book.
That being said, this one book has everything that you can hope for in a Junji Ito’s art book. There are several original illustrations, full color images, some of his most iconic panels, and even numerous author’s notes.
This one art book covers almost every material that Junji Ito has ever put out. In a way, this art book is the perfect snapshot of his illustrious career from the beginning to the present day.
3. Jojoveller: An Illustration Collection by Hirohiko Araki
Unlike Junji Ito who only has one published art book till this day, Hirohiko Araki has several. You can get any one of them that you like, but my personal favorite is the Jojoveller.
When I write this article, this is the latest Jojo art book available. It was created to commemorate 25 years of Jojo. That’s why you’ll find full color illustrations of various iterations of Jojo’s inside.
From Phantom Blood to Jojolion, you’ll find the original illustration of the characters from each part of Jojo striking their iconic poses amidst various backgrounds.
4. Berserk Illustration Files by Kentaro Miura
Despite the wealth of fine arts that we got across the 40+ volumes of Berserk, we only have one decent art book of Berserk available.
I guess it is mostly because of how perfectionist the late Kentaro Miura truly was. He would spend hours on a page if he thought it was still not good enough.
And that is basically what this art book is, a collection of some of the best illustrations of the early part of Berserk, both in the original black and white and in full striking colors.
5. Dragon Ball: A Visual History by Akira Toriyama
There are several Dragon Ball art books that you can easily find in the market, but to me, this one is rather special. Because as the name suggests, this art book captures the complete visual history of Dragon Ball.
From the cover art to the iconic scenes from every story arc, everything is available here. Be ready because flipping the pages of this art book will undoubtedly take you to the trip down memory lane.
Not only that, there’s also special notes from Akira Toriyama that explains his feelings and thought process when creating certain characters or scenes. If you like Dragon Ball, you should get one of these.
6. The Complete Art of Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Hiromu Arakawa has one of the most recognizable art styles in the world of manga. And Fullmetal Alchemist is also one of the best shounen manga ever created.
Combining those two together is this art book. The pages within this book are filled with full color illustrations of the characters that lived in the world of Fullmetal Alchemist.
Some came from the cover art, some are the colorized version of the iconic scenes, while others are original illustrations made by Hiromu Arakawa-sensei especially for the book.
7. Black Butler: Black Artworks by Yana Toboso
Yana Toboso produced at least three art books for the Black Butler series. Each is quite comparable with each other.
You’d find the full color treatment of some of the memorable moments in the series, as well as original illustrations of the main characters.
Sure, you’ll also find the illustration of other characters, both allies and enemies, in this book, but expect to see pages upon pages of Ciel and Sebastian.
8. Pandora hearts: Odds and Ends by Jun Mochizuki
When it comes to the presentation, the Pandora Hearts art book is quite similar to the Black Butler’s art book. Full color illustrations with predominantly black background.
The book itself is quite thick and you’ll find the full color version of some of the most iconic moments in the series, as well as original illustrations of the main characters.
One of the stand out features of this book is the cut out pages. It was carefully placed so that we can see a tiny part of the pages that came after or before it, which create some rather amusing compositions.
9. Water: Vagabond Illustration Collection by Takehiko Inoue
When most manga readers talk about great art in manga, Vagabond would always be in the conversation. It doesn’t matter where you rank it in terms of your favorites, but it definitely deserves a place there.
What Takehiko Inoue has done in Vagabond has transcended the medium of manga. It has entered the realm of fine art. You can pick any of his panels, frame it, hang it in any art museum and it won’t feel out of place at all.
Sure, you might say I’m biased and exaggerate things too much. But just take a look at this art book and you’ll be sure to at least appreciate what the master can do. The alluring illustrations combined with the soft watercolor on top of them create some of the best art that ever grace the medium.
10. Blanc et Noir: Illustration by Takeshi Obata
Takeshi Obata is the name behind some of the most popular Shounen manga series in history. From Hikaru no Go, to Death Note, Bakuman, and even the Platinum End. His beautiful art has adorned some of our most beloved stories.
And now, you can enjoy his art in its purest sense, devoid of any story context, through this art book. Sure, this art book focuses heavily on Death Note, but you can also see a glimpse of Obata-sensei’s other works here. All in the form of crisp full color illustrations.
Unlike most western comics, Manga is a black and white medium. Sure, you do get some color pages from time to time, but for the most part, you’ll see nothing but greyscale.
So this art book is one of the rare chances where you can actually see your favorite characters in all of their glory, painted with a full spectrum of colors.
Just like each mangaka has their own unique drawing style, they also have a distinct style when it comes to using colors. So if you’re an aspiring artist, these books could also act as a reference point to the style that you might want to emulate.
But no matter what your reason is, having one or two art books will certainly bring more life and diversity to your shelf.