Let’s Talk About Some Art Styles

Only read this if you’re over 18.

While talking about my Top 10 favorite yuri artists, someone asked me whether I could do another Top 10 list about my favorite artists that is solely based on how much I enjoy their art. I think such a specific list wouldn’t be interesting for that many readers, so I decided to do it a little differently.

In this entry, I will talk about art styles in different manga, doujinshi, and also in visual novels. I will pick up different artists, such as Saburouta, Peko, Ooshima Tomo, Morishima Akiko, Nishi Uko, Takemiya Jin, and probably many more. Let’s simply start by naming a few of the artists that I find have the most appealing art styles. Saburouta, for example, is probably one of the artists who became that popular, partly because her art looks so gorgeous. I don’t agree to most of what Citrus haters say about this manga, but in one point they might be right: If this manga was drawn by another artist that wasn’t Saburouta herself, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal right now.

Of course, it’s obvious that the art is a crucial factor in media like manga and visual novels. In fact, in some cases, the art can even make up for a crappy story. I’m not talking about Citrus right now, but there are some cases in which the art saved the whole manga from drowning in mediocrity.

Simple 18+ stories are probably a good example. Would you really read them if the art looked crappy? Many NSFW doujinshi simply put the focus on the sex and nothing more. So without a real plot, would you still be able to read and enjoy it if the art wasn’t to your liking? In my case, I wouldn’t.

Ooshima Tomo, for example, almost solely focuses on 18+ content. There is usually not much plot. These works just show the circumstances that lead to the two (or three) characters having sex. The art is gorgeous, and it’s also thanks to this more gentle art style that these sex scenes don’t come off as too extreme, like other artists like to make it look. And that’s precisely why I love Oooshima Tomo so much.

ooshima tomo yuri doujin

After this short introduction, let’s ask the question: What is more important, the art or the story?

I guess everyone feels different about this, so there is no one true answer. I for one, can honestly say that I value art far more than I value a good plot. Well, I’d usually go for the really cute and romantic stories, rather than for the really complex and plot-driven ones. And maybe that’s part of the reason why it’s so easy for me to decide between the two.

Of course, if a story can have both a great plot and great art, then it’s perfect, but perfect is a word I only use for very few works. So after clarifying what is more important to me, let’s now discuss some specific art styles and see which ones I enjoy the most.

First of all, there is no good or bad. I know that pointing out the obvious is probably not necessary, but I’ll still say it, just to make it clear. Just because I don’t like a specific art style doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Just keep that in mind before going into rage mode when you see me talking bad about your favorite author(s). Also, just because I don’t like the art, that doesn’t always mean that I don’t like the artist. Takemiya Jin might be a good example, but let’s get to her a bit later.

A few lines ago, I mentioned some of the artists that I find to have the best or most appealing art styles. Saburouta and Ooshima Tomo fall into the same category. Cute, yet very clean and even mature, art. Well, mature might sound a bit weird in this context, but artists like Morishima Akiko feel like the exact opposite of mature. The lines are not as straight, the faces look round, and the bodies very childlike. It’s cute, but for me it’s just too cute.

Then let’s take a closer look at some more of my favorite artists, like Kasumi and also Peko. Both can be easily compared to one another, since they have a few things in common: Very clean art, with characters that look surprisingly mature. Compare how Pikachi depicts KyoSaya to the way Kasumi does and we can easily see what distinguishes their art. Kasumi, as well as Peko, depict girls with curves. They sometimes even come off as a little plump in some parts, especially their thighs, which makes the characters look far more mature than these tiny and very thin characters in Pikachi or also Niratama’s works.

Since all 4 of these artists tend to have some NSFW tendencies, I for one, find it far more appealing to see characters that don’t look like children.

niratama yuri doujinshi
Niratama’s art

kasumi yuri doujinshi
Kasumi’s art

Now, how about we talk about Takemiya Jin or Nishi Uko. In both cases, I can’t say that I enjoy the art very much. Takemiya Jin’s characters often look like they have very 2-dimensional bodies. Especially the heads sometimes look like they are paper-thin, but that’s not the main reason why I don’t enjoy her art that much. I think Takemiya Jin’s art is like a preliminary stage to what Nishi Uko shows us.

takemiya jin fragments of love yuri manga
I really hope I’m not the only one seeing this….

This artist is simply known for what I think is called “non-moe” art. The eyes are not unnaturally big, the faces are rather distinctive, and the whole thing just doesn’t look as cute as we’re used to from many other artists. I certainly like these two art styles more than I like Morishima Akiko’s art, but I think I’d rather take something in between.

nishi uko yuri manga
Nishi Uko’s art

morishima akiko yuri manga
Morishima Akiko’s art

Citron, for example, manages to depict characters as both, cute, and mature. It might not sound like it’s that rare, since pretty much any manga can have some cute and some sexy and mature characters, but in this case, I just wanted to name this artist, because she does an extra great job with it in my eyes. Just look at this:

citron yuri manga
I’ve never seen a sexier Homura.

I guess every artist has some characteristics that make them stand out in a way. It’s often not that easy to decide whether they stand out in a positive or a negative way, but anyone can decide that on their own. Tima, for example, draws characters with unnaturally long fingers. I think this can be a turn-on for the right people, while others just find it weird. Furthermore, as mentioned above, Kasumi likes to show girls with curves and plump thighs. This as well, might attract some people, while others enjoy thinner characters more.

I could go on with this list, but I think you get what I want to say, so let’s stop right here before I find even more to say. 😛

All in all, what I enjoy the most is a well-balanced mix between the extremes. I neither like too cute, nor too “edgy”. Huge boobs and a big ass are not necessary to make characters look their age, or even a bit older, but portraying them with ultra-thin limbs and way too small and frail bodies is also a no-go.

Making the characters look cute is a simple must for me, but there certainly is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. So I guess the only possible conclusion to this is the following: I’m super picky.

Ah, well. In the end, I guess this whole entry feels a little disjointed. I tried to manage my way through all of the things that I wanted to mention, but in the end, it was a little too hard to organize it, so it might look like I just mixed up everything together. In any case, I hope that you still enjoyed reading it, and if you want to, I’d like to hear what you think is more important, the art style or the plot, and what artists you enjoy the most.

28 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Some Art Styles

  1. For me, art is more important because I quickly skim over the manga/doujin to see if it looks interesting. If the art is unappealing, I'm likely to dismiss it and look elsewhere, regardless if the story is great or not.

    And I like Sweet Pea. Her work looks great, is relatively short, and features a whole lot of Maki.


  2. So you really looked her up? I'm proud 😉

    I think the first impression is really important, which is exactly why the art is so important to us.
    Sometimes I just take a look at the cover and decide whether to take a closer look just like that.


  3. Hello, I'm that someone and apparently I shouldn't be reading this but I am and only God can judge me. 😛

    So. Choosing between a great art and a great plot is really difficult for me and I'm sure I'd give you a different answer if we were talking about any other genre, but since it's yuri I'm going with the art too. I just can't bring myself to read a story to the end, no matter how good it is, if the art isn't appealing at all. The other way around, though, sometimes is possible 'cause as I mentioned on my other comment, some authors can actually make up for a bad story with an awesome art.

    Also, I think this goes without saying but I would always choose a mature art style with characters that actually look their age over a “cute” (as in, TOO cute) one where the characters are supposed to be adults but they look like little kids (I'm looking at you, Morishima!). That's just me, though.

    Besides the ones that have already been mentioned such as Saburouta and Ooshima Tomo, I also find both Orico's art and Kodama Naoko's art really nice too, and I've been in a relationship of love and hate with Niratama's art. I don't need to explain though 'cause you've already said the reason I have for that. 😛

    Anyway I guess that's all I had to say. I'm glad I was able to actually leave you an useful suggestion and I'm sorry I try my best but I really cannot make short comments. xD


  4. You shouldn't be reading this? Why so? 😛

    I had to laugh at what you said about Niratama, because it's the same for me.
    I love this artist, I really do, but I'd be so happy if the characters at least looked a little more mature.
    Well, it's not a problem in all of her works, but especially Miku und Nico look like children… I probably shouldn't complain about it, since these two just are really thin and flat characters to begin with, but oh welll 😀

    Also, don't worry about leaving bigger comments, it's actually quite nice 😉


  5. “Only read this if you're over 18.” U-Uh… Sure… I'll come back in a few months then. 😛

    AND I KNOW RIGHT? I mean it wouldn't hurt if Niratama drew the characters to look just a little more mature… but well, at least she manages to make Luka look sexy so I'm gonna let that slide for now. 😛

    Also, I find it funny that you say you're super picky when I'm actually known as “the person who complains about basically anything” among my friends. If you're super picky, what does that make me then? :O … I'm screwed. lol


  6. My tastes are almost the exact opposite of yours: I highly prefer flat-chested, bony stick-girls like nwonyo pasun's Sanya
    (http://dynasty-scans.com/chapters/eilanyax), and I don't really like overly pudgy girls like Kasumi's NozoEli. I like how skinny girls
    seem to give off this impression of frailty and vulnerability, like they deserve the most love and most tender treatment. So I can be a
    bit picky too, however my tastes may be a bit more extreme.

    Tima's only letdown is the ridiculous fingers. Otherwise, the style is among my favorites. I really like the hard, sharp lines and
    flashy eye detailing. It reminds me of the classic shoujo art style, but somehow it's not as garish. It still took me until the second
    doujin to get on board with the gangly bishounen-esque bodies, but as long as they're not *too* androgynous they really come out well.

    Niratama (Sekihara)'s art is another style I needed a second doujin to start to like. It's a bit scratchy like Tima's, but I find the
    art slightly less appealing than Tima's, due to Sekihara's blander eyes (which are a bit weird themselves) and blander line work.
    However, the stories/character interactions in Sekihara's work are really cute, and above the level of what I usually see (for example,
    to compare NicoMaki works, cuter than Ooshima Tomo's stories). I've talked so much about art and bodies, but I really think it's the
    plot (and by plot I definitely do not mean breasts) that separates the cutesy fluff/disposable porn to works with real emotional

    Morishima Akiko's girls may not be bony or scratchy like some of the others I talked about so far, but I really don't mind the babyfaces
    and small bodies. They can be quite cute. I've only read the Angelic Girl books though, so I can't say any more about her work.

    Just throwing out more examples of artists whose styles I like (but you probably hate)
    -Masulao Maximum and Sagamani (two artists who do a lot of Nanoha)

    +1 to Orico. Another favorite of mine.

    With the other artists you mentioned, I don't disagree with your opinion. Either I like their style, or I haven't read enough of them to
    really form an opinion of them.


  7. @Mari You say you're super picky, but I haven't seen much of that so far. Also, you fangirl so hard about specific things, that I doubt you can be that picky 😛

    @Mayjaplaya The way you explain why you like thinner and smaller characters more, makes it perfectly understandable, and to some extend I can even agree with you.
    This EilaxSanya doujin is also one of my favorite doujinshi and it's the sole reason why I started watching the anime.
    In this case, I think the author managed to depict them in just the right way. They are super skinny, that's true, but the bodies still don't look that childlike thanks to the way the art just doesn't look too soft and round.

    I mostly enjoy EERR, even though there are unfortunately not that many translated works out.
    Orico on the other hand is really not one of my favorite artists, but it's not much about the art, but rather about the plot of most doujinshi.


  8. you just bashed over my favorite artists, specially Morishima Akiko and Pikachi (not to mention Niratama, Takemiya Jin and Nishi Uko), reading this article was absolutly bad for my heart
    but leaving that aside (i'm forgiving you because i like what you point out) i'm gonna share my fare of yuri artist i find with a gorgeous style
    Otsu Hiyori… aqua blue cinema, clover and the Maple Love oneshot. Don't need to say more.
    Kazuma Kowo, i know the artist said that's more used to draw male characters and sometimes you can perceive it in their mangas but i find the characters having a certain charm you don't find easily in other styles
    Yotsuhara Furiko, specially in her Laika, Pavlov, Pochihachikou collection.
    Hijiki's style, their characters are delicious (and no, i'm not only saying that because of Riko).
    Fukutarou Okeya, Tanaka Minoru, Amagakure Gido, Namori, Nanzaki Iku… and so on
    i guess i'm not really picky, as long as it's yuri i read about everything i find. About art styles, i like the ones that i can easily recognize, i think i made that clear with the ones i just mentioned.
    And about what factor draws me onto a manga, i guess you can say 'characters'. I can read and fangirl equally over some good yuri by Dowman Sayman or, let's say, some by Morinaga Milk. Though THAT have yet to happen.

    pd: i didn't just mentioned each and every author i like, i swear. If i do that i'd deviate from the point more and more xD sorry


  9. Haha, I already thought that some people would be angry at me for being so harsh on their favorite authors, but keep in mind that I still enjoy reading their works.
    Especially Takemiya Jin's stuff~

    Nanzaki Iku, Yotsuhara Furiko and Hijiki are all artists with great art styles.
    Especially Hijiki's characters look so gorgeous!
    Well, talking about all the artists we enjoy is probably not the best idea, so I should stop here too 😛


  10. News Flash if you haven;t heard yet lol: “Yuri Kuma Arashi” anime adaption lit as well as Prisma Illya Zwei – Hertz (means heart but I guess you already knew that) anime adaption for 2015 (they left off before we saw any summer swimsuit scenes so I bet we'll get this adaption nxt year in summer @_@/

    Meanwhile, it would be interesting if ya did not just on manga format doujin top lists but also animated doujin lists too!

    Oh, and useless unrelated trivia of God Eater 2 Rage Burst trailer being out.


  11. lawl, not to forget: Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru in october 2014.
    I'll also mention this not really yuri related anime adaption coming up “デンキ街の本屋さん” which has its adapted form and original form art done by a certain artist who also did the first story in 2014 January's COmic Yurihime issue. speaking of yurihime issues, the november issue cover has been revealed


  12. I've heard the news about Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru, but we can't really be sure whether this will be yuri.
    I'll add it as soon as I can simply smell the subtext, no worries 😛


  13. You're right about that, I have really never heard of it.
    And even though the cover art looks pretty nice, I can't say that I'm excited about it.
    The characters just look too young, but let's still keep an eye on it.


  14. Of course it's the story for me. I couldn't give two cents if the art is not praiseworthy. If the plot is trash I'll throw the manga in the deepest part of my attic till it rots (if said manga gets localized that is and buying it will convince shippers to order superior manga). I can live with drawings that are not very good as long as I know who I am looking at and the emotions expressed are identifiable.

    Let me rephrase that, 60% plot, 40% art style. For example, Lemonade's art style is not impressive but if it had a good story I would have still enjoyed…unfortunately it did not have that either so Lemonade is an overall bad manga.


  15. I actually think it's way better to think like this.
    My way of seeing this sometimes ruins works with a great potential and that's a shame.
    Just like I didn't even want to give Takemiya Jin's works a chance at first.


    • I would never hate on the awesome artstyle of Minakata Sunao. I actually have some of her doujinshi in my bookshelf, since I love her Touhou and Akuma no Riddle works so much.

      I’m surely not saying this because you just threatened me or anything 😛


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