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Takemitsu Zamurai

If you’ve been following a specific manga series for quite some time, you’d have noticed little bits and pieces of changes in it as you went along–most glaring of which is in the art department. Be it as simple as drawing slightly more rounded eyes and much wider faces or as advanced as using sketchier, rougher lines to draw characters, that element of change always creeps up along the way when an artist slowly and surely develops his own fuller approach to his art. A few popular examples would be Takehiko Inoue from Slam Dunk to Vagabond, Makoto Yukimura from Planetes to present-day Vinland Saga, and Kentaro Miura from his early Berserk days in 1989 to his current Berserk. Hiroaki Samura gradually switched up his art style from a lighter, more pencil-focused line art to use of more inks and bold lines in Blade of the Immortal, but still he retained his initial rough flavor. Even Tite Kubo got in on the act. His early Zombie Powder/Bleach days saw him at his most wild and energetic, then as the years went by, he had settled into the much more simplified design work we see today.

Sometimes, there are also artists who change things up in such a bold and striking way that you almost could not relate their present style to their other works. Save for a few signature quirks, like the way a face or a body is drawn, there’s almost no other direct link from the past to the present. In some ways, I think it’s an artist exploring the ways and means of his craft, and for others, there’s also the sense that it’s just another logical step in his career as an artist.

 

...had trouble choosing just one image, but here goes

 

Takemitsu Zamurai (Story: Eifuku Issei, Art: Taiyou Matsumoto)

Such an example would be Taiyou Matsumoto. I’ve covered one of his earlier works (Zero) before in this upstart blog, and one of the things I noted was the stark contrast between that and Takemitsu. There’s now less focus on boldly drawn lines and forms, but here comes a lighter, more sensitive drawing style that feels almost otherworldly. I don’t know many artists who have changed approaches the way Matsumoto has. One thing I also remember noting in the past Matsumoto-centric post I made was the versatility of Matsumoto as an artist. Here is where that comes into play in a fuller, more mature, and more effective manner.

 

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