Why I still draw manga
|7 min read
You know what's the funny thing about getting older and (apparently) more serious with art? People ask you why you don't 'move on' with it.
Over the last few years, as my interest in art in general grew and I attended more traditional art workshops, the question that was most asked to me was:

"Why don't you move on from that manga style of yours?"

Implying that manga was a childish thing to draw, and that when I wanted to go anywhere more serious with my art, I would better move on to a more mature and realistic style. 
Now, as some as you know I have close to no intention to go professional. It would take the fun out of drawing, in my opinion. But it honestly bothers me people see manga in such a negative light nowadays, especially considering we live in an era in which manga artists like yuumei, sakimichan or GENZOMAN (and many others) have build solid careers on their manga drawing skills, even outside of Japan. Of course, I realize, these people are a minority... but so are professional illustrators with good careers in general. 

For me, manga is a style that comes with a lot of memories and a lot of nostalgia.
I was about 10 years old when first exposed to manga. Like many other kids, during the so-called Pokemon boom in the late 90's. As a kid that used to draw a lot of cartoons, manga was already a huge step towards to realism for me. But unlike the realism we did with art classes in school, that was rather hard and boring to me, the huge eyes and colorfulness of manga inspired me so much that I wanted to actually try it. Of course it was hard at first. And like many others I started by trying to imitate the characteristics of my favorite manga characters from TV and magazines. But all of my friends and my two younger sisters were just as inspired to draw as I was, and soon our hard practice soon paid off in drawings that were far better than we would've ever imagined when we started.

You know... childhood is a strange time in life. You realize that as soon as you grow up.
It's a time in life in which you can get immersed in pretty much everything, and even the tiniest things in life can get you inspired for days. Anime had something western cartoons didn't have. Age demographics aimed specifically aimed for people at my age. Growing up in a relatively sheltered environment [very protective parents] those anime worlds where the worlds where I used to get lost in. I remember times in which I played a Pokemon game for an entire week of holiday, and I remember getting inspired by series to the point of getting goosebumps by even watching the show and having lucid dreams afterwards. Manga was my inspiration fuel. And even when the already excising universes failed to fulfill that task any further (and that was pretty soon -- as I used to be very hungry for inspiration), I took it upon myself and started to create my own worlds. 

I'm turning 27 this year, and realize my childhood is long over.
As I've gotten older, I too have come to realize the many faults that come with manga and it worlds. Believe me, that after watching over 300 shows, I can easily spot every single anime cliche when watching a new anime season. There's a reason I don't pick up 10 shows a season anymore (I lack time -- that too). Yet I still enjoy a show or two --more or less like a guilty pleasure-- although I skip the really bad ones. My love for anime conventions has cooled down a bit, knowing it's not the first time one of my rather shy female friends is more or less harassed by one of those 30-year-old-and-desperate-to-get-a-girlfriend guys around convention grounds, and it won't be the last time either. Things like that happen. The manga world has its flaws and I'm old and wise enough to know so. But one would be a fool to think other worlds don't have those flaws.

Over the last few years I've been studying a lot of realism. Loomis, Hampton, references, online video lessons... and you name it. 
Even though I'm by no means perfect, I've gotten to the point on which I'm able to do quite a realistic portrait... which raises the question; Why I still draw manga, or incorporate manga elements into my style?

Well, the answer to that is pretty simple; I just like it.
Drawing manga somehow brings back the memory's of those hot summer days that I used to draw with a huge group of friends, and it didn't matter that we weren't all that good. It reminds me of times that we got inspired to the point of goosebumps to our arms and just couldn't stop talking about everything new that involved our worlds and characters. And even aside from the nostalgia... I think manga has a lot of element in its style that I like a lot. Throughout my artistic journey I've came across many styles, and I took a bit from every style that I liked. It's just that a lot of that happened to be manga.

To be honest with you; I think the whole hate toward manga nowadays has gotten a bit disproportionate. I mean; it's a popular style. Sure, it makes a lot more sense to hate on something popular than on something that nobody ever heard of before. But any style that gained the massive popularity that manga has nowadays would undoubtedly be used for strange fetish art and fall into the hands of unskilled artists. It's the same thing as hating on the entire pop music genre, just because there happen to be few unskilled people getting fame over that type of music nowadays. It's not the style at fault. It's unskilled people getting fame over it. And yes, that sometimes does make it hard to look at the style without prejudice. 

If I was aiming to become a professional in the field of illustration, or even just attending art school, I would totally say you were right to tell me I should do a lot more style exercises. But since I don't do either of them, and do art for entertainment only in the few hours that I'm not working; please let me do whatever I enjoy. I'm not stuck. There's clearly difference between this and this, even though drawn in the same style. 
So just let this old fellow dwell on nostalgia a bit more :)


Edit; cleaned up the comment section for a bit due to overnight trolling. Please keep in mind that this article was based on a personal opinion and is therefore labeled "Why I still draw manga". You're free to draw in another style. I never said anything about disliking to see those. Diversity is what makes this community go round. You're free to disagree with me on the subject, and debate with me and others. But if you do so, please keep your personal grudge or prejudice towards that person or group out of that. That's not a proper way of debating. 
Comments519
anonymous's avatar
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successmind's avatar

Thanks, I didn't think someone else but DamaiMikaz would read all that. And hehe, obviously I didn't know that guy was like that. Thank you so much for your support

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successmind's avatar

Follow whatever you want to do -  as long as you're happy do it well!

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KehXKeova's avatar
KehXKeovaHobbyist Artist
I agree!! :w00t!:

Manga-style is so much fun to draw! :heart:
I've been drawing in manga-form for 12+ years, and I'm not about to stop now!! :mwahaha:
I'm hoping to get something of mine published one day, even if it's a smal something. =)
I'm no where near professional level, but here's hoping it's not a long ways off!! XD

Best of luck to your future goals as well! :hug:
Graeystone's avatar
My major beef with manga - While there are plenty of excellent artists there are just as many lousy writers.
DrawWithNessie's avatar
Can I applaud you for these 2 sentences? - "It's not the style at fault. It's unskilled people getting fame over it."


baka-espada's avatar
baka-espadaStudent General Artist
meow. so true. the only reason i do anything is because i like doing it. and i love manga and anime so that is the main field i draw in :)
Light-Lein's avatar
Light-LeinHobbyist Traditional Artist
Very clear story :). I start to draw al ot of other things now but I also get that nostalgic feeling when drawing manga (especially when drawing pokémon). The first time I started to draw pokémons was on a summer vacation when I was 10, I met a girl who did that and then I started drawing them myselves. I really like drawing in all kinds of different styles, I can choose based on my mood when drawing and every style has its own good sides and good memories <3!
Shirowe's avatar
ShiroweHobbyist General Artist
I am older...And the other thing that has changed for me, is that I have been trying to make a small amount off my art...I consider Manga just as valid of a style as any other art out there...Why?...Look at Rumiko Takahashi, or Miazaki, or Matsumune Shirow...They all did their styles for many years...Like upwards to being 60+ years old and still doing it...So YEAH..I'm going to keep with it. :D
DamaiMikaz's avatar
DamaiMikazHobbyist Digital Artist
60+ yeah... that sure is something :D
Shirowe's avatar
ShiroweHobbyist General Artist
Exactly :D
NormalIdeal's avatar
I'm 31 and getting seriously started with art. I LOVE anime and I'm going through a dilemma. When I start drawing something, I start with anime style in head, but I realize my hand goes on to draw things more complex (as in more complex faces, more realistic bodies, etc.) I don't know what to do. Didn't feel like this a few years ago and thought would never be in this situation...

Plus, I'm quite respected, loved, and I'm still dead scared people will make fun of my love for anime! It's like being gay, you know. I think I'll have a big coming out or something! I think it can make a difference if people my age and status say in a chat "Oh, I love anime, btw. I would prefer it to most art." I also think of wearing anime t-shirts once in a while.

You're right. Anime has something unique. Amazing color scala, drawings that are alive...And some manga has something nothing else has: You hear whatever goes on in the head of the character while you watch him/her go through visual situations. I love that.
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
lol "coming out" with your manga style drawings is no where fucking serious than coming out gay :stare:
NormalIdeal's avatar
Hmm, imagine a guy who everyone thinks is a very nice, normal person. He's in his 30's with a high social status, a lover, and quite much money. But at home, at night, he closes the curtains, takes off all his clothes, turns on music that his friends would never think he'd listen to. They'd have made fun of him if they heard it. He puts on clothes that if friends saw him in them, they would gossip he's not normal and would push him away. He turns on his fancy huge TV but instead of a sports show he pretends to prefer around friends, he watches movies that the guys would have made crazy fun of him if they knew. He also eats sweets that people would have said it's not manly. Then he watches a type of sex that if his friends saw him watching, they would call him sexually not normal. If it came out, he thinks...

The "guy" is me. The music is anime music. The clothes are anime style clothes. The movies are anime shows. The food is colorful dangos. The sex is hentai. But sounds like another situation, does it?...It stresses me a lot!
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
lmfao what???
"wow jeez like manga/hentai/music lovers like me are like TOTALLY systematically marginalized and discriminated by society our basic human rights are stripped from us by people who don't agree with our """""""life style""""" and want us dead and we're totally kicked out of our homes and like abandoned by our own families and friends and can't get jobs because of who we are and like get no representation in mainstream media to give us a voice and like """""normal""""" people don't even respect us and only use us conveniently to make them look """""tolerant""""" like omfg WHITE JESUS SAVE ME FROM THIS HORRIBLE LIFE THAT IS THE LIFE OF A ~~~OSTRACIZED MANGA LOVER~~~~~ OH WOE IS ME"

seriously, re-evaluate your fucking words because you in NO WAY do you share the experiences of millions of gay/queer people as a manga lover. Stop using their (and my) experiences to make you look so ~~~~~pitiful~~~~~ goddammit

liking manga is a choice, being queer is not. LEARN THE DIFFERENCE DAMMIT

~ signed, a pissed off bisexual
NormalIdeal's avatar
You know how it is to be discriminated and put down, and you think other people do so much better than you because what, they have other differences? And you attack me for saying how I feel? You made me get tears in my eyes. And if I had prejudice, I would have hated bisexuals because of what you just did. Hope you face the same attitude, too. All your life.

I'm straight, true. And what I live through because of my love for anime is not a choice, I didn't decide to like it! It has a psychological background that I cant change. When I was a 3 year old, it turned out I had the mind of a 16 year old. It had it all: A sexual crisis, social crisis, self love crisis, not fitting in, getting too much positive and negative attention...I ran to anime which looked like a child thing but had adult themes, like bisexuality, for example. I cant get rid of it. And today in my world, being bisexual is welcome, but being an anime "freak" is treated like a disease. And that doesn't let me act as who I am which is awful.

I pity you just a little for being so over sensitive about your own issues to the point you attack me. If you treat others' problems like this, dont expect them to care about yours...You made me sick.
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
you literally have no idea how insensitive YOU are being right now. Stop making false equivalences to get yourself sympathy. If you truly were queer, you would NEVER make such a ridiculous statement in the first place, because the real and dangerous discrimination queer people must face daily is nothing compared to the """discrimination"""/ aka just a difference in taste of you loving manga.

and why the hell did you assume I ONLY face biphobia/queerphobia? I happen to be Chinese and genderqueer as well, living in a white, straight, cisgender majority small town. Now you really can't fucking compare our experiences now, hm? I never said once that I thought other people have it better than me; in fact, there are many MANY people out there who have worse than me. But guess what; YOU'RE NOT ONE OF THEM IF YOU CLAIM THAT LOVING MANGA IS THE SAME AS COMING OUT QUEER.

lmfao of COURSE you'd hate all bisexuals after they just tell you their frustration of how they're constantly treated and erased from cishet/mainstream society and by straight people like hey it's totally """""just as bad is ~~~~~reverse discrimination~~~~~"""""" right, straight person? You can't handle the fact that a bisexual is calling out you're straight privilege, or that I'm calling out on your ignorance, or even the fact that you won't even acknowledge how wrong you've been throught this entire argument. lol you'll just blame it on me for being too """sensitive""" to the appropriative bullshit you and many others I have to deal with daily. Like after years of being discriminated for being Chinese, gender non-conforming, and queer you'd think I'd just let this kind of bull shit blow over, huh? WELL NO

Yes, ALL people face being left out or bullied or feeling out of place, but for many people who are marginalized for their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, disability, etc. is SO much different and much more serious and complex than someone, like you, how is "discriminated" for liking a certain kind of comics. But hey, you're just an ignorant straight person who won't even admit to being insensitive to queer people like me. I highly doubt that being bisexual is more welcomed than liking manga where ever you are; you're just too ignorant to notice or to pay attention to anything that's happening to us. 

You've already lost this argument to me the moment to posted that first comment, so I don't want to continue with this any more. You better keep in mind how your actions and words are affecting people more marginalized than you, other wise sooner or later you're going to get rightfully called out again for your painful ignorance.
NormalIdeal's avatar
Who asked for your sympathy? o.o I wasn't even talking to you when you started attacking me!

It's NOT taste! It's NOT simple! I'm tangled in anime stuff to the point it affects my life a lot.

Who the heck assumed you go through one problem? o.o

I DON'T HATE BISEXUALS! Omg, where did you come up with that?!

I won't read the other stuff you wrote. You're a fucking stupid person who doesn't listen but just talks...EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOUUU! My problems can't compareee! So annoying. Fuck off. You're brain damaged.
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
Lol using convenient ableism to contemplate my words; now I really know you don't know shit, but hey whatever :shrug:
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SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
...
you're straight, aren't you? 
NormalIdeal's avatar
You're a narcisist who doesn't get other people in different settings can get discriminated just as much as you do, aren't you?
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
lmao you're telling me, a Chinese bisexual genderqueer, that I don't understand other people's marginalization, even though I already have many identities that are already marginalized? And you're comparing all of this to you liking some comics? Nice try, Samantha, nice try HahahaNO Emote  and you're calling me the narcissist, goddammit
NormalIdeal's avatar
It's exactly who you are, a narcissist. Belittling other people's problems even if they tell you they're in trouble, and seeing yours as much bigger than them, that's Narcissism 101.
SuperHeroSockMonkey's avatar
lmfao you comparing two hugely different things that literally have nothing to do with each other and claiming that they are one of the same problem to gain yourself sympathetic from others, giving not a single shit of how your words are being perceived by them. I'm surprised you don't get called out often with this kind of attitude of yours. I already offered you a chance to stop arguing with me and let it be but obviously you can't handle someone else being right about something, can you? How thoughtful :|
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LadyElasa's avatar
LadyElasaHobbyist Digital Artist
I've never been good at drawing. I always was jealous of other people and knew I'd never get that good so I decided I sucked at drawing so I hated it. When I found a drawing book on how to do manga, I started reading it and realized maybe I could get the hang of this style and bring my characters to the physical world on a page. Manga-style made me like drawing and it does have its difficulties. It has a proportion style all in it's own and there are so many variations. Anyone who thinks it's a walk in the park has no idea what they're talking about. Manga has a beauty that is unique from Western styles. I love its expressive nature. 
anonymous's avatar
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