Top 10 Manga With The Best Character DesignsThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
There aren’t too many aspects to manga, you know?
There’s basically writing, and then art. Pretty straightforward, right?
Well not quite. Because while good artwork is common, not all series are blessed with incredible designs.
And one thing that makes any manga absolutely iconic is a memorable cast of characters.
Here’s a handful of fantastic manga series to prove my point.
10. Tokyo Ghoul
Writer & Illustrator: Sui Ishida
There’s just something about Tokyo Ghoul…
Ah yes, I think the kids call it “absolute drip.”
Seriously, how anyone can make characters look so cool and badass so effortlessly is beyond me.
Not only is every single outfit in this world (full of conflicted young adults and flesh-hungry monsters) just incredible, but everything about ghouls is also amazingly creative.
Every type of kagune feels unique and is customized for each user, which leads to great designs all around – for both good guys and bad guys.
One look at Kaneki’s iconic mask is enough to make anyone think of Tokyo Ghoul.
And I believe that speaks for itself.
9. Hunter x Hunter
Writer & Illustrator: Yoshihiro Togashi
Gon, Killua, Kurapika, Leolio…
If you can tell me a single redundant thing between these character designs, I’ll… I’ll just congratulate you, because I sure can’t find anything.
Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter is a marvel of the manga industry. And that’s a fact, given its sheer popularity.
There are many reasons for that – like amazing worldbuilding, enthralling and mature storytelling…
But a big one for me is the creativity of its author when it comes to clothing, weapons, powers, artwork, you name it.
If these character designs don’t instantly make you fall in love with this manga, I don’t know what will.
8. Fullmetal Alchemist
Writer & Illustrator: Hiromu Arakawa
This is a series that eases up on the flashiness.
While not as goofy and colourful as Hunter x Hunter and much less edgy than something like Tokyo Ghoul, FMA leaves nothing to be desired.
Often inspired by European World War II aesthetic, Hiromu Arakawa is able to give incredible depth and maturity to her character designs.
Combine this with the steampunk setting and you ultimately get some of the most iconic looks in manga history.
So much warmth emanates from the artwork here.
And that’s something you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a fantasy epic.
7. Eyeshield 21
Writer: Riichiro Inagaki
Illustrator: Yusuke Murata
Who said great creative character design was just for fantasy and sci-fi?
Born from the minds of guys who are now famous for stuff like Dr. Stone and One Punch Man, Eyeshield 21 may be about something realistic, but there’s nothing mundane to it.
And the complete insanity that goes on in this manga is perfectly represented by its characters’ flashy and sometimes ridiculous designs.
Got a bloodthirsty quarter back with 200 IQ?
Give him elf ears and sharp teeth. Cause why not?
That’s just one example, but I feel like it tells you everything you need to know about this extraordinary sports manga.
Writer & Illustrator: Tite Kubo
If there’s one thing Bleach is known for, it has to be the series’ incredibly badass characters.
From its MC to its main antagonists, no efforts are spared in this fantasy manga when it comes to designs.
And with a series as edgy and action-packed as this one, great design is clearly a must.
Not only is the base Shinigami attire awesome, but every character wearing it also feels unique and adds its personal touch.
And don’t get me started on the weapons and powers. That could take me another thousand words.
Bleach will surely go down as having one of the most iconic collections of character designs ever. And I don’t feel like that’s an overstatement.
5. One Punch Man
Illustrator: Yusuke Murata
There’s no way a series so focused on badass heroes and horrifying monsters would work without incredible character design.
Thankfully, there’s no risk when two of the most creative mangaka around are behind it.
While the design of its main protagonist is ironically (and intentionally) very basic, One Punch Man always seems to reinvent itself.
From gigantic ancient centipedes to a literal guy fighting crime in a dog costume, there’s nothing ONE and Yusuke Murata can’t do.
And they make it work every single time.
It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s awe-inspiring…
All thanks to character design!
4. My Hero Academia
Writer & Illustrator: Kohei Horikoshi
With how absolutely iconic this series has managed to become in so few years, it’s no wonder the character designs are awesome.
Backed up by its creator’s quirky (no pun intended) and unique art, My Hero Academia exudes style on each page.
Not only are the base characters already well designed, but their costumes go even further!
In a world where powers can be quite literally anything, you’ve got to acknowledge Kohei Horikoshi’s ability to craft unforgettable attires for pretty much everyone.
There’s nothing that feels boring or typical, and I can’t commend that enough.
A true masterclass.
Writer & Illustrator: Masashi Kishimoto
It’s Naruto, what else do you want from me?
There’s a reason this series was the face of Shonen Jump for so many years (along with a few others).
And here, it has to do with Kishimoto’s amazing designs.
In a world where ninjas are basically soldiers in a strict hierarchy, it would be easy to just give them a uniform and be done with it.
Fortunately that’s not what happened.
Powers, weapons, clothes…
All characters are so different from one another in all of these aspects (except maybe for the headband, but that doesn’t count, okay?)
Character design is so important to make protagonists and antagonists as memorable as possible.
And trust me, no one’s forgetting these guys any time soon.
2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Writer & Illustrator: Hirohiro Araki
I don’t think there’s a lot of manga that pop into my mind before JoJo when it comes to character design.
While there are many great series out there, very few of them have characters that are as instantly recognizable as the cast in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
As the title suggests, Hirohiro Araki’s creation is truly bizarre at times. And its protagonists and antagonists always look the part.
With amazing outfits and incredible artwork, this manga totally deserves its hard-earned cult status.
The Jojos have been kicking some serious butt for nearly forty years now – and there’s no sign of them stopping.
1. One Piece
Writer & Illustrator: Eiichiro Oda
What more can be said about Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece?
You know it’s a feat when your series doesn’t have a single character that feels boring or redundant, and all that it’s due to its author’s sheer creativity.
From main protagonists to even the most insignificant extras, everything feels like it’s been designed with love and care by the world’s greatest mangaka.
Offering a perfect mix between goofy and purely badass, One Piece will wow you with each and every chapter.
Every page leaves its mark, and is as unforgettable as the one before.
And that’s an experience that is truly enhanced by amazing character design.