The 8 Brilliant Minds Behind Some of the Biggest Anime Hit Series of All Times

  • OTAKU
  • CULTURE
  • What is the best anime ever created? For those who have long been fans of watching Japan-produced animation, choosing one particular show that can be considered as ‘the best’ can be a difficult task. After all, there have been a lot of memorable ones and there are various genres to choose from. Among the pool of good picks, however, lie the cream of the crop which managed to capture the attention and support of viewers all over the world. These are the anime series which are not only notable for their length but most importantly for their content-rich storyline that combines excellent twists with great character development.

    There’s a whole bunch of them out there, but One Piece, Fairytale, Attack on Titan, Naruto/Naruto Shippuden, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, Hunter x Hunter, Dragonball and Slamdunk are undeniably some of the most viewed series worldwide. But where would these anime series be without their creators? If you love the anime, then it’s only appropriate to honor the people who created them. Let’s be introduced to the men who brought our favorite characters to life and made us enjoy some of the most amazing, out of this world journeys with them!

    Eiichiro Oda (One Piece)

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    It’s common knowledge that writing and illustrating manga is never an easy task. And for an anime as long-running as One Piece, we get an idea about just how much work is needed to publish an entire chapter. On average, Oda is said to work for 21 hours a day, following his own schedule in terms of working on the layout, creating character dialogues, drawing, inking and much more. He’s quite hands on when creating One Piece, and prefers working with minimal assistance.

    Oda started his professional career when he was just 17 years old. This was when he published manga ‘Wanted’, that landed him the 2nd place in the Tezuka Manga Awards at the time. Before One Piece debuted in 1997, he was already experienced in a mangaka’s (manga writer) typical routine by working as an assistant to other big industry names like Nobuhiro Watsuki (creator of Rurouni Kenshin).

    Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail)

    Real-life experience is said to be a good source of inspiration to many artists. And Mashima is perhaps one of those who draw inspiration from their past to create some of the best works of art at present. Although he has been enrolled at a school focused on teaching mangaka skills after his high school graduation, he did not finish the formal course saying that it didn’t contribute enough to his professional pursuit of working as a manga artist.

    He had his breakthrough with the publication of Rave, which ran from 1999 to 2005. Mashima is said to have a six-day workweek, working 17 hours each day. He has six assistants including Miki Yoshikawa, who is responsible for creating rom-com Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches.

    Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan)

    Among the names we have on this list, Isayama’s first manga Attack on Titan is number one on many reader and viewer lists. Ever since its release in 2009, it has received wide support both from national and international fans. In an interview with men’s culture magazine ‘Brutus’, Isayama revealed that he really did not expect this series to be a major hit.

    He began to show interest in the craft during high school when he submitted some of his works for competitions. He also studied at a manga design program where he honed his skills even more. Attack on Titan won the 2011 shonen category (manga aimed at boys/young men) of the 35th Kodansha Manga Awards and has since then been nominated for several other prominent awards like the Manga Taisho and Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

    Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto/Naruto Shippuden)

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    Naruto’s long and memorable journey that lasted around 15 years has ended, but the impact it made on its faithful followers remains. Just like many of today’s highly applauded mangaka, Kishimoto also became interested in the craft when he was still young. He enrolled at an art college in pursuit of his dream to be a manga artist. It was not until his 2nd year of college that he decided to submit some of his work to competitions.

    But while his style is directed towards an adult audience, he found it unfit for the kind of market that Shonen Jump (where he planned to submit his work) is directed at (children and teens). He continued his learning by reading and watching the works of different artists from various genres, slowly developing a style that allowed him to create a shounen type of work. Apart from Naruto, Kishimoto also took part in other author’s works, for example as a guest character designer for Tekken 6. He is the twin brother of Seishi Kishimoto, who is also a mangaka and the creator of Blazer Drive.

    Tite (Noriaki) Kubo (Bleach)

    While currently on a said ‘temporary’ hiatus, Bleach is undeniably one of those long running series that captured the hearts of many. With its fascinating dynamic between shinigami (death gods) and humans, it became a hit in many countries and have since gained support from people of all ages. But because of the decline in quality, also of the lengthy filler episodes, production was ceased in 2012.

    Ever since he was young, Kubo wanted to be a manga artist. Despite the success he attained with Bleach, he has had his own share of challenges and disappointments such as the early cancelation of his first manga, Zombiepowder. When it comes to style, he’s known for the incorporation of ‘elements of body horror’, which is often characterized by dark contrasts in background and character coloring.

    Yoshihiro Togashi (Hunter x Hunter and Yu Yu Hakusho)

    If you have been wondering about the stark similarity between the four main characters of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter, then it will make sense when you learn that they are both created by the same person. He started drawing manga during his elementary school years and managed to continue indulging in his interests by joining the fine arts club in high school. Initially, Togashi wanted to become a professional teacher which is why he took up an education course in college. While studying, he continued to create manga which he then submitted to magazine Weekly Young Jump.

    While still a student, he received the popular Tezuka Award for his manga Buttobi Straight. It was during his senior year of college that he was scouted by an editor from Weekly Shonen Jump to work for their company. Both Hunter x Hunter and Yu Yu Hakusho received a warm welcome from readers, with the latter receiving the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1994. Togashi married fellow mangaka Naoko Takeuchi, who is the creator of Sailor Moon.

    Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball)

    The hit Dragonball franchise may have already passed its peak of popularity, but its influence in today’s works is still apparent. Even some of nowadays prolific manga creators draw inspiration from this early work of Toriyama. As a kid without much access to other forms of entertainment that we all enjoy these days, Toriyama along with his classmates in elementary school enjoyed drawing things they saw around them or drawing anime and manga. As time progressed, Toriyama found the craft to be fun.

    During his whole professional career, he explored various fields that allowed him to exercise his designing skills. After becoming a manga artist, he also tried his hand on character design for video game Dragon Quest. He has also been an album cover designer, a writer, and an art director. His work on Dragonball is said to be one of the major reasons behind the ‘Golden Age of Jump’, a term used to describe the period when manga distribution and sales were peaking.

    Takehiko Inoue (Slamdunk)

    Among all the sports anime that has been produced, Slamdunk is among the best, if not the best, works ever created. And Inoue just happened to choose the sport which is not only popular in Japan, but also in many countries around the globe – basketball. Even before he released his first work Purple Kaede (1998), he had already started work as an assistant to Tsukasa Hojo, the creator of City Hunter. It was Slamdunk though that facilitated his breakthrough and earned him the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1995. This work was named as the favorite manga in Japan in 2007. Aside from his work as a manga creator, Inoue is also a sports writer and columnist for basketball magazine ‘HOOP’. Besides all this, he also finds the time to work as a freelance designer.

    Earning money as a manga artist is tough. There is no surefire trick to ensure the solid support of your market to whatever story it is you are crafting. The same holds true for the artists listed here, but rather than to step back and let pressure and uncertainty hold them back, they moved forward and created knockout stories. Those who are hoping for an opportunity to work in the same field or perhaps in the animation industry, can draw some inspiration from the men who have given us great works. Haven’t you read their works yet? Go ahead and treat yourself!

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