Analysis of the Techniques at Play in Naoki Urasawa’s Comics

Naoki Urasawa weaves a fantastic story. I have read all of Pluto, almost all of 20th Century boys, and some of Monster. If you haven’t read Urasawa I heavily recommend the eight volume Pluto series, the other series are a significantly longer commitment. The page layouts ate quite interesting. Western cartoonists seem to feel constrained by the shape of the page, rarely leaving any empty spaces. Some artists, for instance P Craig Russell, thrive within this constraint, but really western cartoonists din’t even seem to realize that not filling a page is an option.

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Urasawa allows his layouts to breathe and move around the page at his stories pace. As with all manga the use of iconic abstraction coupled with, in this case, photorealistic backgrounds and props gives you a sense of characters and a sense of the world. This is perfect given that Urasawa focuses on character development.

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Naoki Urasawa’s use of sound effects however, is one of the most unique features of his series. At Urasawa’s hands SFXs become, on occasion, a soundtrack. With the use of multifaceted SFX like shoooooooo he scores images in his comic. The SFX are clearly without origin and used on dramatic or plot important reveals. Given that Urasawa’s comics favor the suspense/mystery genre akin to Hitchcock or The Game these SFX are most often used with reveals. Overall a simple but effective style is at play in Urasawa’s fantastic comic books.

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