One of the distinguishing aspects of manga compared to other kinds of comics is its lack of color. While it doesn’t stop mangaka from vividly showing the worlds they’ve created, it may make some people shy away from trying it. This, however, doesn’t apply to all manga. There are some who have played with the concept of colors and used them imaginatively. But bringing stories to life doesn’t necessarily mean having to splash vibrant hues on every white space - sometimes it’s about using the colors, or the lack of them, efficiently. Here are five manga which are good examples of that.
1. Blue Period
- Authors: Tsubasa Yamaguchi
- Genres: 5+
- Volumes: Drama, School Life
- Published: November 2020 – Present
Yatora is a gifted young man. He gets good grades, has a reliable circle of friends, and spends his high school life goofing around. Best of all, he’s doing all these effortlessly. While he doesn’t really find it difficult to accomplish, he finds it rather dull. He feels like he’s just an empty husk that acts as others expect him to. Just before he leaves his high school, however, one simple assignment ends up changing his future. Now, he dives headfirst into the world of art.
Given that this is an art manga, colors play an important role. The lack of color doesn’t stop us from understanding how important of a role it is playing. The dialogue and the way the information is presented are enough. For instance, we’ve completely understood and are amazed by how the sheer use of blue captures an abstract concept. Another that we find interesting is that the cover of each volume isn’t just digital art. It simulates the color palette and art style of painting, which make it look like painted art and not digital art.
2. Accel World
- Authors: Reki Kawahara, Hiroyuki Aigamo
- Genres: 8
- Volumes: Science Fiction
- Published: September 2014 – December 2019
In a world that has progressed so much in terms of technology, a convenient device allows humans of this day to access the digital world anywhere they go. Unfortunately, bullying still isn’t solved. Haruyuki, the one who is often bullied, is about to experience something really extraordinary. Kuroyukihime, the most beautiful girl in school, gives him a sketchy app called Brain Burst, which drags him into a fighting game in the Accelerated World. Now, he must fight his way to the top.
The factions in Accel World take the form of colors. The strongest players are dubbed as the kings, and their color is also the color of their faction. Kuroyukihime is the black king, which then means Haruyuki and the others are part of her black faction. The thing is, the colors aren’t just randomly chosen. Each color has its own characteristic, and since the player gets an avatar based on their own personalities and dreams, their colors also represent them. Accel World isn’t just a typical game. It’s a fighting game wherein the player who loses all of his points will get the application and all his memories of it erased. That’s why it’s very important for one to have a complete grasp of one’s, as well as the opponent’s, abilities and traits. Kuroyukihime, after betraying the other kings, is dubbed as a traitor and is being hunted down. Now, the black faction is against all the other color factions as it aims to clear the game.
- Authors: Kent
- Genres: 1+
- Volumes: Action, Fantasy
- Published: May 2022
A world-changing phenomenon siphoned all the pigments in the world. Because of this, everything left is in grayscale, and humanity has declined and deformed. The key to saving the world and perhaps restoring the vibrancy of life is the power hidden within “color”, and a seemingly ordinary girl may also have some role to play. A researcher continues to study this “color” while also fighting the dreaded Cult.
Colorless uses color in a very intriguing way. Not only is it used to highlight certain scenes or objects, it is deeply incorporated in its plot. Since all the other pigments in the world are drained, it may be arguable that Colorless is in fact a full-colored manga. Kidding aside, this manga’s use of colors is very creative. While it is not the first to incorporate bits of color to a black and white manga, it’s very rare for color to be deeply ingrained to the manga’s lore. This is both mind-blowing and really interesting.
4. Sabishisugite Rezu Fuzoku Ni Ikimashita Repo (My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness)
- Authors: Nagata Kabi
- Genres: 1
- Volumes: Autobiography, Full-Color, LGBT+ Topics
- Published: June 2017
Sabishisugite Rezu Fuzoku Ni Ikimashita Repo (My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness) tackles mental health, sexual awakening, and fitting into society. It’s Nagata Kabi’s autobiography in the form of manga. It tells her struggles, realization, and efforts to understand herself as well as to improve herself.
Nagata Kabi uses the color pink in a very interesting manner. While she tells a very serious story, the color of cotton candy offers an interestingly stark contrast to it. It isn’t just coloring entire objects pink, it also comes out in shading and highlights. That somehow makes her vast amount of experiences and morbid observations a bit more lively. While it isn’t necessarily the crux of the manga, it definitely manages to spice up the storytelling.
5. Moshi, Koi ga Mieta nara (If You Could See Love)
- Authors: Teren Mikami, Yuuki Nanaji
- Genres: 1+
- Volumes: Romance
- Published: October 2021 – Present
Mei Haruno has a peculiar ability that allows her to see love arrows. These arrows point from one person to the person they like. While it seems like a blessing, Mei sees it as a curse. Because of this ability, she’s hurt others’ feelings and was even ousted once. In her attempt to start a new life, she enters a boarding school and vows not to meddle with love. This, however, takes a different turn when she meets her childhood friend, who is deeply in love with her, and another girl, who has also fallen for her.
Similar with My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Moshi, Koi ga Mieta nara (If You Could See Love) also only uses pink. While it has more gradient, If You Could See Love only colors things that are related to romantic feelings. Even though it isn’t as ground-breaking as Colorless, nor does it have great meaning like Blue Period, it is still a delightful touch of detail that makes the manga more entertaining to read.
It’s undeniable that reading manga in full color is very pleasurable. That’s why we’re always extremely excited every time our favorite titles get full-color spreads. Speaking of which, the numerous Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure titles are experts at doing this. The vibrant, surreal-looking color pages are both eye-catching and beautiful. Color, however, isn’t just about filling up white spaces on paper. It can also be used in interesting ways, as the ones we’ve listed above prove. If we missed other manga that you think fit this criteria, then make sure to tell us in the comment section below!