Takehiko Inoue is an acclaimed manga artist, born on 12 January 1967 in Kagoshima prefecture's Okuchi city. He was inspired to become a mangaka when he came across Shinji Mizushima's Dokaben, and began working on becoming a manga artist while also pursuing Basketball during high school. Upon entering college he submitted a one-shot about basketball to a magazine, which was so well received that he received a telegram from an editor inviting him to Tokyo to work full-time as a mangaka. He worked as an assistant for Tsukasa Hojo during the production of City Hunter, and subsequently produced a short series called Chameleon Jail which ran in Weekly Shounen Jump and was his first series to be published as a tankobon volume.
However, he would not gain fame until his massive Breakthrough Hit Slam Dunk, which at 120 million volumes sold as of 2012, makes it one of the best selling series of all time, and massively increased the popularity of the sport in Japan and many other asian countries. It won a Shogakukan Manga Award in 2007, and was selected as Japan's favorite manga that year.
Not satisfied with being a one-hit wonder, after the conclusion of Slam Dunk Inoue conceptualized an extremely ambitious project, a manga adaptation of Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi, a fictionalized account of sword saint Miyamoto Musashi's life. It began serialization in the Japanese magazine Morning in 1998 and continues to be serialized to this day. While Slam Dunk kickstarted Inoue's career, Vagabond turned him into a legendary creator whose name commends immense respect not only among manga readers, but among the entire mangaka community, as acknowledged by One Piece creator Eichiro Oda during a joint interview the two had together. Inio Asano, the creator of solanin and Oyasumi Punpun has stated that Inoue is one of the influences in his work.
In 2000, Inoue started another manga called Real, about wheelchair basketball, which is also still running.
Outside of manga he is a published sports writer and contributed character designs to Mistwalker's Lost Odyssey.
Tropes found in Takehiko Inoue's works:
- Art Evolution: Slam Dunk went through an absolutely massive jump in art quality during its 6 year run. The art, while not bad in the beginning, was kind of dated and average. Towards the end Inoue's more well-known realistic style had emerged, which was further refined in Vagabond. Today, Inoue is one of the most respected mangaka in the industry.
- Author Appeal: He is a big fan of basketball, with it being the main focus of three of his manga (worth noting that Buzzer Beater is a futuristic, borderline-Zeerust nowadays, take on the sport).
- Blue and Orange Morality: Vagabond has a very buddhist, matter of factly way of portraying events. While some characters end up looking worse than others, the manga as a whole doesn't seem interested in being overly moralistic, instead opting to just show us Musashi and the other characters' lives as-is.
- Cast of Snowflakes: One of his greatest accomplishments as a mangaka is his ability to create distinctive, realistic, and complex designs for every character in his series.
- Doing It for the Art: Inoue is a very ambitious creator who is not content with merely making a living and keeping his job. Interviews and documentaries reveal that he seems to consider manga making a profoundly spiritual activity, and the ridiculous amount of effort he put into Vagabond is one of the main reasons why he takes frequent breaks. He once was unable to meet a deadline entirely because he spent the entire month thinking about how one of his characters would react.
- Reclusive Artist: Averted. Despite the long hours and dedication he puts into his work he's one of the most outgoing and sociable mangaka in the industry, giving out several interviews, taking part in museum exhibits, and even appearing on national television, cementing his status as a manga superstar.
- Scenery Porn: The level of detail he puts into his art is staggering.
- Slice of Life: While his work doesn't really fit the usual definition of this genre, he has said that when writing his manga he tries to think of it as a documentary of people's lives, rather than a tightly planned story. As a result his works tend to be extremely character driven and there tend to be long stretches where not a whole lot happens plot wise.