One-hit wonders get a bad rap and it’s not only limited to music. It’s fairly common for a mangaka to become a one-hit wonder due to the strenuous nature of the industry and the length of their hit works. However, we fans are a ravenous bunch and expect hits to be cranked out!
You don’t need to be a hit maker to earn a dedicated following, sometimes you just need one signature story! For simplicity sake, a mangaka has to attempt to create two franchises to be considered a one-hit wonder. Mangaka like Youichi Takahashi (Captain Tsubasa) and Kakifly (K-On!) don’t qualify since they didn’t try after their big hit.
1Naoko Takeuchi – Sailor Moon
Naoko Takeuchi is shoujo royalty due to the massive success of Sailor Moon. Takeuchi worked has worked on various one-shot stories during and after the development of Sailor Moon, but she did attempt a longer series with PQ Angels. It only lasted four chapters because Kodansha lost seven pages to the manuscript.
Despite “only” having one successful series, Takeuchi can rest easy knowing that Sailor Moon is one of the most loved series around the world.
2Mizuki Kawashita – Strawberry 100%
Weekly Shonen Jump is home to tons of one-hit wonders, but Mizuki Kawashita might be the most notable of the group.
After grinding away at minor works during the late ’90s, she found sudden success with Strawberry 100%. The harem series found fans thanks to a semi-realistic art style, compelling characters, and addicting drama. Kawashita was poised to become the next big name in the school drama genre, but she has since faded away. Even the East Side Story sequel flopped after only running for three months.
However, fortune could be turning for Kawashita! Her Gunjou ni Siren baseball manga is considered a minor hit for Monthly You and currently has 6 volumes, which the longest since Strawberry 100%.
3Nobuhiro Watsuki – Rurouni Kenshin
Nobuhiro Watsuki was king during the ’90s for creating Rurouni Kenshin. The manga has over 70 million copies in print, making it one of the most read stories of all-time! Watsuki also mentored Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Hiroyuki Takei (Shamen King), and Shinya Suzuki (Mr. Fullswing) during this time.
However, the turn of the millennium was not kind to Watsuki. Gun Blaze West was his first follow-up to Rurouni Kenshin and it was canceled after 28 chapters. Buso Renkin did last for 83 chapters, but it was criticized for coasting on Watsuki’s name.
Watsuki did show signs of making a comeback with Embalming -The Another Tale of Frankenstein- and a pair of Rurouni Kenshin sequels. Despite a growing readership, his career is all but dead after being charged with possessing child pornography.
4Yudetamago – Kinnikuman
Yudetamago is a duo consisting of writer Takashi Shimada and artist Yoshinori Nakai. They exploded onto the scene with Kinnikuman, and the wrestling manga has sold nearly 75 million copies and won the 30th Shogakukan Manga Award.
The duo has attempted to work on manga within different genres and martial sports, but none have managed to gain a solid readership. After a string of failures, Yudetamago decided to work on a Kinnikuman sequel, which has been published since 1998.
5Yoko Kamio – Boys Over Flowers
Yoko Kamio is one of the most famous shoujo mangaka, second only to Naoko Takeuchi. Boys Over Flowers brand of “working-class girl meets wealthy boy” drama was fresh at the time and has spawned countless imitators.
By now, we know that follow-up works tend to fail to meet expectations, which is what happened to Cat Street. The drama series only ran for 36 chapters, which Kamio’s second-longest series. Kamio has decided to work on Boys Over Flowers Season 2 after a crushing string of flops.
6Takeshi Konomi – The Prince of Tennis
Don’t feel bad for Takeshi Konomi, he’s one of the most financially successful creators in the industry thanks to The Prince of Tennis! The manga is so iconic that people think it’s his only work – that’s how popular The Prince of Tennis is!
Konomi has attempted to create three different action manga in the past: Cool: Rental Body Guard, Lady Cool, and Moon Walker LTD. Series. None of them made an impact, but he always has The Prince of Tennis to fall back on.
7Natsuki Takaya – Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket is one of the most loved shoujo works for showing how human compassion can triumph over personal ills. The work has touched millions of fans, but Natsuki Takaya hasn’t been able to create a suitable follow-up.
She has made attempts in the past and came close with Twinkle Stars. However, Takaya has decided to work on the Fruits Basket Another sequel.
8Saburouta – Citrus
Saburouta is relatively new to the scene, but they’ve worked on a few titles before launching Citrus. The salacious yuri manga is a best-selling hit and it’s doubtful that Saburouta will be able to find gold a second time. Before working on Citrus, they stuck out numerous times writing various shoujo and erotic titles.
Who are your favorite one-hit wonders?