I’ve long been a fan of Hiroaki Samura. His scrappy yet measured pencil style used in Blade of the Immortal has always fascinated me.  Too often manga artists take to copying the popular contemporary styles of the day, so artists like Samura and Takehiko Inoue always stand out because they strive for a stylish realism in their work that few artists can reliably achieve.

Blade of the Immortal follows Manji as he must kill 1000 evil men to regain his mortality.  I’ve yet to read the entire thing in it’s entirety as Dark Horse left the volume numbers off of the spines of the books, leaving me to second guess myself every time I go to buy a volume as to whether I already own it or not, or if the volume I have in hand is the next one in the series.  The series recently came to an end December 2012, and he is now working on a manga called Beagaruta.

I find him interesting as while I was looking for pictures of his art on Google, I came across a lot of his work in Hitodenashi no Koi, which is a series of brutal erotic pictures made even more graphic by his realistic style.  It’s interesting that he drew such a series, seeing as Blade of the Immortal was fairly conservative in its depiction of nudity.

Below are some of Samura’s fantastic illustrations, and you can see a video of him sketching here.