ScreenHunter_147 Jun. 28 20.26

I’m sure we all remember that one kid from our grade school days that was scarily good at drawing. The kid that would hastily – and incorrectly – finish up his math problems so he could back to sketching in his notebook. The one that could caricature Mr. Goetz’s sort of goofily small head from memory on request (no offense, Mr. Goetz).

If you were to dip back in to your long-forgotten box of grade school stuff – you know, the one mom keeps around specifically to embarrass you when you bring a new woman home to meet the family – and found one of that kid’s sketches, though, they probably aren’t going to look as good as you remember them. Hell, that kid’s probably not even a Disney animator like he always said he’d be, either. He probably works in the cafeteria at your old middle school because he never paid attention in math class.

On the other hand, there’s at least one insanely talented manga artist whose grade school/high school doodles hold up just as well today. In fact, they might even be better than the stuff he’s drawing now.

Yusuke Murata is best known (perhaps only known) as the illustrator behind the runaway success sports anime Eyeshield 21 – an American football-themed manga and anime series that was hugely popular in Japan and even gained a modicum of popularity in the west.

That franchise spawned all kinds of spin-off products like video games and merchandise, but Murata’s only other claim to fame is as illustrator of a popular web comic called One-Punch Man. Despite Murata’s relative obscurity compared to other manga artists, though, a couple of friends have been sharing his earliest works – we’re talking high school and before – on Twitter, and the level of talent Murata displayed at the time, (presumably) without any formal artistic education is utterly mind-blowing:

Here’s perhaps the best one, which Murata Tweeted after a friend sent a photo of it to him. This is apparently from Murata’s third year in high school.

Murata’s aunt then chimed in with this drawing she remembered Murata sketching for her on the back of a calendar during his first year of high school.

Finally, Murata dug up some pages from an early amateur manga he sketched at 12 years old, his last year of elementary school. The story seems to revolve around a kid who wins a ticket to ride on a fancy new subway train prototype that turns out to be junk.

It’s particularly impressive that even Murata’s handwriting at 12 years-old was totally legible and even looked appropriately manga-like, indicating the kid probably knew what he wanted to be when he grew up long before we even knew what a career was.

Oh, and if you’re still skeptical about Murata’s talent, keep this in mind: As a child, he won not one, but two Capcom design contests to come up with new villain robots for the fabled Mega Man series, which, if we’re being honest, we’re actually the most envious of.

Feature Photo: Twitter