Yeah, the soft works better here. Your line style is quite fine (looks like a technical pen or fineliner) and because you're using pencil crayons, which tend to give a pretty limited palette of colours and already have a textured look that makes images quite busy compared to paint, markers or digital, the outline is doing the heavy lifting in helping characters pop from backgrounds.
There are a few ways you can make characters stand out from background, and they tend to be:
- Line weight (pretty much always heavier on the characters) or line vs no line (which gives a look that evokes animation)
- Saturation (Characters are more saturated than their surroundings)
- Tone (Usually characters are lighter than their surroundings, but they could be darker, the main thing is that there's a difference)
- Definition (similar to line weight, but often backgrounds may be softer, more scribbly, less defined compared to characters)
The important thing is to find one that works for the look you want from your comic and that you feel confident you can do efficiently on lots of pages.
If you're thinking of buying tools, I'd say consider your overall style and pipeline. Ways you could go are:
- Get something a bit chunkier for inking your foreground elements and characters (or I guess something super fine for inking backgrounds, but with a shounen art style, I'd typically say go chunkier).
- Get more colours so that you can use stronger colours for foreground elements and more muted ones for backgrounds.
- Invest in stuff for making digital art (Clip Studio is on sale!)