Final Review: Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

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My initial thoughts after finishing the final pages of this series… Now what? Since I started reading the series last summer Bakuman I have submerged myself as much as possible into the story. It was the series that solidified my interest in reading manga and now it’s over.

 

Synopsis:

The main story of Bakuman follows two young manga artists working to achieve their dream of being the most successful Mangaka in Japan. The series begins when Junior High students Moritaka Mashiro is invited by his classmate Akito Takagi to become his partner and make manga with him. Initially Mashiro is hesitant; however Takagi wins him over after bringing him to talk to his long-time crush, Miho Azuki. Mashiro discovers that Azuki has a dream to be an anime voice actress and the pair agrees that they will encourage each other to achieve their respective dreams. As added motivation they decide that once Azuki is able to do the voice of the heroine from Mashiro’s manga, they will get married.

From here the series takes off, as Mashiro and Takagi push to achieve their goals. They write up a one-shot which they bring in to show an editor at Shonen Jump and from here they never look back. The pair pushes themselves to the absolute limits to ensure that everything they create is the absolute best it can be. Struggling to be the best they can be while still trying to finish school proves too difficult at times and at one point they even end up having to work out of a hospital. The pair never lose sight of their goals and keep bending the editorial offices rules as they wish so as to achieve them.

All the characters in the series are very well developed and you can’t help but to grow fond of them all. Along with the main characters we are introduced to many others such as editors from Shonen Jump and other artists. Every volume brings more and more characters into the series who each add a little something to the mix. The writers are not afraid to shift the focus away from the main story to build on the story’s of the others. We see plenty of side story’s about the other characters such as Iwase’s depression and the relationship between Hiramaru and Ko Aoki.

*SPOILER*

The series end really the only way it could have, with a single kiss. Muto Ashirogi’s  series Reversi has been made into an anime and as promised Azuki is doing the voice of the heroine. After the first episode finishes Mashiro picks Azuki up Mashiro builds up the courage to ask her to marry him. She responds simply by saying that the last time they met they agreed they would have their first kiss when they see each other again. The series end with the image of the two sharing in their first kiss.

 

My Opinion:

One weekend last August I found myself in Forbidden Planet in Belfast looking at manga and deciding which one I would buy. This would be the first time I ever bought manga and had no idea what to get. I had watched Neon Genesis Evangelion with a couple friends a few months before and decided to grab the 3-in-1 volume. When I went to pay the guy working the counter told me that all manga is buy 2 get one free. I looked over at a little stand next to the counter and just grabbed the first two volumes of Bakuman which was sitting on it. This random decision to just grab whatever was closest to me at the time has made me an Otaku. My manga collection is now nearing 100 volumes and that doesn’t count everything I’ve read online. As the first series I ever bought, Bakuman will always hold a special spot for me.

The series truly has been brilliant. Since I bought those first two volumes I havn’t been able to walk in a comic book shop without leaving with the next volume. With every chapter I read, I had to read on. With every volume I read, I had to go buy more. The writing of the series is so perfect in the way it progresses the story and keeps the readers wanting more. The art is fantastic and above all else this series has created a love for the work of Takeshi Obata’s work [DeathNote, All You Need is Kill, Hikaru no go].

All and all, the series is very interesting to read and once you begin you can’t help but to read on. I havn’t heard or seen a single person who has said they started reading Bakuman and didn’t get sucked into the story. It will keep you interested right through until the entire series is over, and even then you want more.

 

Rating:

I try not to give a numerical rating for anything on my blog, rather a short note of either recommended, or not. In the case of Bakuman I have no idea how to express just how good the series is. Everyone should read it. The story is great. The artwork is amazing. The character development is fantastic. At twenty volumes it is a great length, not too short to be rushed or to miss on character development, and not too long to be dragging on and lose the readers interest. I honestly can’t recommend this series enough, it holds a special place for me, and if every I find myself recommending a series to get someone interesting in manga, this will be it.

 

 

Let me know what you thought of the series, and what was your favourite moment. In my last post I wrote about my favourite characters and in the future will do on the best manga series in Bakuman. SO go check those out and let me know your favourites. I’d also like to apologise to anyone who I’ve left waiting for this post. I actually finished the series almost two weeks ago but had fallen behind on college work so havn’t been posting much lately. I’ll try to get a bit of a stockpile built up of posts so this doesn’t happen again. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my posts, expect more in the future.

 

Turtle

 

Check Bakuman out for yourself, available at http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421535135/?a_aid=turtlemanga

 

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Top 10: Bakuman Characters

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This was intended to be a short little list, but I ended up getting carried away. This entry ended up three times longer than most of my posts, but what can I say. I really like Bakuman.

 

Number 10: Heishi:

The deputy editor-in-chief, made Editor-in-chief of Shonen Jump. He appears quite regularly and usually gets involved with the debates and arguments that are so common in the office. Why did I pick him as my number ten? Simply put, his reaction to being made editor-in-chief is just fantastic, and for that alone he got bumped up the list enough to make the top ten.

 

Number 9: Nanamine:

One of Muto Ashirogi’s biggest fans turned manga artist. Once serialized in Jump Nanamine becomes enemy number one for virtually every mangaka in the magazine. His tactics go against everything the magazine stands for and can really only be described as somewhat Fordist. The battle for rankings to try and get rid of Nanamine is very interesting and although I made it very clear I didn’t like the final arc he appeared in, he remains a staple rival for the Ashirogi pair.

 

Number 8: Miho Azuki:

The story of Miho and Mashiro’s relationship is really the key story line for the entire series. Although I really enjoy the story and the history of this relationship, Miho doesn’t appear that often in the series and when she does it’s usually accompanied by long awkward silences between the two. As an important part of the story and for her efforts to achieve a dream and promise she made, Miho has been made my number 8.

 

Number 7: Akito Takagi:

One of the main characters and the writer for the Muto Ashirogi partnership, there would be no series without Akito. However, I often found that his character was a little under developed compared to other major characters and this held his ranking down on my list. I didn’t really grow as fond of Akito and several times during the series I started to really dislike him. He has a tendency of going off to work on his own and shutting out everyone close to him in doing so. Overall, he just wasn’t as likable as other characters.

 

Number 6: Kaya:

In the early part of the series Kaya is simply a legend. She really doesn’t take any shit from anyone. I don’t know how many times she gives Mashiro and Akito a good smack at the start of the series. Later on she becomes a major character in the studio always around tidying and helping the guys with their problems. I quite enjoyed reading the relationship between herself and Akito as well as the friendship she builds with Mashiro as the series goes on. Her presence always made a scene more entertaining throughout the whole series.

 

Number 5: Akira Hattori:

Muto Ashirogi’s editor as Shonen Jump for most of the series. He’s kind of a funny looking guy, I have no ideas why the artist decided to make his lips the way he did. I quite like how loyal Hattori is to his artists and how much he was willing to go and fight to defend them the many times they caused trouble for the editorial department. Even when he worked with different artists you could see the passion he had for their work and commitment he puts into ensuring they succeed. A true professional in his workplace and the odd time when you see him outside of work, usually having a drink with Yojiro Hattori, his brother, you get another glimpse of just how much he believes in the artist’s he represents.

 

Number 4: Eiji Nizuma:

Nizuma is so weird, and you can’t help but to be fascinated by him as a result. Another young manga prodigy, Jump wastes no time in giving Nizuma his own series, and before long he has two. Ashirogi identify him early in the series as their main rival and this rivalry continues right until the series ends. His technique for creating manga can only be described as genius and you have to admire the passion he has for his own work. Towards the end of the series when it is revealed just how much manga he was created it is astonishing. A truly fantastic rival for the main characters, I don’t know how many times I stopped reading just to look up and say “Nizuma is so weird”.

 

Number 3: Shinta Fukuda:

After working with Mashiro as an assistant for Nizuma, Fukuda establishes the so-called ‘Team Fukuda’ made up of all the Jump manga artists who associate with each other. Even if it is only as rivals for most of the time, the existence of the group is great as all the artists encourage each other to succeed. I quite like Fukuda because of how he likes to present himself as such a hardy man’s man but is always the first to jump up to help out his friends. The amount of times he mobilizes Team Fukuda to help each other out is great. Fukuda is a great character and his speech at the end of volume 19 is really good to read and really shows of the kind of person he is.

 

Number 2: Moritaka Mashiro:

The main character for the series and the narrator, Mashiro is the focus of the story. The change he makes from the shy and timid boy he is at the start of the series to the slightly more outgoing shy and timid man he is at the end is great. Alright, that doesn’t sound like much, but it is. The passion he puts into his work and pure determination to do his best is inspiring. Although he may be the artist for the duo, he quite regularly makes his opinion known about Takagi’s story. He may be the main character for the series, but that doesn’t make him my favourite character by a long shot.

 

Before I go on to my number one choice, I just want to mention five characters who were up there with the rest, but didn’t quite make my final list;

Aiko Iwase: the middle school rival of Takagi who makes a return to prove that she was better than him then, and is still better than him now.

Sasaki: The editor-in-chief of Shonen Jump who is always there to ensure that Ashirogi aren’t going to get an easy ride through the manga world. He rarely spoke up, but when he does, you know shit’s going down.

Yoshida: One of Jump’s editor’s. I just always found him quite funny in how manipulative he tried to be. I never really understood why such an emphasis was made to cover his face for much of the series though.

Orihara: A long serving assistant for Ashirogi. He was always so easily excited and constantly had something to say. Orihara really made a lot of the studio scenes stand out.

 

Finally:

Number 1: Kazuya Hiramaru:

If you have read my previous blog entries, you would have already known that hiramaru is my favourite character in Bakuman. Identified as a manga genius after submitting one of the best one shot story boards to Jump having never read manga before in his life Hiramaru is quickly given a contract to work for Jump. Once finally getting a series Hiramaru uses every excuse he can possibly think off to stop working. The laziness and pure lack of enjoyment of what he is doing is amazing. Hiramaru and Yoshida are truly the perfect team. An artist who will try anything to not work, and an editor who will try every trick in the book to ensure he keeps working. What really made Hiramaru one of my favourite characters is his relationship with Ko Aoki later in the series. The two are almost an older version on Mashiro and Azuki and it is fantastic to read just how awkward he can be. His proposal near the end of the series is hilarious. He plans to propose at the top of the Ferris wheel but then panics and chickens out. After the ride ends he insists they go on again so he can propose. This time he realizes he’s lost the ring and once again panics and, well, pulls a Hiramaru. At this point miss Aoki realizes what happening and encourages his to just ask on a third time around the wheel. I laughed so much during this sequence that I had to keep going back and reading over it.

 

Let me know what you think of this list and who your favourite character is in Bakuman in the comment space below.

 

Turtle

Reflection: Bakuman Vol.19

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It’s almost over. The series has been so good I just don’t want it to end now. Volume 19 finished, only one to go.

 

Synopsis:

With the battle between Ashirogi’s Reversi and Nizuma’s Zombie*Gun now in full swing the attention turns to who will get an anime. With one slot open for a new anime series to start and both mangaka wanting to fill it the struggle to fill the opening kicks off. The first part of the volume focuses on this as Ashirogi seek to have their first Anime and for Mashiro and Azuki’s dream to finally come true and Nizuma back stepping his decision to not have an anime simply to best Ashirogi. The stress and agony that they go through as they wait to hear who the editor-in-chief will choose is just painful to read.

However, in the mean time our old friend Ishizawa decides he won’t just sit back and let everything run smoothly. Ishizawa decides it is in his best interest to spread the rumour over the internet that Azuki and Mashiro are in a relationship. The rumour quickly spreads around the internet and into newspapers destroying Azuki’s reputation as a voice actress. The vast amount of hateful messages online and abusive phone calls to Jump quickly spiral out of control. After deciding that he’s seen and heard enough about it Fukuda finally reaches breaking point and announces over the radio that all the rumours are true and the hateful messages must stop. As with everything Fukuda does though, it doesn’t quite go to plan and the result is a major increase in the messages with many people saying that they will boycott Azuki and Ashirogi’s works. The volume finishes with Azuki making her own announcement about the relationship on her radio show.

 

My Opinion:

Does this really happen? Are voice actresses really idolised to this extent in Japan? I honestly have no idea, when the story about this started I thought it was a complete exaggeration, but now I’m not quite so sure. It just seems abit odd that the fact that a voice actress has a boyfriend could bring so much resentment. Of course, I don’t really know much about the voice actresses in Japan so I don’t know for sure. Maybe someone could let me know in the comment space below.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this volume. It’s so Bakuman, just as everything is starting to go according to plan, something like this would happen. It’s really good to see an old character that we hated at the start of the series return just to be locked away in his room at his mothers house because he failed to reach his dreams. Take that Ishizawa.

 

Rating:

Do I really have to say it again? Go read this series. It doesn’t matter what experience you have with manga or what genres you like, you will enjoy this series.

 

Turtle

 

Reflection: Bakuman Volume 18

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Back on track to what Bakuman should be like. Much more engaging than the previous volume and I really couldn’t put this one down. Hiramaru has been my favourite character for a while, but he really solidified that in this volume. So here’s volume 18 at long last.

 

Synopsis:

The rivalry between Ashirogi and Nizuma is back to full force in volume 18. Mashiro and Takagi submit a one shot entitled Reversi and after hearing that Ashirogi have submitted a one shot, Nizuma quickly gets to work on his own titled Zombie*Gun. The results for the both one shots are astronomical and it is decided to serialize both as series. Once serialized the pressure mounts on Ashirogi and their assistants to finish  the first chapter of Reversi, complete the PCP chapters for Jump and to start a new arc for PCP which is now to be published monthly in another magazine. It’s the retelling of a classic Bakuman story of the race against time to get the final draft completed.

Once serialized the true battle with Nizuma begins as both compete for the top slot in Jump, leaving all other series in the dust. Neither Ashirogi nor Nizuma are ever willing to submit and continue to amend their series’ to ensure the other cannot top them. With first place in the magazine now solidly being help my one of them (I won’t say which as not to ruin it for anyone) another fight commences as the first tankobans are published on the same day. Now a battle truly on two fronts, in the rankings and in sales, they turn their attention to getting an anime (which will really take off in the next volume).

With all this going on its hard to believe that the volume ends with what is possibly my favourite side story from Bakuman so far. I don’t want to say what happens so not to give too much away in this reflection. I’ll discuss it more in the series’ final review after I’m done volume 20. I will say though that Hiramaru has been one of my favourite characters throughout the series, even though he’s mostly been used as comic relief. I am really happy to see the mangaka devote almost two chapters to him and his dream of achieving true happiness. It’s a really sweet little section, which kept me laughing right through as he tries to overcome his compete awkwardness to do what he really wants.

 

My Opinion:

Oh how everything has improved again since the disappointing volume 17. It’s true that again the writer reused old story points which were done a few times before, such as the race against time. In this volume, however, they have been far better put to use and in my opinion helped the story this time around. The story is great in this volume and the series that Ashirogi creates really has my interest and is something that I wish I could actually read. As I said the end of the volume really solidified this one and it just made me feel happy. I true feel good factor is back to Bakuman.

 

Rating:

Greatly improved from the disappointment in volume 17. Volume 18 really shows what this mangaka team is capable of doing and I really enjoyed this volume. The volume is fantastic and as I always say, the Bakuman series is a must read for anyone. If you have not already read the series get out there and start on it. You will not be disappointed in the slightest.

 

Turtle

Reflection: Bakuman. Vol. 17

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Finally starting to get close to the end of this series. Really excited to see how it’s all going to end over the next three volumes. Before I get to that, let’s talk a little about volume 17 though.

 

Synopsis:

The main story line in this volume follows Muto Ashirogi’s rivalry with Tohru Nanamine. As we saw towards the end of volume 16 Nanamine was back and working behind the scenes with some veteran mangaka. In this volume we see what exactly he is up to. Nanamine has set up his own business, which develops manga storyboards for veteran mangaka to get them to return to Shonen Jump. That may seem alright, but basically he’s up to his old tricks again. Only this time he is pumping in more money in to it and on a far larger scale. *Sidenote: for anyone not already in the know, Nanamine previous had a series in Jump which he wrote with the assistance of 50 people over the internet. This time it really seems to be working with several manga being approved by Jump before they find out that Nanmine is behind it and what exactly is going on.

Nanamine reveals to Mashiro and Akito his new business structure and vows that this time he will defeat them. After hearing all about what he is up to the rest of Team Fukuda become determined to ensure that Nanamine will not be published and they will be rid of him for good. They put all their efforts into developing the best stories possible (all except Hiramaru of course) to defeat him in Jumps ranking once again.

 

My opinion of this volume:

As much as I love this series, I think the story in this volume has been by far the worst I have read. I lost interest in reading a few times and as a result it took me longer than usual to get through it. The story is just very repetitive from Ashirogi’s last encounter with Nanamine and all of their, for lack of a better word, battles with Nizuma. The whole story just seemed to be dragged out, the same as before and really there were no surprises. In my opinion this would have been better as a short or even a side story while Muto Ashirogi strive to claim first in the rankings after Nizuma ended his series. There was no mention of this besides Takahama saying in the last volume that he will be number one. The writer’s never referred back to this and it seems that no one is even trying to challenge Takahama despite the fact that all of Team Fukuda was working to claim first just weeks before to best Nizuma. I guess for the first time in the series everyone is content to finish as a runner-up. I hope volume 18 is a great improvement and the returns to the main storyline of the series and another head to head challenge with Nizuma looks promising.

 

Rating:

This volume really has been a shortcoming in an otherwise fantastic series. Don’t let that deter you though. Pick up the series and give it a read, it really is a series everyone will enjoy.

 

Turtle

Reflection: Bakuman. vol 16

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Okay, before anyone says anything, I know, I’m about a year and a half late… but hey I have a long backlog to work through, so get used to it.

This really was another great volume from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, but what else could you expect from them. So this volume is largely based around three short story arcs. The first being Nizuma’s decision to end Crow just as it becomes the most popular series in Shonen Jump. The rest of team Fukuda meet and decide that they will not allow Nizuma to end Crow and do everything they can to prevent it from happening. I good little arc, that kept me interested but I did find it a little boring and towards the end it seems a little pushed through. If I remember correctly I think one chapter was made up of four weeks. On the other hand they did show a lot of pages PCP, which I really enjoy reading when they are shown.

The second main story line in this volume is focused on Iwase becoming somewhat depressed and losing motivation as +Natural continues to fall done the ratings. This was a fairly short story line but I think it was very good as for the first time in the series I actually had some sympathy for Iwase. She’s always depicted as having a very hard shell and not listening to what anyone else says or does, and because of this I really liked that they started to humanize her a little more. I was very engrossed in the two chapters this story line appeared in as I actually found myself worried about the characters and what was going to happen.

Finally the volume ended with several veteran manga artists making a return to Shonen Jump with one shots. With the not too subtle hints that Nanamine is up to something again I am really looking forward to seeing what is going to happen in the next volume. Hopefully we will find out exactly what’s going on behind the scenes and what Nanmine is trying to do in volume 17.

Overall, I would rate this volume, and the series as a whole as a must read. Brilliant stories and fantastic art as usual. I will be back soon with my views on volume 17 when I’m finished reading that. I have all the remaining volumes now, so hopefully I’ll have the series completed as a whole fairly soon.

Turtle