Meringued Mangas – Bakuman

Posted on Jun 13 2010

Hey guys, it’s me again, with another review. This week I decided to change it up with a manga… about creating mangas! Have you guessed what we’re about to take a dive into? I won’t be giving any hints, so grab a friend as we jump into Mr. Ohba and Obata’s creative world of Bakuman!

Bakuman is an extremely unique slice-of-life-romantic-comedy-drama manga, starring two junior high-school boys, our main characters: Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi. One day, after Mashiro leaves his notebook at school, he heads back to retrieve it only to be confronted by his classmate, and most prominent member of his school, Takagi, who is known and admired for his extreme intellect. Though there’s a twist, he doesn’t want to confront Mashiro about just anything…but rather about the doodles and drawings, found in the back of his book, representing another classmate known as Azuki Miho, Mashiro’s crush! Takagi suggests that Miho must like him too (as he sits in the back of the classroom, he proudly proclaims that he can see and notices many things); and agrees not to tell Miho anything about what happened…but there’s a catch! Takagi proposes a strange thing.

“Mashiro, make a manga together with me!” Although the proposition is beneficial to Mashiro’s skill, he declines. His decision heavily influenced by an incident involving his uncle, a formerly serialized mangaka who died from overwork trying to regain the fame he once had. Later on, Mashiro recieves a call from Takagi, telling him that he’s about to tell Azuki about their discussion, and that he should tag along… WHAT?! Wait… How’d he get Mashiro’s number anyway…?! And so, shortly after arriving Takagi tells Azuki that he’s been well informed by her friend that she has the dream of becoming a voice actress. Not a bad dream I’ll tell you that! I know once in a while we all get in our corner pretend to rehearsh lines! What’s surprising here is that she actually admits it; Takagi moves into phase two of his plan…

He informs Azuki that he’s going to become a mangaka…and then forces Mashiro to do the same. In the blink of an eye Azuki lights up like a Christmas tree and express her enthusiasm towards the young boys, which rekindles Mashiro’s dream. Not just to become another statistic within the world of business, and obtaining an office job. But chooses right then, and there, to become a mangka instead! Mashiro promises Azuki the lead role in their first anime, to which she eagerly agrees. Something suddenly sparks in Mashiro… Was it the look on her face? Or the sheer yearning to be with the girl he loved for so long that pushed him over the edge…? Because in the midst of the hype and confusion…

When our dreams come true…will you marry me!?

Certainly, this wasn’t a part of Takagi’s plan… Mashiro shouts the one sentence that would change his, and his classmates lives forever…

Bakuman for me is a really great read, I mean, it has it all. The creators, the story, the drama, the jokes, everything’s there for you to enjoy at your disposal. When you first start off with the characters, you’re immediately caught up in their vigor to be the best there is. Their determination knows no bounds and their ability to get up after falling is truly remarkable and encouraging. The reason I picked up Bakuman is because, as an artist, myself, a lot of things that were narrated by Mashiro just…clicked. Mind you it can be understood by readers who are not into art, but the way he speaks and the choice of words just, hits you because he himself is an artist.

The story relies heavily on character interactions and drama, and allows the creativity of each author to shine throughout the course of the story. Take Mashiro and Azuki’s relationship for instance; even though they were so in love with each other there were still obstacles that caused their faith to falter, and that, in turn, gives the reader a more real-life setting. Not only that, they solve things like a real couple, and think like real couples do with all the worrying and anixiety that comes along with a relationship. Choosing instead to put us in a seat that is comfortable, and not so foreign. Something where we can totally understand, or even relate to enough to say… “Hey, I’ve been in that situation before.” or something close to it.

One of the main reasons I started reading Bakuman was not only because of its innovative storyline, but because of who was behind it. Long writer Tsugumi Ohba and his artist Takeshi Obata once again paired up to bring us something other worldly, in a familiar world… I love this pair to death, and to be honest they’re two of my favorites. Especially its artist Takeshi Obata, who’s dramatic drawing brings to life the already vivid world Tsugumi had set before him. I think the only qualms I would have about the storytelling was the it’s long-winded sometimes. So if you aren’t into manga with lots, and I mean LOTS of words, brace yourself if you’re interested in picking this manga up.

The main thing I read Bakuman for are the tips and knowledge it presents to its readers about the world of mangakas, and just how hard it can be to set yourself in it. I noticed that a lot of the techniques Mashiro uses to draw, I also use, and it makes me feel more inclined to read further into the story. I want to find out just how much more they can pass on to me, or what else can I pick up on. Words like ‘name’ is apparently a term used to describe a rough draft for a chapter, and should be drawn out for a editor to look over before each meeting. Things like these, I feel a bit more knowledge, and more experienced. It also has aspects for young writers, showing them avenues they too can use. Just looking at your life may inspire you to write something that may one day storm the literature industry by surprise…!

Bakumen also specializes in character development. It puts the right amount of focus onto each aspect of the current story, and also on it’s side characters. I love the fact that every character can be somewhat redeemed, and I find it hard to hate on any of them. They’re all working hard towards their goal, and they’re going all within their means as an artist, as a writer, as friends to encourage each other to be the best they can be. I also love the fact that the main characters always have a goal, trying to surpass someone, and most importantly…trying to surpass themselves.

Although Bakuman hasn’t been out for very long, they have some loyal fans, and enough to even warrant an anime that’s supposed to be airing this upcoming Fall! So if you can, start reading. It’s been serialized in english so support them! Encourage your friends everywhere to support the industry you love, the industry that even now is continuing to inspire artist, designs, and writers alike. Alas, we’ve come towards the end. But fear not! I’ll be back again next month with another, hopefully, spectacular review. This has been Meringued Mangas and I hope to see you again next time~.

Don’t forget to stop by the forums in my section to recommend a manga you know that’s not as popular as it should be, can be, or ought to be! Here, on 918thefan’s forum.

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  • TheDrunkenShadow June 13, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Hmmm… I’ve only heard good things about this manga since it came out. I think I’ll put this on the list to order after I finish collecting my current manga series.

  • Tyto June 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    One of the fun things about Bakuman is the autobiographical quality of a lot of the major points. Apart from outlining a good deal of Ohba and Obata’s working relationship together as authors, most of the titles and other authors point very distinctly to real world counterparts. Most notably would be the early character, Mashiro’s uncle, who is a direct reference to Hiroshi Gamo, who is the short lived success behind the pen-name, Tsugumi Ohba, responsible for the early 90s title Tottemo! Luckyman!

    Following a similar route as its predecessor, Death Note, Bakuman very specifically joints the gap between two different audiences. While Death Note took the suspense and drama elements of a mindteaser seinen titles and applied them to the basic format of a shounen title(super natural elements, obligatory unrequited female love interest, mascot character, visual gimmicks & icons(the apples), toy/product gimmicks(the death note itself), and of course the adolescent protagonist) Bakuman takes the slice-of-life aspects of a working slaryman oriented manga, but swapping the arbitrary desk job with the childhood dream being a mangaka. It makes its unique stand playing out all of the fine details of the business, but does so while hitting upon all the tried and true generic aspects of a slice-of-life plot, a genre that I should remind you does not fly well in a shounen magazine.

    Then of course, to top it all off, the manga develops its story with a very charming kind of ongoing meta-commentary. Commenting on all of the aspects of a hit manga within the context of the story, as they’re applied to the story itself.

  • sasukeuzi June 14, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    gonna collect every copy that comes out in the US 🙂

  • Llian June 15, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    @Tyto, Exactly, pretty top tier if you ask me. Drawing in your audience with that kind of tactics is a risky bit of stuff, but it’s working so I commend them for it.

    Do it shadow and sasukeuzi :’D

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