Title: Bakuman. (2008)
Author(s): Obata Takeshi (Art) & Ohba Tsugumi (Story)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shounen
Bakuman follows the story of high school student Moritaka Mashiro, a talented artist who does not know what he wants to do with his future. One day, Mashiro draws a picture of Miho Azuki, a girl he is secretly fond of, during class but forgets the notebook at school. He comes back to find that his classmate Akito Takagi is waiting for him with his notebook. Takagi tries to convince Mashiro to become a mangaka, a manga artist, with him, leading to Mashiro's disagreement. Mashiro goes home and thinks about his mangaka uncle, who had only one successful series before he died in obscurity. Mashiro is interrupted by a phone call from Takagi, who says that he is going to tell Azuki that Mashiro likes her. Mashiro runs down to Azuki's house to find Takagi waiting for him. Once Azuki comes out to meet them, Takagi tells her that he and Mashiro are aiming to be mangaka. Mashiro then learns that she wants to be a seiyuu, a voice actor, and has shown promise in the field. Mashiro, once again thinking about his uncle, accidentally proposes to Azuki who accepts. However, she will only marry him after they achieve their dreams. In addition, they cannot see each other until then. (Source: Wikipedia)
Similar to Tarot Café, I read this series during a time I need to conserve my money, so the library was a good source of trying new things without spending a dime. I wasn't completely sure what I was in for, whether I would find this interesting or absolutely boring as the whole concept deals with the manga industry. I also was a tiny bit cautious as well since the creator of Death Note was behind, even though I did find some enjoyment from that series. Obviously, I made it through 20 volumes without feeling any sort of disinterest. What helped keep my interest were the characters. Mashiro and Takagi are ordinary people, people you and I would know. People who are interested in anime and manga and have friends that are also interested in it may have a friend or two that have been or are interested in working in the anime and manga business. When you're young, you think it's really simple, but once you're older, you realize that being a voice actor or a mangaka is really difficult to be successful in. Bakuman. is a great series to learn how the whole journey, especially for those who aspire to be a mangaka. Even if you just simply enjoying reading manga, it's nice to learn how the system works while having an entertaining story at the same time.
The journey that Mashiro and Takagi travel through from volume to volume may sound pretty basic on paper, but once you delve into the story, it's easy to get involve in their struggle and cheering for them to reach their goals. Bakuman. reflects real life drama, so expecting Mashiro and Takagi to succeed all the time like some old 90s kids flick is not going to happen, which is good. Much like life, their failures only build our main characters up and develop them into stronger artists and writers. They form great friendships, test the limits of their love through a unique semi-long distance relationship, adjust to a new social atmosphere, and interacting with people who have other objectives that aren't exactly pure. These elements along with the unique variety of characters make the story entertaining, relatable, and engaging. Although I couldn't speed through the volumes as quickly as a shounen action manga like Naruto and Bleach as there is a lot of detail and dialogue between the characters, I gradually adjusted to it and felt it was necessary to have such things in a manga like this. I also enjoyed that we do get a glance at what the characters are working, so we're left in the dark about their competition or how creative our main characters.
Bakuman. is not a fast pace, action packed manga, but the details, story, and characters really keep you engaged from volume to volume. The artwork is great and has unique styles to it when showing off the characters' works and the character development is evenly paced and satisfying. I enjoyed that the Mashiro and Takagi didn't succeed all the time and that the outcomes were not predictable with each challenged they faced; it made it more satisfying to read and it added to their growth. The supporting characters were just as enjoyable whether you like them or not. I definitely would recommend this if you love reading manga or want to part of the industry. It's very informative while still being entertaining, comical, and engaging.
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