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Bakuman Vol. 11 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 30, 2012 by  



Well-written, amazingly detailed and highly recommended. “Bakuman” is a refreshing, entertaining manga about two talented teenagers trying to break into the manga industry. Not many manga series give in-depth insight to the manga industry and also featuring a storyline that is so enjoyable and fun to read. A highly recommended manga series!

© 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 11 (バクマン)

SERIES BEGAN IN: 2008

WRITTEN BY: Tsugumi Ohba (大場 つぐみ)

ILLUSTRATED BY: Takeshi Obata (小畑 健)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Weekly Shonen Jump

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2011

With Hattori, their former editor, helping out again, Moritaka and Akito do everything they can to make their new series the best it can be. Moritaka works on the character designs while Akito tries to come up with the perfect names for the characters and the series itself. But when it debuts in Weekly Jump magazine, can it take the top spot?!

It’s the last chance for Takagi, Mashiro and their Shonen Jump editor Hattori.  Two manga series, two cancellations and now, it all comes down to their final try, with their manga release “PCP (Perfect Crime Party)”.   Will Takagi, Mashro and Hattori finally become successful and will the third time be a charm?  Find out in “Bakuman” Vol. 11.

For writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata (“Hikaru no Go”, “Blue Dragon”, “Castlevania Judgment”), both are known for their collaboration and their work on the popular series “Death Note”.

While Obata is known to collaborate with other writers, after the success of “Death Note”, it’s no surprise that many fans have wanted to see these two together. Having worked on “Death Note” from 2003-2006, the two have returned with a more upbeat storyline titled “Bakuman”…which is a play on the word “bakuhatsu” (explosion) and “baku” (a mythological animal that eats dreams).

With a total of 19 volumes having been published in Japan and a 25-episode anime series that aired in 2009, needless to say, both Ohba and Obata have once again achieved success with their second project together since “Death Note”.

“Bakuman” revolves around two teenagers. Moritaka Mashiro is a junior high student who has a crush on his classmate Miho Azuki. One day, his classmate Akito Takagi tries to persuade Mashiro to become a mangaka (a manga artist) while Takagi writes. But Mashiro is not so interested as his uncle used to be a manga artist and died from overwork because he tried to get back into the industry and regain his top status as a mangaka.

As for Takagi, he is an intelligent student who prefers to write manga than focus on school. Takagi really wants to write a manga but hopes Mashiro can illustrate.

But Mashiro is also a bit tense about being involved with Takagi because he thinks that he is in love with Miho, but in truth, Takagi was doing all he can to bring Mashiro and Azuki together. Mashiro proposes to Azuki and she accepts…but with one condition, they will marry once they achieve their dreams, he as a successful mangaka and she as a voice actress. But for now, the two can’t see each other or communicate until they make their dreams come true.

So, knowing this… Mashiro will do all he can to illustrate a manga with Takagi and become a professional mangaka as soon as possible.

As both young men have proved that they can become a fantastic writing/illustration manga duo, the problem is that they have had two manga series and both which were cancelled.

As the two learn about the challenges of having a manga series and the popularity of polling and popularity, it’s a new year and now both Takagi and Mashiro have one more chance.  A chance to prove that they deserve to have a manga series, but most importantly, a series that can also become an anime series, with hopes that Mashiro’s girlfriend Azuki will become a voice actress for the series.  But before Mashiro and Azuki can be together, they must make their dreams come true!

But as the duo prepares for their third series attempt, they know they must beat the manga prodigy and Tezuka Award Winner Eiji Nizuma who is working on his latest manga series “Crow” and their rival Aiko Iwase, who is working on her new series “+Natural” which has already been picked up for an anime series.

But what will happen when the competition becomes heated and Mashiro’s girlfriend Miho Azuki is being auditioned for a voice acting role for the upcoming anime series “+Natural”?

When it comes to a series that shows the lifestyle, the business within the manga industry and the competition that exists among other mangaka’s, “Bakuman” is a series that accomplishes just that.

Typically when we read a comic book in America, we know the business focuses on how much a copy receives pre-orders and how the sales are.  In Japan, most manga chapters are featured in manga or magazine publications and one’s duration typically is narrowed down to polling.  Readers rank each manga storyline and publisher’s analyze the numbers, the age groups and the editors are responsible for their own manga creative groups and ensuring that changes are being made if their ranking slips that certain week.

“Bakuman” also shows us how difficult the life is for a manga creator.  From meeting deadlines but how a personal life can easily change when your competition pushes you lower in the rankings, your manga series is your livelihood, but what happens when your series is cut short?

This is what we have learned through this series as both characters Akito Takagi and Moritaka Mashiro have seen two of their creations canceled.  There lives have been altered but while Akito has found a supportive girlfriend now wife, named Kaya, Mashiro on the other hand, has stuck to his promise and goal with Miho Azuki that the two will pursue a relationship if she becomes a voice actress and has a running manga series.  And knowing that this third try is probably their final chance, these two young men put all on the line.

But as we are supportive of the two main protagonists, we also get to see how their competitors react when Takagi and Mashiro make changes within their manga and how they react to their change in ranking in the polls.  While the series does focus on two young men trying to break into the manga industry, by no means is the series boring.

I was absolutely astonished when I read “Bakuman”. First, Tsugumi Ohba has done a wonderful job in creating layers of detail amongst the primary characters. He includes so much detail in making us feel that the two students are doing all they can to become mangaka. And I have to admit, I’m a speed reader when it comes to manga but this is one of the first titles where I had to read not all at once but at different moments in time because there is so much packed into each chapter dialogue wise.

Ohba was very meticulous in making us learn about Takagi and Mashiro and also showing us the process of the manga world. And once again, the collaboration with Takeshi Obata has proven to be another grand slam for Ohba as Obata also compliments Ohba’s detailed writing with detailed artwork. From the line art to the patterns on Takagi’s shirt, Ohba did a fabulous job in capturing the feeling of youth in this manga series.

But of course, the biggest plus for me was getting some insight on the manga world. It’s one thing to read manga but for those of us living outside of Japan, rarely do we get to see how things are done in Japan and how difficult or challenging it is for one to break into the industry. And we get to see things first hand of how it works through Takagi and Mashiro. And how both Obata and Ohba manage to make the business side of manga entertaining and balancing it with a youthful storyline.

Needless to say, “Bakuman” is a magnificent manga thus far. While I loved the suspense of “Death Note” (which Obata and Ohba have done a magnificent job on), “Bakuman” offers something different. Something we rarely see in a manga series and that is how the manga industry is.  I love how the manga world is captured with so much detail in the pages of each chapter of “Bakuman”. Well-written, well-drawn… I can understand why this manga is such a popular hit in Japan. It’s very well-written and amazingly detailed!  And the characters are equally cool!

If you are interested in the manga industry, a fan of Obata and Ohba’s work or someone who just loves manga and wants something unique and captivating, I highly recommend “Bakuman”.

Definitely recommended!

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