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Bakuman Vol. 12 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 23, 2012 by  



Ohba and Obata take things a step further by focusing on other supporting characters in vol. 12 of “Bakuman” but also having the main characters Mashiro and Takagi working on different projects, separate from each other, while working on their hit manga series “PCP”.  Can they maintain the same quality while working on other projects?  Find out in volume 12 of “Bakuman”!

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

MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 12 (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: July 3, 2012

With their new series Perfect Crime Party doing well in Weekly Shonen Jump, Moritaka and Akito sets their sights on beating their rivals in the magazine. But just as their dreams seem within reach, some surprising news will deal them an unexpected setback.

They are going all out!

Takagi, Mashiro and their Shonen Jump editor Hattori have improved in the past but with two manga series, two cancellations and now, it all comes down to their third and final try.  With their manga release “PCP (Perfect Crime Party)”, will Takagi, Mashro and Hattori finally become successful in the ratings?

With “Natural+” and “Crow” doing a crossover to improve their poll ratings, does “PCP” have a chance in the ratings or will the third manga series for Takagi and Mashiro (now using the pen name Muto Ashirogi) be a failure?  Find out in volume 12 of “Bakuman”!

What is “Bakuman”?

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 using a new pen name Muto Ashirogi), 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.  To make things worse, both have teamed up in a special cross-over and now, because of the slipping ratings, will Mashiro and Takagi slip even further?

Volume 12 focuses on a gameplan that Shonen Jump editor and Mashiro and Takagi have came up with.  Why not end the series with a major buildup for a series finale to win over readers?

Meanwhile, good news has come to both Mashiro and Takagi as they have been given the opportunity for PCP to become a light novel series and also have a drama CD release!  This is great news for Mashiro as this will give his girlfriend Miho Azuki (who has no idea that Muto Ashirogi is Mashiro and Takagi) a chance to be a voice actress.

But when they find out from Hattori that because their manga series may lead to children imitating some of actions from their manga series, a chance for an anime series is nil!

And for Mashiro, having an anime series where Miho could become a voice actress is quite important as that is the only way the two can officially be together as a couple.

And to add another storyline to this latest volume, what happens when “PCP” assistant artist Shun Shiratori’s “Loveta & Peace” manga work catches the eye of both Mashiro and Takagi and Hattori wants to make it an official Shonen Jump manga series?

With Eiji Nizuma already having two series for “Shonen Jump” and Takagi writing for both “PCP” and Shiratori’s “Loveta & Peace”, what happens when Mashiro decides he wants to write and draw a new manga (that can become an anime series) by himself?  With all the work that the two are putting in, will it lead to a decrease in quality for “PCP”?

“Bakuman” Vol. 12 is rather intriguing because it is a series that deals with how the manga industry works but this time around, things become even more complex as Mashiro and Takagi, who are partners and best friends, now begin to work on separate projects while working together on their main manga storyline.

And as the series have primarily focused on Mashiro and Takagi and sometimes their significant others, Kaya Takagi and Miho Azuki, this time around Tsugumi Ohba tries to do provide character development and give more dialogue to Aiko Iwase, Shuichi Moriya and primarily Shun Shiratori.

Aiko is shown to have had feelings for the married Akito Takagi, Shuichi Moriya who has dreamed of becoming a manga artists but makes things too intellectual for young readers trying to get his first break like Shiratori.  And Shun Shiratori, the quiet artist for “PCP”, who wants to desperately be a manga artist but his parents are vehemently against him pursuing that career and want him to follow his father’s footsteps.

There is also a feeling that Mashiro and Takagi’s friendship and collaboration can be in jeopardy.  As it is important for both to have a hit manga series, Hattori notices that for Mashiro, for “PCP” not having an anime series is sort of a deal breaker.  And thus, he becomes more interested in seeing the collaboration between Shiratori and Takagi, leaving Mashiro behind, planning on working on his own manga series as a writer and artist but primarily so he can make a manga series that can become an anime series for Miho’s sake.

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 does it with amazing efficacy.

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 he has a successful, continuing manga series.

I’m still very pleased with the manga series now 12 volumes in. 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 and beautiful 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!

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” vol. 12.

Definitely recommended!

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