Bakuman Vol. 14 by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
September 30, 2012 by Dennis Amith
An entertaining, inside look at Japan’s manga industry. What happens with Takagi and Mashiro’s longtime fan becomes a manga writer/illustrator and is deemed to be a genius. But in truth, has 50 manga blog writers and Internet contributors helping him shape his story, rather than utilizing an editor? It leads to a competition and rivalry between Muto Ashirogi vs. Tohu Nanamine. “Bakuman” vol. 14 is highly recommended!
© 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 14 (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: September 4, 2012
Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?
Is Moritaka and Akito’s newest rival also their greatest fan?! The duo is asked to judge a manga contest and the best entry reminds them of their own creations. But who is this mysterious new artist and what are his controversial methods of creating manga?
Tohru Nanamine was a teenager who grew up reading the works of writer Takagi Akito and artist Mashiro Moritaka, known to the manga world as Muto Ashirogi. For Tohru, his dream was to become a manga artist. And now his submission work to Shonen Jump titled “Classroom of Truth” has caught the attention of the mangaka and editors for its unique style that is different from Shonen Jump stories.
Seeing the talent of Tohru, the editor-in-chief gives him a chance to show that he has what it takes to become a mangaka. Assigned to watch over him is editor Ryu Shizuka and for the most part, an editor should be thrilled to have a young mangaka seen as a manga genius.
But Tohru has a major secret… his ideas are not his own. He has 50 people that he selected from manga Internet forums to be the ideas behind the new book and feels he has no need for an editor. That this is a new era for the manga industry where he leans on the fans who know better than an editor.
And when he meets Takagi and Mashiro and tells him of his technique and voice their opinion of how it’s wrong, it creates a major rivalry between Muto Ashirogi vs. Tohru Nanamine.
Find out who comes out in top in volume 14 of the hit manga series “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 20 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!
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.
While both Mashiro and Takagi have had their ups and downs, they do believe that one day, they will create a manga series that will lead to an anime series. But for now, focus on the quality of “PCP”.
What is going on in Volume 14?
With Takagi and Mashiro meeting their former fan turned mangaka and being told of how he writes his manga, based on Internet submissions, it leads to a clash of perspectives as both tell Tohru Nanamine that what he is doing is wrong and not listening to his editor is incredibly wrong. While Tohru responds that Takagi and Mashiro are just puppets to the editor.
Suffice to say, both vow to challenge each other in battle of who is better, and who will get the better weekly votes.
Meanwhie, as Tohru Nanamine gets his manga into “Shonen Jump”, someone has to be canceled. And for Kazuya Hiramaru, he has always believed that he continued with manga in order to be close to fellow mangaka Ko Aoki. But if he loses his manga series, will she even look at him?
Also, featuring the return of Takuro Nakai.
“Bakuman” Vol. 14 is an intriguing volume as it goes to show a young, hot-headed, new mangaka wanting to go against the current norm of the manga industry, by secretly creating manga with the input of Internet fans. People who have read a lot of manga, some who have worked in the industry long ago, and feeling their input is much more important than an editor.
At first, you think that Tohru Nanamine was a manga fan, especially towards Takagi and Mashiro, but you realize that his main drive is to beat them. After all these years of being a fan, all Tohru has prided himself was outdoing Muto Ashirogi.
This volume gives us insight of the complications that go on with letting new manga series coming in and having to cancel others, despite their ratings to be good. For the sake of more development of that mangaka to create new material. But most importantly, that life for a manga editor is not easy. Especially when dealing with hot-headed manga creators who feel its their way or no way at all and don’t want to listen to an editor, thinking that editor’s change the original meaning of their work.
While I’m not sure if a situation like Tohru has ever happened in the manga industry, where manga blog owners and former industry people would give their ideas to a mangaka just to say they had some input or work in the manga industry.
But both Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata have so far well-documented of what has transpired in the industry through their “Bakuman” series. And this volume is quite fascinating of how explores these situations.
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.
For “Bakuman” vol. 14, this is another storyline that shows how votes and rankings really make a big difference. And with Muto Ashirogi vs. Nanamine, it’s interesting to see how this clash works itself out.
Tsugumi Ohba has done a wonderful job in creating layers of detail amongst the primary characters. His writing is well-done and while some Japanese readers feels he overstretches arcs a bit too much, I don’t mind. He takes his time and feels no need to interject so many characters for the sake of it. He uses characters that are integral to the storyline and I like that!
Takeshi Ibata includes so much detail into his panels and the artwork is just phenomenal. It’s one of the manga series I always take my time looking at because his panels are so well-detailed.
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.
If you are looking for a fun, captivating manga series… “Bakuman” vol. 14 is highly recommended!
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