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Bakuman Vol. 15 by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 30, 2012 by  



Learn about what takes place in Japan’s manga industry through Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s hit manga seires “Bakuman”. Featuring the conclusion to Muto Ashirogi vs. Tohu Nanamine and what happens when media starts putting the blame on Muto Ashirogi’s “PCP” manga seires due to recent crimes?   “Bakuman” vol. 15 is highly recommended!

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© 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: October 2, 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?

With Nanamine’s manga struggling, he makes an interesting challenge to Moritaka and Akito. But will the duo accept and risk what they’ve worked so hard to achieve? And when the news media puts the spotlight on their series for the wrong reasons, how will it affect Akito?

Continued from the last volume of “Bakuman”, 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.  And for Tohru Nanamine, the declaration of war against Muto Ashirogi has led to the dwindling of his 50-member support group.

And now, with threat of cancellation, Tohru Nanamine challenges Muto Ashirogi of who can take the same storyline and win in votes and ranking.  Who will win this challenge?

Meanwhile, for artist Takurao Naki.  It was one thing for him to start working again, thanks to being part of the staff of Tohru Nanamine, but the idea of losing his job and being homeless and ridiculed, is too much to take.  What will happen to this manga artist?

Meanwhile, for Takagi and Mashiro, an unexpected real-life crime hits the duo pretty hard when the media starts to blame their manga series of “PCP” for recent crimes.  And its affected Takagi to the point where he is to afraid to write for the series anymore.  What will happen to Muto Ashirogi and “PCP”?

Find out in volume 15 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”.

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?

What is going on in Volume 14?

With the competition between Muto Ashirogi vs. Tohru Nanamine heating up and Muto Ashirogi showing that professionalism will defeat Nanamine’s style of manga creation.  Nanamine becomes desperate to the point where he orders his editor to steal the latest storyline of Muto Ashirogi’s “PCP”. But when his editor Ryu Shizuka tells Takagi and Mashiro all about it, the group is willing to take the challenge and give Ryu the basics of their upcoming plot of their upcoming story and see if Tohru Nanamine can beat them.  It’s all for nothing, but which will come out on top in the “Shonen Jump” weekly rating?

Meanwhile, what happens when a crime using a storyline straight out of “PCP” gets news stations to condemn the manga series for promoting criminal behavior.  It begins to have it’s affect on Takagi’s storytelling…for the worst!

“Bakuman” Vol. 15 finalizes the competition between Muto Ashirogi vs. Tohru Nanamine, but also incorporates several types of storylines which I found quite interesting.

One includes Takuro Nakai, the overweight, pizza eating, lazy manga artist who constantly has troubles working with a mangaka and is often getting fired.  But he blames his failure on Ko Aoki and he wants to hurt her.  But will the meek Kazuya Hiramaru protect the woman he loves?

We are also greeted with a short storyline about Takagi and Mashiro’s class reunion and for them, seeing how everyone, now adults are having the time of their lives with vacationing and doing the things they love, while Mashiro thinks about how being manga artists, they have been nothing but busy and have not really had vacations to do anything.  Is this the life that Takagi and Mashiro want to have?

And the final story arc revolves around a crime that tries to put the blame on the manga series “PCP” and media running wild on the negative effects of the manga series and how it begins to affect Takagi a lot.

Suffice to say, “Bakuman” vol. 15 is highly entertaining and fascinating.

The final arc about the copycat crimes or how media tends to allow things to really blow things out of proportion when a crime is created and is linked to a manga or anime series.

A well-known incident was back in the late ’80s when otaku Tsutomu Miyazaki, a serial murder, killed and mutilated four girls.  Because he watched a lot of anime, media would use anime and manga violence as a way to show how people were inspired to do bad things because of their obsession with that type of entertainment.

And for “Bakuman” creators Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata are no strangers to this as well. Their last manga series, “Death Note”, received worldwide recognition back in 2007, when notes were left on a severed body found at a park in Belgium and the note was left with a Japanese phrase reference from the manga series “Death Note”.

Suffice to say, this is no stranger to us in America where video games and even music have been criticized by media for violence caused by an individual and things found in the assailant’s home were some form of entertainment that must have been related to the person creating a crime.

Once again, media tends to blow things out of proportion but this happens everywhere around the world.

But because a crime was created and using Ohba and Obata’s work as reference to a murder, suffice to say, one wonders if it affects them.

For the manga characters of Takagi and Mashiro, a crime has been credited to their “PCP” manga series and the media have acted unfavorably, but to see how it affects Takagi, not wanting to be responsible for people creating real crimes because of the stories that he writes.  It’s great to see Ohba and Obata taking the issue of media towards manga and exploring it in vol. 17 of “Bakuman”.

But as always, like previous volumes, “Bakuman” continues to give readers insight to the manga industry.

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.

Another exciting and captivating manga volume of “Bakuman”.  Highly recommended!

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