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Bakuman Vol. 18 by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 24, 2013 by  



Muto Ashirogi and Eiji Nizuma are friends but they are also the ultimate rivals bringing out the best within each other.  But now it comes down to this latest series as Muto Ashirogi has now two series hey will be working on.  Can the work on two series at the same time?  Meanwhile, Hiramaru wants to tell Aoki how he feels about her.  How will she react? Find out in the latest 18th volume of “Bakuman”!

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

MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 18 (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: March 5, 2013

Moritaka and Akito complete their new story, Reversi, and hope it will finally lead to their getting an anime. But standing in their way is Eiji Nizuma with his new story, Zombie Gun. This intense head-to-head battle may have ramifications for the entire manga industry!

Muto Ashirogi has always looked at Eiji Nizuma as their rival, a rivalry that has made each other better in the process.  With Nizuma dominating the reader’s rankings at #1, for Mashiro Moritaka, what’s important for him is the ability to create a manga series that has the chance of receiving an anime adaptation.  And if that happens, he will eventually can marry his long time girlfriend Miho Azuki.

And with Akito Takagi and wife Kaya wanting this to happen, both Mashiro and Akito are putting everything to a one-shot manga storyline known as “Reversi”, an intellectual battle manga between two humans who wield special powers.  One who represents black and has the power of brainwashing in order to destroy the human race through tyranny, while the white tries to thwart his plans in order to let humanity die out on its own.

Muto Ashirogi’s “Reversi” has no doubt received rave reviews from the editors at Shonen Jump, but so has Eiji Nizuma’s one-shot “Zombie Gun”.

As both rivals put everything on the line to be #1 and for Mashiro to have a series become an anime, what happens when the public loves “Reversi” so much that Muto Ashirogi now has two manga series to work on?  And will Kazuya Hiramaru have the guts to tell Ko Aoki how he has felt about her all these years?

Find out in the latest volume of “Bakuman” Vol. 18!

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 18?

It’s probably the final, great battle between Muto Ashirogi vs. Eiji Nizuma.  While Muto Ashirogi still has their “PCP” manga series, in order to create a manga series that can become an anime, they had to create a series with anime potential and that is “Reversi”, while Eiji Nizuma who ended his hit manga series “Crow” has created “Zombie Gun” and both are aiming to be #1.

While “Zombie Gun” was released as a one-shot first, it garnered high votes.  But Muto Ashirogi’s “Reversi” ended up beating “Zombie Gun” by a few votes. The first major defeat for Eiji Nizuma.

But with volume 18, the problem exists for Muto Ashirogi, if given a full-time series, can they create two series at the same time and maintaining the quality of the fan-favorite “PCP”?

And with editorial strategy, one must be a weekly manga series and the other a monthly, in order to give time for both Mashiro and Akito, but do they know that having two series may take up more time than they expect?

Meanwhile, mangaka Kazuya Hiramaru has always been in love with the mangaka, Ko Aoki, but this time he is determined in finally telling her how he really feels and asking for marriage.  How will Aoki react?

With three volumes left of “Bakuman”, the manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata gets even better as the two rivals, Ashito Murogi and Eiji Nizuma have now put it all on the line to see who is the best.  But most importantly, it’s Mashiro’s moment to have a new series with the potential of becoming an anime series.

But while everyone feels that Muto Ashirogi’s one-shot “Reversi” is fantastic, there is one problem, the duo are already working on a hit manga series, “PCP”.

With volume 18, we get to see how editorial debate on if a mangaka should be allowed to work on two series, even though they are both popular with readers. They know that Mashiro has went to the hospital once before for exhaustion but can he handle working on two manga series?

As editorial are debating if one series could possibly be a weekly and another could be a monthly, for Muto Ashirogi editor Akira Hattori, he has worked with both Mashiro and Akito for a long time but now having read “Reversi”, the idea of a storyline that is so phenomenal, possibly going to another editor for a monthly publication, makes him depressed.

Meanwhile, we have wondered where the comical Hiramaru and Aoki storyline was going.  Hiramaru has always loved Aoki but because both were working on hit manga series, there was never a time for him to get close to her.  But she has always been an inspiration to him and now, he wants to be there for her as her manga is ending (yet receiving an anime adaptation).  Hiramaru has finally decided to tell Aoki he loves her and that he wants to marry her?  But since the two have not gone on so many dates or had a relationship prior…how will she react?

“Bakuman” continues to give readers insight to the manga industry. And with this latest volume, I just love the rivalry now building up to such excitement between Muto Ashirogi and Eiji Nizuma.  And with two volumes left, it makes you wonder what will happen next in these two final volumes.

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 so far, the character development involved in building these characters have been wonderful and a lot of fun to read.

As for illustrator Takeshi Ibata, he 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.

And so far, 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 in the beginning, we got to see how the industry works through the lives of Takagi and Mashiro but now, the series has grown to show us perspectives among the editors and the artists involved and the series has mature quite well with each volume!

For any manga fan, “Bakuman” is an exiting, addictive and fun series that goes into the life of those who work in the manga industry. There really is nothing like it and if you love manga, “Bakuman” is highly recommended!

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