Bakuman Vol. 19 by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 22, 2013 by  

Mashiro and Miho have worked hard in their career and for their longtime promise to get married if an anime adaptation based on Muto Ashirogi’s manga series happens, now is to become reality in “Bakuman” vol. 19.  But when the identities of Muto Ashirogi is revealed and also the relationship between Mashiro and Miho are made public, how will they react and will this news destroy their hard-earned careers?  Find out in the latest 19th volume of “Bakuman”!

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

MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 19 (バクマン)


WRITTEN BY: Tsugumi Ohba (大場 つぐみ)

ILLUSTRATED BY: Takeshi Obata (小畑 健)



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2013

With their new series, Moritaka and Akito start beating Eiji Nizuma in the Shonen Jump rankings for the first time. But in the actual book sales, Eiji is somehow still on top. The duo is as determined as ever to achieve their dreams, but a new scandal will threaten to destroy everything!


Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Obata.

Back in grade school, Mashiro Moritaka and Miho Azuki made a promise that they will marry each other if Mashiro can create a manga that will be adapted into an anime series, while Miho would work hard as a voice actress.  The two would not have contact, will not see each other and can only contact via text message.

Many years have passed since Mashiro and Miho have made that promise but they have worked hard to make sure their careers would happen, but most importantly, they strive to work hard so they can finally be together.

With Muto Ashirogi’s “Reversi” doing well in Shonen Jump, as with their rival Eiji Nizuma for his manga “Zombie Gun”.  And both receive word that one of them will get an anime adaptation.

For Akito Takagi and wife Kaya wanting desperately for an anime adaptation to happen, so Mashiro and Miho can finally be together, everything seems to be pointing to a happy ending… until a fellow voice actress posted on her blog that Muto Ashirogi is actually two people and Mashiro Moritaka is dating a famous voice actress.  And in an industry for voice actress, similar to idol singers, their relationships are kept secret or they don’t have a relationship at all.  But with this news coming out, it has made tabloid news and causing a stir in the entire manga and anime industry.

What will happen with Mashiro and Miho and is their relationship doomed?

Find out in the latest volume of “Bakuman” Vol. 19!

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, having experience success and failures, both decide to start anew under the name Muto Ashirogi and they meet success with their manga series “PCP”. But because the storyline is not a candidate for an anime series, Mashiro and Takagi create a new series that they are hoping will receive an anime adaptation and that is “Reversi”.

And through their career, they have worked hard to beat the #1 mangaka at “Shonen Jump”, Eiji Nizuma and Eiji has always seen Muto Ashirogi as his friendly rival.  And as the two push each other to do better in competition, both are given the chance to have their new series turned into an anime series. Nizuma having experience it with his top hit series “Crow”, also wants “Zombie Gun” to be a manga series, but for Mashiro, this opportunity is so important as it may lead to he and Miho finally getting married.  

Will it happen?

With one final volume left of “Bakuman” after this 19th volume, the  longtime buildup since the beginning of the series was everyone working hard to make their dreams come true.  Mashiro’s dream is to create a manga series, that can be made into an anime and have Miho cast as one of the star voice actress in a series he and Takagi have created.

And all seems good, until a fellow voice actress accidentally blogs about the true identities of “Muto Ashirogi” and it automatically gives those on the Internet a chance to research and find out that Mashiro is dating Miho.

And while at first it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the two underestimate the power of the Internet and the rage of fans who feel betrayed that Miho, a talented voice actress is dating a mangaka (which relationships are probably not accepted by fans, similar to idol singers in Japan) and that the reason why she may have gotten the parts was because her boyfriends influence.

With the anime, manga and voice acting industry suddenly thrust into the tabloid spotlight of this relationship, will it become detrimental for this young couple who have waited and worked so hard for many years to finally be together?

“Bakuman” continues to give readers insight to the manga industry. And with this latest volume, you get the sense of rivalry between friends in the manga industry but also learning a little how things are in the voice acting (seiyuu) industry and how their situation of “no dating” rule is similar to idol singers. But also how fans can get angry over a relationship that a voice actress may have.

So, a storyline that readers have been waiting for a long time, finally starts to happen but now a wrench has been thrown as (former) fans of both Muto Ashirogi and Miho are becoming vocal and calling the offices of where they work with hate and disgust over their relationship.

But will Mashiro and Miho’s love for each other remain strong or will their dedication to their work, be put on the priority over their relationship?

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. One more issue left and we will finally find out if all the hard work done by Muto Ashirogi finally paid off, or will these tabloid news destroy their manga career which they have worked hard for?

“Bakuman” vol .19 is highly recommended!

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