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Bakuman Vol. 2 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 24, 2011 by  



From the writer and artist of “Death Note” comes “Bakuman”!  A refreshing, entertaining manga about two talented teenagers trying to break into the manga industry.  If you are looking for a unique manga, especially one with so much in detail about the manga industry but yet a storyline so exciting and fun to read, I highly recommended “Bakuman”!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 2 (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: November 2, 2010

After Moritaka and Akito collaborate on a manga together, they venture to publishing house Shueisha in hopes of capturing an editor’s interest. As much potential as these two rookies have, will their story impress the pros and actually get printed?

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 11 volumes having been published in Japan and a 25-episode anime series that aired last fall (and a new second season being planned), needless to say, both Ohba and Obata have once again achieved success with their second project together.

“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.

Volume 2 of “Bakuman” continues that storyline as both Takagi and Mashiro work diligently on their first manga storyline and prepare to submit their draft to Mr. Hattori, an editor at Weekly Shonen Jump.  Knowing that their future depends on the input of Hattori, Takagi and Mashiro hope that he can help guide them in becoming great.

In fact, Hattori loves their work but knows that they are far too young to have a career as mangaka, but with Mashiro intent in wanting to be with Azuki and Takagi wanting to be a successful, can they make it happen?

Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of each chapter for “Bakuman Vol. 2”:

  • Chapter 8: Carrot and Stick – Takagi and Mashiro visit the editor Mr. Hattori at Weekly Shonen Jump for their first critique.
  • Chapter 9: A Condition and Going to Tokyo – Mashiro is happy to find a way to communicate with Azuki without talking to her.  Meanwhile, both Takagi and Mashiro take Hattori’s suggestions and begin work on another manga story.
  • Chapter 10: Fear and Hope – Takagi and Mashiro work on a manga titled “One Hundred Millionth” to submit for Jump contest.
  • Chapter 11: Regret and Satisfaction – Takagi must choose which girl he wants as a girlfriend, meanwhile Takagi and Mashiro visit Mr. Hattori for another evaluation.
  • Chapter 12: 10 and 2 – Editor-in-Chief Sasaki of the “Weekly Shonen Jump” knew Mashiro’s uncle and tries to give them advice, especially on their competition, a younger mangaka named Eiji Nizuma who literally lives and breathes manga.
  • Chapter 13: Chocolate and Akamaru – Takagi and Mashiro do all they can to get into the “Akamaru” competition and go head up against Eiji Nizuma.  Whoever wins, receives a manga contract.
  • Chapter 14: Feast and Graduation – Both Takagi and Mashiro are graduating and with Mashiro and Azuki going to different high schools, will Azuki still live up to her promise to be with him?
  • Chapter 15: Send and Reply – Both Takagi and Mashiro enter high school and begin working on a new manga and await the results of the “Akamaru” competition and the first results are in.
  • Chapter 16: Early Results and Final Report – Takagi and Mashiro receive the final report and the results of the Akamaru competition.

I was absolutely astonished when I read “Bakuman”.  First, 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 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 another major 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 the 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.  While I loved the suspense of “Death Note”, I love how the manga world is captured with so much detail in the pages of each chapter of “Bakuman”.  Well-written, well-drawn… I can understand why this manga is such a popular hit in Japan.

If you are interested in the manga industry, let alone a storyline that just captures you from the start, I highly recommend “Bakuman”.  It’s wonderful!

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