Bakuman Vol. 20 by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 27, 2013 by  


The final volume of “Bakuman” comes down to Miho auditioning in a role of her life.  As promised when Mashiro and Miho were younger, they can only get married if both achieve their goals and with Mashiro achieving his goal, it’s time for Miho to achieve the last goal and that is to be the lead voice actress for the anime adaptation of a manga series that Mashiro had created.  Will it happen? Find out in the final 20th volume of “Bakuman”.  Highly recommended!

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

MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 20 (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: August 6, 2013

For ten years, two young men have worked as hard as they possibly could to make their manga dreams come true. Now, as they sit atop the manga world, can the promise made long ago finally be fulfilled?!

The final volume of “Bakuman” is here!

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.

Ten 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.

But for Akito and Kaya Takagi, the have waited so long and have hoped for Mashiro and Miho to get married or at least see each other.  But they know that will only happen if Miho gets the part for the animated adaptation of “Reversi”.  But now, with tabloids revealing the relationship with Mashiro and Miho, Miho’s management has scheduled an emergency guest spot for a radio show to tell her audience that the tabloid rumors are fake.

But will she do that?

Everything is on the line and for a couple who made their promise ten years ago in grade school, well their dreams of become a married couple eventually happen?

Find out in the final volume 20 of “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, 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.

But with the public worried that Miho may be getting her role as a voice actress on Reversi due to her boyfriend, in order to prove that Miho is deserving the role, because of the media attention this scandal has received, the casting directors of the anime series plans to do a televised audition with the best seiyuu (voice actresses) in Japan and people in Japan will get the opportunity to vote for who is deserving to be cast for the lead female role.

For Mashiro, he knows that this will be the toughest challenge that Miho will face, but he believes that her talent will shine through and people will agree that she is very much deserving to be casted for the role on “Reversi”.

Meanwhile, the final goal for Muto Ashirogi is to beat Eiji Nizuma in sales.  Will they ever accomplish it?  And what happens when Muto Ashirogi decides that right before the anime series, they intend to end their popular series.

The final volume of “Bakuman” is here and having read this manga series since the very beginning, it was a long literary ride as we have seen two teenagers who had a dream about working in the manga industry and then finally getting in but also having to learn the ups and downs of the industry.

Reading how competitive the industry can get, the strategies that are involved in the manga industry, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba have given us, manga fans, a chance to see how the manga industry works.

From the very first issue and to this final volume, reading the manga industry adventures of “Muto Ashirogi” have been wonderful, insightful and also a fascinating learning experience.  From the various type of people creating manga, the darkside of the manga industry.  Certainly, aspects of the series maybe non-fiction but with real life mangaka duo Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba working on this manga, it makes me wonder how much of reality, that they experienced, made it into the series.

And with this final volume, the series has built up this storyline of two people, Mashiro and Miho, who made an unusual promise at a young age that they will marry each other, that they will be together but not until they reach their goals.  For Mashiro, his goal was to have a top selling manga series, the #1 series in Shonen Jump but also have their manga series receive an anime adaptation.  For Miho, to become a voice actress and provide the voice of the anime series based on Mashiro’s work.

We have seen Muto Ashirogi create several series, to have a hit series but to realize that they were not “anime” material and then to create a new manga series while working on the other hit series at the same time.  Suffice to say, these two individuals have put their heart and soul, sacrificed their own personal lives for each other as friends but to make each other’s dreams come true.

For Akito Takagi, he became a manga writer, he married Kaya and he is pretty much set financially.  But he wants his friend and partner Mashiro to achieve the same success in life and so Akito has done all he can to make their series “PCP” a hit and also their new series “Reversi” a hit action series but also a series that has anime potential.  The problem is, they are always in competition with Eiji Nizuma, the #1 selling manga artist at Shonen Jump and the person who tends to get what he wants, including an anime series adaptation.

But for both Mashiro and Akito, because of Eiji, it made their work better and now as they strive for an anime series, the series now has to feature Miho as the lead actress and both Mashiro and Miho can get married.  But when the scandal hit that Mashiro and Miho are dating, it has created a severe uproar throughout Japan as voice actresses are seen as idols and in Japan, idols have a love ban rule….simply no dating.

And with netizens revealing that Muto Ashirogi are Mashiro and Akito and the identities of the two men and their relation with Miho, will it damage her career or damage the potential of success for Muto Ashirogi.

How the series is concluded was fascinating, exciting but also quite delightful.  We know this series was going to have a happy ending, that was predictable.  “Bakuman” was never a bleak manga series, it was a manga series built on hopes and dreams and how hard work pays off.

And for Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba, they have kept the storyline consistent from beginning to end.  And here we are with the final volume and how the series concludes.

I’m quite pleased with how “Bakuman” has ended and for 20 volumes, the series has proven itself to be wonderful and entertaining and among one of my favorite manga series that I have read.  I have not seen the anime adaptation of the series but because I enjoyed this manga series so much, I really do want to watch the anime series now!

“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.

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!  Right to the very end!

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. Thank you Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Ibata for taking readers for one heck of an enjoyable ride.

“Bakuman” vol .20 and the entire series is highly recommended!

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