Bakuman and the world of manga

posted in: Anime Review | 8

Bakuman header

It’s about time for a new anime review, well it’s actually more a post about my personal impressions and thoughts when watching all three seasons of Bakuman. in a row.

To tell you the truth, I’m a quite unmotivated manga reader, I really prefer to digest these stories annimated. Long  run manga series actually scare the hell out of me and I totally hate it when a story is prolonged too much just for financial interest. Sometimes it’s also hard to distinguish the characters by their looks in black and white, Sekirei is such a case XD

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Not only because of my strange relationship with manga I acted a bit coyly before I started to watch Bakuman, a show about creating manga, but recently I was in the right mood for it.

The Bakuman anime started back in the year 2010, produced by NHK and J.C. Staff. It is based on the manga Bakuman. which was created by Obata, Takeshi and Ohba, Tsugumi.
This duo also worked on Death Note, yet Bakuman. is something quite different.

This anime covers the story of two male manga authors within three seasons in an overall 75 episode long run. The anime follows Akito Takagi and Moritaka Mashiro “Saikou” who try to set foot in the manga industry at a very young age. They work as a team and divide the work between writing and illustrating. Its very unusual for anime these days, but Bakuman has a real concluding end.

httpvh://youtu.be/y0M8adzh-hQ

Moshimo no Hanashi by nano.RIPE

Main characters

Saiko

Saikou is the nephew of a passed away manga artist, he is a so-so student and not that smart, his biggest strength is that he can draw very well, his stubborness and that he is very passionate about creating good manga. Saikou is in charge of illustrating Takagi’s storyboards.

Takagi

Takagi is an honor student, but he is not interested in becoming a businessman. His refreshing personality has a few eccentric traits, those make him popular with the girls and also fuel his creative story writing abilities. It was actually him who convinced Sakou of creating manga. Takagi takes care of  creating storyboards and the correspondence with the publisher.

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Thanks to Takagi, Saikou can gather the courage to make a promise with his childhood love and classmate Miho, who aspires to be a voice actress. If one of Takagi’s and Saikou’s works ever gets an anime adaption, she should be the female leads VA and then Saikou and Miho are going to marry, that’s hopeless romantic isn’t it? Well, actually it’s a waste of youth if you ask me and the sad thing is that they also agreed to no seeing each other until that day comes and only to cummunicate via textmail, still there will be many occasions for the two to meet after all.

Digital StillCamera

Kaya is an essential character, honestly Im not sure if I had liked Bakuman without her. She becomes Takagi’s girlfriend short after the start of this show, she’s an upbeat, strong willed girl with a good heart. Unlike Miho she is one of the three main characters who is always on screen and she is regularly together with Takagi and Saikou. She is cleaning the office, cooking coffee, inking pages and cheers up the boys. In the end it is a little sad to see her having the happy housewife role, while the boys have a “cool” job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against classsic role models and Kaya wouldn’t want it any  different, but the contast between these two ways of living is very strong in Bakuman. Kaya marry me (´∀`)♡ )

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Seasons

The first season is mainly an introductional one, that shows how a weekly manga magazine works, it also gives informations about the characters whereabouts and relationships. The first small steps of Saikou and Takagi to become manga authors under the pen name Ashirogi Muto are also shown, after they met their first editor Hattori. An editor is the chain between publisher and manga authors, controlling the works that are send in are part of his job, when in charge of a certain author an editor gives suggestions about what to improve and how to increase the popularity. This job has a high level of responsibility torwards the authors.

In the second  season Takagi and Saikou are causing trouble for their magazine and editor,it wasn’t always their fault, but the viewer learns to know the No Go‘s as manga author. While Ashirogi Muto seems a little in trouble, the supporting characters, other manga authors take a bit more of the spotlight. Partially they overshadow the presence of Takagi and Saikou.

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The viewer learns about their goals and motivations for being a manga author and looks at quite different editor and artist relationships. A  large number of nicely portrayed  and charismatic supporting characters are one of the strong points of Bakuman, some are weird, some timid and some are straight agressive. Supportive characters main purpose is to influence the main characters in a good or bad way, nevertheless a few of the supportive characters in Bakuman get their fair share of screentime and an own storyline. In three x 25 episodes there is enough time of such things, unfortunately new anime gets shorter and shorter these days.

The third season is a concluding one for all left plots and important sideplots, ok since I don’t intend to spoiler more than necessary in this review, its a great season, so watch it for yourself.

In these years Takagi and Saikou are totally occupied with their job as authors, thinking about new content and working on current projects eats away all their time. Kaya must be a very understanding girlfriend, but to be honest it seems that Takagi is 10% less determined and takes a break from time to time. With his perfect dream in mind Saikou draws non stop and can’t rest until he and Miho can finally be together, he’s trying so hard, you just have to cheer for him.

Important supporting characters

nizuma

 

 

 

Nizuma – is the main rival of Ashirogi Muto, his skills are far beyond everyone else which makes him the most talented manga creator of Shounen Jump. At first he appears rather lunatic and dangerous, but he’s a sympathic person and a child at heart.

Aoki

 

 

 

Aoki – is an innocent, polite shoujo author who dives in the shounen genre, drawing fanservice and dealing with perverts turn out as rather challenging for her, but this makes her grow as a person. The female characterdesign of Bakuman is already quite pretty, but Aoki is just beautful.

hiramaru

 

 

 

Hiramaru – worked as a busuiness man before, but landed a surprise hit as manga author first timer. He is a bit socially awkward, yet very funny. He actually has the most weird author editor relation ship, it looks more than master and slave than anything else. Well, I liked his storyline the most, especially in the last season he starts to shine.

fukuda

 

 

 

Fukuda – a manga author with rebellious tendencies torwards his publisher, he likes to create violent mangas with rude language, he is quite a mainly character, but behind his macho fascade he is rather caring and supports his author commrades with their problems at work but also in private life.

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Impressions

Before starting this show I feared that a 75 episode long anime about the life of manga authors would be boring,  but that actually was never the case, even though there are no life threatening situations or supervillains, Bakuman has the same tension and addictive appeal as any other action anime. Of course this anime has it’s antagonists, Ashirogi Muto competes with other authors of Shounen Jack over serializations, votes and sales, this rivaly isn’t turned into underhanded methods, everybody is threated with respect. The rivalry is mainly turned into positive motivation everybody is fueling anothers motivation to create better manga.

Shounen, Seishun, Romance and Comedy, Bakuman is such a strange combination of different genres,  but this is what makes Bakuman something special and surprisingly popular.

I had a kind of romantic image of the manga industry before, but I learned quite a bit about the mechanisms of manga, everything shown in  this show might be not entitrely true, but I think it’s pretty close to reality. Creating manga is not as magic as it might sound, especially in the longer run compromises have to be made, that aren’t always good for the mangas.

Being an author for a weekly magazine doesn’t feel much different from other really busy jobs, it appears even more demanding, physically and mentally. First  your work needs to compete against other works to be accepted for serialization, then you have to meet the weekly/monthly deadlines and pay attention that the popularity won’t drop. In every issues of the magazine the readers do a voting. If your ranking is too low, the manga will be canceled. I found it quite unfair to apply such restrictions to creative works, promising manga can be lost in this process.

Well, Bakuman gives you many things to think about regarding the creation of manga.

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Final Words

The anime  covers 10 years in the life of Takagi and Saikou, there are numerous time skips, but overall it’s really interesting to follow the main characters over such a long period of time.

It’s is a long and bumpy road from the planned dream to it’s possible fulfillment. Good anime comes in different shapes and while I prefer stories with a non realistic setting, this is one of the best concluded animes I’ve seen so far, maybe it can be even considered a masterpiece.

While the characters are facing some hardships in their lives, this anime always keeps it’s positive attitude towards growing up and taking decisions and living in a self reliant way.

This anime has uncommonly low number of changing locations, not that there is no variety, but the characters are either in the office or in the building of Shounen Jack. Freetime activities or other locations are pretty rare in Bakuman. This actually would be my only big complain about this anime. Aside from this the show gives an interesting insight into the manga industry and give explanations why anime and manga can be either a big hit or a disappointment sometimes.

Have you seen Bakuman already? If yes, please share your opinion in the comments.

httpvh://youtu.be/x1o5y9uqBL8

parallel= by Fumiya Sashida

8 Responses

  1. Hoshiko

    Yeah, I agree with you – watching Bakuman totally changed my perception on how manga is created. It’s demanding, stressful but at the same time is rewarding for those who has passion for it.

    And it some ways, made me appreciate manga even more. The only manga I’m buying right now is Kimi ni Todoke though. I plan to buy the whole set of Skip Beat! but boy, that’ll cost me a bomb.

    By the way, I like that picture where Niizuma Eiji was floating on top of the others in a cupid-like outfit. Hilarious.

    • wieselhead

      Yes creating long run manga, must be a real challenge for the authors.
      The whole set!? that sounds crazy, but good luck 🙂
      Haha yeah it’s fun, Niizuma Eiji was a lovely character, at first they portrayed him as psycho, but he turned into sweet eccentric actually.

  2. Kai

    I read the first ten, twenty chapters of the manga or so, and while a “manga about manga” sounds cool, I was skeptical of an “anime about manga” but from what I can see, it’s a pretty good adaption^^ I’m also a little sad that it ended but I’m glad that it had a good conclusion, if nothing else.

    • wieselhead

      Oh interesting, I imagine it to be no manga for me to read, the topic is dry. I also feared it to be boring as anime, but it was presented in the righ medium for me.
      Im happy that I gave this show a try, it was a masterpiece and the conclusion is a satisfying end, not the crap JC Staff did with Shakugan no Shana 😀

  3. BostonBrandon

    I like what I’ve read of the manga (first several volumes) but am a little concerned that the voice acting or some other aspect is going to take away from the things I really enjoyed about the series. Is it worth the risk, or would I be better off sticking with the manga?

    • wieselhead

      Well, I never took a look in the manga, but judging from other ratings and opinions about Bakuman, this show is a very good manga adaption and not one of the bad ones.
      To me the voices sounded cnovincing, maybe Niuzuma’s voice will annoy you, but who knows. I would suggst to watch a few more episodes of season one, its a great anime 🙂

  4. Miette-chan

    Ah Bakuman, such a nice ride. I do like it covers such a long period of the characters lives. Rarely do we see such a long period in anime, usually it is a brief look into their lives with a open ended future at best.

    I liked the anime, while the irony of a manga about making manga is lost in the translation to anime I do like how the story was skimmed a bit. Side characters are nice, even more so if used to spice up your protagonists but sometimes it felt Bakuman put too much focus and time on them.

    Over all I’m happy with the end results, it was nice seeing some of my favorite parts in animated form. Quite surprised how much I like considered how much I disliked the author’s previous work.

    • wieselhead

      thx for your comments, there is kind of low traffic at the blogsphere overall.
      Well I created no post in September, cause I’ve played games a lot ^^

      The long run was really great with marriage and stuff, you rarely see such things covered in anime. Open end animes are not always satisfying, something always seems to miss.
      I was a little sad that Bakuman was over, put I could say farewell with the knowlege that the character achieved their dreams, partially.

      Lol, a great sentence, but I liked that the manga and anime world wasn’t portrayed all that positive with some subtle critic.
      Maybe with less sidecharacters, the manga career of Takagi and Saikou had felt a bit one sided and maybe boring. With one or two less characters it had probably worked as well.

      So they striked a few more events? I missed some freetime activities, when your young you shouldn’t work non stop.
      I never took a look in Death Note cause the hype annoyed me to no end.

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