Bakuman is a shonen manga written by Tsugumi Ohba (Death Note) focusing on the story of two high school students and their bid to become creators of manga.
Although there are two main characters in this story, the focus is clearly on Moritaka Mashiro, the artist of the pairing. His uncle had already taken the path of manga artist, but that ended in his eventual death with suspicions around exactly how it happened.
The other protagonist is Akito Takagi, the most intelligent boy in class, and someone who is willing to give up studying for a high-paid career in a more traditional area to be a manga writer. Akito has spotted Moritaka’s talent for drawing and decides they would be a perfect pairing for manga creation.
Moritaka is reluctant to draw at first due to the struggles his uncle faced, and a doubt in his own abilities. Akito does not give up easily, though. As you’d expect, there is a love interest for Moritaka in the form of hiss classmate Azuki Miho. Too shy to talk to each other Akito decides to take matters into his own hands and gets them talking, albeit never in person.
It turns out Azuki wants to be a voice actress paving the way for a tie-up once Moritaka and Azuki publish their first manga series together. A surprising pact is then made that will see Moritaka and Azuki marry if all three are successful in their chosen disciplines.
With an uncle lost to manga Moritaka’s mother is understandably not happy with his decision to follow the same path. But his father and grandfather understand a man must make his own way through life and surprisingly support his decision, even going so far as to provide him with a place to draw.
Bakuman is an interesting tale of manga about manga. Not only do we see the creation of a manga partnership here, but we also start to learn about the different aspects of creating manga. This includes what pens are used, how different people combine their talents and how manga is submitted for review by a publisher. If this carries on in the volumes that follow it could be an educational read for anyone wanting to create their own manga.
For me, the let down in this manga is the romantic aspect. The pages filled with information about creating manga are brought down by the love interest interludes that see Moritaka and Azuki exchanging glances, but never talking. The promise of marriage is also set to recur throughout the series.
Thankfully such scenes are short, and I am willing to forget these romantic shortcomings if Bakuman continues to inform about the process of creating manga. For that reason I will certainly be looking forward to picking up volume 2 when it gets a release in December.
The artwork is very clean and detailed from Takeshi Obata. The bonus for the reader is that because we are reading a manga about manga, author Tsugumi Ohba has seen fit to include several storyboards that Obata used to create the final art from. For that it gets an additional point on the overall score.