Bakuman Vol. #01 - Mania.com



Manga Review

Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 9781421535135
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Bakuman

Bakuman Vol. #01

Bakuman Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Sakura Eries     August 03, 2010
Release Date: August 03, 2010


Bakuman Vol. #01
© Viz Media

14-year-old boy seeks to achieve love and fame by becoming a mangaka!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adadptation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki

What They Say
Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world? Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito's proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and motivation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!

The Review!

Technical: 
As this is a manga about the manga industry, and more importantly, one championed by heavyweight Shueisha (Shonen Jump) there are a lot of cute manga-related details throughout, including within the cover art. The ruled edge of the cover illustrations are modeled after those found on professional manga paper. The title logo shows a progression from rough edges and gridlines to tones and polished edges. The cover illustration features Moritaka, who is of course at the drawing board, and amid the clutter of his room are volumes of Shonen Jump and Shueisha bags. The back cover is the uncolored version of the front illustration with a short blurb along the left. At the end of each chapter are reproductions of original storyboards alongside the final artwork.
 
As with most of Viz titles, the binding and materials are nice and sturdy. The print is crisp for the most part, but there are a couple spots where the ink goes light. Except for one grammar glitch, the dialogue flows well, and they've done a good job replacing sound effects and text on storyboards, letters, and books. For vital text (manga covers) that they've left in Japanese, translations are provided in footnotes. Viz only explains a few of the cultural references in footnotes, and there was one joke in particular (regarding Akito's nickname Shujin) that I'm dying to have explained.
 
For those familiar with Obata-sensei's work, the character designs are less serious than Death Note and goofier than Hikaru No Go. However, he displays his usual high attention to detail in backgrounds, backdrops, and objects.
 
Content:
On the opening page is this quote from Obata-sensei: "There's no fantasy in this series so I feel a bit nervous about it."
 
It's true that Bakuman contains no fantasy. At least not in terms of otherworldly monsters or go playing spirits. And even though a cover sticker touts the title as coming from the creators of Death Note, Bakuman's a completely different style and genre as it deals with the dreams and hopes of ordinary teens.
 
This is not to say it is a boring story. The first chapter covers the turning point in the life of Moritaka Mashiro. In a single day (during midterms, no less), he goes from being an unmotivated middle school student who's too shy to speak to the girl he's crushing on to proposing to her and pursuing his life's dream. The thing is, he actually has the talent to make his dream reality, but so much hinges on luck, his all-or-nothing gamble instantly grips the reader.
 
Although I described the characters of this story as ordinary, our main character Moritaka has two things that most kids wouldn't. First is Akito Takagi, the catalyst that changes Moritaka's life. Smart and sometimes manipulative, Akito somehow has access to all the information he needs to get the results he wants. He's always there to give Moritaka exactly the push or support that he needs, and the way he pursues Moritaka as a manga collaborator is nothing short of obsessive.
 
Second is Moritaka's mangaka uncle. Though deceased, he is very much a character in the plot. Much of what Moritaka knows of the manga business came from his uncle, and as the boys strategize, Uncle Nobuhiro pops up time and again in flashbacks. On top of that, the boys actually get his studio and all the supplies and references in it. (This might not be a fantasy title, but the fact that Moritaka's grandfather hung onto Nobuhiro's studio for three years just to hand it over to his grandson seems fantastical to me.)
 
At its core, this title is about people crazy enough to give up everything to follow their dreams. For instance, Moritaka get so caught up in practicing with his G Pen that he bombs his midterms, and Akito, who's at the top of his class, decides to go to a lower ranked high school so he can stay in the same school as Moritaka. At the same time, we have Azuki, Moritaka's love interest, actively pursuing a career as a voice actress. And then of course there is Uncle Nobuhiro, the self-described gambler, who gave his life to his art.
 
What grounds this story about dreamers are all the details of manga making packed in its pages. Mangaka do often show up in manga (for instance, School Rumble and Otomen) but usually as gag characters. Bakuman is a comedy, but the statistics that Moritaka rattles off are no joke. Being experts in the subject, the creators provide a lot of insight on the challenges faced by aspiring artists and all the work that actually goes into making a title. At the same time, they’re not beyond referencing their own works and otherwise poking fun at themselves. For those interested in the industry that feeds our appetite for manga, this will give you a better appreciation for those involved in it.
 
In Summary:
For all their talk of wanting to create a "manly" manga, the aspiring mangaka of this title are more likely to appeal to dreamers and artists. The story has a nice balance of passionate youth and the very real demands of producing manga with enough romantic tension to appeal to female readers. While the characters are often reckless, they are so committed to breaking free from the "ordinary" path of life, you can't help but root for them.
 
Rated Teen for references to suicide.

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Calibur454 10/12/2010 8:07:40 AM

I actually like these types of manga stories because Genshiken was the first anime I ever watched all the way through with Cowboy beebop second. I enjoy stories like this and Im glad that the deathnote creators were able to this series and poke fun at themselves in the process. I am already looking forward to the anime and hope crunchyroll or hulu manage to get it. CANT WAIT FOR VOLUME 2

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