Nov 11

Manga of the Week – Bakuman

If only all drawing was this magical

Well, when you’ve covered anime, cartoons, comics and wecomics, the only thing left is manga. There’s a ridiculous amount avaliable to choose from, but what better place to start than with the most recent creation of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the people who created international mega-hit Death Note. I am of course talking about the Mangagaga of manga (kudos to people who get that reference), Bakuman.

Debuting in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 2008, Bakuman revolves around Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Tagaki, who team up to presue a lifelong dream of writing manga, with Mashiro doing the drawing and Takagi coming up with the stories. Running parallel to this is the story between Mashiro and his school crush Miho Azuki, whom is training to become a voice actor. The two agree to marry when both their dreams come true, when Miho voices the heroine for Mashiro’s work. And so, the two budding mangakas, under the name of Muto Ashirogi, begin walking the “path of manga”.

Along the way, they make numerous rivals from both Weekly which they aim to get published in, and from its sister magazine Jump Square, and the amount of manga ideas generated and thrown away just by Ashirogi alone is astonishing. Ohba and Obata really flex their creative muscles throughout, without being afraid to namedrop and reference countless other series, be they the big 3 or a far more niche work.

The art style (and to a lesser extent, the way the plot unfolds) will be familiar to anyone who’s read Death Note, but the series manages to maintain a unique identity in both, with many plot twists and turns, along with the varied art styles of each mangaka in the story. It also keeps up quite a pace, years passing in a matter of chapters as the duo mature and become more skilled, going through countless highs and lows.

So, why should you care? Well, its arguably the greatest manga Jump has published in years, and a genuine breath of fresh air from the generic shonen fare spearheaded by One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. Its fast paced, constantly keeps throwing new ideas and plot twists at you, and isn’t afraid to have its protagonists fail. And, well, its the creators of Death Note. If that’s not an assurance of quality, I don’t know what is…

The first 7 volumes of Bakuman are out now in the UK. Know of more superb manga series that deserve a spot here? Get chatting to me (Sean), or e-mail anicomhivemind@gmail.com with 300 to 500 words describing said manga, making the subject “Manga of the Week”. Thanks muchly.