|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Here's another series I had trouble making heads and tails of with itself throughout its run. Bakuman follows two middle school students trying to become a successful duo of manga-ka experiencing the ups and downs of trying to successfully get a series into syndication in Shounen Jump (known as Shounen Jack for the anime). On this end, the series does do a worthwhile job handling and was what got me immersed in the show throughout its run. The show does believably explore the challenges faced by Mashiro and Takagi as they start off their run in the manga industry. The boys learn the ropes of putting together manga panels, storylines, attending publisher meetings, participating in publication contests and finding a balance between their school work and publications. With these hurdles, the boys have their successes and pitfalls as they have their occasional arguments, do well in popularity polls, have their series published or fail to get printed. There is also focus put on other inspiring manga-ka that the two boys come across during their challenges. Going through all this does make for an inspirational story for any teen hoping to make a name for themselves in the manga industry. |
The series does have its issues that bog it down a bit for me however. I had a tough enough time buying the plot element involving Mashiro and Azuki promising to get together as a couple after Takagi has a manga adapted into an anime. I found it to push my believability of the plot to its limits considering how difficult it would even be to pull off, the likelihood the feelings the two share for each other wane apart over time and the fact one of their parents each did the same thing and too much time had already passed. Miyoshi and Takagi's relationship seemed better handled when it formed later in the series considering the two accept the fact that their relationship would be a complicated one thanks to Takagi's commitments to Mashiro and his editors. The series also tends to get a bit over-the-top with its humor at points (especially with how eccentric Eiji Nizuma is for how hyped he is as a young genius manga-ka) despite its look into the manga industry being down-to-earth and unsurprisingly, it is intentionally left open-ended for the show's second season.
Bakuman was able to snag me in for its look into the challenges of trying to make a name for yourself in the manga industry. However, it also bogged my impression down a bit thanks to the relationship plot of Mashiro and Azuki and its moments of over-the-top humor. While a decent series, I don't think I have enough interest in the show to go for the second season when it airs this fall.
Last updated Sunday, April 03 2011. Created Sunday, April 03 2011.
The premise seemed like a lame one at first acquaintance. But the young main character's enthusiasm for their chosen careers and the way their motivations play off each other is making for a fascinating story. Definitely on my must-watch list.
Last updated Wednesday, October 20 2010. Created Wednesday, October 20 2010.
(All episodes watched):|
'This looks like fun'! That was my first impression of Bakuman after being introduced to the basic premise of an aspiring manga illustrator (the title had made me suspect it would be some sort of mecha show). And it was fun; I found it to be an interesting and sometimes genuinely funny story which quickly got me hooked. The frame just after main character Mashiro Moritaka confesses to his crush cracked me up. I love this show right off the bat, and am paying close attention to the clever plot. When the first episode was finished, I said to myself 'Damn, that was a good show. I didn't expect anything like that'.
This show got off to a stirring start but subsequent episodes don't seem to be moving at quite the same pace. There's a good deal of technical info for those who hope to be a mangaka themselves, or are just curious about how the job is done. The theme seems to be 'gambare' (do your best); the need to work your ass off is also made clear. It looks like a second bizarre plot twist is on the way, as a weird mangaka (I assume) who reminds me of L from Death Note turns up.
Episode six was fun as Mashiro and Takagi submit their first manuscript to a professional editor and get a review. This show knows what it is talking about, judging from the sensible and interesting comments that were returned. Not just a "you guys are awesome, here's a truckload of money", or something like that. I like the realistic tone of this show, at least in parts (But Mashiro's family keeps paying rent on his uncle's untouched apartment as a private memorial?).
In episode seven we finally meet this Eiji character, who seems certain to be the main antagonist of Mashiro and Takagi. It's clear that a demand which he makes from his editor spells trouble for those two. I'm liking this; this show holds my attention firmly. I can tell because I still remember most of what happened last week. I'm less interested in the romance angle than the struggle to succeed as mangaka, though there's nothing wrong with it. I just wish it didn't take up so much time, but maybe it will all pay off in the end.
Mashiro's crisis of confidence after being bad-mouthed by a fellow student seemed forced and corny to me. The fact that it came and went so quickly was one reason why it was unconvincing; but that being so, better to get rid of it ASAP. The Awase twist, about Takagi suddenly having two girlfriends, was fun but likewise was over in a hurry. I would sort have liked for that bit to have been fleshed out some more. Surely this series will be a twenty six-er, since the boys still have a long way to go before achieving their goal.
At around the halfway mark this show is still firmly holding my interest and I look forward to each new episode. Mashiro and Takagi get a realistic and believable mix of encouragement and setbacks as they struggle to get at least one of their projects published. Their likeable personalities enable me to sincerely root for them. All the intriguing detail about the process of creating a manga and getting it printed makes me suspect that a mangaka thought that all of this could make a good story in itself, and he/she was right. Good jokes appear now and then, too. Being able to maintain its quality for two seasons helps make Bakuman one of my favorites of both the fall and winter.
Man, you would think that the story of two boys struggling to get a manga published wouldn't be the most exciting story in town, yet Bakuman has me transfixed. It's both fascinating to learn the details of how this is done, and great fun to have an intriguing storyline to follow as well. Plus jokes, too. Eiji Niizuma is a surprizingly likeable person, considering he's Takagi and Mashiro's chief rival, even if he is a little crazy. I kind of thought it was Mashiro who acted like a jerk when they first met. Niizuma's a workaholic among workaholics, for one thing--sort of a spaz who uses all his energy to crank out highly popular manga wholesale.
I was liking Bakuman so much, and was so impatient for new episodes, that I started rewatching the Fall episodes from the start, even though the story is far from finished. That hasn't happened for a long time (though a shortage of good Winter series had something to do with it).
While Takagi is suffering from writer's block, Mashiro agrees to work as an assistant to their rival, Niizuma. But far from being a humiliating experience, he finds himself helping Niizuma make needed improvements to his own manga. That's one of the things which is fun about this show--things happen in unexpected ways. Instead of a simplistic good-guys-versus-bad-guy plot, Niizuma has a personality too, and the characters can set aside their differences (Niizuma probably doesn't know they have any) for the sake of creating a work of art. It's fun to watch.
In episode 18 and 19 Mashiro and Takagi argue with each other. This event wasn't the worst offender, but sometimes disagreements, crises, whatever, seem to pop up out of nowhere, with few hints of what's coming beforehand, then are resolved just as swiftly. Plot developments which take their time and make more sense seem like more fun to me. Still, Bakuman was one of my favorite currently running shows. It occurred to me at this point that what looked like one major character, a woman, and maybe a member of Niizuma's team, had yet to be introduced.
It turns out that she is a mangaka herself, and a new rival for Mashiro and Takagi. She finally shows up in episode 21--even though she appeared in the ED sequence of episodes 1-13! Anyway, as the series progresses Mashiro and Takagi set a series of new goals for themselves, like winning a manga contest or meeting conditions set by their manager, Mr. Hattori. This could have gotten repetitive and boring, but to me at least it didn't. The characters remained vibrant and interesting, each new challenge had something fresh about it, the jokes were still good, and in general Bakuman continued to be one of my favorites, along with Star Driver. I should have stated this right from the start, but this is a high quality show which doesn't cut any corners. One minor problem: the boys seem somewhat more mature than I would expect of 15-year olds.
I was surprised to find that Bakuman would extend well beyond two seasons, though not until after a break. This extension made maintaining quality all the more important and rewarding, and I had not been disappointed.
My favorite line: "Are you alright? You're confessing to the wrong person here" --Moritaka
Last updated Monday, September 16 2019. Created Tuesday, October 05 2010.