What does it take to achieve your dream? How far are you willing to go for what you love? And how long are you willing to wait for the one you love? Spanning 20 volumes, Bakuman chronicles the journey of two 14 year old boy in their quest to become successful Manga artists and writers.
While a talented artist with a number of possibilities ahead of him, at the age of 14 Moritaka Mashiro is reaching the end of compulsory education with no idea what to do with his life. Content to sit in the back of class and sketch his classmate, Azuki, in the back of his notebook, Mashiro decides to follow the path that’s expected of him and to lead a ‘normal’ life. When coming back to retrieve said notebook one day, he finds fellow classmate and noted school genius Akito Takagi waiting for him, holding the notebook. While Mashiro suspects that Takagi will tell him to leave Azuki alone, Takagi has something different in mind. “Don’t Worry, I’m giving the notebook back to you. And I won’t tell anybody about what’s in it. However. I do have one condition. I want you to team up with me to create manga!”. Despite Mashiro’s admiration of his late manga artist uncle, he turns Takagi down, stating that the only people who can truly be successful at it are “geniuses, born with that kind of talent. The others are nothing more than gamblers.” With this, Takagi finds a way to convince him by dragging Mashiro to the house of his crush, and proclaiming to her that they will both become Manga artist and be as successful as they can be. Azuki reveals that her goal in life is to become a voice actress and that if they all succeed in their dreams she could voice a character of theirs when it gets a television series. seemingly out of nowhere, Mashiro proclaims:
“So if that dream ever comes true … will you marry me!?”
In a moment of silence Azuki runs back into the house, only to say through the intercom, “yes.”
This one day changes the life of the boys, and those around them, in ways neither could imagine.
Bakuman takes the reader through a 10 year journey, traversing the lives of two young manga creators on the road to achieve their dreams. Their numerous attempts to break into the industry. The friends and rivals they make along the way. Dealing with editors and fans and the ever changing industry. Bakuman chooses to show just how hard the life of a comics creator can be, as well as displaying the pressures young minds can receive from those around them to lead a normal life. Following your dream is never easy. Showing the boys at various stages of their life, dealing with illness, ever increasing deadlines, depression, as well as the prospect that sometimes you might never get what you want.
Created in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, Bakuman is written and drawn by the creators of Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Drawing heavily on both of their lives in the industry, the piece as a whole creates a fairly accurate firsthand account of life in the comic book or manga world. The art by Takeshi Obata is notably less realistic then the style he brought in Death Note, though uses just as much detail in unusual ways. Rendering every book in the studios shelves with as much detail as he possibly can, as well as showing his full range of abilities with the drawing style of the multiple artists throughout the story. Noticeable different yes, but equally strong. Tsugumi Ohba also departs from his previous style of serious writing to portray the characters in as accurate a manner as he can. While some lines of dialogue, particularly the odd line between Azuki and Mashiro, can be seen as corny, he uses this to his advantage by having other characters express what the audience may think of it. Creating a believable world and events.
Bakuman is a strong story, full of memorable characters and empathetic situations. Weather part of the comic book industry or just a casual fan, Bakuman is worth your attention.