You’re telling me that someone somewhere in Japan decided to make a manga/anime about characters making a manga/anime? Obvious Inception jokes aside,Bakuman is indeed a manga/anime that follows the trials and tribulations of two aspiring teens looking to make their mark in the world of anime/manga.
So what’s the story: Moritaka Mashiro, a junior high student, forgets his notebook in class. His classmate, Akito Takagi, notes Mashiro’s drawings in it and asks him to become a manga artist to his stories. Mashiro declines, citing his late manga artist uncle, who died from overworking. Takagi incites Mashiro to meet with Miho Azuki, Mashiro’s crush, and tells her the two plan to become manga artists. In response, Azuki reveals her plans to be a voice actress. Mashiro proposes to her that they should both marry when Azuki becomes a voice actress for the anime adaptation of their manga. The two then start creating their manga, under the pen name Muto Ashirogi, in hopes of getting serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump.
Despite my unusual nom de plume(pen name for non-French speakers), I do not consider myself an otaku in any way. That said, I am and always have been fascinated with other cultures including, of course, Japan. So, when I cam across Bakuman I was instantly hooked on the ideal of learning about the inner workings of the manga making industry. And man…do they ever go into detail about it. From the various pens one has to use for a single panel to the process of submitting a one shot to a publisher, the author puts tons of effort into showing what it takes to be a real life mangaka. Of course, given this a piece of fiction, things go over the top for the sake of entertainment.
The dynamic duo of Mashiro and Takagi are an absolute pleasure to watch. While not underdogs, you will find it very easy to always root for them to succeed, even when it seems they are in over their heads. Miho, the love interest, is just as likable as they are as well. And as farfetched as it sounds as the romantic setup sounds, it’s actually one of the best romance story lines I’ve ever come across in anime. I mean seriously, in this age of smartphones and Twitter, the idea of not communicating with anyone for an extended period of time is insane. Even when Mashiro becomes hospitalized from overworking, he refuses to have Miho visit him in order to keep their promise. That, my friends, in true love at its finest!!
Going back to the depth in which Bakuman goes into the word of making manga, the show doesn’t highlight all the good parts of the manga/anime industry. It dabbles into the dark side of things as well. One particular arc involves the mentally and emotionally demanding job of being an idol. For those not in the know, idols aren’t allowed to have relationships so fans are convinced that the songs they sing and roles they portray are meant for them. In the show, Mashiro’s and Miho relationship is outed by an Internet troll and it becomes a huge scandal. This actually mirrors a real life scandal involving Minami Minegishi, a pop idol who actually shaved her head as a way to apologize to fans for having a boyfriend. And it’s those types of stories in Bakuman that makes one reexamine their affinity for anime, in a good way, of course.
I don’t want to ramble on any further because it would further spoil things. Needless to say, Bakuman is an enjoyable trip into the world and life that aspiring mangakas deal with in real life. And trust me when I say, it’s one journey that you’ll enjoy to the fullest. And as always, that’s Just…My 2 Cents.