BAKUMAN. I have no idea how i began watching this anime but i’m really glad i did. I have to admit though that if i werent too bored i wouldn’t give this anime the time of day, but i got so into it that i can’t help putting up a review. So, even if i’ve been suppressing my ‘otaku-self’ for the past year, i just have to let it out and write this review just this once.
A major reason why the series caught my eye was because it was authored and illustrated by 2 of my favorite artists: Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, makers of ‘death note’.
first off (before i get on with the actual review) i’m actually really glad that i saw the series… i’ve seen ‘bakuman’s plot summary’ 100 times on the internet, on shounen jump website, while browsing for mangas truthfully, the summary put me off the first time i saw it, and then the second time again (because i forgot that i already checked it) and then the third (i really forget things that i think are boring or ‘crappy’, but because Ohba and Obata made it, i keep on forgetting that i already saw the plot summary, i guess i really look up to them that much that i keep forgetting they made another series that wasn’t to my liking, or really, in my opinion, isnt to anyone else’s liking… a manga about manga? seriously? a novel wouldve been nice) anyway, as a huge fan of these two with their great artistry, great sense, great collaboration/teamwork, i finally watched it after 4 years…
It made me understand ‘death note’ on a higher sense (?), what made it special. Reading ‘bakuman’ made me understand ohba and obata-sensei and validated my thoughts about them as writers and artists. I’m really a huge fan of death note, so even before watching ‘bakuman’, i already noticed death note’s weird and unlikely appeal as a manga, how it is 1000x different from what shounen jump used to publish for their target readers. NARUTO, ONE PIECE, HUNTER X HUNTER, GHOSTFIGHTER, BLEACH and suddenly here comes ‘death note’ with its complete and finished manga series! i mean, why were they able to finish it that quick? and these other top mangas are still ongoing til now??? DN however was completed fast, the story was so polished and so deep… it has a movie adaptation and a great anime adaptation too.
even when i was 18, i had a part time job as a video editor and i saw grown men imitating ‘L’ and i was like, ‘death note’s a cult, the people behind it must be geniuses’, it was in a league of its own, and yet, i think it’s still underrated despite its accomplishments… compared to ‘naruto’, ‘bleach’, ‘one piece’, ‘harry potter’ (where did that come from? a bit of o/reaction!). Bakuman answered my questions about how much the storyline comes from the artists and what influences the artists? How much of the story IS the story? and how much of it isn’t? If that makes any sense. Anyway, since we’re in the topic of discussing the makers, what really amazed me at that time, as a serial* manga reader, was how different their plot and schemes were from the successful manga-stereotype. FOR ONE: it didnt have battles or any indication that it was ripped off from Dragon Ball Z, or Rurouni Kenshin. It was so original. It captivates a reader and make them take it seriously. It was so refined and cultured for a manga/anime who targets younger audiences.
bakuman changed my view on manga in both good and bad ways. and it validated some hunches that i have about humans as artists. as usual, i dont know if it’s deliberate or by chance, but the two of them have that weird way of attracting viewers. so weird. weird=cant be explained. it attracted me for one after 4 years of only reading the summary because the story was a bit about them, it’s reality and manga combined, with that death note type of narration. it’s entertaining, it’s a quick-fix for bored people.
It’s not easy to become and live as a mangaka, as Mashiro knows from his late uncle.
At his 9th grade, while trying to keep up with reality, school and then normal job, he left his notebook with a sketch of Azuki, a girl he likes. Takagi, a first rate student found it and trying to convince Mashiro to draw a manga with his story. Mashiro doesn’t like the idea and tries to decline.
Takagi, however, tries to stick to dream and found out that Azuki also wants to be a voice actress and already got a good reply from a production company. Takagi, then, brought Mashiro to her house and telling her his dream…. Mashiro then tells her that he will write a manga with Takagi and if their manga gets turned into an anime, she’ll voice the female lead and marry him. Azuki agrees, but the condition that she has is that they cannot meet until then. (mangafox)
my initial impression 3-4 years ago when i finished reading death note manga and saw bakuman as their next collaboration piece was, Oooo! So it’s true, writers do write about what they know..! A manga about manga?? The artwork drew me in, Akito, one of the protagonists, looked like Yagami Light from ‘death note’. it was kick ass and beautiful. But one look at the first page and i withdrew and read some ‘yaoi’ instead. I just didnt get it at that time, how could it be exciting? It’s not even like Ohba’s ‘hikari no go’ with its shonen-type artwork and story. I imagined it to be like ‘boys be’ or ‘bokura ga ita’. It’s basically a manga about 14-year old kids dreaming about being manga artists and making an anime out of their works at age 18.
But! The two were able to put their magic touch and make it cool to watch, it’s not like ‘prince of tennis’ or ‘hajime no ippo’, where there are tournaments to win, complicated techniques and training process or instructors to teach them, it was different because they were on their own, meeting people and meeting deadlines! *whoa… how exciting!* *sarcastic face* *bboing* haha.
how is it good? exactly my point… there were no ‘slow motions’ or ‘close ups’ when they were drawing manga, the story was more focused on the process and competitions and it was relayed in the most realistic manner, the ‘unrealistic’ parts were donned properly to add humor and character to the anime.
not to mention, a lot of famous animes were seen on the show… BLEACH, NARUTO, ONE PIECE, HUNTER X HUNTER, DBZ! haha. they were on screen in almost every episode, that was cool.
there’s also the consistency of everything revolving around the cool friendship between the writing genius ‘akito’ and the amateur artist ‘saiko’. Unlike in Naruto (i’m a HUGE fan, i had my own website for it which i already took out) where Naruto had a huge gay-obsession for Sasuke, the two were mature boys chasing after one dream using their respective talents to create a masterpiece that is still far from their reach. Like in any manga, they are both high spirited and enthusiastic, but it is seen in the right moments and with the right amount.
why it’s amazing:
For a plot that is unlikely to become interesting, they managed to up it and make the viewers react as if they were watching a battle-shonen manga… they were able to extract emotions that a fantasy/battle manga can. and the weird thing was that there were no antagonists and there were no ‘super powers’ or actual ‘monsters’.
The ‘reality’ part of the story is amazing, there’s no bias, well there’s a little, but in terms of gender, they don’t stick to one bias. I can’t explain it, but they were able to portray characters well.
The different lives and characteristics of the mangaka artists were so interesting and entertaining. So fun to watch.
The creators know what they are talking about, thus they were able to play around certain angles that normal people would know about but wouldnt be able to appreciate if they werent the artists themselves. Like the part of the ‘serialization’, the illustration and the way the episodes were told were both interesting, funny and cool. Who knew it was that hard to become a mangaka? the passion, the hard work that makes the profession noble and respectable in a different category. it’s amazing. art is amazing.
The way, i think, the two mangakas in the story were inspired by Ohba and Obata-sensei’s experiences and personalities. hehe… but i still think Ohba is a girl.
Anyway. this is it for now. But they made me realize that in a manga or any story, there should be a definite figure for something bad and something good. not necessarily stereotypical. but then i dont know anymore. i was shocked to see that mangakas and artists are pressured and that their ideas sometimes do not come from the heart. gah, this shows how naive i am and how much i believed in stories actually coming out from the imagination.