Anime Reporter takes a look at some true slice-of-life manga beginnings with Bakuman Volume 01 (chapters 01-07). Manga fans who aren’t interested in anything without magic, robots, life and death battles or otherworldly adventures may reconsider with the knowledge that this series was written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, the pair who graced the world with the phenomenon that was Death Note.
Bakuman is centred on Mashiro, a fourteen year old student whose ambitions for life amount to getting decent grades, a well-paying job and generally trying to avoid disgracing his family. He’s also harbouring some very love-like feelings for Azuki, a girl in his class, but he doesn’t let himself believe anything might actually happen between them and settles for sketching her while she sits in class.
Mashiro’s life takes a turn on pure happenstance when he accidentally leaves his notebook behind him at school one day. Rushing back to find it, he sees his notebook in the hands of Takagi Akito, the smartest student in his class who seems certain to achieve greatness in life. Mashiro is understandably shocked when this high-flyer returns his notebook with an offer of partnership; he wants to create a manga with Mashiro.
Mashiro, unwilling to derail his fairly unambitious life goals and having seen the pain that his uncle’s failed manga career caused his family, promptly refuses, though it wouldn’t be a very long series if it ended like that. Akito manages to exploit Mashiro’s love for Azuki and twist his arm just enough to make a dedicated “mangaka” out of him. The two boys promptly change their focus on school and university to creating a great manga before reaching 18.
While the premise of two young students trying to create a comic series might not sound like the stuff of manga greatness, there’s a true wealth of heart and human moments throughout this story, enriching its characters and making for some heavy-duty emotional investment from readers.
Without giving away too much of the early story, it should suffice to say that Bakuman is a labour of love, with Ohba and Obata clearly pouring a lot of their own knowledge and enthusiasm into the series and providing great insight into the creation of a manga series.
It’s still early days for this series, (from my perspective of course, the actual publication has long since run its course), but it’s already looking like a serious contender with beautiful attention to detail in both its character histories and illustration.
Interest Piqued: 9
80% – “Instant Favourite” – Bakuman Volume 01 sets the series off to a fantastic start with a basic premise, superbly told. This series is one I’m really looking forward to reporting on more in the future. It’s not Death Note, it’s not life or death, good vs. evil, it’s just a very well told, very human story.