Anime Reporter returns to the world of Bakuman for Volume 2 (chapters 8-16) of meta-manga storytelling.
Well, from whence we kicked off from Volume 01, Mashiro and Akito have been busy little budding mangakas and are more or less aiming for the sky in terms of raw ambition. Mashiro’s plan is to have a successful manga that can be turned into an anime before he’s 18 to give his (sort of) fiancé a chance at being a voice actress in it.
To test out their lofty goals, the two boys decide to approach a couple of publishers and throw any old ideas they can at them, just to get some raw feedback. This quickly escalates into the pair pushing themselves to their creative limits, trying to win over a brutally honest editor and try to win themselves some acclaim, and hopefully get themselves published somewhere in the process.
Making things vastly more frustrating, the entire manga world is abuzz about the new wunderkind on the scene, Eiji Nizuma, a high school student genius who can’t seem to stop producing high quality manga even to save his life. Desperate to outdo this school-age celebrity, Mashiro and Akito are torn between making something to please the masses or going out on the edge to create something edgy and different.
While the pair’s manga projects are the main focus for the plot, we get a little bit more focus on their school lives as well. Their newfound passion has meant that their studies suffer, though Akito isn’t too worried about no longer being the number 1 ranked student in class, he is rather worried by the fact that he seems to have attracted two girlfriends without really knowing how.
On the subject of girlfriends, Mashiro and Azuki take a couple of steps forward in their relationship, though not really far enough to actually speak together in person. Their romantic oath begins to feel a little bit less romantic and much creepier the less they seem interested in spending any time together. This is played out as their devotion to spend every minute working so that they can keep their promise to each other but it’s very hard to feel that the two actually like each other in the slightest.
Though the romantic relationships in this volume suffer from the symptoms of fatigue, the manga-centric plot bolts bravely forward, throwing a shiny new nemesis and a whole gauntlet of new challenges to overcome.
Bakuman manga Volume 02 is currently available in English from Viz Media.
Character Development: 7
70% – “Solid Second Serving” – Bakuman Volume 2 keeps up the momentum and intensity for 9 chapters and continues to make the world of manga creation a passionate and intense experience. Sadly, its romantic themes don’t quite compete and female characters begin to feel like doll-faced mannequins or violent stereotypes. All in all, a strong story, but I do feel it can become stronger.