Anime Reporter returns once more for the manga story about the making of manga stories, Bakuman Volume 03 (chapters 17-25).
While Volume 03 is early days for this series, newcomers will find more joy in my Volume 01 review here.
Well, our two determined manga-makers are still at it, not too overwhelmed by the imposing shadow cast by the eccentric and brilliant Eiji. As of last volume, the two boys have changed up their tactics, trying to create something action-heavy and mainstream, turning their backs on their pretty popular, off-the-beaten-track stories and their moderate success. They’ll be locking horns directly with their self-appointed rival, Eiji, and they’re pretty happy about it.
Eiji, for his part, is finding the manga industry just a little bit different than he expected and as the “boy-genius” shine begins to fade on his reputation, he might have to learn a couple of hard lessons about how to maintain his success. As in the last two volumes, quite a lot of the plot deals with the particulars of the manga business, as well as quite a lot of the technical details that go into creating a winning story. The romantic side of the series has started to stagnate a little bit, with the chief female characters suffering from a lack of development, particularly the timid Azuki, something which doesn’t help with the fact that her character has moved away. The boys’ relationships with their apparently romantic partners can feel very forced, to the point that the series really might have benefited from excluding those relationships entirely, despite their initial promise.
The boys’ own creative relationship also starts to see the first couple of cracks as creative differences rise. Mashiro takes up a little bit of side work on someone else’s manga though it’s hard to say how this experience will impact his relationship with Akito just yet.
Bakuman Volume 03 turns up the volume on the drama that exists between the two protagonists, but it could really benefit from showing us some more satisfying growth in the supporting cast. Eiji benefits from a little more time in the spotlight and we get to see him as more than a stock rival character, while the series’ clever approach to its own storytelling is both entertaining and subtle.
Bakuman manga Volume 03 is currently available in English from Viz Media, whom I still haven’t quite forgiven for cancelling Reborn!, though I’m hiding it well.
Character Development: 8
Plot Development: 8
Supporting Characters: 5.5
73% – “Going Places”– Bakuman Volume 03 provides a solid piece of manga storytelling, interesting plot points and even a nicely rounded nemesis to love/hate. It’s a shame that the two romantic interests are essentially amounting to female tropes, the saintly mannequin and the big-breasted, temperamental mascot, but I’m confident that the creators of Death Note won’t have something up their sleeves.