Anime Reporter writes the coverage of the manga about the boys writing a manga about… well, not about writing or manga, so the levels of meta-writing taper off there. In any case, I’ll be bringing you my thoughts on Bakuman manga Volume 05 (chapters 35-43)
It’s not really advisable to read any further if you’re not familiar with the series and I’d recommend the more spoiler-free environment of my Volume 01 review, but I’m sure you know what you’re doing.
Okay, well, Volume 04 finished on a bright note, with the boys and their budding detective series just given the green light for serialisation. While there was some fairly steep competition just to get their manga turned into an ongoing series, now that it’s happened, things are only going to get more competitive. There are some big changes coming for Mashiro and Takagi, including three shiny new assistants to help with the manga and, unfortunately, a change of editor as well. Yes, it’s goodbye to Hattori, who’s been pushing the pair on their way to success and hello to Miura, a younger editor with a very different way of looking at things to Hattori.
The volume covers more than a few weeks and the duo have the chance to see Detective Trap develop its own audience, though, as ever, they live with the fear that at any moment, the numbers could drop and they might lose their first big break. This makes for a few panicked dilemmas where the boys have to decide whether to stay the course or try for something new and bold to keep their approval rankings up.
We also get to see just a little bit more of Miho’s drama surrounding the pressure on her to do a sexy photo book now that she’s becoming famous. This story unfolds about midway through the volume, which is actually set well over a month after the end of Volume 04, making it seem very much like when she isn’t directly involved in the events surrounding Mashiro and Takagi, the writers simply fold her away in a cardboard box where she can’t be touched by dust or character development. While this storyline had undoubtedly been of the “pretty girl is valued only for her prettiness by the pervy old men who run her industry” variety, it did have the potential for Miho to stand up to this and demand to be valued for her work and not her looks. Instead, (and without giving away her final decision), she waits to have a heart to heart with Mashiro and then very blatantly makes his opinion the only deciding factor. In each volume, it seems that Miho is becoming more and more of a prop to create drama in Mashiro’s attempts to draw manga.
(Perhaps) making up for this, the series expands its roster of rival mangakas and fleshes out the personalities and backgrounds for some characters we’ve only had glimpses or small references for. It’s a nice expansion of the Bakuman universe and we get to see just a couple of the other manga creators expand beyond the first impressions they gave out.
Bakuman Volume 5 ups the tension for our budding manga creators, and slowly starts to leave all non-manga related relationships behind. While the getting-published storyline is certainly ell told, it does make a lot of the romantic set up in Volume 1 start to feel fairly redundant.
Bakuman Volume 05 is currently available in English and has been for some time now.
Plot Development: 8
Character Development: 6
70% – “Makes the Cut” – Bakuman Volume 05 pushes the manga-based drama, giving the boys new obstacles and ever developing relationships to deal with, but only ones that directly impact their manga careers. Any relationships that aren’t centred on manga seem to either fade into the background or change to become much more manga-centric.