Bakuman is an anime/manga from the same duo that gifted the world with Deathnote. It was published and run in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine for 4 years, from 2008 to 2012. This is not to be confused with the series Bakugan, which is entirely different.
Bakuman follows the lives of Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi, two boys with the mutual dream and aspiration to become mangaka (or manga creators). It’s essentially a manga about manga, set in our world. Together these two strive to become the best, all the while dealing with the topsy-turvy struggles and changes of life.
And here’s thirty hard-and-fast reasons why you should put it at top of your recreational agenda, whether by reading the manga or watching the anime (though I will be emphasizing the former):
- Bakuman starts its story already on fire, with a bizarre, courageous, and fascinating plot twist introduced before the end of the first chapter.
- Multiple levels of humor. One level is overt, something that’s clearly designed to make you laugh. The second is subtle, and you’re laughing before you realize it was even funny. Also, masterful use of comedic digressions can be found strewn about the series.
- Captures a fresh sense of rivalry and competition, using that as a fuel to bulldoze the story forward and generate conflict.
- Dynamic and ever-changing cast of characters, most of whom never lose significance as the plot progresses.
- A unique premise with consequently unique conflicts.
- While there may be “arcs” to the series, the antecedents for each plot point are foreshadowed and plotted in such a way that, as the story progresses, there are no distinct transition periods, creating a perfectly seamless flow of developments.
- Practiced and time-tempered artistic direction provided by manga illustrator Takeshi Obata. More notably impressive if you’re familiar with reading manga.
- Not only artistic direction, but the fundamental art itself is beautiful, diverse, and proficient.
- A fluid and realistic passage of time over the course of the series. Several years go by, and you witness the characters grow in both their personalities and their physical appearances. After reading the story once, go back to the beginning and you’ll see it for yourself. Every single character looks artistically different. Though… that’s probably just Obata deciding he wanted a different look for them after already introducing that character. This is less obvious in the anime.
- Bakuman inspires you. To draw. To write. To live. To create.
- You become invested in big ways, before you realize how much every little thing matters. Strum, strum those heartstrings.
- The series respects the intelligence of the reader without sacrificing heart or feeling.
- You intimately learn about the manga-making business from both the authors’ and editors’ side of things.
- Conversely, you also learn quite a bit about the voice acting business.
- Bakuman covers a great expanse of human emotion and conviction.
- Very clean, but there is some swearing. The rare instances when something promiscuous occurs, it’s used to make a point and then promptly condemned by the characters involved.
- The big defeats are devastating, and the big victories are exhilarating.
- It provides new perspectives on the concept of art as a whole, especially manga (of course).
- Has its own sort of enemies that could only exist in such a unique setting, with the final opponent being one of the most tremendous and horrifying adversaries conceivable.
- Very re-readable. I myself go through it again every summer. I never fail to learn something new (especially on the humor; there’s so many hidden jokes you don’t catch the first time), and I never fail to get re-inspired.
- There are consistent references to real-life manga and creators. Sometimes there are even references to other things, such as X-Men.
- It’s a story about making stories. As such, there are a lot of cool story ideas inside.
- (If you read the published books) you learn that some of the characters are actually real people and some of their recognized accomplishments are true. For example, the editor of Yu-Gi-Oh! is a recurring member of the cast.
- (Again, if you read the books) you get to see the storyboards of the manga from both Ohba and Obata, and how they turn into Bakuman‘s final draft.
- It takes many different brands of human relationship and points to the strengths and weaknesses in all of them.
- I’ve never seen a character so hilariously willing to be manipulated until this series.
- Despite its solid start, it somehow manages to only gain momentum as it moves forward. By the time you’re halfway through, the story is at full-power.
- The anime has a very light-hearted and playful soundtrack, which perfectly captures the sense of this story.
- When the going gets tough, it doesn’t pull punches. While the story as a whole is very gentle and energetic, it doesn’t water down the aggressive selfishness that humans are so capable of. Especially prominent with the introduction of a particular character in the later chapters of the manga.
- There’s circular theming involved in the storytelling, with important concepts and promises of development never being forgotten.
- Perhaps, most importantly, it wants you, as the reader, to give more than you’ve given. It commissions you to make yourself better, and strive to help others be better, too.
If you couldn’t tell, I sort of love this series and think it’s top-tier quality. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Anyways, thank you for reading. God bless, take a breath, and always remember to smile.
VERSE OF THE DAY: Psalm 121: 1-2
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of Heaven and Earth.”
SONG OF THE DAY: “Red Sorrow” by Audiomachine