Bakuman。 2 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata: B+

From the back cover:
Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?

After Moritaka and Akito collaborate on a manga together, they venture to publishing house Shueisha in hopes of capturing an editor’s interest. As much potential as these two rookies have, will their story impress the pros and actually get printed?

The second volume of Bakuman。 picks up where the first left off, with artist Moritaka Mashiro and writer Akito Takagi taking the final draft of their one-shot manga to Jump headquarters for consideration. This kicks off a series of fascinating meetings (spanning from summer vacation to the start of the next school year the following spring) in which the boys receive feedback from their editor, Hattori, and try to create a story that will be popular enough to merit serialization.

I loved all the meetings with Hattori, especially how specific he was about story and art requirements for Jump and how, as the boys improved, he went over their storyboards panel-by-panel with useful suggestions. As befits shounen protagonists, Mashiro and Akito are both very talented, but they’re not instantly the best around and go through many ideas and an immense amount of work before they’re able to craft something that is worth publishing.

When they finally do manage to get a story published, it takes third place in the popularity poll for that issue. The winner is Eiji Nizuma, a fifteen-year-old mangaphile who has been drawing since the age of six and practically does nothing else. He’s an exceedingly weird kid, but he fulfills the Akira Toya role here of “genius rival of comparable age.” He’s the first obstacle our leads will have to overcome, and I think it’s pretty fun how this is shaping up to be a sort of tournament manga.

Unfortunately, I’m still bored and fairly annoyed by Mashiro’s relationship with classmate Miho Azuki. They’ve pledged to marry once their dreams come true, but in the meantime aren’t even going to date. To some extent I understand—it’s suggested that Miho’s in favor of this because she wants to be able to focus on her dream without being distracted by Mashiro—but they still hardly know each other. Thankfully, Miho’s friend, Miyoshi, finds this just as bizarre. Also, while the overt, spoken sexism is absent from this volume it’s not exactly absent from the characters’ behavior. At one point Mashiro informs Miho that they’re going to be together when he becomes a manga artist, whether she’s realized her dream (to be a voice actress) or not. Nice, kid.

Though Bakuman。 has some flaws, it’s still an utterly captivating look at the manga-creating experience. I can overlook a banal relationship plotline if it means getting a glimpse inside the editorial process at Jump!

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. Yeah, even if I weren’t committed to translating it for a group, I would probably still follow it despite how often it gives me the eye-twitch just because I find the inside look at the manga industry to be fascinating.

  2. Having read the Japanese tankobons, the series is still somewhat sexist. Bakuman is still great and it’s good to see VIZ bring it over here.

    There are series that much worse out there.

    I did write about the issue of sexism in Bakuman. You can read it at:

    I think Ohba and Obata’s earlier work, Death Note, seemed worse when it comes to sexism.

    • Thanks for the comment and link! 🙂

      I’ve actually not read Death Note yet, though I have seen the anime and found Misa highly clingy and annoying.

  3. Your welcome!

    A lot of people feel that way about Misa. But, there’s a small community that does love and appreciate her.

    Death Note is a good series, despite the rabid fanbase. It’s hard to say which series is better: that or Bakuman (since Bakuman isn’t over yet).

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