This week, I have the honor of talking about my number one favorite media series. The reason I say it like that is because I originally fell in love with the Bakuman manga as it was being serialized, and it wasn’t till a few weeks ago that I was able to get ahold of the anime series. I watched the show completely through and am very excited to review it.
Bakuman is a series centering around two middle school students who decide they are going to become mangaka (manga creators.) The story centers around their battles and struggles, and also on there relationships. The two main characters are named Moritaka Mashiro (Saiko) and Akito Takagi (Shujin.) Mashiro is the artist and Takagi is the writer, and together they function under the pen name Ashirogi Muto. Together they fight to make a manga worthy of Shonen Jump (or Shonen Jack, if you watch the anime.) At the same time, Mashiro is trying to fulfill his dream to make a manga that gets an anime adaptation, so his girlfriend Miho Azuki can be a voice actress in it, at which point they will get married.
The series is difficult for me to put in genres. It is very atypical, like it’s predecessor, Death Note. The authors of the series say it is a romantic story. I agree mostly, but it also has mind games, antagonists, rivals, and so much more. It feels like a slice-of-life story with the intensity of a sports anime. It has a strong romantic sub plot that is odd and yet very innocent. I think the story’s real strength is its characters and plot. The story is very well written, with many well-balanced layers of detail, but the strength of the plot is that it is inspiring. Every time I finished watching the episodes, I wanted to draw. I wanted to write. Watching the characters fight for what they believe in is inspiring. The romantic plot tore at my heart and at the same time made me want the characters to succeed. Then the characters are very well written. They are relatable and lovable, but also irritating at times. They act like real people, which always made me want to root for them, like watching a friend trying to achieve his dreams.
When it comes to Bakuman, I am very partial. I don’t really have any complaints with the series. I have heard people refer to the series as being overtly sexist. I tend to disagree strongly with this. There are some things that are said that do feel sexist. However, I feel like they accurately reflect Japanese culture. Japanese culture has a very strong link to Confucianism and I categorize most of those comments through that lens. I do not mean to justify them, but after living in Japan I can not really discern who is right or wrong via morals. I just know that the cultural difference is key to understand a large amount of this show.
I love Bakuman, so of course I highly recommend this show. I know some people who like it, but I don’t know anyone who hates it. It is a bit slower than a lot of shows, but for me it is number one. Please watch it and let me know what you think.