Outburst #011: Bakuman (Manga)

My Japanese cousin came to visit the United States this past spring and was one of the first opportunities I had to communicate with him about my newly developed interest in Japanese culture. My outlet to J-Culture has been mainly through anime and J-pop, but it came as a shocker when my cousin informed me that the more popular forms of media entertainment in Japan were manga and light novels, rather than anime.

The huge debate about whether anime, with all of its additional production elements, is a superior art form than manga can be saved for another date. I, for one, am much more of an anime watcher. Somehow, music and animation are fundamentally more captivating than panel artwork, though both have their strengths. I read Naruto and Bleach but not One Piece. My exposure to the manga form of entertainment has definitely limited, as seeing 500 chapters of a comic is just as intimidating a project to undertake as reading 100 pages in a history textbook. It’s a time sucker.

But occasionally you find those series or volumes that are well worth your time, and I have had the fortune of immensely enjoy what I read. This joy is namely pointed to my favorite manga: Bakuman.

I first started reading manga in the end of 2008 after having seen a friend of mine spazz about the series through fan art. After learning that the manga was about high school students who dreamed of becoming professional mangaka (manga artists) and was created by Takeshi Obata (art) and Tsugumi Ohba (story), the same authors of Death Note, I could not resist.

As with most popular Weekly Shōnen Jump manga, the ‘battle’ style is often used as a format geared for young adolescents. Inherently, Bakuman is no different, but instead of picking up their swords to rush off to battle, Akito Takagi (left in the picture above) and Moritaka Mashiro (on the right), our main two protagonists, are picking up their pens to rush for their deadlines. Both Obata and Ohba take the normal manga formula and add their own unique twist to its presentation and execution (much like with what they did in Death Note). Bakuman is a story of making your dreams come true, fighting for the one you love and overcoming the many obstacles that stand in your way, but in fashionable style and realism (or as real as you can get in a shōnen manga).

This post was mainly created as a lame announcement that I would attempt the experiment of posting a weekly manga post about each chapter of Bakuman. As optimistic as I am about this endeavor, it may fall flat on its face. In addition, I’m probably sure many readers have little to no interest in this series that possesses no subsequent relevance to them, but I thought I’d go ahead and do it anyway, for my own sake.

I had initially debated on writing just a one-post review, like I do with the occasional film, but decided that following the manga’s continual weekly publishing (currently at 154 chapters) would be more appropriate for an ongoing manga. I will try to weave in the events that happened previously and perhaps even include screencaps from chapters before. This way, most of you either don’t have to waste your time reading ~150 chapters, or can just read a synopsis of the good stuff that happens (though everything about Bakuman is awesome). With that said, let’s see how it goes.


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