Bakuman is my favorite new manga, and is the only ongoing manga that I read regularly (scanlations for Vagabond, Nana, and Team Medical Dragon don’t update often or regularly enough; I collect tankoubon volumes for Vagabond and Nana). It’s a manga about making manga; and it will give you very interesting looks inside the world of making shonen manga and the fictionalized world of Weekly Shonen Jump magazine (and a few others). I find these things very interesting indeed, but it’s not what keeps me coming back week after week.
Bakuman is a very human story, and refreshingly so for a story featuring adolescent characters. It’s a very ‘young’ story featuring young people trying to make it in an adult business. I always feel like it knows exactly what its doing every chapter… as befits a manga that makes informed statements about manga writing, drawing, and the business.
In the 60th chapter Ashirogi Muto and their (yes, ‘their’ is appropriate) editor has escalated their conflict re the direction of their next project. Ashirogi believes that something dark and science fiction-y is the best vehicle for their writing talent. The editor Miura (easily the least sympathetic character in the whole thing) strongly pushes for them to do slapstick comedy in a gag manga. They ended up in a shouting match and Miura tells them that Takagi (the writer) should find a different illustrator to work with.
Ashirogi Muto walks out of the meeting.
Both parties feel a bit remorseful after the conflagration. What’s awesome about Ashirogi Muto (and Takagi in particular), is that they’re really intelligent about making manga and take many things into consideration. Even as they condemn Murai’s behavior to each other, they acknowledge the merits of his position on the matter in a level headed manner.
On the other hand, Miura is very regretful for his behavior. And upon the advice of Hattori (Ashirogi Muto’s former editor) he sucks it up and apologizes to them. This may not sound much, but it’s a very adult and responsible thing to do. I think it is very easy to take the lazy way out and contextualize the conflict as that of youth vs. adulthood (as with Hoshino Ruri-Ruri in Martian Successor Nadesico), but no.
Bakuman actually shows adults doing adult and responsible things. Awesomeness isn’t monopolized by the youthful leads or their cohorts — just as failure can happen to anyone in the narrative. The awesomeness doesn’t come at the expense of other characters or classes of characters. This makes Bakuman very strong, and I’m still riveted.
I’m always so excited to read the next chapter week after week.
I stand by this, Bakuman will make you a man [->]
The review that introduced me to this very entertaining manga (tj han 2009/06/21)