Moments in 2009: Bakuman Stays Strong, Very Strong

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.

Further Reading

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)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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12 Responses to Moments in 2009: Bakuman Stays Strong, Very Strong

  1. xaueious says:

    Yes, AND in a shounen manga. You’d think politicians are behind this or something. On the other hand, this isn’t really my type of manga…

  2. Kiri says:

    Agreed on all accounts! Bakuman is the only ongoing I keep up with regularly, though that may be because I always have to fight a lot of inertia to get started on new series, especially those that are ongoing (thus, I think the only new manga I’ve read since Bakuman’s debut were Onani Master and Solanin, both of which are concluded).

    I really adore all of the characters in this series because really, even the less sympathetic characters are sympathetic to some degree. Take recent developments with Nakai — just a few dozen chapters ago our hearts were going out to him. Now he’s taken a 180 in attitude and even though we as readers have likely taken a 180 in response and have begun to shun him, I, at least, still can’t help but want things to work out for him somehow. Especially after all the things Fukuda just brought up.

    Adults aren’t always doing responsible things, but they do take responsibility for what they do.

    • We’ve been reading the same stories, as many of my ongoing works are on hiatus (or their scanlation groups are on hiatus), so yes I’ve kind of lost steam picking up new works. I did finish both Bokurano, Narutaru, and Nijihara Holograph. I tried getting into Negima!, but it’s not doing anything much for me.

      I think Nakai will make a comeback… possibly via Shuujin’s would be lover and now rival. Yeah you know who she is and she’ll be needing a new illustrator — who by the time will be determined to do well (after hitting rock bottom).

      Yes, and Nakai is the oldest among the mangaka. So I imagine him taking some responsibility. This was the guy who penned illustration in a freaking blizzard, after all.

      • Kiri says:

        I agree that Nakai will make a comeback, but regardless of how he redeems himself over current developments, I’d be rather interested in what might progress with his current love interest. This might partially stem from my concurrent curiosity regarding Shuujin’s rival and her recent savior(s?). I’m also curious as to how Shuujin’s third rival might take news of his engagement and who she might partner with for her own break into the manga industry. :O

        I think it’s pretty hilarious (and awesome) just how invested I’ve become in the tangled web of romantic subplots here, but that’s another one of Bakuman’s strengths, that the characters are so real and sympathetic that all the trials and tribulations that come their way are worth the reader fretting over, even if they aren’t necessarily what they started reading the story for. The characters’ personal relationships also get extremely tied in with their professional life, which might have been more of a taboo in times past but is intriguingly appropriate for this century.

  3. Pingback: Moment(s) the [nth]: Honorable mentions, part 1 « Pontifus

  4. ansel says:

    Just want to chime in and say that I’m really enjoying Bakuman too. It’s cerebral and fun at the same time, with a dash of adolescent drama thrown in every now and then. Nice post.

  5. joe mama says:

    bakuman is one of the best manga ever. it inspired me to become a mangaka. And for those of u who don’t know, miyoshi’s parents are letting her marry takagi.

  6. Evelance says:

    It’s really that good?
    I’m interested cause it’s from the makers of Death Note but still, it hasn’t arrived in my country yet.
    And I WILL NOT READ SCANLATIONS UNLESS ABSOLUTELY DESPERATE
    I like to support the author and the seller (no offense for those who read scanlation, i know you do too)

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