Bakuman vol. 1 – August 2010 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Bakuman vol. 01

YEAR: August 2010 (USA release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story by Tsugumi Ohba 

Art by Takeshi Obata

For writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata (“Hikaru no Go”, “Blue Dragon”, “Castlevania Judgment”), both are known for their collaboration and their work on the popular series “Death Note”.

While Obata is known to collaborate with other writers, after the success of “Death Note”, it’s no surprise that many fans have wanted to see these two together. Having worked on “Death Note” from 2003-2006, the two have returned with a more upbeat storyline titled “Bakuman”…which is a play on the word “bakuhatsu” (explosion) and “baku” (a mythological animal that eats dreams).

With the story still ongoing in Japan and a 25-episode anime series that aired last fall (and a new second season being planned), needless to say, both Ohba and Obata have once again achieved success with their second project together.

“Bakuman” revolves around two teenagers. Moritaka Mashiro is a junior high student who has a crush on his classmate Miho Azuki. One day, his classmate Akito Takagi tries to persuade Mashiro to become a mangaka (a manga artist) while Takagi writes. But Mashiro is not so interested as his uncle used to be a manga artist and died from overwork because he tried to get back into the industry and regain his top status as a mangaka.

As for Takagi, he is an intelligent student who prefers to write manga than focus on school. Takagi really wants to write a manga but hopes Mashiro can illustrate.  But it’s tough for Mashiro because his uncle was a manga artist, who had his manga turned to an anime but died not long after.

But Mashiro is also a bit tense about being involved with Takagi because he thinks that he is in love with Miho, but in truth, Takagi was doing all he can to bring Mashiro and Azuki together.

When Takagi takes Mashiro to meet with Azuki, Mashiro proposes to Azuki and she accepts…but with one condition, they will marry once they achieve their dreams, he as a successful mangaka and she as a voice actress. But for now, the two can’t see each other or communicate (only by e-mail) until they make their dreams come true.

So, knowing this… Mashiro will do all he can to illustrate a manga with Takagi and become a professional mangaka as soon as possible.

But where would these two teenagers start?  How would they bust into the manga industry?

I was absolutely astonished when I read “Bakuman”. First, Tsugumi Ohba has done a wonderful job in creating layers of detail amongst the primary characters. He includes so much detail in making us feel that the two students are doing all they can to become mangaka. And I have to admit, I’m a speed reader when it comes to manga but this is one of the first titles where I had to read not all at once but at different moments in time because there is so much packed into each chapter dialogue wise.

Ohba was very meticulous in making us learn about Takagi and Mashiro and also showing us the process of the manga world. And once again, the collaboration with Takeshi Obata has proven to be another grand slam for Ohba as Obata also compliments Ohba’s detailed writing with detailed artwork. From the line art to the patterns on Takagi’s shirt, Ohba did a fabulous job in capturing the feeling of youth in this manga series.

But another major plus for me was getting some insight on the manga world.

For this first volume, we get insight to Mashiro’s uncle and how he gave his all to becoming a manga artist, but part of it was because he happened to be in love with a woman that he had constantly wrote letters to when he was younger.  The thing is that Mashiro’s uncle would not want to meet the woman until he accomplished his goal of becoming a manga artist and have his series animated.

But we learn quickly that having a hit manga series is not the greatest, especially if the run is short.  You need to keep yourself busy, active and continue to produce manga.

But we also have some interesting twists along the way, especially when you find out the connection between Mashiro and his uncle but also how these unlikely duo would become partners and try to put everything to their manga career.

If you are interested in the manga industry, let alone a storyline that just captures you from the start, I highly recommend “Bakuman” volume 1.   I know it’s the first volume but from the track record of Ohba and Obata’s work, I’m confident that everything will be wonderful!  I look forward to volume 2!


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