Bakuman 7Posted: December 15, 2011
Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata – Viz – 2011 – 15+ volumes
Again, part of me hates critiquing this series. I’m a little unsure how much is being done intentionally. I mean, I could talk about the weak characters, but one of the plot points is that Shujin writes bad female characters. Can it get any more meta than that? I don’t think so. Worse yet, the cover for volume 15 reminds me a little of Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga. I don’t even know what to make of that comparison.
This volume’s all about new beginnings, and to that effect, they clash with their editor, Miura, and constantly compare him to their old editor. It’s a lengthy disagreement, and well-written since it’s easy to see both sides of the argument. Miura wants Muto Ashirogi to do a comedy manga, since it’s easier to win over reader popularity at a steady rate with that genre, and Shujin is good at writing jokes. But Saiko doesn’t think comedy is their forte, and he and Shujin push hard for a super-dark series. Miura has the extra pressure of being a rookie editor with no successful series under his belt, so he’s trying to rush a comedy series out of Muto Ashirogi. But Muto Ashirogi knows that if they fail a second time, it won’t be as easy to get another series going at Jump, and they want to do one-shots and serious stuff to test the waters before starting a new series. There’s no good way to resolve this disagreement. They reach a pretty decent compromise by the end of the volume via both sides trying to outsmart the other, and I like the way the conflict resolved itself.
I also liked a lot of the character stuff that was happening, admittedly. With Saiko and Miho not so much in this volume, Shujin took center stage. With very little comment, the group graduates from high school and applies and goes to the same college, majoring in the same subject so that they can take the same classes. College is a fallback plan, so they expend very little effort to get in or show up for anything. I like that this was going on in the background, and was a major life choice that the group had to make.
The story also takes a look at Shujin’s relationships. I didn’t think I cared about this, but as background details to the main story, it was interesting stuff. He’s still very casual with his relationship with Kaya. At one point, he mentions that the relationship doesn’t mean very much to him, and Saiko advises him not to break up with her because having her around made the two of them look less gay.
And that’s why Bakuman will never have a real romance in it.
Later, Shujin starts discussing character perspective very regularly with Ms. Ko, since Ms. Ko needs advice on how to write a romance from a male perspective, and Shujin needs advice on how to write girls. They really hit it off, and by the end of the volume, Shujin and Ms. Ko have a pretty healthy working relationship that Shujin elects to hide from Kaya.
Basically, for a manga geek like me, reading this is still pretty gratifying. Once again, the insight into the editorial process here is fascinating, and I loved seeing how the different editors reacted to Muto Ashirogi’s stories, the decision-making process with Miura, and all the other little things that go into making Muto Ashirogi’s manga. I’m still not tired of this, and there’s still lots of ground to cover there. Plus, it’s really hard not to like little touches, such as Nizuma being their biggest fan, stuff like that. It’ll be some time before I’m bored reading Bakuman, and I hope they cover a lot more ground. I’m looking forward to the new beginning next volume. Or maybe it’ll be the volume after that?
This was a review copy provided by Viz.