Bakuman 10

May 10, 2012

Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata – Viz – 2012 – 20 volumes

This is quite a talky manga, but man, I can’t help but get completely drawn in.

So Shujin and Saiko have to come up with a new series for Jump in the next six months, or they’ll never work for Shueisha again. They have three serialization meetings. Basically, they have to pull off something that most artists get routinely rejected for again and again. The Muto Ashirogi duo are good, but they’ve had their share of rejections, and the pressure is on.

This volume cycles through all three serialization meetings. Hattori coaches Miura from the sidelines, and Muto Ashirogi is instructed to first try an improved version of their first short story success, “The World is All About Money and Power,” then a battle-fantasy-humor manga, then… something else. I really couldn’t see where Hattori was going with all this, so I was flying through the volume waiting for the method to his madness. There’s something to it all, and it’s a very clever way to show two very talented creators (who know they’re talented) what their shortcomings are, and how to improve them.

Their successful formula at the end… I won’t say anything, lest I spoil it, but I loved what Hattori came up with for their final serialization attempt, and I liked the direction Akito went with it. The one thing that bothered me was that Hattori was praised for coming up with a new “genre,” but as the other characters point out… it’s something that you can find in a handful of series already. Otter No. 11 is the example within the series, but I would say Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a great real-life example. It’s strange they didn’t raise the specter of Jotaro Kujo in their deliberations.

The other thing that bugged me was the final serialization meeting. The condition for Muto Ashirogi’s continued employment at Shueisha was that they had to create a series that would be better than both of Eiji Nizuma’s current projects. There was… some disagreement at the meeting. A series that everyone at the meeting admits was far better than most Jump submissions, that they would have taken unconditionally any other time, was voted on and debated quite heavily because the editors weren’t sure if it would perform better than Nizuma’s series. A series that they all felt would be a sure hit was considered for rejection. In a magazine as super-commercial as Jump, this struck me as hilariously unlikely.

Basically, just more of the same thing, but I thought this volume was particularly good since Shujin and Saiko got to work on so many series to find what fit them best. And hearing the pros and cons of each debated was also pretty fascinating. Then again, I am a huge geek that has a blog with 3,000 reviews on it. I live for this stuff. I can easily imagine that this might not do it for a lot of people who normally enjoy Shounen Jump series. But if you’re as big a nerd as I am, it is utterly fascinating, even still.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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