Bakuman 15

March 16, 2013

Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata – Viz – 2012 – 19 volumes

Reading this is still a special pleasure. The first half or so of the volume focuses on side characters again, while the second half cooks up an interesting predicament for Shujin and Saiko.

The volume starts with the tail end of the conflict with Nanamine. Nanamine is self-destructing at the end of the last volume, so there’s not much more to say on the subject. It goes through all the motions though, including a chapter where Muto Ashirogi does do the same story and compete head-to-head. But the follow-up to this is what happens to Nakai, the assistant.

Nakai isn’t one of the more charming side characters, and honestly, this story segment is a little uncomfortable. He winds up on the street, homeless and drawing portraits for 500 yen, when Nanamine fires him. The others show up and offer him work, thinking that he still wants to draw manga, but he forcibly chases them away when pretty girls walk up and want their picture drawn. This backfires on him terribly, and he gets drunk and shows up at Aoki’s house, blaming her for his troubles. This results in a fight with Hiramaru, who rushes over to Aoki’s aid.

Now, I think this fight with Hiramaru was meant to be funny. Nakai really beats up Hiramaru, who’s about as pathetic in a fight as you’d imagine. But the two of them bond, with Hiramaru sympathizing with Nakai and saying that he sees himself in ten or so years in Nakai. A lot of jokes are made. But… I mean, Nakai is portrayed as a creepy, selfish jerk who blames all of his problems on others and doesn’t like to work. I wasn’t quite sure why the story persisted in fleshing him out more, when it had gone through all the trouble of assigning his bad qualities. The fight with Hiramaru only accentuated them, and the jokes that made light of them were uncomfortable since it was kind of inexcusable behavior. So… this part. Nakai is sticking around a bit longer. Maybe he really will turn things around.

Later, a real criminal begins breaking into banks and not stealing anything, only leaving notes in the safe that allude to PCP. Shujin takes this quite hard, despite the fact that Shueisha tells him not to worry about it, and Shujin begins writing non-crimes and fouling up the stories in general. He powers through, with the help of Saiko and Mr. Hattori, just like a good Shounen Jump Hero. The story was an interesting one, especially since it reveals something about how situations like that work, but it was fairly run-of-the-mill for Bakuman.

So… a side character story I wasn’t really into and an okay story for Muto Ashirogi. This wasn’t the best volume, but even still, I really enjoyed every page and couldn’t put it down. It’s hard to complain when the book is so addictive. There are hints that Eiji will re-join the main story next volume, and any story with him in it is bound to be thoroughly insane. I can’t wait.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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