TL;DR – two high school students team up to try to break into the manga industry and discover making their dreams a reality is a large mountain to climb.
Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, creators of the highly successful Death Note series, teams up again to explore the manga and anime industry. It’s a far cry from the supernatural, suspense, cat-and-mouse Death Note and will be a surprise to fans expecting that Ohba and Obata would create another manga/anime in the same genre.
Instead, we have a slice of life anime that deals with the trials and tribulations of what it takes to set yourself apart in a market saturated by many other artist/writers looking to break into the same industry. This is a story that exemplifies that if you write about what you know then you can connect with your audience.
Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi are the duo of artist and writer respectively that teams up. Moritaka is initially hesitant to undertake this endeavour because his uncle who was also a manga artist died from being overworked. But he commits to the idea when he discovers that Miho Azuki, the girl he has a serious crush on, reveals that she wants to become a voice actress for an anime series. Moritaka and Miho make a pact that only when they achieve their dreams will they then marry and until then they are not to see each other.
Yes, it’s far-fetched but a fantastical enough arrangement that still makes you cheer them on anyway.
More importantly, it then explores the machinations, meetings, deadlines, long hours, and the sacrifice required to have one’s manga serialised, and the challenges of what it takes to achieve enough popularity for the manga to then be turned into an anime.
The art is superb and the story engaging enough that the twenty volumes of Bakuman were then animated into three seasons. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it does grab you, you’ll be drawn in completely. It’s inspirational, funny, and demonstrates the old adage about belief in one’s dreams and working hard to get there.
9 out of 10