So one of the things I do writing-wise is review manga, and this first installment is from a series that is a personal favorite: Bakuman! (My reviews of earlier Bakuman volumes can be found here.)
For those unfamiliar with it, Bakuman is the latest collaboration of Ohba and Obata, the creators of the wildly popular Death Note series. Unlike Death Note, Bakuman is more or less grounded in reality, but it is no less entertaining as it follows the ups and downs of a mangaka duo as they strive to make it big in the publishing world!
Back Cover Blurb
Moritaka and Akito’s hard work is paying off, and they start challenging their rival Eiji’s popularity in Shonen Jump. But just as they plan to take the next step, the team is hit with a surprising setback. Moritaka and Akito will need the help of their manga artist friends to overcome this hurdle!
If you looked at the “In the Next Volume” page of Volume 5, you could probably guess that Moritaka’s health was going to nosedive in this volume. However, it isn’t the typical “collapse from overwork” scenario so prevalent in Japanese plots. It’s a bit more serious and, as such, thrusts the boys into a different kind of challenge. Shonen manga is all about battles, and this time, Ashirogi Muto isn’t up against popularity polls or rivals but the Jump editorial staff!
It’s actually an engaging fight that highlights the conflicting interests of business and art in the manga world. Moritaka’s deceased uncle also makes a kind of return to the story. It does, however, push the limits of plausibility when the other Jump rookie mangaka get involved, turning it from one creative team’s battle into an all-out artist uprising.
Of course, Eiji wants in on the action, but the real surprise is Hiramaru joining the crew. Considering how often the Otter mangaka appears in this volume, he’s still a hard personality to connect with, and he serves as little more than comic relief. As an aside, this is the first volume where the lineup doesn’t introduce any new characters, and even though another allusion is made to Moritaka’s father, he has yet to make an appearance.
Moritaka’s collapse also spurs a different kind of plot development. Just as Miho’s career dilemma drove Moritaka to try to see her so his illness sends Miho rushing to the hospital. Their interaction doesn’t go at all as expected though, and when Miho asks Moritaka just how much he loves manga, the answer completely surprised me. Interestingly, I found it reminiscent of Akito’s confrontation with Kaya and Iwase when he blows up and says he has no time to date. For anyone who needs a reminder that this is a shonen, not a shojo, manga, Miho and Moritaka’s face-to-face in the hospital will do just that.
But even with all the shonen bravado, we get an injection of fluffiness. Until now, we haven’t really gotten much of Miho’s perspective on their romance, and once she explains the exact how and when of when she fell in love, your entire view of their relationship will change.
The onset of a serious illness is something that throws a person’s entire life into turmoil, and that’s exactly what happens when Moritaka gets hospitalized. But he’s not so much interested in fighting for his life as he is for his fledgling series! Bakuman’s creators suspend reality in their depiction of artistic passion, especially when Ashirogi Muto’s mangaka friends rally to his cause, but it is an unpredictable and engaging read. Plus Moritaka gets more progress on the romantic front with Miho!
This title is highly recommended for young teens and up.
First published at the Fandom Post.