Manga Review: Bakuman Vol. 13

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!

This series is a personal favorite of mine, and Viz Media has just released Volume 13. (My reviews of earlier Bakuman volumes can be found here.)

Back Cover Blurb

After being told their current series Perfect Crime Party will not be turned into an anime, Moritaka and Akito start planning on ways to create a second series. Their best chance might be to do well in a new contest where they will compete with their rivals over who can create the best romance story!

The Review

Considering they’re barely into their twenties, Team Ashirogi’s doing extremely well. They’ve gotten a couple titles under their belt and now have a hit series in a major magazine. Many mangaka would consider this success, but for Muto Ashirogi, it’s not enough. Moritaka needs an anime to marry Miho. Having been told that Perfect Crime Party will not be animated, they find themselves in a predicament. If they want an anime, they need to produce a completely new series for publication, but their hands are tied maintaining their current manga. The only solution: figure out how to work on two projects at once.

Ohba’s done a great job of creating new scenarios where Muto Ashirogi have to push beyond their capabilities. This time, Akito is stretching himself writing for artist Shiratori while maintaining Perfect Crime Party. Meanwhile, Moritaka is learning to become an author himself when he takes full responsibility for Muto Ashirogi’s one-shot for the Super Leaders Love Fest. There’s an added level of tension because their additional work forces them to be apart, straining their relationship. It also takes its toll on Akito’s marriage, and Kaya’s reactions to the weird vibe between Moritaka and Akito give readers a heightened sense of how emotionally charged the situation is.

On the other hand, the Super Leaders Love Fest provides fodder for a host of comic moments. Interestingly, it is not a Jump proposition, but a perfect storm of mangaka wanting to tackle romance and Fukuda catalyzing it all at the Jump New Year’s party. By the way, it is kind of cool to see Fukuda convince the editor-in-chief considering all his talk about changing Jump back when he was Eiji’s assistant. Everyone’s motivations for writing romance and their stories vary widely, and the Bakuman creators do a great job of building anticipation for those one-shots. As for the final Love Fest rankings, they are both surprising and satisfying.

Speaking of rankings, this volume includes the results of a character popularity poll taken by Jump. Interestingly, neither Moritaka nor Akito claimed first place, and Hiramaru actually ranked above Akito. For fans of the Otter #11 Creator, they’ll get to enjoy Hiramaru living out his own romantic comedy in Chapter 114. Yoshida’s done a pretty good job of manipulating Hiramaru, but this time Hiramaru turns the tables on his editor by sneaking out for a date with Aoki. Watching Hiramaru man up is hilarious, and although Aoki’s reactions are somewhat far-fetched, the whole scenario is such fun that it doesn’t matter.

In Summary

Bakuman serves up a nice blend of drama and comedy as Team Ashirogi strives toward creating a second series. The tension is reminiscent of when they nearly went separate ways in high school, but now readers get to see them handle the situation as adults with adult responsibilities. But even as Moritaka and Akito strain themselves to the breaking point, there are lots of laughs to be had as the participants of Jump’s Super Leaders Fest tackle a genre that’s a tricky sell in shonen manga – romance!

This title is highly recommended for young teens and up.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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