A new year, and the start of a new Manga to review, and one that isn’t by CLAMP!
Title: Bakuman, Volume 1
Written by Tsugumi Ohba
Illustrated by Takeshi Obata
Translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Lettered & Retouched by James Gaubatz
Originally Serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump
Moritaka Mashiro is your average middle school student who likes to draw. His friend, aspiring writer Akito Takegi, discovers Moritaka’s talent, and persuades him to create a manga with him. However, Moritaka has to get out from under the shadow of his uncle, a manga-ka (manga creator) who died of overwork in obscurity, after some early successes.
While the discussion of what goes into making a commercial manga (as opposed to doujinshi or fan-manga, as was covered in Comic Party) can get somewhat “inside baseball”, it does make for an interesting comparison to Comic Party. It helps that the creators of the series (whose last work was the obscenely successful Death Note) are knowledgeable about the topic.
I’m not a fan of how Ohba writes female characters. Mashiro’s mother, his crush, and his crush’s mother are two-dimensional caricatures. Also, there is the personal matter that Mashiro and Takegi’s tastes in manga don’t mesh with mine. It doesn’t help that Mashiro isn’t particularly likeable at first.
No graphic violence, profanity or nudity
Originality: This concept definitely is not completely original. As I brought up in the Comic Party review. There have been manga about making manga in the past, and there will be manga on this topic in the future. 3 out of 6.
Artwork: For all the faults in Ohba’s writing, Obata’s artwork is excellent. 5 out of 6.
Characterization: While the male characters are fairly well written, the female characters are so flat and one-dimensional as to practically invisible. 3 out of 6.
Emotional Response: No real tension here – if Takagi and Mashiro don’t start making the manga, then there’s no series. That said, there is some humor here. 3 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Story: The story is fairly well written, as we go through the process of coming up with a concept for a series, as well as a first chapter as a pitch. 4 out of 6.
Overall: Depending on how later volumes turn out, this series could either be incredibly fun or very unpleasant. This volume shows a lot of potential for both outcomes. 4 out of 6.
In Total, Bakuman, Volume 1, gets 28 out of 42.