Four friends sacrifice almost everything in order to accomplish their dreams. Seventy-four episodes of “Bakuman” are adapted from the original manga. If you ever wondered how hard it is to create a weekly manga and the rigors and stress it can put on your life, you must watch this anime. Takagi spurs on this dream with his desire to write manga and have a classmate of his, Mashiro, do all the art work. Together they will take up the pen name Muto Ashirogi and together with Mashiro’s childhood crush turned secret girlfriend, Azuki, they relentless push forward to making their goal and their dreams come true. Their dream; Muto Ashirogi will create a manga, they will adapt it into and anime, Azuki will voice the heroine, and then and only then can Mashiro and Azuki see each other and get married. Dreams seem within reach when you voice them. Of course, there are obstacles along the way. For a weekly manga to be successful you constantly need to put forward fresh material to grab and enthrall your reader. While doing this, it is imperative to not sacrifice yourself as an artist and pander too much to the audience. Not only that but when Mashiro, Takagi, and Azuki make their promise they are 14 year olds who are just about to go into their first year of high school. Having such lofty dreams at a young age, they pretty much sacrifice their high school years to pursue their dreams.
It’s refreshing to see a series where the characters put down realistic goals and actually have a realistic plan to pursue and achieve these goals. The one leg up that Mashiro and Takagi get is that Mashiro’s uncle was a small-time manga artist and through Mashrio’s grandfather he ends up inheriting his uncle’s studio. Mashiro loved and admired his uncle, but it’s a painful memory because his uncle worked so desperately on his manga that it leads to his death and is one of the reasons that Mashiro never faced his true dream of becoming a manga artist before meeting Takagi. There is even a sub-plot twist because Azuki’s mother and Mashiro’s uncle were in love with each other in high school, but because they could not achieve their dreams they could also not achieve their love. So Mashiro and Azuki’s relationship is both beautiful and tragic because one gets the sense they are following the same path and one can only hope that their ending is not the same.
If the primary romance of Mashiro and Azuki doesn’t draw you in, then the relationships the side character present will give you some decent romance fodder. Beyond the romance, the side characters ranging from parents, manga artists, editorial staff, and even artists’ assistants are very well developed and portrayed. There are very few static characters. A few assistants even go on to write their own manga series, and we get the chance to cheer for many of the characters. It’s as if Mashiro and Takagi have stumbled upon a unified club of manga artists and writers who with their own will, continue to push their craft forward. The characters are constantly trying new ideas even if the context doesn’t fit the constraints of what they are actually good at relating to manga. One such instance is when they all declare to compete with shoujo (romance) manga one week even though some of the artists are known more for their work on battle manga.
Because of this need to push their craft further and further forward one of the biggest things to shine through in “Bakuman” is the sense of rivalry through comradery. This is truly what defines Mashiro and Takagi. They do not want to lose to anyone. One of the reasons they start this journey and probably their biggest motivator is when they are 14 years old and open an issue of Weekly Shounen Jack (which parallels Weekly Shounen Jump) and see a manga created by 15-year-old Eiji Nizuma. Instead of becoming depressed that someone who was a year older than them was clearly more talented, they take it as a sign that in order to achieve their dreams they need to work that much harder. The path that Mashiro and Takagi lay out before them constantly pit them up against Nizuma. Mashiro and Takagi constantly strive for greatness because of Nizuma and conversely Nizuma never gets complacent with his work, even though he is clearly a manga genius. This is a perfect rivalry set up where they push each other forward, pursuing new heights, and attaining goals that one could not achieve without being push by the other.
“Bakuman” is an anime/manga that anyone who enjoys anime/manga should really consider viewing because it does give a lot of insight into the world of a weekly manga artist, writer, and editorial staff. The dream of creating a manga series, the goal of getting it serialized, and the harsh reality that somethings just are not meant to be while other things almost seem predetermined by fate. This series should be described as slice of life with some romantic undertones. It comes off as inspirational and will leave you with a great feeling by the end of it. If there is one departing thought I would like to extract from this series, it is a quote by the character Hisashi Sasaki who is the editor-in-chief of Weekly Shounen Jack when Mashiro and Takagi start there. The quote is regarding what it takes to get a manga serialized. To this Sasaki says, “It just has to be good.” “Bakuman” is truly a good series and worth your time either reading or watching it. This should be an anime that’s relatable to almost everyone and if I had to give it a grade based out of five stars, I would give it five stars. If you haven’t given this series a try I would recommend this anime or manga, both are good and the anime stays true to the manga. If you already have enjoyed “Bakuman” watch it again and let us know what you think. “Bakuman” is currently available for viewing on Hulu.