Bakuman is an anime adaptation of the manga with the same name and created by the same team that brought us the internationally acclaimed Death Note. The story revolves around the hardships of the duo Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi in becoming the best mangaka. Many hurdles come their way but they also meet several characters that push them into becoming the best they can be. What does each of the characters contribute to this compelling story of Bakuman? Let’s find out!
Moritaka Mashiro is the main protagonist of Bakuman and the other half of the duo Muto Ashirogi. He is responsible for illustrating the stories written by his partner Akito Takagi. He was still a child when he became interested in being a mangaka (manga artist). It was because of hanging out often with his late uncle, Nobuhiro Mashiro, who was a serialized mangaka. But his uncle would refer to himself as more of a gambler, someone who takes a gamble in the manga industry but not established enough to make a living off of creating manga.
Due to this, he became well-informed of the processes of creating manga, from conceiving ideas to serialization. He also developed his skill in drawing during that time and showcased incredible talent even as a child. He abandoned his dreams when his uncle died due to over-exhaustion. But he believed the cause to be suicide as his uncle would sometimes confide in him his struggles while working on his manga.
He grows up not really having big dreams, only diligently going to school to please his parents and aiming to settle for an office job. This changes when Akito Takagi, a classmate of his, discovers his talent and then offers to team up to be the no. 1 mangaka in Japan. Being exposed to the realism of the industry at a young age, he immediately refuses. But circumstances make him resolved and intent on creating a manga that will be adapted to an anime.
Miho Azuki, his long-time crush, is a large part of his will to pursue his childhood dream. Upon learning that Azuki aims to be a voice actress, he decides on the spot to be Takagi’s illustrator and promises Azuki to be part of the anime which will be adapted from his future work. Seeing Azuki’s happy face, he randomly bursts with the question asking Azuki to marry him. This led to their promise to only be together when they each reach their respective goals.
His dedication to his work is admirable. He pushes himself to be better and always finds ways to be. He has zero tolerance for subpar work. He’s willing to discard hours or even days’ worth of his work if it doesn’t fit his standards. He is always working hard and gives his best in everything to achieve his dreams (and we know one of them is Miho Azuki). His determination can be partly credited to Eiji Niizuma, a rival mangaka who usually dominates the polls. His and Takagi’s success as a manga-ka can be attributed to the fact that they are always striving to create a manga that will rival Eiji’s and surpass it in the polls.
Despite his competitive nature, he has friendly rivalries with several artists in the company he’s working for. They often push each other to work harder and motivate each other to be better. Because of the nature of their work, there are always times when they would doubt themselves. But because of their unconditional support for each other, they push through the hardships associated with becoming a well-renowned mangaka.
Akito Takagi is the second protagonist of the Bakuman series. He is the other half of the Muto Ashirogi duo. Death Note fans might notice his resemblance to Light Yagami with his hair and intelligence. He claims that he strives to be someone in this world. He considered to enter the show business but realized he does not have the voice and the looks to be successful. Because of his interest in manga, he decides to become a mangaka instead. This goal is solidified with his knack for writing. But one area he lacks in is drawing. So he decides to take on a partner who will illustrate the stories he will write.
Being the top student in Mashiro’s school, his calculative and observation skills are to be expected. Seated at the back of the room, he is able to observe every action of his classmates – including that of Mashiro’s sketching on his notebook. Because of the potential he sees in Mashiro, he decides to make Mashiro his illustrator. He also deduces Azuki’s and Mashiro’s attraction with each other, using this information for his plans to get Mashiro to agree to his proposal.
He is also cunning as he tries to blackmail Mashiro into becoming his partner. Upon learning that Mashiro’s uncle is the mangaka behind an anime he used to watch when he was a kid, he becomes more intent on making Mashiro his partner. He takes on the initiative to approach Azuki’s best friend, Kaya Miyoshi, to learn more about Azuki. He later on uses the information to get Mashiro to agree.
Like Mashiro, he is very dedicated and hard working. A lot of people commend his writing skills though he always works hard to be better at it. He works hard with Mashiro to reach the no. 1 spot in the polls. He also proves to be quite an attractive man. He was once torn between two girls in their school who like him. One is Kaya and the other is Aiko Iwase, also a top student. Yuriko Aoki, a fellow mangaka, also harboured feelings for him at one point, though she chose to ignore it because of Takagi’s engagement at that time.
He also has a rivalry with Aoki, who is intent on crushing him in his own game. Because she also has a flair for writing, she decides to become a mangaka in order to compete with Takagi. But because she doesn’t have the talent for drawing, she selects Eiji to be her illustrator. The manga she creates with Eiji turns out to be successful, fueling Takagi’s competitive nature.
He is often troubled and frustrated about the reception of his works with Mashiro. Because he only aims for the top, he doesn’t want to settle with mediocre rankings. Though he is very talented, he is not immune to self-doubt. But there are always people to cheer him up and he always finds ways to regain his confidence to go back fighting and even better than before.
Their Love Interests
Miho Azuki is the love interest of Mashiro in Bakuman. She went to the same junior high school as her best friend, Kaya, Mashiro, and Takagi. She liked Mashiro ever since she first saw him after seeing one of his drawings. By some twist of fate, they end up going to the same school in middle school. Since they are both shy, they have not really talked to each other much and both are unaware of each other’s feelings.
Takagi is perhaps the main reason they got together when he invited Mashiro to Miho’s house. When Mashiro asked her to marry him, Miho agreed but proposed that they not meet until their dreams come true. This is to avoid distractions as they try to reach their dreams. Despite not being able to meet, they support each other by communicating through text and email. However, there are several times that they have disregarded their promise and have met up anyway but for good reasons. But they still keep on making their wholesome relationship work, overcoming many obstacles that come their way.
She is a very hard working girl and wants to reach her dreams on her own. She becomes one of the most established and most loved seiyuu (voice actress) in Japan through her own means. She shows dedication in her work as shown in her audition for Muto Ashirogi's upcoming anime. But it may be partly due to the nearing fulfillment of their promise to each other.
Kaya Miyoshi is a side character in Bakuman, best friend to Miho Azuki and assistant to Muto Ashirogi. She is the one who told Takagi of Miho’s aspirations to be a seiyuu. Kaya thought that Takagi had feelings for her, which is initially not the case. But this slowly becomes true as they spend a considerable amount of time with each other.
She commends everyone around her for working hard to achieve their goals. But this just makes her realize her own lack of goals. She decides to be a cell phone novelist, with Miho’s and Mashiro’s love story as the inspiration. However, Takagi only ends up writing the story for her. She later discards this dream and focuses on helping the others, Miho, Mashiro, and Takagi, reach their dreams.
She is a very supportive character, always helping her best friend Miho out. She also supports Muto Ashirogi wholeheartedly. She regularly comes to their studio to help out with tasks such as inking and toning. She also cleans, cooks, and does general work that may lessen the worries of the already stressed pair. But she also has problems of her own such as being conscious of her looks. She has no self-confidence and does not regard herself as pretty or cute.
Her contributions made her earn a spot in the Muto Ashirogi team. After all, she is the one who came up with the pen name: Azuki (A), Mashiro (shiro), and Takagi (gi). As she is quite a loud and childish character, her presence is said to brighten up the otherwise stressful space.
Eiji Niizuma is also a mangaka in the company Muto Ashirogi is working for. He is considered a genius, having won a manga award at the age of 15. He claims to have been drawing manga ever since he was a child. Because of their poor conditions, he did not have the luxury of playing video games in his free time. He dedicated his time drawing numerous manga.
He is the rival to Muto Ashirogi though he states that he is a fan of the duo. He even initiates to become friends with them after reading one of their one shots. He is the obstacle every mangaka in their company, including the duo Mashiro and Takagi, strives to overcome. His opinions are accepted even by the editors of the company.
Muto Ashirogi also takes his opinions seriously. When they learn that he does not read their manga anymore, they decide to end that manga. This only shows that even though he is rather young, his love and talent for manga speak volumes about his credibility as a mangaka.
He is also shown to like doing as he pleases. He once submits another work for serialization when it is supposed to be his other manga. He also works double as he illustrates the manga written by Yuriko Aoki. This sparks some debate over whether he can do it or not but the ratings for both his manga and Aoki’s prove just what he really is capable of.
Kazuya Hiramaru is also a mangaka in their company. Like Eiji, he is also regarded as a genius albeit a different one. He was a salary man before he became a mangaka. Unlike Eiji, he has no prior experience in creating manga. Because he is extremely lazy, he hated working as a salary man, thus turning to being a mangaka when he thought that it would be an easier job.
His interest was ignited when he picked up a manga and thought that he could make it. He taught himself how to draw manga in a short amount of time and successfully gets serialized. But when he discovers all the work he has to do, he immediately regrets being serialized. He frequently tries to escape his editor and his work. His editor believes in him and his skills. The only problem he has with Hiramaru is his extreme level of laziness. But he has high regard for his skills so he continues to push him to work even though Hiramaru takes every chance he can to escape work – even faking illnesses.
Because of this, his editor resorts to techniques to manipulate him into working. One such technique his editor enforces is bribing him with information about his ultimate crush – Yuriko Aoki. His extreme like for Aoki forces him to work hard in order to win her affections. But the main ingredient for his success is his ability to transfer his negative emotions into his work, thus creating masterpieces. But the quality of his work is compromised if he is a wee bit happier.
Yuriko Aoki first appears to be quite judgmental and overall disagreeable character. However, as the story progresses, it is revealed that her nature is caused by her distrust of men. She slowly opens up (being surrounded by men mangakas) and learns that men are not so bad after all. She even develops a slight crush on Takagi, with whom she was exchanging tips with regarding their mangas.
She is quite stubborn which makes it hard for her editor to work with her. She slowly develops her character in the story. She becomes flexible with her manga stories and she even sometimes seeks help from her fellow mangakas such as Fukuda. She also later gets in a relationship. Aoki, along with Aiko, went to To-oh University, the same fictional school Light Yagami went to.
Shinta Fukuda is a fellow mangaka who came up with Team Fukuda. Team Fukuda is organized to support each other but also to deliver complaints to the staff especially to the editor-in-chief when they disagree with some of the decisions of the higher ups. Their support is evident when the magazine decides to put Muto Ashirogi’s manga on hiatus after Mashiro gets hospitalized.
He is a very competitive mangaka and often has emotional swings. Though he is pretty hot headed all the time, he is a caring and kind person deep down. He lends his help and is willing to fight for his fellow mangakas when they are in a tight situation. Overall, he enjoys his healthy competition with Eiji and Ashirogi Muto but still remains good friends with them.
Aiko Iwase is first introduced to be Takagi’s school mate. Because Takagi is a top student, Aiko becomes interested in him as he was able to defeat her in the school rankings. However, when he learns that Takagi wants to become a mangaka, she clearly gets disappointed and tries to dissuade him.
She remains competitive with him although it may be considered to be a one-sided rivalry. To prove that she is superior, she becomes a mangaka herself. She gets Eiji to draw her story. She proves to be quite successful as her manga consistently tops the polls. When Takagi gets married, she transfers her feelings to her editor instead. But, she once again fails in her pursuit for love. At the end, she decides to focus her energy into her work and in becoming the best mangaka.
Editors and Staff
Akira Hattori is the first editor of Mashiro and Takagi who they are very fond of. He is portrayed to be a skilled and experienced editor. He is able to point out the flaws of Mashiro’s and Takagi’s work effectively and make suggestions that will make their work better and more popular. Aside from the flaws, he also makes sure to point out the good points. He sees the potential of Mashiro and Takagi and supports them to get their work serialized. He sincerely cares about the development of the two and each time they reach a milestone, he is genuinely happy for them.
However, conflicting responsibilities cause him to leave his responsibility of being an editor to Mashiro and Takagi. The editor who replaced him is Gorou Miura. Even though he wasn't their editor anymore, he still showed concern and would sometimes give Miura advice. There comes a point when Mashiro and Takagi take some break apart because of Takagi’s carelessness. After talking to the two separately, he discovers that they still both need each other and he is actually surprised that the two have the same idea for a manga even though they haven’t been talking. Because he believes that the two can achieve their dreams with each other, he plots to get them back together. He is one of the calmer characters amidst the mixture of highly energetic and emotional characters. His mature and experienced nature allows him to always give good advice to the duo.
Gorou Miura takes Hattori’s place as Muto Ashirogi’s editor when their manga gets serialized. Unlike Hattori, Miura does not initially make an impression on the duo. The duo liked Hattori and so was uncertain about Miura. Miura being pushy about gag manga does not help the duo to accept him. He is quite demanding that Muto Ashirogi create a gag manga which is not really their specialty. This is especially hard for Takagi as he is responsible to think of the gags. They don’t heed Miura’s advice as they think that Miura does not really care about them becoming a top mangaka and only cares about his own interests. At the end though, as the duo learns of Miura’s passion of gag mangas, they give in and start to create a gag manga that becomes serialized.
He was the former Editor-in-Chief at the weekly magazine but was transferred to be the Editor-in-Chief of the newly created monthly magazine. He is wise and makes decisions after thinking it through. He sticks to his decisions once he has made them and generally won’t budge. It is revealed that he was once as hot headed as Fukuda when he was still a mangaka. He is the former editor of Mashiro’s late uncle, Nobuhiro, when his manga that became anime was serialized.
Nobuhiro Mashiro is the deceased uncle of Moritaka Mashiro. Little Moritaka used to look up to him but when he unfortunately died, Moritaka believed that he committed suicide. Nobuhiro had a similar situation to his nephew's when it came to love. He frequently exchanged letters with his long time crush but he felt that he did not deserve to admit his feelings to her yet as the gap in their achievements continued to increase. But because they never admitted their feelings to one another and no promise similar to Moritaka’s and Miho’s was made, they did not get to be together at the end. By the time his manga got an anime, the girl was already married. He was able to draw although not really good at it. Takagi remembers his manga Superhero Legend to have had quite a shitty drawing.
He refers to himself as a gambler because he is not quite a mangaka who can make a living off of being a mangaka. Even though he learned that the girl had already gotten married, he continued to write with the belief that the girl was still watching him progress. Superhero Legend eventually got cancelled. However, he did not give up and continued to submit drafts. He overworked himself to death trying to get serialized again. Moritaka learns of this and gets inspired by his uncle’s determination and vows to not give up like his uncle.
Even though the team behind Bakuman and Death Note are the same, they were able to give us completely different characters, weren’t they? And of course, different does not mean bad at all. With an amusing cast, they were able to give us the perfect blend of characters making Bakuman a success.