Bakuman is an anime adaptation from the manga with the same name. After the widely acclaimed Death Note, the duo Tsugumi Ohba (writer) and Takeshi Obata (illustrator) brought forth Bakuman. While Death Note is more on the dark side (well, what can you expect with an anime titled Death Note), Bakuman has a lighter feel to it with a lot of comical acts.
The manga was picked up by J.C. Staff and first aired on October 2010. Since then, 3 seasons have aired. Each season has 25 episodes with the last episode of the last season airing on March 2013. Other media includes a live-action film set on 2015. A novel based on PCP (Perfect Crime Party, a manga created by the protagonists) is also set to be released on October 2015.
The anime begins with the aimless Moritaka Mashiro going through his usual day: going to school, taking notes, and drawing Miho Azuki, his love interest, stealthily in his notebook. But before the day ends, Akito Takagi, a top student in his class, offers him a rather peculiar proposal – to team up to be the no. 1 mangaka (creator of manga) in Japan.
With Takagi’s writing prowess, he dreams to be a mangaka but what hinders him is his lack of ability to draw. When he finds out about Mashiro’s talent, he immediately tries to get him to team up with him. But, with Moritaka’s uncle being a mangaka, he is aware of the hardships and immediately refuses Takagi’s offer. With Takagi’s clever plan, Moritaka agrees in the end.
But, what is outside of his plan (and Mashiro’s plan) is Mashiro randomly proposing to Miho. At the end, everything goes well (including Mashiro’s proposal to Miho) but with Miho proposing that they not meet until each of their respective dreams comes true. With Miho dreaming to become seiyuu (voice actress) and with Mashiro and Takagi dreaming to create a mainstream anime which Miho can star in, what obstacles lay ahead of them?
This is just the beginning of their road to their dreams. They have yet to meet their rivals and friends that will all play an essential role in their struggle to the top. With Moritaka’s uncle’s death being caused by overworking to get serialized, how will Moritaka avoid the same fate as his uncle’s? Will he succeed where his uncle failed – in being a renowned mangaka and in getting the girl of his dreams? There are a lot of exciting developments as Mashiro and Takagi try to survive in the world of manga.
It’s not every day that we get to peek inside the life of a mangaka. While some characters and developments may not be realistic, it is still interesting to see the struggles a mangaka has to go through before being serialized. We may imagine mangakas as having the time of their lives because they are earning money doing what they love. But the hardships and the self-doubt they go through are not always apparent. Bakuman lets us see a fraction of everything going on inside a magazine with the staff and mangakas.
We also learn of the processes of creating manga. It is not just drawings on a paper after all. Everything - from thinking of an idea to publishing it in the magazine - requires much effort and cooperation from the mangaka, editor, and staff. The editors and the staff are also based on real-life editors of the magazine where Bakuman is published which makes viewers feel the authenticity of the struggles of mangakas and editors alike. Viewers get giddy when some of the real life manga are mentioned in the anime.
The romance subplot of Miho and Mashiro is also quite unique as they maintain a strict relationship throughout the series. They try hard to keep their promise of not entirely being together until they reach their dreams. Though that promise has been broken a few times (for good reasons), they still continue to work hard separately for their dreams.
Similar Anime Titles
Death Note has the same author and illustrator as Bakuman. The two animes may be worlds apart in terms of story line, but they are similar in terms of their ability to captivate audiences. They are also similar in the aspect of having no apparent villain. Death Note features two conflicting sides just enforcing their beliefs of what is right while Bakuman has several mangakas all aiming for the top.
Death Note is the story of Light Yagami who comes across a shinigami’s (death God's) notebook. Every name he writes in it dies. He can also put in the details of death and the victim will die in the exact way and time as he has written in the notebook. He takes advantage of it and writes names of criminals. However, several people attempt to stop him and discover who is behind the killings. This will make you discuss issues about morality as the two sides firmly stand by their beliefs. Light’s side believes that some people deserve to die to make the world a better place while the opposing side believes that killing people is wrong, no matter what they have done with their lives. Who is right and who is wrong? The answer solely depends on each person and that’s what makes Death Note a compelling story.
Chihayafuru is similar to Bakuman in terms of young people doing everything to reach their goals. Characters in both stories always strive to be better and don’t want to settle for anything less than their goals. Also, the main characters needed another character to push them towards having new goals out of their mundane lives. Characters introduced in Chihayafuru are also as lovable as those in Bakuman and each one, even the supporting characters, has something significant to add to the story.
This anime is about a girl named Chihaya Ayase who encounters a boy named Arata Wataya. The boy, being a talented karuta (Japanese playing cards) player, urges Chihaya to become a karuta player. Because of Arata’s belief that she has the potential, Chihaya develops her new dream of becoming Japan’s best karuta player. But they soon are separated but Chihaya continues playing karuta and even forms Mizusawa Karuta Club in her high school. She meets a lot of new people who support her but will she meet Arata again?
Before meeting someone that changed their lives, the protagonists of Beck and Bakuman just went on with their daily lives without really having an aim. But upon a fateful meeting with another character, they both realize a new dream and go on to pursue that dream with that another character. Beck’s protagonist starts out with only a dream in the music industry, much like Bakuman’s Mashiro. But as the story goes on, we witness the progress of the protagonists in reaching their dreams. We also get a peek of what it takes to get to the top of the music industry.
Yukio Tanaka, a regular junior high school boy, unknowingly enters into a new life as he saves a mismatched dog named Beck. He meets the dog’s owner, Ryuusuke Minami, a dude with a shady background and a dream to be a rock musician. He later on becomes involved with the band Ryuusuke forms. We witness the obstacles and struggles that musicians have to go through to gain popularity. The show receives a lot of good feedbacks for its compelling plot and characters.
Similar to Bakuman, Hikaru no Go is about students deciding to pursue their dreams. Hikaru no Go’s protagonist has a partner which helps him be a better Go (a board game) player. We also get to peek at the world of Go and how players advance through the competitions. The protagonist meets new friends along the way and forms healthy rivalries that push him to be better and help him achieve his dream.
Hikaru Shindo comes across a Go board which is haunted by the ghost of Fujiwara-no-Sai, the Go instructor to an emperor in the Heian era. His spirit continues to linger in the hope that he will one day play the Divine Move. He possesses Hikaru though only slightly as he still has his consciousness. They play Go this way, with Sai instructing Hikaru the moves. Hikaru slowly gains interest and slowly becomes better. He meets Akira Toyo, a professional Go player, and beats him twice with Sai’s instructions. He begins to practice a lot and begins to play without Sai’s guidance. Hikaru’s development with the help of Sai and his rivals is truly fascinating to witness.
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to is also about the life of a mangaka. He has friendly rivalries with fellow mangakas and strives to be the better at what he does. It also gives us an idea about how mangas are made and how mangakas meet their weekly deadlines. Although this is more on comedy rather than achieving goals, his struggle with being a mangaka is fun to watch.
There is really no story in this anime. It just revolves around the daily lives of mangaka Yuki Aito and his female assistants. He has an ongoing manga which focuses merely on panty shots. He only loves drawing panties and has a vast collection that he draws into his characters. His female assistants are forced to endure Aito’s daily perverted shenanigans as they help him survive his deadlines.
Although the protagonists between Gin no Saji and Bakuman differs in their goals, their resolve to reach their goals are the same. A huge chunk of Gin no Saji focuses on the protagonist’s lack of direction and merely acting to prove that he can do something else than what his authoritarian father wants. But as he develops new ambition for himself, he does everything he can that may help him achieve his goals. The two mangas are also light hearted with the mangakas coming from mangas with much darker themes (from Death Note to Bakuman and from Fullmetal Alchemist to Silver Spoon).
Yuugo Hachicken moves away from home after failing the entrance exam of the high school he intended to attend. He enters an agricultural school without really having an interest in agriculture. But as he gets pass through the initial hardships, he slowly gets used to his new environment and even finds himself discovering new goals and his resolve to stand for something.
Who Should Watch It
I will recommend Bakuman to fans of Death Note who enjoyed its art and superb development of the story line and characters. While Bakuman is a complete opposite of Death Note, the duo Ohba and Obata were still able to give us a series that keeps us watching and asking for more. Characters are well developed and each contributes to the fun and exciting story of Bakuman. Those who are curious about the lives of mangakas are recommended to try this out as well. Those who wonder how to create manga will learn a lot from this series. They will also learn that creating manga is no easy task and talent for drawing and storytelling will only give so much advantage but do not necessarily warrant success as being mangaka.