Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Manga-ka: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2013
Synopsis: “Eiji Nizuma announces that if he can top the Weekly Shonen Jump survey results for ten straight weeks, he will have one of the manga series in the cancelled. But which series does Eiji want to cancel? And what will Ashirogi and the other manga creators do to stop him?!”
I’ve always liked Eiji Nizuma. If for any real reason, it might simply be because I’ve never had any reason to not like him. This volume bumped the indifference up to legitimate affection, however, as we get to see a very commanding and even selfish side to him. He’s always been confident, hardworking and interested in the well-being of the other artists, but I was really surprised by some of the decisions he made here in the sixteenth volume.
An old promise comes back to bite the Shonen Jump team in the butt when Nizuma calls in on the agreement. If he can be the manga’s best performing artist – meaning one of his his series does the best in survey results – then he can choose one series to cancel. The terms of the arrangement have a little tweak when the Editor-in-Chief agrees only to these terms if Nizuma’s Crow series can be number one in the ranks for 10 weeks in a row. That’s quite a feat, but then again, Nizuma is quite a creator powerhouse and never has that been clearer than here. In a fun turn of events, all the other Shonen Jump creators are stunned at Nizuma’s choice for series’ cancellation and all become fired up to ensure it doesn’t happen. It was neat seeing them all so charged up and the different story decisions they made to compete with Crows’ seemingly unstoppable popularity.
One thing that’s started to bother me reading Bakuman is the little artistic flexibility that Takeshi Obata seems to have when it comes to illustrating the artist’s different art styles. Sometimes they can achieve a more unique look – such as the more simplistic and sort of intentionally unattractive work of Hiramaru – but typically all the different creator’s works have just looked like Takeshi Obata drew them, but with different character designs. Near this volume’s end, we’re introduced to a new character who submits a work that everyone in the office likes, but I would just as easily have assumed it was the work of Mashiro. In a series about the diversity of artists’ work and appeal, I wish Takeshi Obata could get some outside assistance to really have the different artists’ work look different from one another.
Bakuman is really flying by with these monthly releases but I’m loving the pace. Each volume takes me longer to read than most because of the text and panel heavy pages, which I quite like in a series that uses all that space to fill up with amusing character interaction, manga serialization education and a lot of artistic trials that will speak to any artist one way or another, especially when working to appeal to the masses at large. Speaking of whom, I would love to see some interaction with fans someday, or even a casual reader, to add in some balance with all the creators and editors. In any case, Bakuman remains one of my favourite series running in English right now and I’m eager to see where all the artists go with their current and future projects.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures