Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Manga-ka: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2013
Synopsis: “For ten years, two young men have worked as hard as they possibly could to make their manga dreams come true. Now, as they sit atop the manga world, can the promise made long ago finally be fulfilled?!”
At twenty volumes, it’s the end of Bakuman. I’ll miss this series as it gave us in-depth, if not somewhat dramatically sped up and hyped, look at being a creator in the world’s most read comic magazine, Shonen Jump. While the last volume give its characters the satisfaction of achieving their dreams, it’s odd that it focuses so much on elements barely present in previous books, instead of what the series has always been about – manga.
Contrary to volumes’ past, the majority of this book follows the voice acting adventures of Miho. Now that her relationship with Mashiro has been made public, she stands up to affirm the rumors people have been spreading and shares their dream with her fans. This move feels both stupid and admirable. In an industry where a talent’s purity is often their greatest selling point, admitting her plans to marry a popular manga artist puts a big risk on both their careers. For that reason, however, it was also really brave of her to be honest, and by doing so tells people that she’s not going to live her life lying for people she’s never met. She’s determined to be the lead actress in Mashiro and Takagi’s new anime, but there are a lot of roadblocks to overcome first.
Of course this volume doesn’t make up for the very two-dimensional characterization of Miho in the past, but it did feel good to end the series giving her at least some sense of individuality. She goes through a lot of really tough situations, and though her method of dealing with them ends up being not dealing with them – which is really the best and only way to do it when facing the opinions of a million fans – seeing her struggle and overcome did garner respect for her hardly thought possible before.
Meanwhile, the affronted internet denizens continued to provide the frustrating, yet important, voice that said all the annoying things about Miho’s current situation that we can’t, though of course not very nicely. It’s painful to read the ignorant and malicious comments, and all the more difficult because we know these kinds of people are all too real, loud and common. Oh the internet.
Mashiro and Takagi’s roles were strangely pretty minimal but the story ensured that everyone had their dreams come true, so certain milestones were still met and hard-earned cheers given. It was nice to see some other loose strings – like thanking Kaya for all her help and the brief status of other characters – were also addressed before closing the doors on this particular chapter of a manga making duo’s life.
Bakuman (Vol. 20) was more enjoyable than one would think knowing it’s predominantly about Miho, but it’s still disappointing having a series all about making manga end with a volume that isn’t about making manga. Bakuman had its issues from the start – women, what? – but was still a great series about the world of making manga that never shied away from teaching us that above passion and politics, comes the need for hard work, hard work and hard work. For lessons learned, insights given, and some fun drama too, you will be missed, Bakuman.
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Book purchased from Strange Adventures