The creators of Bakuman are the same people who created the famous Death Note series. Death Note wasn’t like your typical Shonen Jump series with its dark, controversial content and Bakuman also breaks the Shonen Jump mold in an entirely different way. I want to get this out of the way first, Bakuman is one of my favorite series of all time.
Bakuman has no gimmicks or super powers instead, it is a slice of life story about 2 boys dreaming and striving to create manga for Shonen Jack aka Shonen Jump. It still has all the elements of traditional shônen elements but with the hero wielding a pen instead of a sword. The series starts off with one of the MC, a boy named Mashiro narrating a boring self-introduction and going through the typical school life. That is until the 2nd MC, Takagi decides to recruit Mashiro as his manga artist and during the recruitment process, Takagi outsmarts himself by using Miho Azuki, the beautiful unattainable girl Mashiro pines for as a tool for recruiting. The result is a laugh out loud moment that shatters the boring start of the series and turns it into the hook that will spur you into wanting more.
Bakuman is like a how-to manual for the manga-making process and its crowning glory is just how engaging the story & artwork is. It pays tribute to past Jump titles, digs deep into the technical side of making manga and it manages to do this while being entertaining and informative. What would be a too straightforward plot is deepened by adding family intrigue, rivals, and romance. Speaking of romance, that is a weakness of the authors and while the heroines are better in Bakuman than Death Note they are still a weakness. Miho Azuki is so perfect that it almost seems like she is middle-school boy’s idealized girl and has no depth and it’s the same with other female characters introduced. Later on, the female characters start getting depth but it seems more forced and awkward than their male counterparts.
The series artwork is a masterpiece of dynamic imagery and draws you into the story. The panel layouts are sharp and on point. The backgrounds are detailed and realistic with a lot of depth. One of the cooler parts of Bakuman is how after a chapter the creators show a rough-draft storyboard of the chapter you just read and how it is reworked to create that chapter.
Bakuman is one of the greatest manga series I have read and is a fascinating look into the world of manga creation. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.