Monday, September 24, 2012

Intro and Bakuman

Hello! I'm JB and I will be a contributing blogger on ITIMBAO. I also maintain the movie blog The Tagline, if Hollywood movies are also your thing. I'll be using this space to talk about Manga I'm reading, anime I like, and any other related hobby content that I think might be entertaining. Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a manga that I've been reading for a while now that I've really been enjoying, and that maybe you are also aware of (it isn't exactly under the radar but whatever).

Bakuman is an ongoing manga featured in Shonen Jump, authored by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. A lot of you probably know that this is the same duo that produced the smash hit Death Note. Bakuman is a very different beast however, a manga published in Shonen Jump about two teenagers, Mashiro and Takagi who decide to become mangakas and end up published... in Shonen Jump. It's a really meta kind of manga and it gives a really neat (albeit highly exaggerated and dramatized I'd iamgine) insight into the process of making manga. I first picked it up on a whim around when it started being published in 2010, and immediately realized it was something special. Obata's art has always been awesome (I can't believe that a manga serialized in a magazine could have such detailed art really) but I am really drawn to the slice-of-life style mangas (Genshiken is one of my favorite mangas ever and you'll definitely be hearing about that in the near future) so Bakuman was a lot more appealing to me than Death Note. I'm frankly surprised that they are allowed to publish a series that portrays Shonen Jump in such an unapologetic way, but it's also really neat to read about.

One of the cool things about a manga that is at least partially about manga, is that now when I'm reading other manga, or watching other anime, I can see the tropes and cliches a lot more clearly than if I hadn't been given an inside perspective to making manga. Even more revealing is that a lot of the elements that Ohba implements into the details of Bakuman are clearly biographical (as like the Ashirogi duo in the manga, Ohba is publishing what would be considered a non-traditional manga for Shonen Jump). Now when I'm looking at a series like Bleach or Soul Eater, I'm thinking about them in terms of being serialized, trying to keep their rating up, and how they fit into a manga magazine aimed at a particular demographic.
It's not all about the manga though, this is also a dramatic story about interesting characters, but again its just so much fun to read and realize that Bakuman is exactly the kind of manga that Takagi and Mashiro are trying to write. While it might not have special powers or flashy battles, at its core Bakuman is about various characters battling against one another, not physically, but with their manga, all trying to be #1.

If you get the chance, you should really check it out! I just finished volume 14 and it's still as fun as when I picked up the first one. More than that, reading Bakuman always makes me feel inspired to work on my own creative things (I am an aspiring writer). I think that you'll enjoy it too!

Check it ouuuuuut.

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