Bakuman 2 Ends

Bakuman, an anime based on a shounen manga about the making of a shounen manga, just finished its second season. I recommended the first season for anyone interested in the pressures that affect the creation of a manga. These help to explain why a series will sometimes vanish without a satisfactory ending, while another may run on forever without a satisfactory ending.

If this is your only reason for watching there is little point in watching another season. However the series can also be enjoyed as a low-key character-oriented story about young people growing up and entering the world of adulthood. The sort of story that usually appears only in seinen or josei manga and is almost unheard of in shounen.

This is not to say that the story is totally realistic. It does have some definite shounen traits. I don’t think that manga authors in real life spend nearly as much time as this story would have you believe shouting about how pumped up they are to have the opportunity to match their skills against such worthy rivals. (Though who knows. If you spend all day writing that kind of dialog maybe it would creep into your normal conversation.)

I’m also pretty sure that it is impossible to draw professional-quality manga on the tray table of a hospital bed. This kind of stuff is just there to add the sort of artificial drama that a shounen manga requires.

More thoughts below, including significant spoilers:
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2011: The Anime Year in Review

I’m going to go about this in my usual biased way, ignoring anything that didn’t interest me and selecting the shows that were great, the shows that were good, and the shows that might have been good were it not for some serious flaw. Ongoing series that have not completed a single season will have judgement deferred until next year. (Too often a promising show is ruined by a bad or missing ending.)
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Bakuman Ends

Well Bakuman sort of ends, with the final frame announcing a second season. That makes sense. The boys now have a serialization contract, but that represents the start of their career, not the end.

This series fascinates me with its realistic depiction of the manga industry, written from an insider’s viewpoint. This is probably a minority position. The series doesn’t seem particularly popular in America. Some fans may not be interested in an anime with no fantasy elements. Others find the main characters irritating.

Personally I think the main characters are interesting and sympathetic, though flawed.
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Bakuman–Anime First Impressions

Bakuman is a new anime series that may be getting less attention than it deserves. I’m not saying that it is destined to be one of the all-time great classics, but it is smart and enjoyable. Still it won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s a coming of age/romance story, told in a fairly realistic style with no hint of supernatural elements, with characters who are all normal believable human beings.

The story focuses on two middle school boys who want to be mangaka. Moritaka Mashiro (Atsushi Abe) is a talented whose uncle was an unsuccessful mangaka who ended up working himself to death. His uncle’s example inspired him to dream of being a mangaka, but also left him afraid to try. He is grimly aware of the odds against success in the field, but he dreads the prospect of becoming an ordinary salaryman.

He is galvanized into action by Akito Takagi (Satoshi Hino), a talented student who dreams of writing a successful manga and thinks all he needs to do is find a capable artist. Akito is arrogant and cocksure, but in many respects he is more mature and insightful than Moritaka.

Moritaka has a major crush on his classmate Miho Azuki (Saori Hayami) who wants to be a seiyuu. She seems interested in him too, but both of them are so impossibly shy with the opposite sex that they can barely speak to each other. (Maybe I shouldn’t say “impossibly” considering how I was at that age.) Nevertheless their romance is clearly going nowhere unless Moritaka grows a pair (or unless she does.)

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who wrote and illustrated the original manga, clearly drew on their own experiences. This gives the anime a believable and heartfelt quality.