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.