Bakuman (バクマン。) is a live action movie adaptation based on the manga series by the same name. It was released in Japan in October 2015 starring Takeru Sato as Moritaka Mashiro and Ryunosuke Kamiki as Akito Takagi.
Moritaka Mashiro is a junior high school student who spends most of his time in class sketching pictures of his classmate and crush Miho Azuki (Nana Komatsu). When his sketchbook accidentally falls into the hands of gifted classmate Akito Takagi, Mashiro is offered the opportunity to team up with him to create manga together, in exchange for not telling Azuki about his crush on her. Mashiro initially refuses and begins to walk away from Takagi, who persists so much that the two end up falling down a flight of stairs and dropping Mashiro's sketchbook at Azuki's feet. As Azuki looks through the notebook, Takagi announces his plan to become a manga artist along with Mashiro, and that they would want Azuki to play the lead role of the heroine should their work become animated as she is pursuing a career in voice acting. Azuki agrees, and in the heat of the moment Mashiro asks Azuki to marry him should that dream ever come true. After running away in embarrassment at first, Azuki admits that she also has feelings for Mashiro and that she'll be waiting for them to become successful.
Later on, Mashiro and Takagi head to an old manga studio which previously belonged to Mashiro's uncle, a manga artist by the name of Taro Kawaguchi (Kankuro Kudo). Mashiro tells Takagi about his uncle's struggle to become a successful manga artist, which eventually led to his death several years ago. Despite knowing the risks of pursuing manga, Mashiro states that he is determined to do what his uncle couldn't, and the two start to learn more about the process of making manga.
Shortly afterwards, Mashiro and Takagi come across a manga in Jump magazine by an artist named Eiji Niizuma, who is the same age as they are. Seeing how good Eiji's work is motivates the two of them to work even harder and throughout summer break they manage to complete their first oneshot, Double Earth (written as Wアース), which they present to Jump editor Hattori (Takayuki Yamada). Hattori critizes several aspects of the manga but sees potential in them, and sends them away with his contact details and the improvements that they need to make.
At the start of the new term, it's announced that Azuki will be quitting high school to focus solely on her voice acting career. Mashiro catches up to her before she leaves, where she assures him that she'll always be waiting for him even when they're not together.
Mashiro and Takagi make amendments to Double Earth and take it back to Hattori, who suggests that they enter the work for a Tezuka Award. Their meeting is interrupted by the editor-in-chief, Sasaki (Riri Furanki), who tells them that they don't have a chance at the Tezuka Award as their work isn't interesting enough. Mashiro, recognising Sasaki as his uncle's old editor, takes their manuscript and leaves, vowing that they will fix it up and win the Tezuka Award. After redrawing the manuscript, they earn second place and attend an awards ceremony where they meet the other finalists: Shinta Fukuda (Kenta Kiritani), Kazuya Hiramaru (Hirofumi Arai), and Takuro Nakai (Sarutoki Minagawa), as well as the winner of the Tezuka award, Eiji Niizuma (Shota Sometani) himself. Niizuma praises Double Earth but points out that he is already on his way to serialization with his winning creation CROW. Mashiro asks him to maintain his serialization so that they may catch up to him in the future, and Niizuma agrees but warns that he may already be the number one artist in Jump by that time.
After the ceremony Mashiro, Takagi, Hattori, and the three other finalists head back to Mashiro's studio where they discuss manga. Fukuda states that he will aim for serialization and won't lose to Eiji or to the others, prompting Nakai and a reluctant Hiramaru to vow the same thing. The artists then begin to work with their editors and prepare their drafts for the serialization meeting.
It transpires that all of the finalists are chosen for serialization besides Mashiro and Takagi, as their work was judged to be on too low a level for Jump's standards especially when compared with Niizuma's work. Hattori encourages them to create their own style and submit something new for the next serialization meeting.
Whilst mulling over their defeat at school, Takagi suddenly comes up with a new idea and promises Mashiro that he'll write up an amazing draft within a week. Mashiro continues to practice drawing at the studio and whilst waiting for Takagi he watches Azuki's first appearance in an anime role. Seeing her on TV in the end credits sequence only depresses him, and he retreats back to his desk where he looks at a naked sketch of her which he couldn't bring himself to finish. Reaching the peak of his frustration, Mashiro decides to visit Fukuda, Nakai, and Hiramaru to observe them working on their serializations and notices that all of them seem to be improving at a quick rate. This serves to motivate Mashiro, and after a brief visit to a manga library where he hands a copy of his uncle's old manga to a child, Mashiro texts Takagi the three most important elements to shonen manga: “FRIENDSHIP, EFFORT, VICTORY!”.
Takagi finally returns to the studio with the finished draft, The World of Money and Wisdom, which is about people trading intelligence and knowledge for money. Mashiro is impressed but worries that the manga doesn't fit the style of Jump until Takagi explains that they need to create their own unconventional style in order to stand out from Eiji. The two of them complete the manuscript and are finally approved for serialization to start in the third week of April. Mashiro informs Azuki of the good news, and she states that their dream is getting closer to coming true.
As their serialization begins, Mashiro and Takagi are pitted against Niizuma in what Jump advertises as the “High School Mangaka Showdown”. They run into Niizuma at the editorial office and decide that the winner of the “showdown” will be the first artist to get first place in the reader surveys. Takagi thanks Niizuma for acting as a goal for them to reach and states that they won't lose.
However, four weeks pass and Mashiro and Takagi begin to realise the difficulties of serialization. As the gap between themselves and Niizuma grows larger, they struggle to meet deadlines and survive on little amounts of sleep. As they drop towards double-digit rankings by the tenth week, Hattori warns them that they need to do something to improve. Takagi suggests introducing a secondary protagonist in the form of a heroine, but Mashiro insists that he isn't able to draw girls very well. Takagi disputes this by showing Hattori the notebook filled with drawings of Azuki and Hattori praises them and tells them to go with the heroine idea, leading Mashiro to realise that he can draw a female character easily if he models her after Azuki.
The storyline with the new heroine proves to be a hit with the readers, and soon Money and Wisdom climbs the ranks to number 4, with colour pages planned in a few weeks' time. Takagi discusses the rankings with Fukuda, who is in fifth place, and praises Hiramaru in third, but it's revealed that Nakai's series was cancelled and he subsequently moved back home. Fukuda mentions that it's a shame that not all of the finalists are still in the magazine, but that they don't have time to worry about Nakai and must focus on their own works.
Jump continues to emphasise the battle between the high school manga artists, and both Crow and Money & Wisdom continue to gain popularity until they both tie for second place. Takagi is thrilled but the workload begins to take its toll on Mashiro and as the deadline for the new chapter and the colour pages approaches, Mashiro collapses in the bathroom and is admitted to hospital before the manuscripts are completed.
Takagi, Hattori, and editor-in-chief Sasaki all gather in Mashiro's hospital room. Mashiro insists that he won't stop working when they're so close to beating Eiji, and asks Takagi to bring him the manuscripts. Sasaki interjects, saying that Mashiro must recover and that Money & Wisdom will be put on hiatus until the following year when they graduate from high school. Sasaki leaves the hospital but first explains that he feels responsible for putting so much pressure on the two of them by encouraging their battle with Niizuma, and that the prolonged hiatus is due to the fact that Mashiro's situation is so similar to that of his uncle before his death.
Out in the waiting room, Hattori explains to Takagi that there's nothing he can do to change Sasaki's mind and that the colour pages will be given to Niizuma instead. Takagi breaks down in tears, saying that he has never been so frustrated in his life.
The next day, Azuki visits Mashiro in the hospital and they both discuss the progress they're making in their respective careers. However, Azuki breaks the news that her manager figured out the connection between herself and Mashiro by recognising that the heroine in his work represented her, and that she got into trouble for being in a relationship. Azuki tearfully explains that she can no longer see Mashiro, and wishes him luck before heading to leave. Mashiro asks her if their dream is still alive, and Azuki says that it's impossible to stay still and wait for him, so she will be moving on ahead.
Later that night, Mashiro discharges himself from the hospital and returns to the studio, telling Takagi to help him finish the manuscript. The two of them are visited the following morning by Hattori, Fukuda, and Hiramaru. Hattori reprimands them for continuing to work but Mashiro explains that he won't stop until he's finished, and passes a page over to Takagi to work on. Fukuda calls them both annoying and points out that there's no way they'll make the deadline, but agrees to help. He begins reciting the three elements to Hattori - “friendship, effort-” before Hiramaru cuts him off by chiming in with “victory”, indicating that he'll help them out as well. Fukuda manages to convince Nakai to get the train down to the studio, and he quickly takes charge as the head assistant.
As the five artists all work on the manuscript for Money & Wisdom, Hattori visits Niizuma (who is working on the last-minute colour pages for Crow) and explains that if they make the deadline, the editor-in-chief may give the rights to the colour pages back to Mashiro and Takagi. Niizuma questions why they are still working if their series has been put on hold, and Hattori repeats the elements of “friendship, effort, and victory”, explaining that he would like to believe in them.
At the same time, Sasaki is shown to be looking through the Jump archives at the volume in which Taro Kawaguchi's death was announced. We then see a flashback to the day of Kawaguchi's funeral, where Sasaki clutches the key to the studio in his hands as he stares across the road at a young Mashiro.
Back at the studio, Mashiro is struggling to draw as he is in too much pain and has to hand a page to Takagi for him to finish. Fukuda reluctantly points out that they still have three pages to complete and that they might not make the deadline, and Hiramaru expresses that he is at his limit as he stops drawing and lays his head down. Nakai states that although they can help out with other details, only Mashiro can draw his own characters, and that it's unlikely he'll get them all done in time.
At that moment Hattori arrives with Niizuma in tow. The artists watch in disbelief as Niizuma wanders around the studio and comments about the impending deadline and the trouble they're in. He proceeds to mock the concept of “friendship, effort, victory”, saying that they only exist in manga, before laughing at Mashiro's artwork and commenting that he should be able to draw better by now. Niizuma then picks up a pen and begins to make improvements to the characters as Mashiro silently watches in tears, before grabbing the pen and telling Niizuma that nobody can draw his manga better than he can. Niizuma heads out to leave, bidding goodbye to all the artists and promising to wait for them. Motivated by Niizuma's appearance, the five of them continue to work on the manuscript and collectively hand the finished product – including the colour pages - directly to Sasaki.
Sasaki looks over the manuscript and reprimands Hattori for allowing the manga to be drawn without permission. Hattori apologises but refers back to the advice Sasaki gave him when he first joined Jump – that when the editor-in-chief and the manga artists are in disagreement, the editor should always side with the manga artist. Sasaki thinks this over before stating “friendship, effort, and victory” and confirming that the completed chapter and colour pages will be published in the magazine. All five manga artists thank Sasaki and Hattori before celebrating their victory.
The completed chapter of Money & Wisdom received first place in the rankings, finally placing above Niizuma's Crow by just eight votes.
Despite their victory over Niizuma, Money & Wisdom began to drop in the ranks and was eventually cancelled. As their high school graduation ceremony takes place in a different room, Mashiro and Takagi talk about their serialization and how amazing it was that they managed to sustain it whilst still in high school. Mashiro says that they should rest for a while, but Takagi is eager to tell him about a new idea for a manga. The ending sequence plays out with all of the manga artists and editors continuing to create manga for Jump.
Takeshi Obata, the artist for the original manga series, contributed a lot of original artwork to the movie including many of the manga pages shown and the colour pages for Money and Wisdom.
In the movie, Taro Kawaguchi's successful manga Super Hero Legend is renamed Bakuman.
At the end of the movie, Mashiro and Takagi brainstorm ideas for new manga on a chalkboard. All of these ideas are references to existing manga which Muto Ashirogi created in the manga/anime series (PCP, Detective Trap, Tanto, and Reversi).
During this scene Takagi comes up with the idea for Detective Trap, but it was Mashiro who had this idea originally. In an earlier flashback to his time with his uncle, Mashiro's notebook page can be seen with a drawing of his early design for the con-man detective.
Ironically, during the chalk board scene, Mashiro draws up the idea for Tanto and says that he has always wanted to draw a gag manga. In the original series, Mashiro detested drawing gag manga and ended up quitting Tanto in the middle of its serialization.
The live action movie adaptation differs vastly from the corresponding early manga chapters/anime episodes. Some of the most noteworthy differences are:
The removal of many key characters, including Kaya Miyoshi, Ko Aoki, Mashiro's mother and grandfather, as well as all of the editors besides Hattori.
The absence of Mashiro and Takagi's penname, Muto Ashirogi.
The ages of the main characters; in the beginning of the manga/anime, Mashiro and Takagi were 14 years old and in middle school, whereas in this adaptation they are both 17 and in high school. Eiji and Fukuda's ages in relation to Mashiro and Takagi remain the same, whereas Hiramaru and Nakai's ages are not changed.
The first manga which Mashiro and Takagi have serialized is Money and Intelligence, not Detective Trap.
Eiji was portrayed to be more of an intimidating antagonist than a friendly rival.
There is no mention of Taro Kawaguchi's relationship with Miho's mother.
Perhaps the most jarring difference is the change to Mashiro and Azuki's relationship and their promise to each other. In the manga and anime, their promise serves as a driving force for Mashiro's motivation, whereas in the movie it acts like more of a starting push and Mashiro's later motivation comes from wanting to beat Eiji alone. Additionally, Mashiro and Azuki do not make the promise to not see each other until their dreams come true and it's not clear if they are even pursuing their dream by the end of the film or if their relationship is over for good.