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Bakuman, stylized as Bakuman。 (バクマン。), is a shōnen manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata, who also worked together on the popular manga Death Note. The series follows talented artist Moritaka Mashiro and aspiring writer Akito Takagi, two ninth grade boys who wish to become mangaka.
The first chapter was released in Japan on August 11, 2008 serialized in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. The first volume was released on January 5, 2009 and as of July 2011, thirteenth volumes have been released. During the first two weeks of its release, the first volume placed fourth and ninth in manga sales in Japan. It is also the first manga released online by Shueisha in multiple languages before becoming available in print outside of Japan. At San Diego Comic-Con International 2009, Viz Media announced they had licensed the series for their Shonen Jump imprint.
A 25-episode anime television series was announced, and began broadcasting on NHK in October 2, 2010. A second season aired beginning in October 2011, and a third begins starting October 6, 2012.
Bakuman follows the story of high school student Moritaka Mashiro, a talented artist who does not know what he wants to do with his future. One day he draws a picture of Miho Azuki, a girl he is secretly fond of, during class he forgets the notebook at school. He comes back to find that his classmate Akito Takagi is waiting for him with his notebook. Takagi tries to convince Mashiro to become a mangaka, a manga artist, with him, only leading to Mashiro's disagreement. Mashiro goes home and thinks about his mangaka uncle, who had only one successful series before he died in obscurity. Mashiro is interrupted by a phone call from Takagi, who says that he is going to tell Azuki that Mashiro likes her. Mashiro runs down to Azuki's house to find Takagi waiting for him. Once Azuki comes out to meet them, Takagi tells her that he and Mashiro are aiming to be mangaka. Mashiro then learns that she wants to be a seiyū, a voice actor, and has shown promise in the field. Mashiro, once again thinking about his uncle, accidentally proposes to Azuki who accepts. However, she will only marry him after they achieve their dreams. Mashiro and Takagi after sending in several manga, begin a manga series titled Detective Trap. Shortly after the series is cancelled, Mashiro and Takagi begin their work for their next manga series, Run, Daihatsu Tanto!
- The main character of the series. He follows in the footsteps of his late, uncle who was a manga artist, who loved a classmate from afar, but never got the chance to tell her so and later died from overwork. He is fond of his classmate Azuki Miho, who wishes to become a voice actor. To avoid becoming like his uncle, Mashiro accidentally proposes to Miho. She accepts, stating she will marry him after they achieve their dreams on the condition that they must not see each other until then. Mashiro then decides to team up with another classmate, a talented writer named Akito Takagi, and try to get published and have an anime adaption of the series. The two work under the pen name Ashirogi Muto. He is a talented artist, but is highly dissatisfied with his drawings. He is often called Saikō. Originally, Mashiro and Takagi work on cult manga; they then decide to make a battle manga instead. Afterward, they begin work on detective manga. This manga, Detective Trap has recently been cancelled due to the lack of popularity after their hiatus. He and Takagi have recently moved on to working on a gag manga, Run, Daihatsu Tanto!.
- One of Mashiro's classmates. After discovering Mashiro's talent in drawing, he proposed that they try to publish a manga together. Although Mashiro originally refuses, the two begin to work together after he takes Mashiro to Azuki's house and Azuki and Mashiro decide to get married after their dreams come true. He eventually dates Azuki's best friend Kaya Miyoshi. Takagi is a writer and writes the storylines for the pair's manga. The two started working under the pen name Ashirogi Muto although he is often called Shūjin. Takagi specializes in unorthodox story lines. When he came up against a writers block after they decided to do a gag manga, he started to exchanging ideas with Yuriko Aoki who needed help with her manga. He worked with Mashiro on manga, Detective Trap which was cancelled. He and Mashiro have moved on to working on a gag manga, Run, Daihatsu Tanto! which came first in Akamaru Jump. He recently proposed to Miyoshi in order to clear up a misunderstanding.
- Mashiro's former classmate and fiancée. She aspires to become a voice actor and shows promise in the field. She promises to marry Mashiro after they achieve their dreams. However, they must not see each other until then. Since this promise, Azuki has picked up a voicing role, and is gaining growing popularity, not because of her skills, but for her looks. At one point Azuki's agent urged her to bring out a photo book, in effect becoming a gravure idol. With Mashiro's support, however, she turned down the offer and persevered in her voice acting. Her mother is the woman Mashiro's uncle fell in love with.
- Azuki's best friend and Takagi's girlfriend. Because her friends all have such high aspirations, she begins to feel left out and decides to become a mobile romance novelist. For her first story, she relates the romance between Mashiro and Azuki; however, Takagi ends up writing it for her. She later changes her dream to wanting Mashiro and Takagi's dreams come true as well as wanting to become Takagi's wife afterward. She helps out in inking the manga and generally maintaining a positive atmosphere in the studio.
- Niizuma Eiji
- A 16-year-old high school student hailed as a genius by many people. He wins the Tezuka Award for his manga Large bander, after which Mashiro and Takagi declare him their rival. Although Mashiro and Takagi view him as a rival, he is very friendly upon meeting them and states he is a fan of theirs. He moves to Tokyo to work on the serialization of his manga Crow on the condition he is able to cancel one series in the Weekly Shōnen Jump after becoming the magazine's most popular author. The head editor has described the difference between Mashiro and Takagi to Nizuma is "love of manga", indeed, Nizuma seems to have been obsessed with and drawing manga since he was 6,and makes loud sound effects with his mouth while drawing. Nīzuma tends to act conceited because he is hailed as a genius; however, after working on Crow for quite a long time, he is more humble, even claiming to "not be good enough of a Mangaka to be judging other people's work" when asked by his editor to judge for the Golden Future Cup. He works under the direction of the Weekly Shōnen Jump editor Hattori Yūjirō and works with two assistants, Fukuda Shinta and Nakai Takurō, who also works with the shōjo manga artist Kō Aoki, whose real name is Aoki Yuriko
- Fukuda and Mashiro first met when Mashiro decided to become an assistant for Nizuma Eiji. Fukuda had already won an honorable mention when he tried for the Tezuka Award and also got seventh place in the same issue of Akamaru Jump in which where Ashirogi's Money and Intelligence ran and got third place. Fukuda then became friends with Mashiro and also competed with Ashirogi and Nakai in the Golden Future cup with his original manga, Kiyoshi Knight. Fukuda then got serialized somewhat time after Ashirogi and is now an aspiring rival to Ashirogi, Eiji, and Nakai. Among these three, he is considered to have the worst drawings, though they apparently match his stories. His drawings often border on grotesque. He can be extremely conceited and competitive at times, yet helps out his rivals, who are also his friends.
- A new mangaka who, one day, picked up Shōnen Jump for the first time in his life, and decided to quit his job to draw manga. His series is called Otters 11 and became serialized around the same time as Mashiro and Takagi's. He can be overwhelmed easily and finds it hard to deal with the stress of writing a manga. He frequently shows up at the other mangaka's studios to hide, but is always soon found out by his editor, who made a point to send out a fax to everyone explaining what Hiramaru does and asking to call him (the editor) if Hiramaru shows up at their place. He is shown to be a drinker, such as at the New Year's party, where he drank himself sick. He complains about his job a lot and wonders aloud why he ever decided to do it in the first place, but consistently ranked high with the readers in the questionnaires. Due to this, he has been called as a manga genius possibly on the level of Nizuma Eiji, especially considering he has barely read any manga.
Written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata, the chapters of the Bakuman series have been in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. Since its premiere on August 11, 2008, over one hundred and twenty chapters have been released in Japan. The first volume of Bakuman was released on January 5, 2009 and as of May 2010, ten volumes have been released. Several chapters of the series have been released on Jumpland's official website in Japanese, English, French, and German; the first chapter was released on August 19, 2008. It is the first manga released online by Shueisha in multiple languages before becoming available in print outside of Japan.
In addition to the success of Bakuman in Japan, the series has also been licensed in Korea by Daiwon C.I. and serialized in their Comic Champ manhwa magazine, by Tong Li Publishing in Taiwan, Tokyopop in Germany and JBC in Brazil.
A 25-episode anime television series based on the manga began broadcasting on NHK on October 2, 2010. In December 2010, Weekly Shonen Jump announced that a second season will air in October 2011. Anime corporation Media Blasters has obtain licenses to the first season and will begin releasing the first season on DVD in November 2011, Media Blasters also confirmed license to the upcoming second season as well.
Carlo Santos of Anime News Network praises the conflicting viewpoints of the protagonists and is surprised that the series succeeds, not only as a manga about manga, but as slice-of-life series about the dreams of youth. However, Santos comments that this series could learn from Ohba and Obata's previous series Death Note; the beginning is not as gripping and the plot twists are "pretty weak" and "seem like petty contrivances". Despite this, he believes that the series is "another hit".
The first volume of the series placed fourth out of thirty in manga sales in Japan for the week of January 6 to January 12, selling 154,675 copies during that time. The week after, January 13 to January 19, the volume fell to ninth place selling 38,176 copies. The second volume followed suit placing second during the March 2 to 9 week, selling 228,056 copies, and falling to seventh during the following March 10 to 16 week selling an additional 62,947 copies. The third volume continued the trend and placed fourth during the week of June 1 to June 7, selling 200,369 copies and placed sixth during the next week of June 8 to June 14 selling 67,541 copies. During the first half of 2009, the first volume placed twenty-eighth and the second volume placed twenty-seventh of fifty top-selling manga in Japan, selling 381,633 and 394,567 copies respectively.
- The beginning of the Ohba/Obata series have an interesting parallel. While the plot of Death Note begins with Light Yagami finding a notebook in school, Bakuman begins by Moritaka Mashiro accidentaly leaving his notebook behind.