Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
Summary: Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi are pretty much foils of each other. Mashiro, an average 9th grade student but talented artist, and Takagi, an overall advanced 9th grader and aspiring writer. After great convincing, Takagi convinces Mashiro to join him in becoming the greatest mangakas Japan has ever seen. Takagi, with his gift of writing, hopes to become a successful mangaka, and Mashiro, with his gift of art, hopes to marry the girl of his dreams, Azuki Miho.
Review: I consider this the best romance comedy of the Winter season since its only competition was really Dragon Crisis and we all know how I feel about that anime. At first I thought that premise of promising to marry someone once both their dreams were achieved was a bit to fantasy for me. Also considering that the two have never actually had a conversation together it is a bit weird to jump to gun to marriage. After getting a few episodes in though I realized it was more about writing manga than the actual relationship. Don’t get me wrong, all you romance fans out there will still enjoy the series because it does come back to that initial promise multiple times. The promise that they cannot talk to each other in person until both their dreams have come true added a little spice as well. Exchanging emails is as close to a real conversation as they got. Even then, it seemed they only mailed each other when there was a new development in their career paths. This sweet tale of high school student kept my attention and was one of the better series I’ve seen.
The art style for Bakuman was solid, nothing over the top though. This was to be expected considering art is a huge portion of manga as well. So having a series based on manga it only seems natural. One thing that struck me were the variations of the actual manga art. It was nice to see the differences in art between the different aspiring manga artists. There were even clear differences between the art Mashiro drew for his manga series. The level of detail to have multiple, good art styles was a plus because it made the anime feel a bit more realistic. They also had some great shots of the characters that really expressed their frustration or joy. Takagi also had some great scenes with Miyoshi that I felt showed the “other side” of what a normal relationship could have been like between Akito and Azuki.
The storyline wasn’t bad either. There were a few times I got bored because the season was very slow paced. After the ball started to rolling I enjoyed it quite a bit more. I haven’t read the manga, but I’m sure it progresses a lot faster. The original manga being about writing manga was a pretty cool concept. It wasn’t until after the two friends got into Jack when I started to watch with full attention. I think that the pre-Jack stages don’t give the series enough credit. The first half the season is spent trying to have character development and really push the message of how competitive writing manga can be. Instead of the typical montage of thinking/writing/drawing/editing manga, they actually took you through most of it step-by-step. A part of me liked the idea because it really brought me closer to understanding their heartache when they didn’t make the cut, but at the same time I was really bored. I suppose it is one of those things you don’t appreciate till later in the series. Of course months would fly by later in the season when you have already seen all that creative business going down. I’m glad they sped it up a little later in the season, but I still consider it a slow show. My favorite moments were between Miyoshi and Takagi. Watching their relationship was far less frustrating than anything else in the show. Miyoshi provided great comedic and moral support for the main characters as well. I suppose her air headed behavior came in handy. I also enjoyed the fact that the dynamic duo didn’t always succeed. I’m glad they didn’t make it easy. It may seem short, the time lapse indicated that they actually took quite a long time to get where they are now (post season one). Even though I liked they failed at times because it made success all the sweeter, I wasn’t exactly sad when they did fail. I think that if a character fails in an anime you should feel some sort of grief for them if you really like them. So to me this was an indication that I didn’t care much for the story or characters as I hoped.
The soundtrack wasn’t bad, but nothing great either so I’ll keep this short. The opening wasn’t my cup of tea because it was a bit too lovey-dovey. I don’t think I sat through it after the first time, and even then that was only to give it a review. The ending wasn’t as bad, but another situation where I would rather just move onto my next anime than sit and listen.
Final statements: Bakuman is a slow anime, but apparently the manga is a lot faster (which makes sense). So if you are a Bakuman fan after the first season and dying to check out more, read the manga. If you would rather wait and don’t mind the slow pace, stick with the anime. From what I have read online, it is following the manga pretty well. As for me I will be checking out the second season and giving this one a preferred watch.