Bakuman Vol. 2 Review

By | Saturday, November 27, 2010 Leave a Comment
I noted back in August that I read and liked the first volume of Bakuman, a manga about two kids trying to break into the manga industry. I picked up the second volume recently, and continue to enjoy the series.

In this installment, Moritaka and Akito meet up with a manga editor who likes their work and starts guiding them through industry processes. He's actually a young (and still relatively new) editor himself, but he thinks the boys have lots of potential. He helps them through some drafts, providing creative criticism and encouragement, guiding them through their first published story. The editor also explains that they're essentially in a contest with every other story in that book, with readers voting on their favorites. Much of this book deals with how that process works, and the personal and professional challenges young mangaka face.

The other aspect to the story are the love lives of Moritaka and Akito. Moritaka's is more unusual of the two, as he and his love interest remain extremely chaste, barely even speaking to each other, much less holding hands or kissing. Their relationship is so romanticized as to be unbelievable, but at least the creators here acknowledge that with repeated exclamations of incredulity from almost every other character. While I certainly never experienced a relationship like that, and can scarcely see that ever happening realistically, I'll also acknowledge that there's some deep part of my romantic 14-year-old self that still identifies with it. That part of me that hadn't quite been smacked around by reality just yet, and turned me into such a cynical bastard.

That part of the overall story speaks to a more naive version of myself and, I suppose, that's part of my enjoyment of the book. The same reason I like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. A nostalgia, of sorts, for a mindset that, once lost, can never be regained. The innocence that comes with being protected and sheltered, and where the good guys wear white hats. Where characters do spout lines like, "I'll wait [for you] forever" and it makes complete sense.

That said, though, I would still continue picking up the story even without that element. That's a bit of characterization that makes me more engaged with the story, but I still am finding that explaining the process of creating professional manga to be the more interesting draw. I don't know how long the story will be able to continue doling out information on that process before it starts becoming terribly intermittent and/or redundant, but it looks to me as if there will be continue to be at least several more volumes that will prove to be utterly fascinating on that portion alone.
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