Bakuman。, Vol. 3: Debut and Impatience

Bakuman。, Vol. 3: Debut and Impatience - Tsugumi Ohba 4 stars

I am finally gaining some traction with Bakuman. Volume 3 was the best so far, mainly because of Eiji. The genius manga creator is shockingly unique, and I really enjoy his personality. He is so lost in his stories that he doesn’t even notice the real world, taking extended visits into his vivid imagination. While I thought he was going to be conceited jerk, he was far from it in this volume. He’s just a comic geek, magnified by 100, and he doesn’t have the best social graces. Then again, neither do Moritaka and Akito.

Akito and Moritaka are in a funk because they can’t come up with a concept that pleases their editor Hattori. He suggests that they focus on a story that’s not so main-stream, because their strengths are not in producing battle manga. Both Akito and Moritaka are resistant to his advice. If they are ever going to have a #1 series in Jump, it has to be a battle manga. So they crank out story after story, each lacking creative brilliance, and each rejected by Hattori. They finally turn in a story they believe is the best they have written, only to be rejected by the editors of the anthology magazine they submitted it for. Now they are reeling because they just can’t come up with an idea that doesn’t feel tired and boring.

With summer break coming up, Akito decides he needs a break. He isn’t going to go to the studio, but he will come up with a story that they can use during the downtime. Moritaka, spinning his wheels, agrees to work for Eiji as an assistant, hoping he can learn something from the wunderkid. Moritaka does learn something, but not what he was expecting. Instead of Eiji showing him the ropes, Moritaka learns that Eiji is the most scattered, undisciplined artist in the history of artists. Eiji refuses to create storyboards because they are boring. He refuses to go to meetings with his editor because he doesn’t like to think that much about his writing. He is a shoot from the hip kind of creator, and until he had a weekly series, that worked great for him. Now that he’s on a deadline, and competing with the other weekly series, he is fumbling around in the dark.

With advice from Takuro, an assistant with 10 years experience, and Shinta, a contest winner who hasn’t been given a series spot yet, Moritaka begins to understand Hattori’s insistence that they listen to him. He still wants to do a battle manga, but he’s more open to taking the editor’s advice. He also has a great deal of admiration for Takuro. Even though the older man hasn’t found much success working on his own series, he is a stellar assistant and teaches Moritaka a lot about producing a weekly manga. Armed with these new tools, he’s ready to get back in the groove. Too bad Akito isn’t quite as ready.

As Akito and Kaya’s relationship grows closer, Moritaka is forced to confront some jealously. Akito spends the summer break helping Kaya write romance serials, while he flounders away at coming up with a new series for Moritaka to illustrate. As Kaya gains some success with her work, Miho is cast in a small part in a new anime. Now Moritaka has to face that Miho’s dreams are coming true, while his are at a standstill. His unusual relationship with Miho is also the model for Kaya’s romance story, and as he helps her with it, even Akito begins to wonder how about the weird relationship. The Miho/Moritaka romance / whatever it is is the weakest part of the story for me. They are way too young to plan on getting married if they can’t even hold a face to face conversation with each other. It drives me nuts.

Anyway, Volume 3 was a huge improvement over the previous books in the series. Eiji saved it for me. I’m curious to see how Moritaka and Akito can compete with a guy who breathes manga, but has the attention span of a small gnat.

Grade: 4 stars