Bakuman is a refreshing title
It was recently announced that Bakuman is getting a 3rd anime season, and this is a good opportunity to discuss the uprising popularity of Bakuman as a Weekly Shounen Jump manga. Bakuman is a very popular manga which runs neck to neck with manga giants like One Piece and Naruto. It has managed to claim itself a place among the top 5 most popular Jump series, which is why a 3rd anime season is being announced for it even though the 2nd season is still currently airing. And yet Bakuman is not your run-of-the-mill Shounen Jump manga.
A small introduction to the series is due. Bakuman is a series about several aspiring manga artists. In the beginning it only focuses on an aspiring manga artist named Mashiro and his aspiring writer friend Takagi. They decide to combine their talents and make a great manga together. After a while more characters (and manga artists) are introduced. The series shows how the manga artists struggle to enter the tricky business world of manga and what hurdles are thrown in their way as they enter it. In a nutshell it is a manga about making manga. Bakuman is well grounded in reality and doesn’t have all the aliens/monsters, super powers and special moves that are staples of typical Shounen Jump series. Moreover you won’t find any villains in Bakuman (unless you count grumpy editors as villains), there is only a small pool of characters to follow and these characters never battle each other or have any physical confrontations. Heck, even fanservice is kept to a nil!
Have no misconceptions though, Bakuman is 100% Weekly Shounen Jump material. The series maintain a constant feeling of advancement and achievement. The main characters strive to create a manga, fail, rise again and learn from their mistakes. They have dream and act to achieve them. Does having no battles mean having no tension? Hell no. Bakuman is rife with cliffhangers. Will the main characters’ manga succeed or flunk? Can they make the deadline in time? What happens when one manga artist collapses due to overwork? What is the best trick the artists can come up with to attract more readers? Bakuman can deliver tension when it’s due. I find Bakuman to be a very mature and refreshing series. Any unnatural occurrence or mystical powers would have just watered-down the experience. I expect realism from Bakuman. When I watch the Bakuman anime I watch it to see believable human interaction, intelligent human thinking and a decent paced plot. It also helps that this series has zero fillers. It probably won’t be remembered as one of Shounen Jump’s greatest series of all time, but future Shounen Jump series should learn from Bakuman. Learn to be fresh, break the mold and appeal to new audiences.