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Bakuman Season 1 DVD Review

by Luke Ryan Baldock

Bakuman DVDDirector: Kenichi Kasai, Noriaki Akitaya,

Starring: Atsushi Abe, Satoshi Hino, Hirofumi Nojima, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Ayako Kawasumi, Ayumi Fujimura, Hirofumi Nojima, Junichi Suwabe, Kenyuu Horiuchi,

Running Time: 600 minutes

Certificate: 12

In a sea of anime that is mostly dedicated towards the latest harem romantic comedies and fight filled action fests, BAKUMAN is a well needed breath of fresh air. It’s a quieter and subtler anime that makes an unexpectedly thrilling tale. It’s unexpected because the show is based on a manga and is centred around the writing of a manga. No surprise that such a story would reach its desired audience on the printed page, but are the ins and outs of developing a Japanese comic ripe for a televised serial? The answer is a resounding yes.

Middle School students Mashiro (Abe) and Takagi (Hino), team up as artist and writer with the plan to develop a serial manga which will one day become an anime. The story is your archetypal aiming for the stars drama, but with so many discussions and meetings going on, how does the pace remain so involving? That’s because it’s being handled like a sports film. It’s the ROCKY of book publishing, but even more exciting as the world of publication reveals itself to be a complex system. It isn’t enough to write a good story, and Mashiro and Takagi soon find themselves having to win competitions, develop their style, as well as facing a manga voting system that feeds many an intense moment throughout the show.

The writing on the show is fairly close to perfect, as is the development of each character. The dialogue sizzles between the protagonists, and nothing is made too easy for them. The show is all about achieving your dreams, but also shows that natural talent isn’t enough and hard work is also required. The diligence of the artistic duo is inspiring in many ways, as they also try to juggle school among their many artistic endeavours. Each script is also very welcoming to those with no clue about manga. Everything is explained clearly, without coming across as forced exposition.

The real stars of the show are the characters and the exceptional voice work, without them the repetitive sets of studios and offices would ooze boredom. Fortunately BAKUMAN takes a brave stance of avoiding any true antagonists but still supplying us with countless rivals. Nobody is out to get anybody else in this show and that refreshingly optimistic approach adds so much life to each episode. The main rival, Niizuma, is a gifted and eccentric artist, but never is he complacent or cruel. He gives good advice to the main characters, actively tries to be their friends, and works just as hard if not harder. If you’re expecting clichéd and melodramatic betrayals and backstabbing, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.

BAKUMAN really is the kind of show that makes you want to be more creative. Its attitude and style is enough to inspire and keep you selecting that ‘Play All’ option, disc after disc. The only down side is a subtitle track that is rife with grammatical and spelling errors, but not to the extent that they don’t make sense. If you’re looking for something that is a little calmer, but just as addictive as any action series, then this is certainly a show that needs to be seen.

5 STARSBAKUMAN Season 1 is released on DVD on 17th June via Manga Entertainment.

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