Bakuman centers around two aspiring mangakas, Mashiro (Takeru Sato) and Takagi (Ryunosuke Kamiki). Mashiro has been doodling images of his crush, Azuki (Nana Komatsu) in class. One day, Takagi happens to browse through his artbook and proposes that they become partners. Takagi’s dream is to become a mangaka but his only fatal flaw is, he can’t draw.
Although initially reluctant to team up with Takagi, Mashiro’s spirits are fired up after Azuki encourages him.
Takagi then serves as the brain behind the plot while Mashiro draws the images to life. After completing their first work together, they decide to submit to the editorial board of Shonen JUMP. Mashiro’s uncle was a mangaka working under Shonen JUMP and hence, Mashiro has a certain fixation on the company.
Hattori (Takayuki Yamada) is the calm and laidback editor with ruffled hair. He’s probably my favorite character despite the lack of screen time. I wish Yamada would continue getting major roles but it’s sad to see him getting sidelined nowadays. I know his prime is over and the young ones have to be introduced but this here is a really good actor who is wasted playing side characters. Of course, I like both Takeru Sato and Kamiki but I just can’t help being drawn towards Yamada lol.
Takeru Sato is amazing in Tenno no Ryoriban and the Rurouni Kenshin movies, so I was probably hoping for too much in this movie. He did fine but not very memorable except for one or two scenes. Playing the more charismatic partner, Kamiki seems to overshadow him, most of the time.
Shota Sometani plays the young genius mangaka, Niizuma who instantly becomes their rival as the company pits them against each other. More than half the movie is spent detailing their competition for best ranking. The cartoony battle sequence is a bit awkward imo and while I understand it is to depict their ongoing weekly ranking, it feels slightly childish to me. They could’ve shortened that sequence.
While the movie has its shortcomings, I do enjoy the details when it comes to the lives of mangaka. You learn their struggles as they chase deadlines, racking their brains for a constant interesting story, losing sleep and appetite until one of them collapses. Some of the scenes when their works float and run in the background is pretty cool too.
The only thing is the battle sequence I mentioned earlier, that seemed a bit out of place and pretentious. Their sketching scenes are realistic at least. Artwork is brilliant and always pleasing to look at in this movie.
It’s inevitable to compare this to Juhan Shuttai. While their areas of focus is different, I still can’t help but think Juhan Shuttai is more fulfilling to watch. Maybe because it not only focuses on the editors but provides a more thorough exposure to mangakas as well as the marketing side. Bakuman feels lacking and it doesn’t make me wanna revisit the movie. The bottom line is, if you have only 2 hours to spare, this is passable as an introductory movie to the world of manga. If you have more time to spare, you should watch Juhan Shuttai instead for more details and a satisfying experience.