You know, I really thought that my early love-affair with manga from Weekly Shonen Jump was over, once I finally realized that Hikaru no Go was an exceptional series, and I wasn’t going to love every boys’ manga like that. Sure, I’m still enjoying some Jump series, but as I’ve further developed my own tastes, I’ve definitely moved in other directions. I’ve even dropped my Shonen Jump subscription to pick up Shojo Beat instead. But then came Bakuman to suck me right back in.
I’m sure a lot of you remember my big stink over the sexism in the second chapter of Ohba and Obata’s Bakuman. None of my feelings about that have changed, and yet somehow, after only sixteen more chapters, Bakuman has become one of my favorite series. It’s gotten to the point where I’m constantly scanning manga news sites to find out if anyone has licensed it yet so that I can be certain of one day owning it in shiny little books. My excitement over this manga has been coming on slowly over the past few months, but the newly released chapter eighteen finally sealed the deal.
Spoilers for Bakuman ch. 18 after the jump!
In chapter 18, Mashiro and Takagi are still pushing their editor to let them go mainstream, and in the middle of it all, Eiji Nizuma, the super-prodigy they are dying to beat is brought into the Jump offices to deal with the situation he’s created by refusing to draw the manga he’s supposed to. Up to this point, Nizuma had been pretty much painted as the typical shonen rival who must be defeated, but as he excitedly bursts in on Mashiro and Takagi’s meeting, it becomes clear that though they see him as a rival, he basically just thinks they’re cool. He’s full of praise for their manga, “Money and Intelligence,” and talks on about how he hopes they’ll be his friends.
Nizuma’s obviously got issues, but he’s a seriously awesome character, and adding him into the already compelling story creates a mix that seems unlikely to ever become dull. Furthermore, this chapter contains no mention at all of the tedious romantic subplot, which I know we’re ultimately stuck with, but which hopefully will never overshadow the coolness of the main plot.
Bakuman is the first series I’ve ever started out reading in serialization, and what’s amazing about that, is that it really works that way. There seems to be exactly enough of everything in each chapter to be a truly satisfying read, and though I’m excited for each new chapter to appear, it never feels like anything is being painfully drawn out. As a serial, it’s hard to think of something I’d recommend more.
Oh, Bakuman. Please don’t die. Please last long enough to be licensed and run a nice, long time. Please?