story by Tsugumi Ohba; art by Takeshi Obata; adapted by Julie Lutz
published by Viz; $9.99 US
My goodness, that cast lineup on the opening pages just gets larger and larger!
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that, just a few volumes from the series end, the young manga creators have finally come up with something resembling Death Note. After all, Bakuman is done by the same creative team, so who better to describe a battle manga cult hit with a dark story.
They’re once again going up against their top rival, Nizuma, with both having new one-shots debuting in a short period of time. The problem with this system of manga creation is that success only leads to more work. If the new samples do well, then they should continue into a series — but both creators have already-running series. Can they add more and keep up the quality? Of course, they’re determined and enthusiastic, but sheer desire doesn’t make accomplishment possible.
This volume circles back around to a lot of the basics of Bakuman, from the direct competition with Nizuma to the suspense over how the question of the new series will play out. Many of the other artists in the supporting cast are only checked in with briefly, while we see more of the editors and their debates. I found it all thrilling. Plus, we’re reminded again of what drives Mashiro — his need for success so he can marry.
The lessons about making manga this time through focus on crafting villains in a battle manga and the exhaustion that can result from having to meet impossible deadlines. The artist’s plan starts with 30 pages needing to be created in a week, which requires four assistants. That particular chapter is mind-numbing in portraying how hard everyone works just for a weekly manga installment. It’s my favorite in the book. There’s also a debate about quality vs. longevity, about whether a writer should try for a lengthy run of years or avoid padding and just make every chapter run at top speed.
We do get one side story near the end, following up with the crazy and lazy creator of “Otter No. 11″, Hiramaru, and his crush on the writer Miss Aoki. They’re around at this point just to provide exaggerated emotion and humor, both of which they succeed at. I do hope the final page, which promises the next volume in May 2014, is a typo — I can’t wait that long! (Amazon says 2013, so I hope it is.)