story by Tsugumi Ohba; art by Takeshi Obata
published by Viz; $9.99 US
I was looking forward to the conclusion of Bakuman, expecting that we’d find out some final lessons about creating popular manga. I’d forgotten that we were in the middle of a plotline about voice casting for the anime based on the young artists’ manga.
In a way, it’s a weird answer to those who complained that there weren’t enough women in the book, and the ones we had were treated like prizes. (That’s a valid complaint for much of the series.) Most of this final volume is about Miho’s determination to make it as a voice actress, her strength in facing up to horrible things people say about her, and her honesty winning people over. So we finally get an admirable female character, but her story feels like a distraction. I didn’t care nearly as much about the auditioning for an anime role as I did about the details of getting and keeping a popular manga.
Anyway, Miho reveals her promise with Moritaka, that they would marry once they both fulfilled their dreams, in a way that’s alternately inspiring and sappy. All the publicity about the situation means the audition will be held in public, in an unusual setup that smacks to me of the decision-makers not wanting to take responsibility for a choice that will upset some significant group of fans.
The main business discussion in this volume involves how a manga series runs in connection with an anime adaptation and a graphic novel serialization. Perhaps it’s me subconsciously disconnecting from an ending series, but I didn’t find this information nearly as interesting as that in previous volumes. I would have rather spent the space on seeing how the other manga artists were doing. Instead, we get a handful of pages full of tiny panels of their reactions. I’ll miss all those crazy competitors and inspirations, but at least they all made it onto the cover.
The final chapter provides an expected ending, tying up loose ends from early in the Bakuman series, but for me, it was an anti-climax.