Volumes 14 and 15 of Bakuman give us more challenges for the manga making duo of Moritaka and Akito, as they continue to create their manga PCP in Shonen Jump, while taking on all sorts of new challenges.
Volume 14 follows their new rival Nanamine. Once a fan of the duo, he has turned to making manga with the goal of beating Ashirogi! His one-shot blows all the editors away, and newbie editor Kosugi is assigned to him. However, Nanamine’s work is almost too good, and one by one it is revealed or discovered that Nanamine uses an usual method by gathering the collective thoughts of 50 different people online and writing/drawing his manga based on that! Kosugi and our main duo all find out his method, but decide to let it ride out and not report him to the head-chief. Our duo decides to beat him and prove manga needs to come from the heart, and Kosugi hopes he can break down the wall and get him to respect and recognize him as an editor. Nanamine has another hidden trick up his sleeve, as he hires Nakai who draws amazing background work to help blow his story out of the water. However, no matter what trick, manga with heart does seem to be winning the day as Nanamine’s manga slips in the rankings and PCP stays on top.
Volume 15 continues with Nanamine getting desperate to hang on. This leads to a once and for all battle where Ashirogi agrees to do the same type of story as Nanamine in that week’s issue, so the two stories can square off against each other on the same playing field, and the one people like better can stand out. PCP kills, leading to Nanamine losing his nerve for a bit and dedicating himself to finding another method to best the duo. Former assistant Nakai, though, causes more trouble. Out of a job once again, he ends up drunk at Aoki’s house, where he squares off in a fist fight with Hiramaru, which leads to the two exchanging blows in drunken stupors until they go off drinking together! The volume ends with the unexpected challenge from outside the manga world, where a group of robbers have been recreating PCP robberies in real life, causing media controversy. Akito is effected by this and starts to avoid more realistic crime in the manga, not being able to stand people doing crimes based off it, however, this comes at the cost of the manga’s rankings quickly slipping. After a few painful yet heart-to-heart meetings, Akito gets his act together and creates the ultimate statement, a manga arc where there is a copy cat group that copies off PCP, and PCP states how it’s wrong and they don’t actually harm folks.
Volumes 14 and 15 create a nice arc and give our heroes more interesting challenges than just one artist versus another, and manga rankings (although that is still heavily part of the plot). The Nanamine story line is particularly interesting, as it seems like he has come up with such a good way to possibly beat Ashirogi. Also, Obata and Ohba have created a character we want to hate and want our duo to beat with Nanamine, which was much needed. The story element of the real world copy cats pulling off PCP-crimes was pretty cool to see, with a media-affecting-artist story in the manga. The ideas are fresh, the artwork is good, and these chapters have given the manga a nice boost in these volumes.
Bakuman volumes 14 and 15 are available in digital and print from Viz.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.