Filled with plenty of tension and manga-making drama, volumes 16 and 17 of Bakuman hit a few key turning points as it enters the final arc of the series!
In volume 16, Nizuma ups everyone’s game as well as his own, as Crow starts to consecutively hit number one several weeks in a row. Turns out he made a deal in the past where if his manga hits no.1 ten weeks in a row, he is allowed to end a series of his choosing. Of course Nizuma isn’t as shallow as to end someone else’s series, but actually his own! This puts the editorial department in a panic, because they of course don’t want to end the number one series in Jump, and all the manga creators of course want to take a good crack at stopping him, as well. From the introduction of new characters to color spreads, everyone comes close, but no one puts a stop to Nizuma who reigns supreme and gets to retire his series. However, all the creators learn about themselves and the meaning of pushing the quality of their own works further. Next up in the story, an elderly manga creator named Azuma appears and turns in a killer good one-shot that blows everyone away. Normally a creator this old who had his moment in the sun years ago wouldn’t get a chance in Jump, which concentrates on a lot of newer manga creators, but the manga Panty Flash Fight is sooooo good, they decide to make an exception and run it. This would be fine for all the current creators, until suddenly two other veteran manga artists step forward as well, with killer one-shots that make it onto the publication schedule!
Volume 17 continues with the rising of the old artists, when it is revealed who is behind the whole movement: Nanamine! Nanamine has convinced his father to fork over a butt-load of money, and has fine tuned his manga-making-by-the-masses system. He now pays employees to read and grade manga, develop stories, and then create new stories that best exist with manga artists who have been out of the lime light for a while and need a come back. Of course in his typical cockiness, Nanamine reveals the whole process to Mashiro and Takagi as a challenge to them. It’s not too long until all of Jump finds out the truth, a bummer for the elderly Azuma whose one-shot has turned into a mini-series. Still, he is embarrassed, and turns out he actually used to be the assistant to Mashiro’s uncle, adding more embarrassment to the pile for himself. Finally, it boils down to the ultimate challenge from the chief-editor – Nanamine can use his corporation to write a one-shot his way, but Nanamine must draw it himself. If this new one-shot gets in the top three with votes, he can have a series, if not he can never submit to Jump again. All the creators up their A-game once again, Ashirogi creating a killer one-shot that actually ties their entire PCP story line into it. In the end, Nanamine makes fourth, losing to not just Ashirogi, but also Azuma who did a one-shot all on his own to prove he still had it in him with no one’s help. The volume ends with the announcement that the editorial staff is going through some major changes, and Mashiro and Takagi creating a new idea to go against Nizuma who is about to release a new series, too.
Bakuman continues to rock out the drama and excitement of manga making. While the story begins to feel a little repetitive with basically everyone duking it out to be number one, the plot of the veteran manga creators coming back in gave it a nice mix up, and of course put Nanamine back in the spotlight as the villain once again, which pays off since he’s one of the few characters who you can just hate on in the manga. The elderly character of Azuma was a nice addition, too. You feel bad for him getting caught up with Nanamine, yet want him to win somehow without Nanamine winning, which Obata and Ohba figured out a great way to do. The art by Obata looks stellar, even just offices and artists’ studios look great rendered by his pen.
It’s the beginning of the end in these volumes of Bakuman, available in print and digital from Viz.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.