Bakuman: Raw Determination

In light of flomu’s desire for everyone to publish an editorial on the 28th of Dec 2011, I have decided to try and write an editorial in less than 25 minutes…

Ok, let’s go!

Bakuman is a great manga.

Yes, I know everyone hates the anime, and yes, I know that all of us manga fags either claim things will get better, or we tell everyone to read the manga. But, the truth is, not everyone will enjoy Bakuman. Bakuman is a Shonen, a true Shonen mind you. Bakuman is about mangakas fighting, fighting not with their fists, but with their pens.

People often criticise the characters in Bakuman. “Oh look at Miho, what kind of naive idiot is she?” “Why is Saiko such an idiot?”  “Marriage after their dreams come true? Why are they so naive?!” Things like that have been said by many people, and to be honest, they are all fair criticisms.

But you must understand, Bakuman is a Shonen, and it’s not just a Shonen; it’s a battle Shonen. But, unlike other battle Shonen, there is no “evil bad guy” that threatens the livelihood of the main characters friends. There is no global threat to the planet or to anyone. So, then, you must ask, why on earth will anyone fight? How can someone fight when they don’t need to worry about protecting their friends, or if they don’t need to worry about protecting their planet?

What could possibly motivate them to fight? Then you ask yourself, “Wait, don’t all of us fight in real life to?”. We all have our struggles, most of which are hopefully minor, and whenever we have a struggle, we need to fight to get through it. Alternatively, we could you know,pay someone to do the fighting for us, using money that we supposedly fought for of course.

Bakuman is like real life, except it’s a Shonen battle manga, so, it’s exaggerated, several thousand fold. Bakuman is about achieving your dreams, in that regard, it’s not very different from Naruto or One Piece. The only difference is that the median through which the battles are carried out is different. And, just like real life, in order to fight, you need a reason. “Miho and Saiko’s romance” is one such reason.

Fighting for love is arguably one of the oldest reasons for people fighting. I am not going to deny that their relationship is a bit silly (though it does get better, I SWEAR!), but it’s there for a reason. It’s there so that Saiko has at least one identifiable reason for battling against other mangaka. Or, well, that was probably the reason at the beginning, but as the manga has progressed, I can’t help but feel that Saiko has grown, and now, it’s about more than just him and Miho. Now, it’s about winning. It’s about that raw adrenaline rush you get when you compete neck to neck with someone.

Wait, did you really think the authors threw in Miho without good reason? They might not be the best at creating characters, but these are the guys who made Death Note, and mentored Oda. They know what they are doing.

You can think of it like a real sport. Most kids when they first start playing a sport, they need a reason to start. Maybe it was their gym teacher who made them play it during school, or maybe it was a parent, or maybe they just saw the sport on tv and thought it looked cool, so they tried to emulate it. Who knows, but what counts is the feeling they get before they go to championships. That feeling of competition, that desire to win, the feeling you get when you win, getting along with others (with other team mates or just your coach) that is why people play sports.

Well, to make the analogy work, Saiko’s original reason would be his uncle. His relationship with Miho just made him get over his injury and get back in the game.

Anyway, that is all irrelevant. Bakuman is not about the reason, or anything else. No, Bakuman, like all Battle Shonen, is about the battle itself. That raw determination the characters have to win. How hard they will work just to win. Bakuman is about sweating, about working all day and night, all for that one questionnaire at the end of the week. It isn’t about mangakas trying to keep their jobs, or trying to get promotions, no, it is about mangakas who are playing the sport of manga. They don’t want to win, they have to win, or exhaust themselves trying. That is what it means to be a fighter in Bakuman, and from what I can tell, that is what it means to be a real mangaka as well.

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