I recently completed watching the final episodes of Bakuman 3 after picking up the series from the beginning approximately a month ago. I really did not expect to complete a 75 episode series within such a short amount of time, especially while keeping up with school and the ongoing Fall 2013 season. I must say that I did not expect to enjoy this series as much as I did since I had brushed it off so many times in the past before actually deciding to watch it. Be warned that this post contains SPOILERS so those who don't want to be spoiled, you have been warned!
I think one of the biggest factors that drew me into the world of Bakuman was the fact that you are introduced to a set of characters and are given the opportunity to watch them grow and develop. At the start of the series, Takagi and Mashiro were only 9th grade students who had a seemingly unattainable dream to become manga authors. They were pretty naive and made many rash or foolish decisions when starting out but as the series progresses and they transition from teenagers into young adults, we get to see them go from amateurs to professional.
Aoki showing emotions!
Bakuman also has a large cast of supporting characters who play important roles in the development of the Ashirogi Muto duo. While they do make it clear how each character affects them, Bakuman also does an excellent job at developing the side characters. Characters like Iwase and Aoki who appeared rather early in the series with no real emotions or characteristics (almost robot like) became individual and unique by the end of the series.
They also managed to make characters who I personally thought were dislikeable show incredible growth which resulted in me understanding them and respecting them by the end of the series. I originally disliked Niizuma's character based on how confident he seemed with supernatural he seemed (could produce manga quickly and of the highest quality), but he eventually realizes that he isn't some genius who can get away with anything he wants. He realizes his behaviour was unacceptable, learns to accept advice from others and goes on to become a top author in Jack. Miura was another character that irked me at first. He seemed rather selfish and overall clueless when trying to help the boys with their work. However, as time went on, we could see how serious he was and how much he cared for the boys' future.
THEMES & MESSAGE
This series has many points it tries to get across, but I think the biggest and most obvious one is "pursuing your dream". In the very first episode, it began with Mashiro realizing his passion and dream with Azuki and the very fitting conclusion is them finally obtaining their dream despite all the hardships and struggles they had to endure. While this is only an anime, it manages to capture the essence of what it means to work towards a goal. Ashirogi Muto had to work for 10 years to reach their goal, and we were able to witness all of their successes, and all of their failures or setbacks. Watching much effort the characters put in to pursue reach their goal made me reflect on myself and realize I need to pursue my own passions and interests and see them through until the end. At the end of the day, you will only have regrets if you've never tried.
After watching the series, I looked up Wiki and other resources and realized that the creators of this series was a duo similar to Ashirogi Muto. They also worked together in the past on Death Note (which I haven't watched) and you can see that Bakuman is heavily influenced by their experiences working as manga authors. Ashirogi Muto's series within Bakuman seemed to reflect the type of writing style that the authors had used for Death Note (unconventional, suspense, mystery, shounen manga)
I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes for manga and anime series and how cut throat the industry is. After finishing Bakuman, I reflected on other series I had watched in the past and seemed to get a better understanding as to why authors change up their series or introduce new things (Like Medaka Box going from slice of life/comedy into shounen battle manga).
While there are many things I really liked about this series, I did have some criticism for it as well. At times this show can be way too over dramatic and also stretches reality quite a bit. While its understandable since it is an anime and a shounen at that, I thought some parts were a bit difficult to watch because of how ridiculous it was (A lot of Mashiro's recovery in S2 I thought was too over the top). Then again, I might just have felt this way because the series is targeted towards a different demographic who could understand these situations better.
Another thing that I disliked was the third last arc with Nanamine seemed pretty pointless to me and was just filler. They introduced a few new characters towards the end of the series who don't really help Ashirogi grow in any way. Rather, the overall message I got from this arc was the whole hard work and team work will always prevail (generic shounen theme). While it was nice to see Kosugi mature as an editor, it was unneeded since we already saw the same thing with Miura earlier on.
In the end, I gave all three seasons a 9/10 score on myanimelist. It is a simple story of having a dream and the journey of reaching it. However, the series was well executed with some of the best character development and story telling for a show. It is also semi-realistic, in the sense that these are just ordinary people like the viewers, which makes it easier for us to relate to the characters or what they have to go through. I wanted to rate the series a perfect 10 but the over the top drama was a bit much to handle for my tastes. I understand that it was probably necessary but I'm still not a fan of it. Regardless, this series managed to leave an impression on me and I actually feel a sort of emptiness inside of me after completing it. I really enjoyed this past month and wish I could continue to watch the story of their lives. However, all things must come to an end eventually, but I will still remember all of the things that I have learned through Bakuman.
A Final Farewell to Bakuman!