"Bakuman: Season One Collection" is an animated drama series about an ordinary middle school student named Moritaka Mashiro and yes I do really mean "ordinary high school student" for once (because you know... Anime tends to say that they are ordinary students but they are really anything but). This series starts with Mashiro as a young boy watching the first episode of an anime that was adapted from his uncle manga. Years have passed and Mashiro is a very smart teenager in middle school and is working his way into a very nice high school all while thinking of a way to tell his middle school crush that he likes her. One day after school he goes back into his class to retrieve a book that he left behind only to run into another student named Akito Takagi.
Takagi asks Mashiro if he would join up with him to work on a manga series as he wants to get a printed in a magazine but he doesn't have an artist to draw them. The reason why Takagi wants to team up with Mashiro is due to watching him draw in his school book and likes his art and he also wants to help Mashiro reach out to the girl that he has a crush on. Mashiro isn't a fan of the idea at first but he soon decides to take up on his offer. Later that night Takagi takes Mashiro to Miho Azuki's house (the girl that Mashiro has a crush on) and tells her the news only for Mashiro to propose to her out of sheer nervousness and what's worse is that she says yes... But only on one condition and that is that their manga must have an anime based on it so that she can voice act in it. Now Mashiro and Takagi are working together to come up with a new manga in hopes of it getting picked up by "Shonen Jack" (A parody title of "Shonen Jump"). (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this one was done very well and was also well told. While this show is very down to Earth I wouldn't say it is an realistic take on the comic book/manga/graphic novel scene (they're all comics... GET OVER IT!) as it more resembles something found in a sugar-coated teen drama series although a very creative teen drama series at that. Speaking of "drama" the drama in this show was good... Actually this was better than good, it was great and it really hooks you into the series and you'll find yourself going through the series fairly quickly. There is some comedy in this show that did make me laugh and it wasn't overused as they used it at very appropriate times. I am mixed on the romance element of the show as it can be quite pretentious during some episodes but for the rest of the episodes it was done well and it does make up for those pretentious moments (as you can tell I am not a fan of anything "pretentious"... Just look at the show "Ef: A Tale of Memories (2007)" for example).
The characters in this show were very good with charming personalities. The characters aren't perfect though which can be seen as both a good and a bad thing, the good being that it makes them more relateable to us due to the characters being human and the bad being that they can get a little pretentious with the romance and drama in some episodes. Perfect or not the characters become quite memorable and will rank up with some of your favorite anime characters.
This show also makes reference to "Shonen Jump" quite a lot to where all the comic book/manga/graphic novel references are nearly all exclusively Shonen Jump references. This can get a little annoying due to it feeling like that they are cramming Shonen Jump products down your throats. There is even one scene where children are playing a game of "Yu-Gi-Oh" at a park and yes it is Yu-Gi-Oh and not a cheap knock-off.
The artwork in this show wasn't bad at all with some nicely designed characters that look like any person you would see on the streets and unique at the same time and they are also quite memorable as well. The backgrounds are pretty decent with some nice detailing but when you get to the scenes with the art-studio then the detailing is ramped up to eleven with a lot of detailing put into all the shonen jump manga that you will see in the background. The detailing even includes all the books to where the spines join up to make a picture just like the Japanese releases of the "Dragon Ball (1984 - 1995)" manga and they even keep in the mistake to where "Yajirobe" is on the spines twice (now I'm starting to go off the beaten track into obscure trivia). Animation in this show is alright and does the job well. While I did like the artwork I did find some shots where the characters were showing teeth to be a bit weird as it made them look like field mice nibbling on some fruit and nuts and it did annoy me a little.
As of this date this show is released with a Japanese dub and English subtitles only but I wouldn't be surprised if this show ever got an English dub in the future. The Japanese dub on this show was decent with voices that worked well with the characters but far from being the greatest dub of all time. I wasn't feeling anything from the soundtrack in this show as it had a very generic pop-rock sound that was quite boring.
There isn't anything much going on in the special features section on this DVD set. What you do get are just all of the text-less versions of the opening credits and only one text-less version of the closing credits. Both opening and closing credit sequences were quite average with generic music and alright visuals. You will not get much entertainment out of them.
Overall this was a really great show that tells a great story of two dudes who want to be comic book/manga/graphic novel artists (yes I know the correct word for this situation is "mangaka" before some fan corrects me but it's all the same anyway). Problems with the show aside I defiantly recommend checking this show out as it will really lift your spirits up until you turn off the show to remember how ultra-depressing real life is. A really great watch.
Title: Bakuman Season One Collection
Animation/Production Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Animation/Anime, Drama, Comedy, Romance
Running Time: 625 minutes (25 Episodes)
Distributor: Madman Entertainment (www.madman.com.au)
Rating: PG (Mild coarse language)