God I love the Bakuman manga.
I can unreservedly say that it is the single most brilliant work of art ever laid down on paper. Give me four words to describe it and I would call it the Godly Manifestation of Jesus. With a straight face. And that was BEFORE I read Chapter 131. Now it’s reached an entirely new tier of awesome, so much so that I can’t even find words to describe it anymore, even WITH a thesaurus.
(Except the Bakuman anime. The anime can go throw itself into a toilet and drown for all I care) Ok, maybe that was a little over the top. The point is, Bakuman to me has always been a consistent source of shounen excellence. Whenever I want to see good character development, well written dialogue and interesting and varied art style, Bakuman is the manga I turn to. Sure, I know it’s an extremely bias opinion, but in my eyes, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata never fail to please. Anyway, that’s the fanboyism from me out of the way.
I was a little on edge in recent times when the story of Bakuman took a rather sinister turn, specifically that the fiction manga within the manga “PCP”, started getting bad publicity from the media, visibly troubling our young authors Muto Ashirogi. Long fans of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (back in the days when Death Note was still being published), would have instantly picked up on the similarities between PCP and Death Note. Here we have two young aspiring Mangakans, one a writer and one an artist, drawing an increasingly popular yet controversial manga that begins to garner criticism from the media. Death Note, if the older of us veterans could remember, was endlessly criticized and cancellation threatened. If it were not for it’s large and devoted fan base, Jump would have dropped it for sure. It’s not exactly hard then, to make that connection between PCP and Death Note.
Which raises some very interesting implications, especially in Japan’s current situation. Here we have our two protagonist, Mashiro and Takagi, who are now supposedly personifications of the authors Tsugumi and Takeshi during their Death Note days. Here, we also have a very turbulent Japanese anime industry with the approval of the recent bill 156 that restricts the freedom of Anime and Manga. Here, we have companies boycotting the bill and planning to hold their own convention, which effectively cancels the 2011 anime fair. And of course the companies boycotting includes Shueisha Inc, the one that publishes Jump and Bakuman. Surely then, our authors of Bakuman and Death Note should also have a few choice words for the Japanese government, no?
Well turns out, they do. If you haven’t noticed it yet, then allow me to shine some light on it.
Yes. Sakura TV. Remember those guys? The idiots from Death Note? If you don’t, then watch this for a quick reminder.
So what’s so significant about this you ask?
In Death Note, Sakura TV were basically the personification of the idiocy of the masses. An over zealous media whose ignorance and stupidity were only matched by their greed for money and ratings. They represented the idiocy of the common people, how they would blindly follow anything without stopping to think and consider objectively for themselves, without really trying to understand the other perspective. Basically, Sakura TV is the equivalent of Fox News.
The situation in Bakuman now is painfully similar to the one in Japan. WE as readers of Bakuman (and the fictional fans within Bakuman itself) understand that “PCP” was created with entertainment and artistic value in mind, but all the general public (aka Sakura TV)
can see wants to see is a Manga that incites crime, an accusation that is neither fair nor true.
Bottom line. The subtle message that Tsumugi and Takeshi are trying to get across, through their ingenious use of cross referencing to their previous work, is that Sakura TV is to PCP, what the mass media was to Death Note, and what the Japanese Government is to Anime and Manga. They’re implying, no, outright accusing Bill 156 as nothing more than a political scam, a stunt to garner ignorant public approval, a one-sided misinformed decision based not on fact nor proper perspective. They are sticking it to the man, sticking their middle fingers at Bill 156 and saying “This is what I think of YOU”, and all through subtle hidden messages in their own work. And you know what I say to that?
Fuck yeah Bakuman.
Rock. Fucking. On.