About Me

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A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bakuman vol. 8

I put the seventh volume of Bakuman down around November of last year, and I almost forgot how much I enjoyed it. Fortunately, I've got an Amazon gift card, so I can enjoy the convenience without the guilt of actually sending "Booktopus, Inc." any money.

Author Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata teamed up before for the big hit series Death Note, of which I was aware, but not particularly a fan. In this series, they perform an almost postmodern twist, exploring the experiences of a young author-illustrator pair publishing manga in the real-world magazine Shonen Jump, published by real-world publisher Shueisha.

It's fun seeing behind the scenes in the business while enjoying all the stagecraft of manga at the same time. In this case, it's a combination of teen angst, romance, and social drama, with 15-year-old protagonist Moritaka suddenly - unexpectedly even to him - blurting out a marriage proposal to Miho, a girl he's admired from afar for years. Just as unexpectedly, Miho accepts (through her rather grand house's intercom system, no less), but on one condition: they put off even talking in person until they both reach their goals.

Miho is an aspiring seiyuu (voice actress), and possible screen actress, and Moritaka is an aspiring mangaka.

All this takes place in an avalanche of rash decisions that walks a fine line between realistically badly thought out teenage planning and crazy fantasy.

Moritaka's writing partner is Takagi, a wise-cracking high-achiever who's really tired of being admired for getting good grades. He gets the ball rolling at the beginning of the series - by suggesting he and Moritaka team up blackmailing Moritaka into teaming up with him in the first place, and then that they go talk to Miho about their plans - and provides plenty of impetus to the plot in each volume.

As of volume 8, Takagi's girlfriend Kaya (who goes casually by her first name Miyoshi most of the time) is my favorite character. She doesn't get as much "screen time" as the other leads, but in compensation, packs a punch, often literally. Kaya is fiercely loyal, emotionally mercurial, considered tomboyish and not pretty (hard to tell in the drawings, which make her look tomboyish, voluptuous, and cute all at once), but she proves to be not only the glue holding together the friendships of some of the leads, but also a catalyst in expanding the circle of friends in unlikely ways.

I got the delivery a couple of days ago, and read the whole thing last night. I waited so long to order it, volume 9 was ready, too, so I have something more to read this weekend.

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