Fantasia Film Review: Bakuman

(Source: Toho Company)

(Source: Toho Company)

How do you create a narrative on film about manga? Well, rather than run away from the pages, pencils, tracers, stencil and brush, you bring them close to the screen and digitally make them jump. You’re about to be schooled in making a story about manga in a rather amazing execution with Bakuman.

Director Hitoshi Ohne brings us the most meta of adventures: A live action movie of a manga where manga is created by two young high school kids. Their dream is every high school kid’s dream, getting their series published by Weekly Shonen Jump.

Moritaka Mashiro (Takeru Satoh) spends his days daydreaming and drawing his eternal crush, the beautiful Miho Asuki (Nana Komatsu). Classmate Akito Takagi (Ryonosuke Kamiki) discovers his talent and asks him to join forces to produce a manga. Mashiro will draw and Akito will write. But Mashiro has had that dream already and given it up when he saw his uncle, an accomplished manga creator, work himself to death. Things change when Asuki, who is becoming a voiceover artist, agrees to one day play the heroine’s voice if their work gets animated.

It’s Friendship, Effort and Triumph as Mashiro and Takagi pull all the stops to get noticed, then find themselves in the big leagues up against the likes of young prodigy Eiji Niizuma (Shota Sometani).

I’ve been thinking all this festival that you can make a story interesting regardless – to a point – of the material, if you know narration. It’s not true at all. You can make a story even more interesting if you use your own subject’s strength. Manga is a visual medium, so the movie ingeniously devises sequences in which manga elements flood the screen. The result is an immersion in Mashiro’s and Takagi’s own obsession and love letter to Weekly Shonen Jump.

Highs: Total immersion into the world of manga drawing and more than a few famous titles showing up that fans will recognize. Even non-manga fans might be impressed. A love letter to the world of manga, manga creation and the culture that surrounds it.

Lows: Might cause you to abandon everything, move to Japan and try it yourself. The movie is a bit dreamlike and puts idealism above practicality so it should really come with a warning label.

Highly recommended for manga enthusiasts who really don’t me to tell them they should watch this. If you’ve ever wanted to experience some of the crazy manga Japanese culture, this will give you a little bit of a view although there’s more fantasy in it than reality. Impressionable teenagers might drop out of school by watching this.

It’s down to a few now:

That will do for now.

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