I like manga; I like drawing and work in the publishing business, so anime about making manga should be right up my alley, right? Most of the time it is.
This season I started watching Gekkan shojou Nozaki-kun, strangely enough, since seemed like a fairly typical shojou staple. But it’s about a mangaka, and that made me give it a go.
At first it seems like the typical shojou school thing. A girl confesses to a boy he likes, but instead of running away/ignoring her/blushing or whatever they usually do he gives her an autograph. Then he invites her to following him home. When she does she realizes that he’s a popular mangaka, drawing shojou manga for a weekly magazine. She gets roped in to help him drawing backgrounds and gets to know the other people helping him. There is a bit of gender stretching (I won’t say bending, since it’s really not that), since the mangaka’s heroine inspiration is a boy and some of the other females aren’t exactly traditionally feminine (one is called the prince, for instance, and is fawned over by all the girls, well that’s not unusual, another is fighting and running away). One thing I don’t get is why the protagonist in this case is so smitten by Nozaki, since he’s about as charming as a block of wood, well he can draw, but that shouldn’t be enough. But he’s completely clueless in many ways and that’s a tad charming. Funniest thing so far, when Nozaki and his best friend stay up all night drawing a BL manga for the best friend of the protagonist in a dating game. Well, I guess you had to be there.
Sekai-ichi-hatsukoi Making manga, not all about the drawing stuff, mostly about the publishing side. I do work in the publishing business, and I can relate to much that is happening (the cyclical stress, the ranting on people not delivering the material on time or perfect and things like that).
Realistic stress levels in publishing…
This is somewhat in the same universe as Junjou Romantica, one of my all time favs. Some of the characters show up in this one too, but only as extras. And yes, it’s BL (or Yaoi if you make that distinction where yaoi is more explicit). But as usual the manga is much more explicit. And like in some of the most enjoyable fanfic everyone is gay. Everyone on the shojou magazine staff is gay (well, one hasn’t been partnered off in the manga or anime – at least not yet). The mangaka. The only male assistant. The staff on the shounen magazine. The sales staff. The literature department. The CEO. Especially the CEO, Isaka, but we know that only because we’ve watched Junjou and his story isn’t included here. The people working in manga stores (even when they don’t know it). Everyone except the girls (well, they might be, but this is Yaoi, not Yuri).
Well, I can’t say I watch this only for the portrayal of publishing, since I’m all about the BL, and the story isn’t called “the world’s greatest first love” for nothing, but the well thought-out industry portrayal is an extra plus in my book.
The mangaka and his assistants. I’ve watched half an episode and that was enough. I hated it, even though it supposedly is about making manga. Supposedly, since all I could see were tits and ass gags. Or tits and pants since this is Japan, where pants are more sexy than derrieres. PWP is a fairly common term in fanfic, for those short stories with lots of sex without any semblance of storyline, hence PWP, or porn without plot. This is worse. Pants without plot and more juvenile than any childish manga I’ve ever watched. I won’t give this a second chance.
Bakuman – I can’t believe I didn’t find this earlier, since it’s by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who did Death Note together, and Obata did draw another all-time fav of mine: Hikaru no Go. Well, I guess I’ve wanted Hikago to go on, and couldn’t really accept that the manga was over and by some stupid principle refused to watch or read anything later. But now I’ve changed that, and I’m glad I did.
In Bakuman the main character Mashiro Moritaka, called Saiko, is convinced to try being a mangaka by a classmate, Tagaki Akito – who happened to see his drawings. Saiko is very good at drawing and the classmate is going to write the story. There is some romance going on too, but not too disturbing, more on the cute side, actually. And he inherits his late uncle’s studio (the uncle was a sometime popular but later failed mangaka), which his grandfather has kept intact for three years, just waiting for the grandson to want it. The anime is about their struggle to get published and serialized in “Jack” (badly disguised Shounen Jump). And there are a lot of other quirky mangakas too (not the real ones, though), like adorable little wingnut Eiji, who, like several of the others, seems to have some kind of psychiatric diagnose. I think I have to do a chart… or a list of those soon. There are a lot of other manga mentioned, with real names, posters and drawings, not only barely concealed made up names (like in Genshiken, where I get less than half of the manga mentioned). Their editor, who at one point mentions that he’s taking over editing One Piece. And when they show the “Jack” issues there are lots of pretty covers with Ichigo and Naruto. This is one of those series where you seriously root for the main characters – and quite a bit for the others too. I like that it’s not super short: Three seasons with 25 episodes each is enough for a while, and probably very rewatchable too.
Since I don’t work in publishing, I do find it fascinating getting glimpses of the process behind the scenes. And if it comes with BL, all the better.
Everything is better with BL!