One of the things I always enjoyed about Bakuman when I first read it was that its story walks a kind of wonderful line between real-life, nitty-gritty insider information into the life of a mangaka and full-on wish fulfillment.
The above panels featuring the character Niizuma Eiji might have happened to someone somewhere in the manga publishing world, but it’s also every writer/artist’s dream everywhere to just be able to send a publisher the thing you’re working on and say, “Yeah, so I’m a published [novelist, comic book artist, mangaka] now, right?” And have the editor just nod and say, “Why, yes. Yes, you are.”
Hell, for all I know this is exactly how things happened for Eiichiro Oda (One Piece‘s mangaka), who it has been claimed is possibly Niizuma’s real life analog.
But it kind of doesn’t matter because it’s charming and heartwarming in that way of wish fulfillment.
The rest of the chapter is only clever in that it perfectly dovetails into the beginning of the manga. Otherwise, there are some little cameos here and there of people I’ve mostly forgotten in the intervening years, but still kind of looked at, nodded, and went, “Oh, yeah, that guy.”
To be fair, my favorite supporting characters in Bakuman would have been difficult to work in. I have a weird manga/anime type, and Shinta Fukuda hit a lot of the buttons of ‘that guy’ for me. If you read the series, Fukuda was the passionate, loud-mouth, competitive team builder (the motorcycle guy.) My other favorite was actually Eiji, the main rival, so it was neat to see him being his typical odd, vaguely autistic self here. I also really liked the main character’s main editor, Akira Hattori (who is himself, though he’s known by his full-name Akira Jean-Baptiste Hattori.) And, we do see him in the background as well, so I guess I can be a happy fan.
While this, like I said, was a nice little puzzle piece to fit in at the beginning, it really didn’t give us too much insight into characters we may (or may not) have already known and loved.
Serves well enough as a promo, which, of course it was.