Glimpse into the world of manga

Takeru Satoh (left) and Ryunosuke Kamiki (right) play high school students aiming to land a series in manga compilation Shonen Jump Weekly.
Takeru Satoh (left) and Ryunosuke Kamiki (right) play high school students aiming to land a series in manga compilation Shonen Jump Weekly.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

THE STORY: Moritaka Mashiro (Takeru Satoh) can draw. Akito Takagi (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is good at writing stories. So the two high school students team up to work on an original manga. Their aim is to land a series in venerable compilation Shonen Jump Weekly, which is already featuring the work of genius high school student Eiji Niizuma (Shota Sometani). Based on the manga of the same name by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata.

For an aspiring manga artist, walking through the hallowed hallways of Shonen Jump Weekly's offices is like a musician stepping into the legendary Abbey Road Studios. It is a big deal.

Landing a weekly series is an even bigger deal, especially for a couple of high school students with no experience whatsoever. While it is not too much of a surprise as to whether their dream comes true, you still find yourself rooting for the boys as, ink-stained and sleep-starved, they have to overcome one hurdle after another.

  • REVIEW / DRAMA

  • BAKUMAN (PG)

    120 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

A manga about manga has an added frisson of meta-ness about it, but it still works as a film adaptation.

In a memorably executed sequence, Mashiro and Takagi face off against their rival Niizuma against a backdrop of swirling comic book panels as they wield various writing implements as their weapons of choice.

For fans of the genre, there is also the fun of getting a glimpse into the world of manga with its cut-throat popularity rankings and the different motivations - from fame to fear - driving the writers.

Paying homage to Shonen Jump Weekly's time-honoured themes of friendship, struggle and triumph, director Hitoshi One (Moteki, 2011) does a good job exploring how youthful passion trumps adversity in the movie.

Satoh and Kamiki - who are in their 20s and had acted together in the period action Rurouni Kenshin films from 2012 to last year - can still pull off being high school students, convincing in their portrayal of the agony and ecstasy of being artists.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Glimpse into the world of manga'. Print Edition | Subscribe