Bakuman is the latest book from the creators behind the super-popular manga Death Note. The story follows Moritaka Mashiro, a middle school student who's getting ready for his high school entrance exams, when a fellow classmate gets hold of his notebook and discovers what a great artist he is from some sketches he's done. The classmate, Akito Takagi, happens to want to be a manga writer and has been searching for the perfect collaborator to break into the industry, and he's chosen Moritaka, and eventually convinces him to go all-out for this dream of becoming professional manga creators. Bakuman is very much about exploring the manga industry, readers learning alongside the characters as they teach each other what storyboards are, how to pitch to editors, what sorts of pens to draw with, and just talk about influential or favorite manga, throwing in a few Death Note references for good measure. Even the design of the book has that sort of "creating manga" vibe, with each chapter ending with a storyboard page from the chapter, the cover lined with a ruler, and even the logo, beginning with the letter "B" all sketchy with grids and getting more finished as it progresses. There's a good amount of romance in the title, and there's some interesting stuff going on in Moritaka's life, especially through his family, as his uncle worked himself to death working in the manga industry. Obata's pencils are fantastic, as readers of his past works are aware, and while there are quite a few quiet scenes of reflection, the frenzied pace that keeps readers turning the pages in anticipation of the next panel, like in Death Note, is present in this less action-y book, although I do feel like this title has more in common with Obata's Hikaru No Go that his previous collaboration with Ohba, perhaps merely because of the young protagonists trying to break in and maneuver through a professional environment, making a splash and causing those around them to admire their abilities. Plus Moritaka is humble, and all wide-eyed and innocent much like Hikaru. Overall, I think Bakuman is one of the strongest manga debuts of the year. The characters are fun, the art top-notch and exciting, and the wealth of information is really quite interesting. This is definitely a journey I want to experience alongside these characters.