As a child, Moritaka Mashiro wanted to be a manga artist like his uncle. However, after certain events transpired, he refocused his efforts towards studying in middle school. One day, aspiring writer Akito Takagi notices some detailed drawings in Moritaka’s notebook and approaches him to propose they become a mangaka together. Realizing that he might be able to get his crush if they make an anime adaption of it with her as the voice actor, Moritaka agrees, and thus, the mangaka Muto Ashirogi is born.
Although it initially got it popularity from being the follow-up series by the mangaka that created Death Note, Bakuman ended up being pretty good in its own right as a story about the struggles of creating manga. If you want a peek further into how your favorite media is made, give these anime recommendations a go.
For Fans of Creating Manga
The five members of the Kaminoyama High School animation club all make a pledge to make their project for the school cultural festival a huge success, then afterwards move to Tokyo and work in the industry. Fast forward two years in the future and two members have made their dream a reality, but making anime is no easy task.
Obviously, Shirobako is about creating anime and not manga like in Bakuman, but both shows display that creating the media you love is a lot harder than you would think. With lots of stress, long hours, and often very little pay off, both shows can give you some respect for the work that goes into everything you love.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Chiyo Sakura has fallen head over heels for the handsome and oblivious Umetarou Nozaki. However, when she confesses her love, he gives her an autograph. It turns out this stoic boy is actually a respected shoujo manga artist. After a series of misunderstandings, Chiyo winds up not as his girlfriend, but as his manga assistant.
There is only really one thing that separates these two series – Bakuman is about making shounen manga and Nozaki-kun is about making shoujo manga. While Nozaki-kun tends to be a touch more comedic and less serious in the manga creation aspect, both shows run a pretty decent split between slice of life aspects, romance, and comedy.
Kanji Sasahara is an introvert and new college freshman. In order to find some friends, he pays a visit to the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, otherwise known as Genshiken, but leaves in full denial of his otaku nature. However, after befriending another member, he soon gets slowly pulled into the world anime, manga, and games.
While Genshiken isn’t really about people making manga all the time, it, like Bakuman, revolves around people that like it and other otaku activities. Both deal with the realism of liking and making otaku things, but Bakuman is more about the business aspect while Ganshiken is more about the subculture.
Girls Beyond the Wasteland
Buntarou Hojo is a high school student with a talent for writing, but no direction in life. When his classmate Sayuki Kuroda notices his talent, she pressures him into her girl game development group. Will this foray into game development be just about games or will it teach him about life as well?
Although Girls Beyond the Wasteland is about making games rather than manga, it basically has the same initial setup as Bakuman. Two relatively directionless people that excel in certain things are pulled into creating a business, be it manga as in Bakuman or games as in Girls Beyond the Wasteland.
For Fans of Dream Chasing
After spotting what they believe to be a UFO, two brothers Mutta and Hibito vow to become astronauts. Fast forward to their adult years and Mutta’s life isn’t going as expected as he toils in an automotive company while the younger Hibito is well on his way to be the very first Japanese man on the moon. When Mutta loses his job and is given a chance to catch up to his brother by joining the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, he jumps at the chance.
I know, right? At a glance this has nothing to do with Bakuman, but you have to see the forest for the trees. Both series are about men that are chasing their dreams and ultimately both are about overcoming pitfalls in that pursuit. Don’t be put off by the vastly different genres, both shows are addicting as hell with excellent production values.
Growing up in the shadow of her older sister, Chihaya Ayase is strong-willed and a tomboy with no dreams of her own. However, after meeting a young boy with a passion of a card game called karuta, he inspires her to become a karuta master.
This is another show that, despite being in a different genre, has a lot of similarities with Bakuman. Both characters had an interest in something from a young age and they end up pursuing those goals as they get older. The shows also run an even split between romance, slice of life, and comedy elements.
The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall
Unable to resist taking in abandoned kittens, and amassing quite a collection of them, Sorata Kanda is forced to move to Suimei high School’s infamous Sakura Hall. This dorm is used to house all the misfit students that don’t quite fit in the regular housing. There Sorata meets an array of different oddballs that inspire him to work towards getting back into the regular dorms. However, when a new transfer student moves in, he meets the incredible artist Shiina Mashiro. While talented, she is completely incapable of taking care of herself, and so, Sorata brings her into his care and his strange days truly begin.
The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall has a little more in common with Bakuman as is takes place at school and the group of dorm dwellers do end up collaborating their efforts towards making a game. Like in Bakuman, everyone has their own different talents that they excel in, but there are characters that are better at what they do than others. This is actually one of the closer matches to Bakuman in terms of genre because while it has light romance, it won’t alienate those that don’t want it and it also features some excellent comedy.
For Fans of Two Different Personalities Coming Together
Light Yagami is a high school prodigy and genius. However, he has an ever-increasing boredom and disdain for the rotten violent world. One day, he happens upon a notebook, called a Death Note, which states that if you write a name in it, the person will die. To his surprise, the notebook’s claims turn out to be true. This Death Note, the property of the Shinigami gods of death, gives Light the power to change this world and he decides to become its new God by executing all criminals.
We were kind of obligated to include this one. Bakuman and Death Note were created by the same people. However, while Bakuman is a little less intense, it does strangely share a lot of character personalities and is very, very detailed in its dialogue. You also get that same rivalry between two people that maybe are, maybe aren’t friends.
Shinichi Chiaki is a first-rate musician that has dreams of playing among Europe’s elite. However, due to his fear of flying, he has remained firmly grounded in Japan. In his fourth year at Japan’s top music university, he meets Megumi Noda, or Nodame, as she prefers to be called. At first she seems unkempt and without direction, but when he hears her play, everything he thought he knew about her was wrong.
Although it is about music, Nodame Cantabile shares a lot of the same themes as Bakuman. It is about people with a talent that are chasing after their dreams. Of course, there is drama and romance abound that always gets in the way, too. However, as the two characters are both good at different things, they push each other forward.
Did we miss any more excellent anime recommendations that can help fill the Bakuman-shaped hole in your heart? Give us your recs in the comments section below.