Right, I've had a lot of thoughts about this while reading Bakuman and I don't really know how to put them. Basically, the first thing I'd like to mention is how Mashiro is obviously the main character and his existence is much more prominent than Takagi.
Why do you think that is?
My first instinct would tell me that the story itself was written by Ohba, and if it was anything like Death Note, it had very little input from Obata. So Ohba, as a person that writes manga for his career, would surely choose to put Takagi at the same importance as Mashiro if not more important?
And I know that they're usually regarded as a two-man team. I know the story frequently pretends that Mashiro isn't the main character, but it's obvious he is. He's the first one introduced, he is alone in the first volume's cover, the main romance story is his and everything about Takagi screams backing character. If anything, Azuki has been more important to the depth of the story than Takagi. Well, not really, but all the really important and really serious chapters we've had involved either Azuki or Takagi, and she seems almost on par with him. So how is that?
Then there's another thing I'd like to point out. I don't care how hard Takagi works, I don't care how hard Ohba works, there's something to be said about the fact that drawing manga is by default going to take an exponentially larger amount of time than writing the story for it. Takagi thinks and his part is crucial, yes, but I don't think it's debatable that his part isn't as time consuming. All the stuff you hear about mangaka's little-to-no-room-for-breathing schedules, I very highly doubt that would apply to someone who only does the story. The story requires time and attention, yeah, but the reason being a mangaka is so time consuming is because drawing takes a long time. It takes longer than thinking, it's just a fact. The artist needs almost all of the hours he's awake for a week to be on time, I doubt that the writer of the most complex story in the world would take longer than 4 or 5 straight hours to come up with the story for a single chapter. Besides, each individual chapter has so little actual plot in it that what the writer came up with in those 4~5 hours is probably going to last longer than one chapter, and it'll generate the next chapter's name MUCH quicker, and I just don't see it as time consuming.
Now I'm not undermining the importance of the author. In fact, he probably matters more than the artist. If we were to divide every successful manga in the world to art/story, almost all of them would depend much more greatly on the story, and an art style that was vaguely different or slightly less good would still suffice. Either way, regardless of your opinion on the matter, it can be agreed that the author is at least as important as the artist, right?
So why isn't he portrayed that way here? Especially since the entire story was written by someone that does this FOR A LIVING, it seemed increasingly weirder and weirder that he would portray him as less central in a manga's creation than the artist. I mean, not necessarily, but you get my point, right? Mashiro's always been in the center of the plot.
And then it hit me. Bakuman isn't trying to fulfill Ohba's urges. If there was only one story writer we could call absolutely brilliant in the manga industry, Ohba would definitely be one to seriously consider. He's the last person in the world that would make Takagi important just because he has his role. He's not going to be selfish about this, he's going to be realistic. And the realistic part of it is that regardless of how important and crucial the author's part is, the artist's part is ultimately going to take a lot longer to produce, and the majority of manga creation is the artist drawing without even thinking, for hours on end.
That's not the only thing that's realistic about it, though. The thing that's realistic about it is that people that relate to Takagi are less common than people that relate to Mashiro. By default, Takagi is a bit of a school genius which already puts him over the majority of the world's population that find themselves relating to the underachieving shonen hero. But also, people that would relate to Takagi are frequently not people that would dream of becoming mangaka. You know who dreams of becoming a mangaka? The artist.
A storyteller -- well, at least a good storyteller -- wants to tell a story, and he wants to do it pretty damn well. I'm obviously not in the position to speak for every person that has storytelling talent, but I think we can agree with fair confident that for the most part (not necessarily always, but for the most part,) a storyteller's desire is to tell a story. A writer wants to write and he wants to share his story with you, and he wants you to read it and take it seriously. I just don't think the storyteller would care that much if it's a manga or not. I think a real Takagi would be pretty fine with writing novels, I don't think the idea of an ultimate dream being BECOMING A MANGAKA is a thing that people other than young artists can relate to.
Bakuman is of course not a manga that's dependent solely on people relating to it. There's a bunch more to it and it tries to be a story that would appeal to the average reader regardless of how much they want to be a mangaka, but I still think that the shonen hero is meant to appeal to the shonen reader, and the shonen reader is going to be much more of a Mashiro than a Takagi.
I wrote a lot and a lot of it didn't make sense, and a lot of it is also inevitably going to be wrong or disagreeable. Anyone else thinks this topic is interesting and worth discussing?
He's had his time in the spotlight as well though if that's what you're getting at. The bank robbery and its effect on him, writer's block when coming up with PCP and during Tanto, and to a lesser extent the period before Trap's creation, and also love problems haha. So we do get a bit of the writer's point of view (even if they're subtle). If you're wondering why Mashiro is more prominent, there's no answer to that, it's just how it is. But how many manga are there where there are two protagonists. And I mean, vital-to-the-story protagonists. Most shounen manga revolves around only the one. And some of the points you've mentioned can be pretty much applied to other mangas too. There's just no reason, I guess.
But when you say why is one more prominent to the other. I think they're two sides of the same coin, really. Like when we saw Mashiro come up with his story for the Love Fiesta Battle. Hattori lead us to believe he's not bad of a writer in actuality, but the results spoke for themselves and he's not very good. And on the flip side, Takagi was able to bring Shiratori's story to life and on to serialization. What I'm getting at is, Mashiro needs Takagi and vice versa, so it's hard to say who is more important in the tag team.
I think the artist was chosen as the character the story revolves around because it's a manga about....manga. And manga is more visual than anything so we'd want more focus on the artist rather than the writer. Because let's face it, there's only so much they can show of the writing process. Compared to say, sketching up the names, manuscripts, and colouring (as well as character design, tones, backgrounds and more).
Interesting topic btw.
I'm not saying he didn't have his time in the spotlight. Of course he did. A lot of this was about him, but I am speaking about the fact that MOST of the spotlight is on Mashiro, which is pretty undeniable.
That's just a boring way of looking at it, though. And besides, you admitted in this very post that there are in fact answers to it, such as the fact that manga is mostly visual and Mashiro is the artist, etc.Quote:
I'm not asking why one is more prominent than the other in the sense of which is more important to a manga's creation. That's not really what I'm getting at. I'm getting at why one is more prominent in this story, as in whether Takagi or Mashiro are more prominent, and Mashiro obviously is. As for the actual needing each other bit, I completely agree, that's an aim that the story is constantly going for and I don't disagree with it. There's no point in trying to think about which one's more important in a tag team, but I will say that Death Note, for instance, was probably much more dependent on the plot than it was on the art. I think it depends on the individual piece, but I will say that plot trumps art in most cases. In my opinion, anyway. Not that art is unnecessary and that it "can be bad," it needs to be GOOD, but the specific style and such is not going to affect it as much as the story, I think.
But yeah, I agree that one of the main reasons is that drawing is more prominently involved in making manga and that's just what most of the creative process goes towards. That's the point I was trying to make, really. I also think a lot of it goes to the fact that the analytical writer just wouldn't make as good of a shonen protagonist as the artist would. That would be better for Death Note's mood, not Bakuman's. Bakuman's needs the artist.
Because he's the main protagonist, I guess. That's why I mentioned there's really only one in this manga, much like every other manga. I don't consider there being two despite the tag team nature that Ohba emphasizes.Quote:
It's like Batman and Robin, I guess. Why is Batman more prominent than his sidekick? There's really no answer short of he's the main character. =/
Regardless, I get that it's just the way it is, but I still think it's interesting that it ended up being that way despite the author himself being fundamentally an author. And yeah, ultimately he's "just the main character and that's just how it happened, I guess," fine, but that still leaves quite a bit to be discussed, I think. Either way, I suppose it doesn't matter much.
That's an interesting point. We know full well Ohba has dropped a tonne of Death Note/WSJ easter eggs in Bakuman, but has he ever portrayed himself through it? Legit question. It's partially what your original post was revolved around.Quote:
An author is there when an artist has problem coming up with a good story. Remember the parts when Mashiro wanted to come with a story on his own? It doesn't come to anyone.
And besides, Ashirogi Muto is different from Ohba and Obata. They work together around the clock, while Ohba and Obata (at least they used to) work the same way as Niizuma and Iwase, the material handed by the editor and they rarely meet in person.
If the artist is shown off more than the author, it's probably due to the workload. A storyline for a chapter can be completed in a matter of hours, while it takes days to complete the manuscript. But if the work is done by a duo, the credit must be 50-50. The duo here is sharing the dream of being #1 mangakas, plus Mashiro has reached his other dream, marrying Azuki. But without Takagi's actions this dream would never even exist and Azuki would be just left as Mashiro's middle-school crush.
Probably we all have forgotten (since it's not mentioned anymore for a long time) what Takagi has sacrificed as well: he was the student with the best grades in the whole country. He could have entered the top university on scholarship and have led a brilliant carreer in academics or business or whatever he'd get into. But he "wasted" his possibly elite future to follow his dream