Genre: Professional
Score: Good

Mashiro is in love, but hasn’t confessed. He also wants to be a manga artist like his uncle, but hasn’t the writing talent. His classmate Takagi proposes a partnership, writer and artist, and this spurs him to confess to his girl. Her response surprises him: until his story has been picked up for an anime series, she will talk to him only in text messages.

This meta story comes from the writer and artist of Death Note (and the artist also did Hikaru no Go), so if anybody knows how the manga industry works it’s these two. The two main characters clearly have a touch of the autobiographical in them, as well as Takagi resembling Light (only less evil). Much of the series is about the way artists are handled by a publication like Shounen Jump (or Jack, as they call it here), and the balance between their desire to publish exciting stories, and the harsh realities of publication. The editors and the other artists become the backdrop to the pairing’s growth. One rival artist is Eiji Nizuma, who’s annoyingly talented: he’s younger, draws great art and exciting stories, and is a seemingly unstoppable success.

Mashiro faces resistance from his family, because his uncle was once a successful manga artist before hitting writer’s block, fading into obscurity and eventually dying (the unconfirmed implication being that he committed suicide). There’s also a strange parallel: his uncle was in a similar letters-only relationship with a girl. The moral of the series seem to be that where one person alone would falter, a partnership can succeed – something of a change from the traditional Japanese value of shouldering any burden to avoid bothering others. Mashiro and Takagi each face obstacles, from romance to work to home to motivation, that could cause either of them to stumble if they didn’t support each other.

One season of this clearly isn’t the end, and the second is due later this year. It also takes quite a time getting anywhere, so while it is indeed a good story you may be better to wait until it’s finished or invest your time elsewhere.