High school kids dream big dreams, and in Japan one of the biggest is to be a successful manga artist. The financial rewards for a hit manga published in a national magazine and sold in paperback editions are substantial. And the accompanying recognition and power — with adoring fans pleading for autographs and editors begging for your next masterpiece — must seem intoxicating to a would-be mangaka (manga artist) doodling in the margins of his biology textbook.

One of those manga-besotted kids is Mashiro Moritaka aka Saiko (Takeru Sato), the teenage hero of Hitoshi One’s buddy comedy “Bakuman,” who surreptitiously draws portraits of pretty classmate Azuki (Nana Komatsu). But Saiko knows how tough the manga game is: His uncle (Kankuro Kudo) was a struggling artist who, after making it into the biggest manga magazine, the real-life publication “Weekly Shonen Jump,” died of overwork. Though talented, Saiko has no intention of following in his footsteps.

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