In 2003, writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata collaborated for the first time on a manga called Death Note, serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006. Death Note was a huge hit across demographics, later turned into an anime, stage play, and multiple live action adaptations. This article will discuss the manga in full, including spoilers for major twists and developments, so keep that in mind.
Death Note is about a teenage boy named Light Yagami who finds a notebook owned by a god of death (the titular Death Note) and uses it to kill criminals by writing their name in the Note. The series focuses on the battle of minds between Light (soon given the nickname Kira by the media) and the police and detectives trying to bring him to justice.
After a short break from serialization, Ohba and Obata returned to the pages of Jump with Bakuman, a manga about making manga that ran from 2008 to 2012. Bakuman followed the adventures of artist Moritaka Mashiro and writer Akito Takagi (working under the joint pseudonym Muto Ashirogi) as they head towards their goal of making a manga popular enough to get adapted into an anime. If their manga becomes an anime and Mashiro’s crush Miho Azuki can voice the heroine in that anime, she’ll marry him.
If we ignore the romance subplot in Bakuman, we have a comic about a creative partnership that makes manga about morally grey and unconventional protagonists with a realistic art style. Therefore, Bakuman is a comic ruminating on the successes and failures of Death Note as a serialized manga, exploring what the creators wish they could have done differently, as well as what they didn’t realize was a problem in the first place.