Some thing, or rather many things, or rather everything, about Bakuman makes it seem like it’s from another era of anime. I can’t speak for the feel of the manga, but I know what I see when I turn this show on each week. I see a flashback to the 90s!
What first alerted me to this other-time feeling in Bakuman was the opening song. “Blue Bird”‘s lilting quality and sweet sound strikes me as unexpected for this shonen series. The character designs, especially Miho, the female lead, and her mother feel very much informed by Masakazu Katsura of Video Girl Ai fame (which also ran in Weekly Shonen Jump). In any case, they aren’t pulling from what is a modern and currently popular aesthetic. More than anything else though, it is the hopeful, sweet, and endearing pursuit of their dreams (and loves) that makes Bakuman seem nostalgic.
This feeling I get from Bakuman has had the added effect of making me think about what I watched during the late-90s and what has changed for me. I now rarely watch shonen romance series, why? The best answer I could come up with was, when I try them out so many feel either disingenuous or have a poor fan-service to story ratio (if your story is good, my tolerance level for fan-service goes up!). Bakuman has made me believe it, even in its over the top state, and thinking it over the series has very little fan-service to speak of. But Bakuman is not a straight shonen romance.
In fact, as I’m writing this I realize Bakuman doesn’t feel like any complete genre. And while I talked about how nostalgic it feels, at the same time it seems like something quite new for Shonen Jump. The pursuit of your goals for love; the world is not in danger and the story does not center on getting the girl. I’m not sure what it all means, but I know that Bakuman is about dreamers and it hits me right in the heart.