This review is so painful to have to write. I wanted to like Bakuman, I really did. As a manga, it's very high quality. The art is good, the characters (mostly) are good, the premise is good, the story is interesting and - and - and it's the biggest disappointment ever.
Let me start off by addressing something; I know standards are different in Japan. I don't care. In Death Note, I thought the sexist portrayal of Misa was used for characterization, to make a point, kind of like an Aldous Huxley character; no, Tsugumi Ohba's just sexist. That's it. Great writer, very sexist.
Takeshi Obata is one of the best artists ever. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with his art, but he decided that a more obnoxious style would be funnier, I guess. Didn't work for Rave Master, won't work for Bakuman.
Other huge problems with this series; it's rushed, too convenient, the shameless plugs were kind of clever at first but are now just annoying and stupid as all hell, the romance is on fanfic level, the protagonist is an unlikable moron, his love interest is shallower than a puddle, the humor is trying way too hard but failing and the dialog is unnaturally written.
Yet - it's good. Bakuman is actually good. No, it's nothing like the masterpiece of manga that was Death Note, but it is interesting and when it's good, it's fantastic. The protagonist's mangaka partner is just great. You can really get behind him and most of the characters are likable. There are so many stupid moments but when they're making manga, it's some of the most entertaining stuff ever.
And again, the problem I have with the art is a personal one - it has nothing to do with Takeshi Obata's considerable talent.
But. But. But.
This is the best you could do after Death Note?