Mashiro's uncle was a mangaka -- or actually, a 'gambler' who kept submitting proposals to the manga magazines in hopes of striking gold. In the end, he worked himself to death, ending as a no-name. He never stimulated Mashiro to become a manga artist, even though he was very good with drawing.
Fast forward a few years, and Mashiro is in middle school, completely smitten with Azuki, but he doesn't have the courage to talk to her. His classmate Takagi finds this out, as well as Mashiro's talent for drawing and manipulates Mashiro in becoming his artist -- Takagi will do the scenarios. They're striving to get serialised as soon as possible -- that way, they can get an anime made, and Azuki, who is training to be a voice actress, will play the leading role.
And so they set off. Conveniently enough, Mashiro's father and grandfather kept his uncle's studio intact: they have a place to work at. And so they set off, making their first proposal and submitting it to "Weekly Shonen Jack", which runs such hits like Bleach and One Piece. They find an editor who likes what he sees, and he stimulates them to submit their work to various prizes. Slowly but surely, the pair find their way in the world of manga.
This series does almost everything right. The main characters are sympathetic and driven (without being shouty, that's a plus), and we get a lot of information about the process of publishing manga -- without it ever feeling like enormous info-dumps. And while there are rivals, there are no bad guys! Sure, Nijima Eiji seems like he would make a 'villain', but at their first meeting he confesses that he is a huge fan of the duo's work. There are more rivals, but instead of bickering, their love of manga as a medium makes them give honest critiques on each other's work. And so you find yourself rooting not only for the Takagi/Mashiro duo, but the other mangaka striving for serialisation too!
The characters are likable (with Miyoshi as tension breaker in some scenes) and the drawing is pretty good. Sure, it's all low-key: the settings are all mundane (an office, an apartment, the train) so there's are no flashy graphics -- they are simply not needed. And it struck me how well that particular crooked grin that boys can give only to their best friend was portrayed.
- Informative without info-dumping;
- Likable characters with believable motivations.
- Basic, servicable artwork and animation.
All in all, I'll give it a 8.5. We're looking forward to the second series, which will be coming out in October.