Eiji Nizuma grew up in Aomori Prefecture which in the northern part of Japan. Since he was a kid, Nizuma had a natural talent for drawing manga and spent most of his free time practicing drawing as opposed to playing video games or doing typical things that a kid would do. He is shown to make sound effects and different noises when drawing as he claims it helps him to be more in tune with his own work. Nizuma submitted several pieces to the Shonen Jump offices for different contests such as the Tezuka Award and Akamaru Jump. Any time he did so, he won hands down above any other entrants that decided to participate. He agrees to move to Tokyo to begin serialization of his latest entry to Akamaru, Crow.
Eiji Nizuma was created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata to become the main rival and adversary of Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi. Even though other rival characters would be created for the purpose of motivating the young mangaka, Nizuma is the most important rival due to his ability to draw manga and how his relationship is with the two. He made his first appearance in Volume 2 of the manga and episode 4 of the anime. He is voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto in the Japanese version of the anime.
Nizuma sounds a bit egotistical
When Nizuma first makes his debut in the series, he comes off as a bit of a stuck up brat who is more that bizarre. His first demands before moving to Tokyo is that if he becomes the most popular, he has the right to end any series in Jump. When he gets to Tokyo, he continues his strange behavior of listening to music incredibly loud, making odd sound effects when drawing manga, and leaving all of his manuscripts across the floor. As time goes on though, Nizuma turns out to be a simple energetic teenager who doesn't properly understand who to interact with other people. When he finds out that Mashiro and Takagi are actually Ashirogi Muto, he claims to be their biggest fan.
After he meets with the two and gets to know other mangakas like Kazuya Hiramaru and Shinta Fukuda, he begins to develop a friendly rivalry with his peers to motivate one another to do their very best. He knows that he helps others by being all that he can be and as a result, everyone eventually forms what is referred to as Team Fukuda. Nizuma, at this point, shows himself to be a fierce rival and a good friend to others in the manga field. He has even come through for Mashiro on several instances, such as helping him escape from an audition with his girlfriend, showing that the two of them have a bond beyond just rivals.
Eiji also started off as a pure man-child, almost like he was pure "Id." However as he's grown he's become more of a mentor in many ways. The series constantly cuts to him looking at new series or at story arcs and giving opinions on it that aren't just his opinions, but are almost like the "true" opinions, more like facts about the series than what he thinks. He's also worked several times to inspire Mashiro and Takagi to improve without saying that flat out.
Major Story Arcs
The Mysterious Rival
Eiji Niizuma is first mentioned in the series long before he is seen, as Mashiro and Takagi are looking in Shonen Jump at the Tezuka Awards and saw that second place was taken by the young mangaka Eiji Niizuma, who was only one year older than them, and had won this spot with his one shot "Large Bander." Mashiro is instantly angry at him because in a quote from Eiji he says he is so good at making mangas because he was drawing while everyone else was wasting their time playing video games. Mashiro is angry because he used to spend his days playing video games. From that point he and Takagi decide to make this mysterious prodigy their rival.
When we first see Eiji it's at his office as his editor Yujiro Hattori comes by with the Editor in Chief of Shonen Jump, Hisashi Sasaki. He has come to congratulate Eiji on his success and on being accepted for serialization. Eiji just keeps drawing with music blazing, showing no respect to either of them. He then turns around and asks Sasaki a question, he says that if he becomes the number one Mangaka for Shonen Jump, then he wants to be given the power to end one series that he wants. Sasaki is stunned but he tells Eiji that after he has reached number one, and after he has seen how hard it is to reach that, if he still wants to do this then he should ask him again.
Eiji makes a big impression on Mashiro and Takagi
Mashiro and Takagi first encounter Eiji when they go to see their editor Akira Hattori at the studios of Shonen Jump. Eiji comes in for his own meeting and a big commotion is caused when he announces that he no longer wants to do the series that they agreed to serialize, "Yellow Hit," instead he says that he wants to work on his other series " Crow." His editor is furious at him for changing his mind after the deal has already been made, but Eiji doesn't care, in fact he is quickly distracted when he meets Mashiro and he runs over to him and starts saying how much he liked "Money and Intelligence" the one shot that he and Takagi did. While talking to Mashiro he is told by his editor that he can't do Crow because they don't have a name for it, they don't know how well the series will be. So Eiji takes out some sheets of paper and he instantly draws a name for it there on the spot.
Eiji has found his rival
Mashiro and Takagi are stunned to see how fast he did this, they realize that he is in a different league. He crushes them completely after he finishes the name in only a half hour, and then reveals that he did not have any of it planned out, he just started drawing without thinking, letting it come out on paper as it came to him. They agree to serialize Crow and Eiji leaves the office. On the way home Eiji tells his editor that he knows Mashiro will be his rival because of his eyes, he has the same eyes as a manga hero. His editor then realizes that Eiji only sees the world in terms of mangas.
While Mashiro is having trouble coming up with a series to submit to Shonen Jump, he is offered the chance to get some experience by becoming an assistant to another mangaka. However it turns out that this mangaka is his rival Eiji. Eiji at the time has two other assistants working for him, Shinta Fukuda and Takuro Nakai. It's here that we first see Eiji's way of working, as he keeps cawing like a crow and waving his arms around so much that he doesn't even notice that Mashiro has come in. He lays out all the panels he's drawn in order to see them better and Fukuda says that Eiji does so much of the work himself that he barely even needs assistants.
Fukuda lays down the law
When Eiji finally realizes that Mashiro is there he is shocked, he says he wants him to return home so that he can work on his own series, but when he learns he is having writer's block they begin to bond while talking about the manga industry. Fukuda sits down on the floor with them to examine his work and he tells Eiji that if he keeps drawing Crow just for his own enjoyment then eventually he'll be canceled. The two of them start giving Eiji advice like making Crow more personable and giving him stuff to relate to other than just making him look cool, or to make it easier to understand what is going on simply because while in Eiji's head it all might make sense, the reader's enjoyment should come first. With this Eiji decides he is going to completely redo chapter five of his series, even though the manuscript is due in two days, asking his assistants for help.
With the help of his assistants, Eiji finally starts to learn about the manga industry, which he had never thought of until now, he had just drawn whatever he wanted. Fukuda tells Eiji that most new series are canceled within the first year and whether or not it survives is decided in the first ten issues. He also tells Eiji that all mangaka have meetings with their editors, he needs to get feedback from him rather than just turning in his pages each week. Eiji doesn't want to do this at first because he knows that it means he'll have to start drawing names, which he hates doing because it's like drawing the same thing twice, but he realizes that's how it must be done. Eiji decides to make the villain in Crow stronger and hint that he might really be an ally and begins working on the name. When his editor comes by the next day he is shocked at how much he has changed in such a short time and he's now going on about wanting to be a popular mangaka rather than just someone who does whatever he wants.
As his editor is leaving Fukuda speaks up. He asks about how the manga in Shonen Jump are ordered each week based on their popularity, which he thinks is unfair because then everyone knows what's popular and what isn't, and it discourages people from reading the less popular series. He also says he has a problem with the way that the popularity of a series is determined from questionnaires, which decides what gets dropped, he says the editorial department should be able to tell what's popular themselves. After his editor leaves Eiji is interested in the points he made, as is Mashiro. The three of them begin to talk about how flawed the manga industry is and they promise one day they'll reach the top and then they'll change how mangas are made. It is then that Team Fukuda is born. Eiji gives Mashiro one last piece of advice, which is to go back and look at what he drew when he was a kid and see if that inspires him to come up with a series. Mashiro thanks him and leaves the job after just two days there.
After Ashirogi Muto rises to the challenge and the duo creates the series Detective Trap, it energizes Eiji to keep improving. He congratulates the two of them at the New Years party but then leaves them alone to bug the new hot shot Mangaka Kazuya Hiramaru. However he still views Mashiro and his series Detective Trap as his chief rival. The two series even match each other in the ratings until Mashiro goes to the hospital for surgery. Shonen Jump won't let him continue drawing the series until he's out of the hospital and Eiji teams up with the rest of Team Fukuda as they go on strike. He and the rest of their team refuses to draw anymore manga until Detective Trap is reinstated. The artist meet with the editors and discuss this until finally they reach an agreement. Eiji starts drawing again as Mashiro is released from the hospital, however he no longer is able to draw in his audience and Eiji's biggest rival is canceled during the next serialization meeting.
Eiji loves +Natural at first site
While trying to come up with their next series, Ashirogi Muto decide to work on a gag manga. Their old editor Akira Hattori decides that this isn't the way to go and gets in touch with Takagi's old love interest from high school and his current rival Aiko Iwase, who wants to become the best at manga to prove that it is easy and he shouldn't be wasting his time on it. She writes a new series called +Natural and Akira shows it to Eiji who looks at it and falls in love at first site. He thinks it's the next big thing and he wants to draw it, they ask him to make it a one shot but he says he needs it to be a series, making him one of the only mangakas to ever draw two series at the same time.
The series instantly becomes one of the most popular series in Shonen Jump, and serves as a real threat to both Takagi and Mashiro, since it is both of their rivals working together. It constantly crushes their new series, Run Daihatsu Tanto, each week in the ratings, which Eiji is proud of since he views their new series as an abomination, something they should never have worked on and an insult to their talent. He wants to use +Natural to help spur them on and convince them to work harder. Because of this he agrees to a once in a lifetime interview on television, and during the interview he declares that "My Rival is Ashirogi Muto-Sensei." He does this to make them realize that they are not living up to his expectations and that they can do better, that they should work to be the rival he wants.
Eiji won't go easy on Mashiro
Mashiro and Takagi quit their gag series and begin working on a new one that fits them better. It's titled "PCP" short for "Perfect Crime Party" and it is accepted for serialization, however it has a condition. This series must beat either +Natural or Crow at least once in the ratings before the next cancellation meeting or else they will no longer be allowed to work for Shonen Jump. Eiji knows about this, and while he's excited to have his rival back, he isn't about to make it easy for them. He wants them to beat him at his finest, so both he and Iwase decide to play every card they have. When the first chapter of PCP takes first place, Aiko wants to rewrite the entire next chapter of the series, which excites Eiji as he tears up the last version of the chapter and says that they'll make it even better.
In Crow Eiji has one chapter that has no words in it at all, all of the story is told through action and art, making it a direct challenge to Mashiro. Meanwhile all the editors are worried that Iwase has developed feelings for Eiji because she spends night after night in his room behind him asking him for a favor. They think she wants him to become her man, but they finally find out what this was all about when the latest chapter of Shonen Jump comes out and they find a big surprise in the pages of +Natural. On the last page Crow appears, revealing that she had been asking Eiji to do a crossover chapter with his two franchises, and he finally agreed in an attempt to keep Ashirogi Muto from beating them.
Meanwhile while this is all happening, +Natural is casting for its anime adaptation. One of the people coming in to audition is Miho Azuki, Mashiro's fiance. She says she came in thinking to audition but she decided against it, that it would be too much like betraying the man she loved by working for his rival. Aiko doesn't want her to back out so easily, but Mashiro comes running in to rescue her and pull her out of there. As the two of them are running away Eiji is amazed by this act of love and he tells Mashiro not to worry, he'll tell the producers not to hire Miho so they don't have to worry about it, showing that even though they're rivals they're still friends.
+Natural experiences a boost in its ratings as a result of the crossover, however some of the fans felt like it was a cheap trick and others were expecting more from the series after that chapter as a result, and because of this the series suffered a small drop in the ratings, allowing Perfect Crime Party to surpass it, meaning that Ashirogi Muto would stay around and Eiji would have his rivals again.
Super Leaders Love Fest
After witnessing Mashiro's act of love when he ran into the audition to take his girlfriend away, Eiji was pumped full of energy and he wanted to work on a one shot that is all about love and romance. After he makes this declaration everyone of his rivals decide they want to be a part of it too. Eiji writes a one shot called "Love Power A to Z" about a boyfriend and girlfriend who have to fight their way through school and when they're together they grow stronger. However, it is met with very poor reception. It is then that the fellow writers of Shonen Jump realize that this prodigy has a weak spot, a subject that he just isn't any good at. Eiji ends up taking fifth out of seven places in the Super Leaders Love Fest and he decides to stop writing romance and return to his other series.
Eiji makes his move
Eiji could always write a Name without needing to think about it. However, one day he suddenly had trouble writing it because now he actually wanted to think about how to make it number one, about how to make it the best. His editor was worried that he was trying to live up to his original proposition to have a series he doesn't like canceled, and because of how much he's been saying that +Natural isn't interesting anymore, that's the series that everyone of the editors is worried he's going to cancel. His ratings rise and he finally takes the number one spot. After being there for several weeks he runs into the office of the Editor in Chief of Shonen Jump, closes the door, and makes his demand.
Team Fukuda hears about this and they think its wrong for Eiji to end a series he doesn't like, even if he is the artist of it. However, when they ask him about this he says he isn't going to cancele +Natural, he doesn't like the series but it's not his to cancel. The series he wants to cancel is Crow, he says that he should be allowed to end the series whenever he wants to, otherwise there's no fun in making a story. The Editor in Chief told him that if he can stay at number one for ten weeks in a row then he can cancel the series.
The Game Begins
The rest of Team Fukuda think about this and some of them think he has a point, that he should be allowed to end it whenever he wants, it is his series after all. However there is one thing they all agree upon, that Eiji is their greatest rival and they can't let him just end it yet, they want to be able to beat him at least once. Eiji is intrigued by this, and he says that he'll give them a chance, that if any of them can beat him in the ratings, even once, before he submits the manuscript for the final chapter of the series then he won't end it. He declares the race for the number one spot to be on and suddenly he is excited to draw again.
Eiji begins working harder than ever to keep Crow at the number one slot. Each of his rivals do their best, Fukuda introduces several new characters in his series and Takahama pumps up the drama in his, each one coming close but neither one able to beat out Eiji. However the final chance to stop him comes from his oldest rival, Ashirogi Muto. They try something that no one has ever done, they use their color cover page to play a part in the story that could only be done in color. However the final results have them close to beating Eiji, but in the end he still comes out on top.
He ends Crow with a final chapter that many call the greatest manga ending in history, it even brings his editor to tears. It is then that his editor sees that he has been busy between his two series, using what little free time he had to draw series just for fun that he never planned on serializing, series that his editor says are even better than Crow. The series aren't ones that he wants to serialize though so his editor says he's earned a break, he encourages him to head out and travel the world to see the sights he's always wanted so that they can help him get inspiration for his next series.
A Battle Between Men
However before he leaves he sees that in the issue of Jump with his final chapter in it, all of his friends and rivals have left compliments to him, thanking him for driving them forward. He is touched by Ashirogi Muto who tells him thanks for battling them all the way till the end. He decides to visit the two mangaka in their studio and thanks them for what they did, saying that they were actually the ones pushing him to become better, and it wasn't till he became a mangaka that he understood this world and started to make friends. However he promises that this isn't the end, their rival is going to go on forever, and before leaving he makes one last promise to them, that his next series won't be the best in Jump, it will be the best in the history of manga.