Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bakuman 2 - 05

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Anyone who complained about the pacing in the first season of Bakuman – and there were plenty of you – should be pretty pleased at the developments this year.

I’m not sure we’ve ever had an episode of Bakuman where quite this much happened.  It was certainly exciting but it does highlight the conundrum of this series.  The day-to-day minutiae of the manga industry are really interesting – the meat of what this such a good show, IMO.  Yet there’s also a lot of suspense about what’s going to happen in the future, and as a viewer I’d like to find out as soon as possible.  Sports anime often face the same dilemma, and have their unique approaches to it.  Giant Killing gave us an extremely detailed but slow adaptation, as did the first season of Oofuri.  To some extent that the approach S1 of Bakuman took, but there’s definitely been a gear change.

The meta-reality aspect of this series took another leap this week, as Azuki gets a small role in the adaptation of Sket Dance.  Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion, I guess, but the main focus is on the race for rankings in “Jack” and the impact it has on the mangakas.  Fittingly, as the pace of events speeded up dramatically so did the sense of just how exhausting it was for them.  It’s hard on everybody but it’s always been Mashiro who suffers from the pace more than Takagi, and with high school a never-ending time drain and the quest for better poll results growing ever-more intense with the arrival of Kiyoshi Knight and Hideout Door, things reach a new low this episode.

I do have to wonder how it is that his close friends and editor didn’t see this collapse coming, when it was so painfully obvious.  Weight loss, bloodshot eyes, admittedly he barely sleeps – there just didn’t seem to be much concern there in light of all the warning signs.  Of course, everyone was on a high from “Trap” rising like a phoenix in the rankings, moving all the way up to a tie for third (with Crow) at one point.  I guess mysteries really do take more time to build a following, as the rise occurred even before Takagi began injecting more wit into the dialogue.  Meanwhile Otter #11 started to struggle at last – a bit too one-note, perhaps? – Hideout Door started #1 and slipped somewhat, and Knight started quickly as you’d expect a pure shounen action series to do.

With Nakai acting basically as editor and finally having earned Aoki’s creative (if not romantic) trust, “Door” seems likes it’s in pretty good hands.  Hiramaru is wigging out as normally, except now he has reason to worry (11th place and pissing blood), and Fukuda is plowing ahead battering-ram style like always.  Meanwhile Niizuma continues to show what a freakish talent he is, steaming ahead with both the art and writing on his manga without seeming to break a sweat.  Things are a little scary for Ashirogi Muto, though.  With their biggest moment yet – a color cover spread and the release of their first tankobon – Mashiro is passed out cold on the floor of the studio.  He’s always been a total perfectionist and ridiculously self-driven, but the grim truth is he’s irreplaceable – if he can’t go, there is no Ashirogi Muto.  What a brutal life this is, and seemingly for relatively little financial reward too, even with a fair amount of success.  It’s not wonder mangaka agree to anime adaptations before they should so often, as it’s an opportunity to bring in a little infusion of cash.

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9 comments:

  1. I agree the pacing has improved, but I personally think the big improvement over season 1 is that they are keeping the attention on the manga business, whereas the first season wasted way too much time on the (very boring) romance between Mashiro and Azuki. Now that the focus is on Ashirogi Muto's professional struggle, the show is pretty engaging. I don't think it is the best of this season's offerings, but it has a really unique concept, so I always look forward to watching it.

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  2. Next week's preview shows Azuki getting involved so we should see some sparks in the romance dept. I agree they spent quite a bit of time on their non-romance in season 1 but I don't mind Azuki showing up next week.

    The boys would be so much better with Hattori as their editor instead of the annoying gnat they have now.

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  3. I dont remember that Sket Dance part in the manga but it fits that bit about Azuki getting a small role in an adaptation. Funny enough, that episode is this week's episode on Thursday, and it's kind of parodying Bakuman with the part about marriage and dreams and such of that character. Hayami Saori will even voice the new character.
    First time that I saw a part of an episode that hasnt aired yet to be shown in another show.

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  4. I believe Sket Dance isnt done by JC Staff but by one
    called Tatsunoko Productions I think. Either way it's fun for me who watches both :)

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  5. Yeah, you're right it's Tatsunoko - makes it a bit more surprising, but hey, it's still cross-promotional for Shounen Jump.

    I tried to get into Sket Dance and even jumped back in to watch the ep where they did the Pillows cover, but it just didn't grab me.

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  6. Well Sket Dance and Gintama did a crossover episodes on their own and so did One Piece and Toriko so I guess I shouldnt be that surprised.

    And to each his own I guess. It's enjoyable for me. It gives a few laughs and it's got some good cast. And I'm easily pleased so yeah. Though it's suppose to be 'a poor man's Gintama'...

    Bit offtopic here :P
    On topic, these parts on Bakuman shows that WSJ really is a harsh environment. Wonder if the other magazines are this serious at rankings and cancellations and such.

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  7. Yupp, it's a hard life being a mangaka. Shuesha is quite a lot better then most even as they at least pay pretty well. It's a lot harsher to work around the clock and barely making enough money to pay the rent.

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  8. I've got to say this episode was rushed. You could tell they wanted to end it with that cliffhanger no matter what. Unfortunately, because of that some scenes were cut short, like the Aoki-Nakai part and the assistant girl-Takahama conversation. I also felt it lacked proper transitions which made it seem like some things came out of nowhere.

    Heh, look at me complaining about fast pacing in Bakuman.

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