Anime Reviews: Bakuman Episode 2 – Dumb and Smart

Again, I apologize for the title pages. They’re kind of really boring, and not translated very well. Hopefully we’ll get a redesign or something eventually.

Now I know I didn’t mention it in my manga review, but it’s a lot more obvious in the anime and bears mentioning. What’s up with the characters randomly opening or closing just one eye? And they have their eyes closed at the oddest times, times when no human being would close their eyes. Look!

The episode itself covers very little ground, a trend I’m certain will continue through this series. If you read my review of episode one you’ll notice that most of the screen shots were of the exact same shot of the classroom. That’s because most of the episode took place in the classroom.

Takagi comes to pick up Mashiro to go to school.

While they walk to school they argue about nicknames and Mashiro acts like a bit of a jerk to Takagi, making it very hard to sympathize with him. Personally I tend to give unsympathetic main characters a chance to improve before too long. I’ll give Mashiro two more episodes.

When they get to school, Iwase, a girl in their class, comes and talks to Takagi. Iwase isn’t introduced until later in the manga, but I like how they establish her competitive relationship with Takagi before it needs to pay off. It will also tie in to what Takagi and Mashiro discuss later on in the episode.

While they are taking midterms, Mashiro can only think about how he proposed to Azuki the night before, and is unable to finish the test. He asks to be excused, and the teacher lets him go to the nurse’s office, since he looks pale. Takagi asks to be excused too, having already finished the test.

Like in the last episode, there is a scene here that is omitted in the anime. In the manga it switches viewpoint to Azuki a few times, letting the reader see inside her head. So far the anime has been avoiding that, and instead has a much more focused point of view. Since I’m more a fan of third person limited I can appreciate this in the anime. It also helps keep things streamlined.

While Mashiro and Takagi talk about Mashiro’s feelings for Azuki, and the intelligence of their classmates, I can’t help but notice how much slower paced this series is than my usual fare. Well, it allows me to diversify, and helps a lot with motivating me to write more.

The scene where they talk about intelligence, and understanding one’s place in society may come across as strange to western viewers. Personally I can understand where they’re coming from, even if it goes against my opinions as an American. But it’s still an interesting way to look at Japanese society. Takagi essentially explains how Azuki is a lot smarter than she acts, because she doesn’t act smart, since she knows that people will like her more if she isn’t too smart. While on the other hand Iwase is the smartest girl in their school, but isn’t popular because she acts too smart, and is a little bit arrogant. Personally I thought she seemed perfectly fine when she was introduced earlier on in the episode, but that’s just me.

In the end Mashiro decides to team up with Takagi, convinced that Takagi isn’t just some idiot dreamer, but might actually turn out some pretty interesting stories.

Mashiro realizes that the chances of his parents letting him become a mangaka after what happened to his uncle are slim. He tries to talk to his mom, but she refuses instantly. Though she agrees to talk to his father once he comes home.

While Mashiro waits for his dad to get home, he gets out the box he packed his Uncle’s manga away in. I really like this scene, for those that weren’t finding Mashiro sympathetic enough, I think this should change that for you. The music that accompanies the scene is quite nice, and fits the mood. Mashiro remembers how much he loved manga and begins to change a bit as a person. He shifts from being a depressive person, and becomes more cheerful.

The scene is very effective as it deepens Mashiro’s motivation for becoming a mangaka. His initial motivation is of course to become a successful mangaka so he can marry Azuki, but seeing him remember that he loves manga deepens the motivation, and gives him a much more firm basis for his motivation to become a mangaka.

I like this scene because it speaks true to me. Manga, like any fiction, has a strong power to inspire emotion. From the rage at poorly written series, or frustration at “mature” series that confuse the definition of adult taste with dreck, to the very real joy you feel while reading a touching story, or an exciting adventure, or a hilarious comedy. Stories are great catalysts, and it’s nice to see a work of fiction that understands its own power.

When Mashiro’s dad gets home he almost instantly agrees to let Mashiro become a mangaka. Mashiro’s mom takes him to visit his grandfather, who gives him the key to his Uncle’s old studio. Sure this may come across as overly convenient that they have a fully stocked manga studio available for him, but I’d rather watch a series about them creating manga, and discussing the theory of manga and the creative process, rather than run around trying to afford supplies. I’m not watching this show for the money.

Besides, while it may be unbelievable that they would keep the place in perfect condition, the fact that both Mashiro’s father and Grandfather almost instantly agreed to let him become a mangaka suggests that they knew from the start that eventually Mashiro would choose this path in life.

Mashiro runs off to visit the studio, clearly a more cheerful character now, and calls Takagi, inviting him to come along and visit the studio with him.

The first episode may have been a bit rough for some people, and while the first half of this episode was slow, I think that this is the episode where viewers should realize whether they want to watch this show or not. Mashiro is already starting his development as a more sympathetic character, and overall the potential of the series is shaping itself into something good. I will of course keep watching, and reviewing, though my interest would in no way have been piqued by this series if I hadn’t already read the manga. But after the boost of creative desire this episode left me with, I can’t help but want to keep watching. Despite the overly emo tone of the first episode, the series is starting to shift into something more much more watchable.

And since every reviewer seems to give a letter grade these days, I might as well start it myself. For the latter half of this episode, I’ll give it a:


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