I didn’t plan for this to happen, but it’s appropriate nonetheless that I review episode twenty three of Bakuman on the twenty third of March. Including this one there are only three more episodes left of the first season, and after that several months before the second season starts. I’ve said before that I wouldn’t be continuing the reviews through the second season, but since I’ve gotten the hang of three reviews a week I have been considering continuing to review the series. We’ll have to see how my circumstances are in the fall, but chances are good I’ll be picking up the second season for my weekly reviews.
After Mashiro explains to Takagi that he wants to rework the chapter because he wants to make it better after hearing Nizuma say that two of the three manga were tied for first. Takagi agrees to it, but only after he reworks the story first. They, and the rest of the cast, rework their manga from the beginning, except for Koogy, who is taking it far too easy.
A good chunk of the episode is two separate montages of the characters first reworking their names, and then actually getting around to drawing the manuscripts. While I can imagine some would not like a series that has two montages in the same episode (granted the music for these two montages is better than previous episodes), I have to admit that from my perspective it works just fine. I like watching the characters work, and it actually pumps me up for my own writing. I’d definitely add this episode to my list of episodes to watch before writing.
Mashiro and Takagi finally finish their manuscript and take it in to Hatori – who lightly scolds them for not telling him they were reworking it, but also says that the manuscript is much better now. They turn in their manga, and it goes to the presses.
The rest of the episode is split into four parts, one for each manga. The manga is released, along with a little synopsis of what the manga is about, the characters read and react to it, and then the next manga is released. Mashiro is a little depressed when Shady Detective Trap comes out, as he thinks his art could be better, but he perks right back up when he gets an email from Azuki telling him she liked the manga.
Ashirogi Muto, Fukuda, and Nakai and Aoki all get the green light to start preparing for serialization, even though Nakai and Aoki’s rankings drop after the early results. The last manga to come out is Koogy’s, and while it has the most metal background music, it also lacks a story, or anything cohesive about it. The episode ends without announcing Koogy’s results, but gathering from the characters’ reactions there is no way they could possibly be good.
This episode illustrates a crucial fact about Bakuman and slice of life shows in general. It isn’t easy making a series firmly based in reality interesting. If the viewer knows there isn’t going to be any flying around or throwing energy beams at each other, then they’re hard pressed to find anything interesting. Granted I’m slightly biased towards generic shonen action series, but my point stands. Bakuman has suffered as a slice of life series almost specifically because there is only so much you can do with the same characters over and over. The fact that while this episode had more montages than usual but didn’t suffer, is entirely because of the multiple characters that have been introduced. They’re all interesting, and so far well developed characters, so I want to know more about them. It’s a shame that this didn’t happen until this close to the end of season one.
This episode is more of a setup episode; after this things get more interesting. The problem is that Bakuman seems to have more than its fair share of episodes like that, with little actual pay-off. A series like this needs a strong supporting cast, and that has been officially delivered as of recent episodes. Unfortunately it feels like these characters should have been introduced much earlier. While the current episodes bode well for the second season (they’re part of why I’m considering coming back to review the second season), it would have done wonders for the first season to have this strong cast around much sooner.
As the manga comes out in the states it will become clear that the Ohba and Obata paced it out just right. They do as many story lines as possible with only Mashiro and Takagi, and then when the manga is in danger of getting dull they introduce more characters. They do this repeatedly, using every story element to the fullest extent before introducing something fresh to the mixture. The problem is that after twenty plus episodes it feels like the anime could have used a much quicker pace.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the series, but this is one of those cases where manga trumps anime. I still like the anime, but feel like there was a lot of filler material that could have been cut for the sake of bringing us to this point much faster. It’s really just a case of what worked in the manga not translating all too well to the anime.
We’ll see how things go in the second season. After the most recent episodes I’m definitely looking forward to it.