Level E 4

After the introductory arc, Level E takes a brief detour, apparently delving into the lives of four high school dudes who witness a girl being eaten alive by a classmate. After being referred to an “eccentric” researcher by a drug-adled acquaintance, and after said researcher uses their fear of death to handsomely extort 1 million yen each from them, they learn the truth: their bogeyman is an alien; one of only three of his kind on earth, and back home, they eat the female to reproduce. Hence he wouldn’t attack males. It’s a bodily function, like hunger or thirst.

That’s wacky enough, but it’s played straight all the way through, and with a rougher, more hand-drawn animation style than we’re used to. Of course, that leads to the ultimate conceit of this episode (spoilers ahead!): it’s just a pitch by Prince for an anime intended to facilitate the revealing of aliens on earth to the human race. Oh, and the whole operation to organize this pitch takes place in Tsutsui’s flat, much to his chagrin!

This was yet another great story within a story, leading the audience on with a fairly compelling sci-fi mystery, then pulling the curtains to reveal that it was all going on in Prince’s imagination. The producer he meets with warns the premise is too dark. Looking at the lineup of shows this season, a dark premise requires lots of boobs (re Freezing)… fortunately Level E dives into dark places but always comes up for air, and is always good for significant laughs. Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 17

For Moritaka, this week is a illuminating lesson in mangaka collaboration. While Akito hangs out with Kaya half the time (while staring at an empty notebook the other half), Moritaka swallows his pride and checks in with Niizuma, whose other two assistants are much older; Fukuda in his mid-twenties, Nakai is a thirty-three year old who cries in his sleep over not being published.

Needless to say, Moritaka has much more success interacting with Niizuma than the older guys, and rather than being an asshole, Niizuma genuinely respects Moritaka (and Akito, as he’s half of the “Money & Intelligence” everybody seems to like.) But Fukuda assistant warns that if Niizuma only draws what he is interested in, his readers will eventually get bored and his ranking will drop.

Moritaka gains indispensable insight into both Niizuma’s creative process and the critical thinking all mangakas must cultivate in addition to their skills. The older dudes are still trying to get published (it’s probably never going to happen for Nakai), so if anything, just because he’s hit a little bump in the road, it could be worse. He and Akito are still quite young, and have plenty of time to reach their potential. Rating: 3.5