Bakuman 2 – 10

As Mashiro, Takagi and Miyoshi balance studying for college entrance exams with coming up with ideas for their next work. Mashiro wants to do a cautious one-shot first to test the waters, and he wants to maintain the harsh/serious tone of previous works, but Miura clashes with him on both counts, wanting a gag manga manuscript for serialization. Ashirogi goes over his head and submits a work in the monthly amateur contest. Hattori helps mediate the warring sides until they reach a mutually acceptable deal.

After spending so much time with Shady Detective TRAP, we had almost forgotten that it wasn’t the end-all, be-all work that would make or break Mashiro’s dreams. When things don’t work out, as they didn’t with TRAP, you move one. You have to…so they do. But things don’t start out smoothly, as Mashiro feels deep in his gut that Miura is just…wrong. So wrong. The thing is, artists need to trust and listen to their editors, or else they can’t work together.

A compromise is found after leaping over his head: whereby Ashirogi Muto can’t win the monthly contest, but they’ll be able to compete. Even if it does well, they’ll have to wait for the next serialization meeting for a final decision from Jack, so they have to give the gag manga – Hitman 10 – their all. From the little that we saw it looks like it has a nice contrast going between a harsh, gritty style and a story loaded with gags, owing to the scenario’s farfetchedness. At this point though, we have no idea what their next serialized piece will be. TRAP’s demise taught us nothing is ever certain in this business.


Rating: 3.5

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Working’!! – 10

To save her from a stack of boxes, Takanashi has to get dangerously close to Inami; he’s only saved by her being knocked unconscious. The next day, she’s more nervous than usual because of the encounter, and Yachiyo makes her take a nap in the break room. Takanashi enters and sees her asleep, and pats her head until she wakes up, and runs out of the room screaming. She stays home sick until he pays her a visit as Kotori and they both apologize and exchange phone numbers for future contact.

So, after all that androphobia training, after all those walks home, after all that interaction, Inami and Takanashi have never exchanged numbers? Inconceivable! Still, that’s remedied this week, after a series of extraordinarily close encounters send Inami packing, not out of fear of Takanashi, but out of fear of punching him to death. Their interactions are nothing new, but regardless of the lack of progress made, Inami seems quite happy to finally have Takanashi’s digits.

We’ve always harbored a fear of walk-in freezers. Alongside kitchen burns or slippery floors, they’re a genuine potential threat to one’s life if disrespected. While the ones we’ve always dealt with had releases on the inside, it always worried us that while we’re in there, such a release could malfunction or break, and there we’d be, stuck in a mini-Antarctica with no coat and a ticking clock. Of course, we’d last longer, as we’re bigger than Popura, but still…


Rating: 3

Ben-To – 09

Ume confers with the Sawagi twins about an exchange of apologies – Ume for allowing You to run around their school in his boxers, and the twins for allowing Shaga to infiltrate Ume’s school. The unpleasant ordeal makes Ume even more disgusted with You, and she punishes him accordingly. She then finds solace in “nursing” Hana back to health and trying to force herself upon Hana, and in the process finds her muscle guy rag with all the heads replaced by You’s. Ume blames You and the next day in school punishes him further, much to the approval of You’s masochistic classmate.

This episode’s prologue rather inefficiently confirmed one truth to us: we’d be perfectly content seeing as little of Yumekui Merry Asebi Inoue as little as humanly possible. Her overwrought character with the aristocratic background just doesn’t mesh in any way with the rest of the cast. I don’t even get why she’s friends with Shaga. She’s more of a tacked on mascot. We were relieved upon realizing this would be not an Asebi-centric episode, but one that focused on everyone’s favorite stern lesbian class prez, Shiraume Ume. While this episode was another tangent from the normal Bento story, it added richness and intensity to the rather unique triangle between Ume, Hana, and You, in which Ume love Hana, Hana loves You, and You is Ume’s incrementally willing punching bag./

Ume’s seiyu, Ai Kayano, puts on a clinic in this episode, virtually making love to every syllable and breath she utters to Hana in a bedroom scene that’s part in parcel of what seems to be a release valve regimen for Ume and a weird, uncomfortable ordeal for Hana. It’s ironic, because Hana is the dominant one in her imaginary relationship with the literary version of You, but here in real life, the tables are turned, and she is forced to submit to the far more assertive Ume. So why isn’t Ume a bento wolf?


Rating: 3.5

Mawaru Penguindrum – 21

A tabloid reporter with a scoop confronts everyone with all of the truths he knows regarding the Takakuras. Ringo dismisses him, Himari follows Kanba to confirm he’s still in contact with the Kiga group, and meets with Masako, who confirms she’s his biological sister. Unable to let the terrorist money continue to flow, Shoma confronts Kanba, leading to a fight, which Kanba wins, and tells him to stay away. Shoma tells Himari to go live with her uncle, completing the family split. A Kiga member kills Tabuki and Yuri, and with Kanba’s word, also disposes of the meddlesome reporter.

We’re in full Serious Drama Mode, as all joking around has pretty much ceased, and this series is more than capable of pulling such seriousness off, despite all the hijinx that proceeded it. After Shoma and Himari learned the truth, it really didn’t take long for the improvised young family to disband altogether. Shoma cannot allow dirty money to keep paying for Himari’s treatment – which is becoming less and less effective to the point where she will die soon anyway. But Kanba made sacrifices for Himari long ago, and isn’t giong to let Shoma’s morality get in the way, so poof, their brotherhood charade would seem to be at an end.

That’s right, Kenzen is dead. There’s a decaying skeleton in the now-decrepit restaurant bearing a nametag with his name. On several occasions, we saw the restaurant in good repair, and Kanba conversing with his parents, and yet, from everyone else’s point of view, the place is run-down and…dead. Was it all in Kanba’s head? Considering there are supernatural forces at play – Sanetoshi himself calls himself a “ghost” – anything is possible at this point. Here Kanba is not only taking money, but ordering a hit – making him an accomplice to murder, all in Himari’s name. After everything that’s happened, can the endlessly effed-up Takakuras ever be a family again, or was it all just one long game of “House”?


Rating: 4