Bakuman 2 – 24

The editors in the serialization meeting change their votes one by one until the chief is the only one to vote against it, and Ashirogi Muto’s Perfect Crime Club is approved for serialization. After recieving the news and being congratulated by Team Fukuda, Mashiro finds a USB in the slice of cake Miho made for him, on which is a recording of her singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

The news also comes down that Hattori and Miura will switch places, so Hattori will continue to be Ashirogi’s editor, while Miura takes on Iwase, who is none to happy. After hearing about the initial losing vote to Niizuma, Mashiro decides that Takagi will only give him scripts without layout, so he can better utilize his own imagination. Takagi agrees, and they prepare the first chapter.

Ah, for once, another Ashirogi Muto defeat is turned around at the last minute (or rather, the first minute of this episode), and in an unlikely adaptation of “12 Angry Men” (seven in this case). they get their shot. It’s almost as if the editors had forgotten about the readers and put Ashirogi Muto’s fate in their own hands, rather than those readers, which would have been totally unfair.

But getting those initial doubters to come around will require revision to Perfect Crime Club: enter Hattori, who immediately makes an impact with Ashirogi before officially taking the reins from Miura (who is also impressed with his authors’ professionalism.) When Takagi tells Hattori Mashiro is “saying crazy things”, we worry momentarily, but the drama is quickly dispelled once he explains himself. The ball is in their court.


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 23

Miura reads Ashirogi’s manuscript for Perfect Crime Club. While at first he finds its crimes petty, the realistic art and serious tone draw him in. He believes it will be a hit. While at any other serialization meeting, it would easily pass, the editors have to determine whether it will be able to beat Crow and +Natural, right now. Their deliberations go on a long time, as Mashiro has a Christmas get-together with Takagi and Kaya. The resulting vote at the meeting is tied 3-3, and the Chief editor with the tie-breaking vote. He believes it’s good, but not enough to win. With the final vote 4-3, Perfect Crime Club will not be serialized by Jack.

Bakuman is full of foolish promises. The idea that Mashiro and Miho cannot possibly be together unless they achieve their dreams is getting to be a major problem. Huge chunks of their youth have been spent away from each other. Yes, they love each other, but the idealism of their promise is starting to strain credulity. Case in point: Takagi and Kaya have Mashiro over for their first Christmas as a married couple. Why isn’t Miho there? Because of that silly promise, made when they were still kids. We know this issue has been covered exhaustively and they both seem to be committed to keeping the promise, but these constant drawbacks make the dreams they seek to achieve seem more like mirages; impossible to ever reach. Time will tell, we guess.

That’s beause of another dumb promise: to create a manga that can defeat Niizuma Eiji, or leave Jack for good. Ashirogi Muto has been through the pressure cooker enough; there was no need to gamble themselves into a corner. We held out hope Perfect Crime Club, which is the most original and best-thought-out manga Ashirogi’s created to date – would at least be given a shot to compete, but the Chief Editor took their gamble to mean that they the editors – and they alone, not the readers – would be the arbitors of the manga’s fate. With that, it seems like Ashirogi Muto’s Jack days are finished, unless Hattroi and Miura have any other tricks up their sleeve.


Rating : 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 22

Hattori advises Ashirogi Muto to play to their strengths: Takagi should try to find “serious humor”, which Ashirogi could enliven with his serious art. A clear direction fires them up, but coming up with a storyboard proves difficult, so Takagi suggests he and Mashiro tail Hattori in secret for a day. They witness him go about his business, learn new and unexpected things, and get further encouraged. After their adventure, Takagi knows what he wants to do: a ‘perfect crime’ manga. They swap Kaya’s present for Miho with an identical one to further experience the thrill and accomplishment of pulling small crimes off. They whip up a storyboard and deliver it to Miura…

After quite a few failures in a row and their careers on the line, finally a little optimism and excitement. Hattori’s “serious humor” advice really caused a light to go off in Takagi’s head. Both he and Mashiro are certain this is their best idea yet. We especially like how Takagi makes sure they’re on the right track by literally acting out the idea by tailing Hattori, then making the ol’ switcheroo. The whole episode was brimming with positive energy and discovery.

There are lots of nice touches: Takagi and Mashiro finally find out about Hattori’s “Iwase Problem”, when she meets him in a restaurant in a come-hither outfit – that Takagi has his back to her is an even better touch. We also like that Aoki and Kaya remain in touch, and how Aoki innocently leaks that it’s Ashirogi’s last chance. A concerned Kaya calls Miho, but rather than feel betrayed for Mashiro keeping something from her, she takes the high road and tells Kaya to chill out and believe in them. The dress-for-drawing swap was also pretty romantic. Of course, next week, we can expect this Perfect Crime Club manga


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 21

As Tanto winds down, Ashirogi Muto struggle to find a new idea, until Miura suggests they bring back Money & Intelligence, but add “Appearence” to make it KTM. Takagi is fired up and has loads of ideas, butwhen they submit the manuscript for serialization, it fails. Rather than improve KTM, Miura orders them to do a mainstream fantasy in the vein of One Piece, but the resulting manuscript doesn’t even make it to the serialization meeting. Miura arrives with Hattori, who wants to help in anyway he can. Meanwhile, Iwase reiterates her ‘interest’ in him, and he gives her a set amount of time to win his heart.

When we learned there’d be three serialization meetings, we imagined three episodes in which Mashiro and Takagi come up with three manga ideas, and naturally the first and second would be rejected. But things went faster than we expected, with them breezing through two manga concepts in one week, leaving them with one more shot: if they fail again, they’re through with Jack. One annoyance of this series is how it’s paced: earlier in the first season, an episode would only cover a day or two – now weeks can pass with nary a label to indicate it.

Pacing aside, clearly there’s plenty more material to come – there’s a third season coming later this year – and that makes us wonder, just how long is Ashirogi Muto going to continue these cycles of small victories followed by failures. When will they finaly surpass Niizuma Eiji, like Hattori and others believe they can? As viewers, we’re starting to get a little antsy. Is Bakuman merely stringing us along, or will there be some eventual gratification? We know, for one thing, Mashiro’s goal of getting an anime with Miho voicing it is still a long way off, and their marriage with it. So until then Bakuman has to make a case for itself. Something good’s gotta happen.


Rating: 3

Bakuman 2 – 20

Tanto’s rank is steady, but low, and Takagi is nearing the limit of his jokes, pulling all-nighters days before his wedding to no avail. At his and Kaya’s wedding reception, Mashiro confronts Hattori to tell him straight up whether Tanto is good; he says it isn’t. The final straw is when Niizuma calls Ashirogi Muto his rivals on live TV. Both Takagi and Mashiro ask the chief editor if they can quit Tanto and work on something that will surpass Niizuma – if they can’t, their Jack days are over.

First Trap got cancelled. They liked it, but the rankings fell to far. Now with Tanto, the rankings aren’t falling enough to risk cancellation, and it’s important to Jack as a kids’ manga – but both Takagi and Mashiro feel it’s holding them back. While it may seem unwise to put so much faith in the opinions of a few peers – in this case, Niizuma and Hattori – the way they see it, they would rather try and fail to surpass Niizuma with everything they’ve got rather than continue to dabble in obscurity. If they truly have the talent and it’s a matter of proper utilization, then Tanto has to go.

It’s a big gamble, because, well, what if they truly can never surpass Niizuma, and burn themselves out in the attempt? They’re already known as “troublemakers” in the industry, and there’s apparently no better publication to be in than Jack, so they’re really limiting their options. But continuing to eke out Tanto would be limiting them even further. Would Mashiro really be okay marrying Miho after getting a late night anime deal like Hiramaru? I doubt it. He wants the primetime, and he wants to be the best. And so they roll the dice.


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 19

Meeting her father so he can ask him permission to marry Kaya, Takagi learns that her father was best friends with Mashiro’s uncle Nobu. After meeting with both Takagi and Mashiro, he gives his approval. At the Jack party that night, all eyes are on Iwase and Niizuma, further firing up Ashirogi. Natural+ gets of online buzz and on its first day Jack is sold out everywhere and it hits first place. When the next issue comes out, Tanto #1 only gets fifth, then descends from there, levelling out below both of Niizuma’s manga. At their new flat, Takagi and Kaya are visited by Iwase, who comes to ‘congratulate’ them, then suddenly names Hattori as her next ‘interest’. Niizuma stops reading Tanto, apparently bored with it.

It’s a mixed bag this week, with good news, bad news, and some serious coincidences. This anime program would have you believe, for instance, that Kaya’s dad was best friends with Mashiro’s uncle who pined for the mother of Kaya’s best friend Miho, who Mashiro has promised to marry. Small world, yeah? But while it’s good news that Takagi and Kaya can finally tie the knot (I guess Takagi’s parents are dead, or something), there’s still the matter of making a living with manga, and Hattori, Niizuma, and Iwase aren’t making it easy.

In fact, Ashirogi is shown no mercy whatsoever, as the cool indie Natural+ screams past their comparitively childish gag manga, which Iwase says proves Takagi doesn’t have talent anymore and therefore she doesn’t love him – because that’s what loves all about AMARITE? Hinamaru even has his Otters 11 turned into an anime, albeit a late night one, while Crow already has one and Aoki’s manga has a shot at adaptation too. With all the mounting hardships, Takagi is even finding it hard to come up with ideas, never good when you’re already behind. And apparently their manga is so uninspiring, Niizuma, their #1 fan, has stopped reading. Really not good. This week almost seemed like piling on.


Rating: 3.5

Car Cameo: In front of the venue for the Shounen Jack party
sit a trio of stately Toyota Crown Majestas.

Bakuman 2 – 17

The results of the serialization meeting are a mixed bag: thanks to Fukuda and Ashirogi’s help, Aoki’s manga gets serialized, but Ashirogi’s isn’t, and Takahama’s is cancelled. Katou rejects Nakai, and Aoki is hiring all-female assistants, so Nakai gives up and returns home, after apologizing to Aoki. Takahama goes behind Miura’s back and asks the chief for a new editor, but the chief reproaches him in front of Miura and Ashirogi. Impressed by Iwase’s story, Hattori meets up with Yuujirou, telling him she’s Takagi’s rival. Hattori wants Niizuma to do her artwork, which would make him the first Jack mangaka with two simultaneous serializations. Niizuma agrees to draw under a pen name for when the work is submitted.

As long as they’ve known each other, how in the heck has Takagi never even met Kaya’s parents? I guess her father isn’t around much. Well, it’s moot for now, as they can’t even ask permission to get married unless Ashirogi Muto gets serialized. If they fail, there will be no dreams for anyone. Yet another setback befalls them as their submission lacked the intensity of their NEXT one-piece. They complain about Miura once more, but witnessing Takahama get reamed out by the chief forces them to give Miura a break and focus on making their work better. As the chief says, complaining about one’s editor is just trying making excuses for one’s own shortcomings.

Speaking of talent, Nakai is throwing his away, after a hat trick of unfortunate events: Takahama’s manga being cancelled, Katou refusing to enter into a “special relationship” (despite the fact she still seems to like him), and Aoki refusing to let him come crawling back. As usual, his friends swoop in to try to mend fencs, but he leaves. At least the guy acknowledges he was a dick. Back to talent, Hattori and Yuujirou may have just built a dream team in Iwase and Niizuma. One can’t forget just how amazing a talent Niizuma is, and when he’s fired up by quality story, his rivals had better watch out. Mashiro and Takagi really need to dig deep, or Takagi may find the girl he scorned surpassing him.


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 16

When Aoki comes to Ashirogi seeking help drawing panty shots, Kaya suggests she meet with Ishizawa, but that proves a bad idea, as he turns out to be worse than Nakai. When Fukuda hears that Aoki and Nakai were in a fight, he drops by Takahara’s to confront Nakai, who tells him he’s “comfortable” where he is, and working with Katou. Rather than leave it there, he decides to coach Aoki himself, giving her pointers while he draws and having her fax him work to look over. Her resulting work gets her a shot at serialization in the same time Ashirogi’s Tanto is up for it. Meanwhile, Iwase meets with Hattori, vowing to draw a manga based on her novel that will surpass Takagi.

Fukuda can be loud and obnoxious, but he’s also kind (in his own way), and fiercely loyal to his fellow mangakas. We see a lot of him this week, juggling his own Kiyoshi Knights manga with the new task of helping Aoki essentially loosen up. This isn’t just about inserting panty shots; it’s about showing the right imagery at the appropriate time. It’s not simple. Fukuda’s direction really perks Aoki up, as she’s put Nakai and even Takagi past her and is going for it. We like this new, more emotional, more assertive Aoki a lot; she’s just got this spark right now, and her heated conversations with Fukuda are very fun to watch.

Fukuda isn’t just doing this for her. For him, doing what he does just isn’t fun if Niizuma, Mashiro, Takagi, Nakai and Aoki aren’t doing it too. He wants everyone trying to outdo the other, because that will result in everyone putting out their best work. Friends are the best critics, because they can communicate feedback to you in a way someone else may not be able to. Takagi and Mashiro may have had a better chance of being serialized if they put Aoki’s request on hold, but they didn’t; they helped her because she was a friend in need, and because Nakai really was a bastard. We’re not sure what to make of Iwase yet; she’s just starting out like Ashirogi Muto did with Hattori; but she’s a bright cookie, and it’s not unrealistic to think she’ll rise fast.


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 14

Miyoshi stays away from the studio, and when Takagi calls her she blows him off. Busy with their gag manga manuscript, they continue working. When Miyoshi tells Miho about her suspicions, Miho worries that Mashiro is in on the deception as well. “Tanto” is well recieved in NEXT, but Fukuda, Niizuma, and Hattori all believe Ashirogi Muto’s talents are wasted on gag manga. Meanwhile, Aoki’s manga draws heavily from her experience with Nakai and rips off Mashiro and Miho’s romance. Miho finally calls Takagi wanting an explanation from both of them. When Mashiro can’t give her one, she hangs up.

Yikes…the hole just got deeper for Ashirogi Muto, as both are caught up in Takagi’s multi-girl carousel…and for what? While “Tanto” looks to be serialized, everyone who knows them best are disappointed they’re not doing more serious work. To that, we’d argue they already tried that and failed, and right now they just need a hit; and to us it seems looking down at gag manga is akin to novelists looking down on mangakas. But as they hunch over their desks working on “Tanto”, all kinds of things are being set in motion in their real lives. It kind of sucks that the letter Iwase put in Takagi’s book is such an obvious plot device for romantic conflict, but it was really a catalyst for bigger problems.

Takagi and Mashiro have been taking advantage of Miyoshi’s kindness. And with Aoki exhibiting signs that she may be falling for Takagi, and the fact her manga so closely mirrors Mashiro and Miho’s story, compound the problems quite a bit. We’re as disappointed as Miho when Mashiro conceals the truth from her. If all four people simply sat in a room and unraveled everything – without omissions or lies – everything would be cleared up. After all, it started innocently as Takagi seeking the advice from someone who better understood girls. As for Mashiro failing to tell Miho that her mother and his uncle exchanged letters, well, bad move. And more ammunition for Miho’s assertion she can’t trust him.


Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 2 – 12

Miura wants Ashirogi Muto to do a gag manga, and brings a wealth of data to back up his preference. The data entices Takagi, but Mashiro still refuses, angering Miura, who suggests Takagi get a different artist. Takagi walks out, enraged. Eventually Miura apologizes for suggesting the split, but his immense package of gag manga and notes convinces Mashiro that it will be okay to do a gag manga after all. Meanwhile, Aoki struggles with writing Shounen romance when she has no experience, then meets a successful author who’s very much like her.

Every once in a while we find ourselves caring more about the supporting characters, and this was one of those times. Mashiro and Takagi are basically stuck the whole time, either waiting on Miura or butting heads with him. Nothing is getting done, and they remain unserialized. But while we’ve never much liked Miura, we do appreciate that he’s new to editing, and he’s showing signs of improvement. Using data to try to convince his guys was a good idea; his main flaw was letting his own emotions form that roadblock. Also, suggesting best friends to split up? Bush league, dude.

But who really tickled our fancy this week was Aoki Kou. She used to be so stoic and wooden, but we saw a fair amount of her this week, and got inside her head, and it’s not an absolute icebox in there. She lies to a potential future editor about her experience with love, because she’s as unsure about writing that kind of stuff as Takagi is with humor. In both cases, there’s nothing for it but to do it and see. Meeting Aiko, an author she likes, seems to intrigue her. When asked “Why Manga?”, Aoki answers simply because she loves it. Whatever insecurities she harbors, there’s no doubt of that.


Rating: 3

Bakuman 2 – 11

Mashiro and Takagi are working on two different works, the humorous TEN and the serious Future Watch. They want the latter to beat the other out, though Miura wants them to do a gag manga. The editors leave it up to the readers, who choose Future Watch by ranking it 9th after TEN was 10th. Takahama warns them about Miura’s changes lowering his rank, so their doubts about their editor only increase. Nakai gets over Aoki’s rejection right quick upon meeting Kato.

It’s a pretty tough week for Ashirogi Muto. Not only to they have to at least make an appearance at college, but they also have to work on two series as if they’ll both be serialized, despite having chosen a clear favorite. Worse still, they’re at odds with Miura, and get outside criticism of his editing that may lead to them dropping him in the future. After all, they expected both of their works to rank at least fifth, and neither got close.

Regardless of their percieved lack of quick success, they’re in pretty good shape. Every episode they’re not serialized feels like an episode they get further behind the eight ball, and at least they had their work published, and it ranked fairly high for new material. But their lack of faith in Miura could prove poisonous. By the end of their manuscript, they weren’t even sure themselves what was funny or not, and relying on Miura’s sense of humor proved harmful. It’s telling that Mashiro, Niizuma, Fukuda are all on the same wavelength as far as what Ashirogi should be doing.


Rating: 3.5

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

Bakuman 2 – 09

Mashiro is discharged and returns to the studio, but TRAP begins a precipitous drop in rankings, to the point that they are warned that they won’t be safe in the next meeting. Meanwhile, Miho continues to get anime roles, Niizuma’s Crow anime starts, and Takahama gets runner-up with a one-shot. In the end, both TRAP and hideout door are terminated, all but killing Muto’s confidence, until a text by Miho insisting they get married before she turns 40 re-energize’s Mashiro’s passion.

Granted, this series has never been one to pull punches or bring out ridiculous twists in fortune, but wow, that was kinda surprising. TRAP is dead. It never recovered from its hiatus and new stories that competed for detective readers. Now Mashiro and Takagi are back at Square One. Considering how high they flew all season, we finally got an episode with another huge, crushing setback that brought back similar feelings of apprehension and disappointment from last season’s many setbacks.

We knew Mashiro would get better. We knew TRAP would drop in rankings (the episode titles tend to be spoilers in and of themselves). But we weren’t sure if the series still wouldn’t turn things around with one final, amazing chapter. It just doesn’t work that way with Jack. They have a tried-and-true system for picking winners and losers, and Trap lost. Miho revising her promise to only wait for him only another couple decades and change provided sufficient incentive for Mashiro to break out of his pity party and start coming up with a new, better manga. Something called Bakuman, perhaps?


Rating: 3.5