Bakuman. 2 – 02

With their TRAP team all settled in, Mashiro and Takagi adjust to their new system. The ice is broken after lots of awkward silence, and even Takahama eventually speaks up to Mashiro. Miho is faced with a decision to make a photo book to advance her career, but she doesn’t want to, and knows Mashiro doesn’t either. She gets depressed and refuses to pick up her phone, prompting Mashiro to hear to her place, risking the manuscript deadline. Takagi calls Miho, and Miho calls Mashiro off. They have a long and fruitful discussion, and agree to tell each other everything from now on.

Oh, we’re sure it can be exceedingly easy for many to get turned off by a pair of lovebirds like Mashiro and Miho. We just don’t happen to be ‘many’. We’re not exactly sure why, either. Their progress thus far has been excruciating. They’ve taken “taking it slow” and “fulfilling dreams” to heights we never thought possible. But goshdarnit, they’re so pure, so honest, and so on the same page, it’s exceedingly hard for us not to love watching their little trials unfold. Last week there were a lot of changes in Mashiro and Takagi’s world, but this episode established that many things remain constant.

Mashiro and Miho will keep their distance, though they’re now bold enough to talk on the phone more. Miyoshi is an excellent girlfriend. And, both of the guys’ love interests are constant fonts of encouragement, distraction, and temptation, all rolled up together. They’re muses. Takahama mentioned to Mashiro how they both dream big, while the other assistants are content where they are. If there’s anything this world needs more of, its people who see cold reality staring back at them with their big ideal dreams and say “I’m going for it!” Easier said than done; we know.

Rating: 3.5

Hanasaku Iroha 9

The longest day at Kissuiso continues with Ohana in a labyrinthene exhibition hall, looking for Tohru. Her search initially proves both fruitless and disruptive, and she retreats to a lonely staircase. Just then, Ko calls her, and tells her exactly what she needs to hear. She and Ko are never quite on the same wavelength, which is a factor of Ko not making it clear what he’s doing and why. If he likes her, and wants to see her, he should just tell her and meet up with her. Instead, he’s intent on keeping crucial information from Ohana, and as a result, he is never able to see her.

I prefer this, his decision to withhold his intentions, to dumb luck and coincidence keeping them apart. Ohana is extremely busy and extremely ditzy; Ko should know this, and spell everything out as clearly as possible. It’s disappointing that he isn’t able to get the words out in the precious few moments on the phone with her, but the fact he’s able to cheer her up at just the right time doesn’t quite seem like enough for either of them. These two are stuck in a long-distance holding pattern, which is a shame, but there’s plenty of episodes to resolve (or not resolve) this.

Meanwhile, the highly-charged energy and kinesis of Kissuiso continues. Ohana’s instincts prove correct, as when she brings Tohru back, the situation matures from barely-contained fiasco it was to a more controlled scenario where everything that needs to be done will get done. She also proves correct in insisting every guest be treated with equal care, as the mystery guests turn out to be different from the ones the consultant lady assumed. The manager returns to a reinvigorated Kissuiso, that can run smoothly in her absense and gained new pride in their teamwork and the service they provide. That should prove a great comfort and great worry to the aging manager. Rating: 4