Bakuman 2 – 04

TRAP drops from third to eigth to ninth, worrying both Mashiro and Takagi. Takahama confirms their suspicion that Miura can be overoptimistic at times, and when another manga that kept sliding is cancelled, panic nearly sets in. Back at the editors’ office, Miura gets five different opinions by five other editors, and is initially unsure on how to proceed, but he ultimately warns against big changes to the manga. Mashrio agrees, feeling Takagi’s position hints of desperation. They’re all convinced that TRAP needs to be loud and proud about being a decent mystery, which sets it apart on Jack.

This week doesn’t let us forget that Ashirugi Muto aren’t out of the woods just because they’re serialized. One bad week could spell cancellation; there’s a crapload of manga waiting in line to be published. Case in point: both Fukuda and Nakai/Aoki’s manga are approved for serialization – on the same day. The pressure is truly on for TRAP. This episode was a quick succession of splashes of cold water, and also exposed not only the inexperience of the still very young author and artist, but the relatively green editor Miura as well.

Being inundated with multiple contradicting possible courses of action is always going to happen. Someone who’s good will take the course that is closest to matching what their gut instinct is telling them. One cannot operate without instinct in this industry – take Hiramaru: he’s loathing drawing a manuscript every week; he has all the talent and instincts, but the motivation and passion are lacking. Niizuma is pretty much pure instinct, an unsullied natural talent. Nakai and Fukuda have kept themselves going with hard work determination, and of course luck, like Takagi and Mashiro. What they really need next week is a jump in the rankings: something to reignite their confidence.

Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 25

I stress that it would have been truly shitty of the producers of Bakuman to not let Mashiro and Takagi get serialized in Jack after all of this effort. But after Koogy turned out to be a bit of a red herring, The duo known as Ashirogi Muto surged past both Nakai/Aoki and Fukuba to become one of the four manga that won. This was a great ending to the first season, and now the real story begins.

This final episode itself detailed how the editors’ meeting goes down and how they make their selections. The Editor-in-Chief is pretty clear-cut on this process: if the manga he reads is interesting, it’s a “yes”; if it isn’t, it’s a “no.” As they go through manga one by one, we experience the same anxiety and impatience as both the authors and their editors. No matter what they try to do to kill the time – play cards, chess, smoke, or just sit and mope – their thoughts are consumed with the results of the meeting, which will determine their ultimate fate.

Not to be overlooked is the whole reason Mashiro is doing this: for love. Miho finally calls him on the phone and talks to him, and they both discover that it isn’t nearly as scary as they thought it would be; in fact, it’s the tops. Forgive the cliche, but you can really feel the love here. It’s a patient, slow-burning, deliberate love, a love still conditional on that anime, but they’re certainly on their way, and I’ll be rooting for the fulfillment of their dreams in season two, fully cognizant that that won’t happen easily. The easy part is probably over. Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.654