I can already hear the chorus of criticism for this episode – “too slow”. And I admit – things are developing at a pretty deliberate pace. But that’s just fine by me – it suits the mood of the piece.
The fourth episode was pretty much a “how-to” series on drawing manga. I never knew about J-pens and Kabura pens – but then, last week I didn’t even know the rough sketch was called a “name”. Masahiro, for all his feigned indifference at first, is clearly a tremendously knowledgeable guy when it comes to manga. He’s the expert of the duo, the technician – he knows the ins and outs of the trade and just what the boys are in for. He even knows the three keys to success – hubris, effort and luck – and how important an editor is to the process. Takagi, on the other hand, is the big-picture guy. He’s the navigator of the pair. Meanwhile, I love the way Nobuhiro hovers over them like a guardian angel. He’s very much a character in this story, even if he’s long gone.
Along the way we’re introduced to a couple of new characters – Azuki’s best friend and a wannabe manga artist in her class – but most importantly Niizuma. He’s a 15 year-old mangaka who was a semi-finalist in the Tezuka Manga Competition. The boys notice him in a a feature in “Jack” (that’s “Jump” to you and me) and as he’s about to come to Tokyo, it looks like he’s going to be a rival/inspiration to Masahiro and Takagi – starting with the next episode… Though he doesn’t think so, Masahiro’s drawings show him as an artist of real talent, and it’s clear he has the obsessive commitment to see his dream through.