Bakuman – 8

One in a Hundred Million

Bakuman continues to paint a picture of just how rough the life of a budding mangaka is. In addition to all of the other challenges we’ve already seen, Masahiro and Takagi are facing yet another one due to their situation. Because they’re a team, they can only succeed if both of them are on their game at the same time. If either one is distracted, disinterested or just plain in a slump, they have zero chance of creaking something that can actually sell.

It’s clear that this is a really hard path these kids have chosen. They slave for a month to create a work in time for submission for the Tezuka award, making it by the skin of their teeth – but not before Masahiro rejects a score of story ideas from Takagi. Finally they hit upon a winner, and devote almost all of their time to it, with Takagi even slumping from his accustomed #1 class ranking. But it’s good – Hottori loves it and offers to submit it for the Tezuka. The guys are encouraged and spend the next month drifting through school without getting any writing done, dreaming about winning the award. Yet, for all that, they don’t – it makes the final eight but not the final four.

This leads to a crisis of confidence for Masahiro. Hottori’s “The story is especially great” comment – offered innocently enough – and the Tezuka panel’s assessment that the art merited only a “3” while the story got a “4” leads him to believe he’s just not good enough. This is compounded when another budding mangaka at school urges Takagi to dump Masahiro and pair with him. Takagi shows his loyalty by punching the kid in the face – which is all well and good, but the whole experience can’t have done anything for Masahiro’s shaken psyche.

The romance took a break this week (except for another of Masahiro’s toga-wearing fantasies) and we didn’t see anything of Eju Niizuma after the into. The former doesn’t bother me so much but I would like to see more of Eji sooner rather than later. We know he’s come to Tokyo, and we know he took both the first place and runner-up slot at the Tezukas. He’s clearly got talent and he’s clearly prolific – I’m curious to see more of him and whether he will rise above the bizarre caricature we’ve been given glimpses of so far.

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