Bakuman – 10

Last week was romance, so this week must be manga. While Takagi and Miyoshi have a few moments in the sun this week, most of the episode is given over to the mechanics of trying to produce a successful manga.

While there’s no question Hattori has the boys’ best interests at heart, he shows a few flaws as an editor this week. He reveals to them that their last effort fared much better among the artists on the Tezuka Award panel than the “Jack” editors. Why? Because while the story was complex and the art very good (much to Masahiro’s relief) the story didn’t have a super-powered protagonist. So he advises them to come up with a real Jack protagonist and try again. Unfortunately this turns out to be a disaster – because in the act of trying to become commercial, they produce terrible names. Hattori realizes his mistake almost as once, and retracts his earlier advice – he tells the boys to shoot for winning the Tezuka first and worry about commercial success later. That was Nobuhiro’s creed – if it’s good, it’ll be serialized – and this view is shared by the Editor-in-Chief, who knew Nobuhiro and reveals the fact to Masahiro.

This was probably the deepest dive the series has taken into the artistic debate of the manga business. Apparently Niizuma is a manga prodigy, capable of producing marketable manga almost at will, but his stories lack depth. What’s the right way to try and succeed – write what you think will sell, or write what you’re passionate about and trust the process? Nobohiro may have tried to do the latter, but the fact is that he worked himself to death and went out a commercial failure using that stratagem. But does that make it wrong for a talented pair of 9th graders? Hattori clearly isn’t 100% sure himself.

The ep also touched on what’s sure to be a growing problem – trying to have a girlfriend and be a mangaka at the same time you’re going to school. For all Miyoshi’s initial promises, there was no way she was going to be happy letting Takagi spend all his free time working on manga. This could prove a strain on his partnership with Masahiro as well.

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