While no one would mistake Bakuman for an action series (ironic, given the current events in the series) last week’s episode was certainly the most fast-paced of the series so far. This week we return to a somewhat more leisurely mode, probably a comfort zone for the anime though somewhat less exciting for the viewer.
Everyone had their turn to have their story advanced this week. Eiji reveals a few more secrets of his trade – including the fact that his psychotic 50 pages in 30 minutes routine last week wasn’t just writing down what was in his mind after all – he was making it all up as he went. Hattori certainly realizes that this isn’t the best thing for the Dynamic Duo to be hearing, but Masahiro seems to take it as a challenge – he and Eiji have an unspoken understanding of sorts. They’re the driven ones, the ones with an agenda and a timeline, and the others can either join in or get left behind.
In the meantime the heroines get their time in the spotlight too, as Miyoshi visits Azuki in her new place in Hachijoji. Azuki’s seiyuu career is progressing slowly but she draws inspiration from Masahiro and keeps plugging away, even accepting an audition for “St Visual’s Girls Academy” though the part calls for singing – which she’s never done. Miraculously she gets her first part – which sets Masahiro off an a bout of insecurity and engages a couple of very entertaining texts between the two of them. Masahiro even wonders to Takagi what some of the audience has surely been wondering – is he an “M”? His relationship of deprivation with Azuki certainly has the whiff of masochism, but Takagi concludes – correctly I might add – that he’s actually an “N” for narcissist.
There’s an element of artificiality to what Masahiro and Takagi are trying to do with their mainstream manga – not in terms of the anime, where it feels quite realistic, but in they way the boys are pursuing it. Their reasons for it are all the wrong ones – Hattori certainly knows it, though he’s doing his best to be a supportive father figure as much as editor. Eiji knows it – he as much as tells Masahiro that all he’s doing (and all Masahiro should do) is follow his instincts and write from the gut. I suspect even Takagi knows it too, though he recognizes that it’s Masahiro who’s the engine driving their partnership. I think he’s a bit afraid to check his friend’s ambition, but my fear is that sooner or later they’re going to find out that because they were in such a hurry, they’re wasting a ton of time. The most interesting relationship in the story so far for me has been Hattori and the boys, but the one between Eiji and Masahiro is showing great potential. In some ways, the two most important people in Masahiro’s motivation may be people he rarely if ever sees. I like Masahiro – I like his single-minded passion and sense of responsibility to his Uncle, and his respect for the career he’s chosen to make his dream. But he’s coming off as kind of a jerk at the moment. Well – he’s 15, and that’s the age when you think you know everything, so I guess he’s entitled. I don’t think we should forget that for all the large cast and multiple plot lines, this is ultimately Masahiro’s story and it’s his arc that’s going to define the series.