Bakuman – 18

Bakuman has settled into a nice groove, and this week definitely continues the strongest run of episodes the series has strung together. After a likable but slow start the intensity level has picked up nicely on both the professional and romance fronts and the last couple of episodes have been quite exciting.

I’m sorry in a way to see Masahiro’s time as Eiji’s assistant come to an end, because in some ways those were my favorite scenes in the anime so far. Fukuda and Nakai were excellent additions to the cast and while I know we haven’t seen the last of them, I really enjoyed the 4-way interaction during those scenes. Eiji grew wonderfully as a character, and I really enjoyed seeing Nakai’s reaction to the enthusiasm and passion of the three younger artists. As for Fukuda, he hasn’t disappointed – if he has a fault it’s that he’s too brutally honest and that clearly gets him into trouble, but that’s just who he is – a guy who believes in his talent (and opinions) to the end.

I don’t think it can come as a huge surprise that Masahiro is going to reach back to the inspiration of Nobuhiro for ideas – it was pretty clear in the second ED, if nowhere else. It seems obvious that part of Masahiro’s motivation is to succeed for his Uncle’s sake, to finish what his Uncle started – and since all of his childhood efforts at manga were inspired by Nobuhiro this is a perfect way to do it. It’s heartening that both he and Takagi came up with the idea of a mystery series (maybe about a strange notebook with the power to…) at the same time. On the flipside, of course, we have Masahiro – quite naturally – starting to embrace the idea that maybe, just maybe, he could write a story to go along with his art. He did so as a child, after all. And it doesn’t help that every time he’s interacted with Takagi since their summer break started his friend has been with Miyoshi. So Masahiro sets a deadline with himself – if Takagi doesn’t come up with the name by the end of the break, he’ll write the name himself. Ouch.

This is one of those inevitable rough patches that any creative pair will face, especially young and impatient guys like this. One can’t blame Takagi for wanting to spend some time with Miyoshi, or her for wanting to be with him. But I do feel she’s taking advantage of him in the sense that he’s trying to be a writer for a living and he has commitments – and besides, wasn’t the whole cellphone novel idea supposed to be her dream? And the crack about Masahiro and Azuki being the weird couple was pretty mean-spirited, even if it was largely true. Again, it’s obvious that they’ll work this out but the series is doing a pretty good job of teasing the suspense.

We finally got a “To Love-ru” reference this week, along with an “Ichigo 100%” to boot – all part of Fukuda’s theory on why ecchi manga are at a disadvantage. And a very clever PV in which it’s finally revealed that Eiji’s editor is named Hattori too (“We’re the bridge to your dreams”). Looks like next week is going to be an editor-heavy episode.

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