Bakuman – 20

That was certainly an eventful episode. Not only did about six months seem to go by, but we had Death Note references, marriage proposals and the arrival of one of the most popular characters from the manga. Though there’s another full season on the way, the anime has started to go at a breakneck pace.

It was interesting to see the interplay between Hattori and the boys in this episode. He’s come to view himself as a sort of master manipulator, but it was Ashirogi Muto who was doing the manipulating – turning Hattori’s “keikaku doori” right back on him, and no amount of apples could change that. He’s bound and determined to keep throwing obstacles to serialization in their faces, but they – especially Masahiro – are equally determined to surmount them. If they survive all this and persevere – and it wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t – they’ll surely be all the better for it as mangaka. A charitable interpretation of Hattori’s actions might conclude that this was his plan all along – but I think he really did want to keep them down until after high school. In his mind he was doing it for their own good, of course, though I doubt they saw it that way.

Keikaku Doori!

What’s striking is how much damn work these poor manga writers have to do for so little reward. The boys have to come up with a name every two weeks, plus a manga for the Golden Future Cup – with no hope of immediate financial reward. This is truly a labor of love, because it’s hard to imagine anyone who didn’t truly love it doing it for long. Their new story, “Detective Trap”, seems like a winner – a synthesis of Masahiro’s character design and Takagi’s writing. Even Hattori has to admit it’s good, and that’s saying something. He agrees to try and serialize if they can get it into the Golden Future Cup – which they do – and deliver him a new chapter every two weeks.

There was lots of interesting stuff happening in this episode just beneath the surface. Besides the aforementioned DN references, there was a very interesting device in which a random character handing out leaflets in the park was used to show the passage of time – snow, cherry blossoms, monsoon season. I assumed at first she was someone important but no, she was only there to show us that two seasons were passing by. Why the rush, I wonder, with at least 30 more eps to play with and the manga (the real one, Bakuman) still unfinished?

The KOOGY has landed…

As Azuki advances in her career – a second season for St. Visual, with her singing the ED (badly) – Miyoshi decided to abandon her dream of being a cell-phone novelist and throw herself totally into supporting Ashirogi Muto. Since Takagi was writing her novel anyway that’s probably not a bad thing, but does that mean the whole episode about how she wanted a dream of her own was a waste of time? Ah well – at least she proposed marriage to Takagi, although I think she takes it a little more seriously than he does. And in the PV, another long-awaited treat for the manga fans. Itadakimasu!

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