Bakuman – 22

Well, that little confrontation at Jack headquarters went just about as I expected. “Team Fukuda” blew off a little steam, and the editors told them to grow a pair and deal with it. It was Masahiro who ended up spelling things out, but the logic of it was inescapable – manga publishers want to sell manga. If a rock star can sell manga, so be it – but if his manga sucks, his victory will look like the hollow one it will be. The only thing is to write the best manga you can and whup his ass.

Of course, I suspect that “Colorfusical” is not going to suck – in fact, I suspect it’s going to be very good. That leaves the rest of the contestants at Eiji’s place, reading each others names in the hope of giving feedback that will help beat KOOGY. Aoki joins them for this, though she hadn’t joined the boys for the attack on headquarters. Unfortunately, while everyone seems to like the other stories if their internal monologues are the be believed, all they’re willing to admit is that they think their own story is the best. That leaves Eiji as the only impartial arbiter.

At this point I want to state for the record that Eiji has become my favorite character on the series. He makes me laugh every time he’s on screen, for one, but more than that I appreciate characters who surprise me. And Eiji has consistently done that – he’s already transcended what it looked as if he was going to be at first, a cartoonish character and maybe a stock villain. So – what does he think of the other teams’ names? He likes them all, but two of them are tied for the lead with the other in third place. But he refuses to say which – feeling badly for the third-place team. That’s surprising behavior for someone who seems so socially inept, but it’s interesting. Since he doesn’t know Aoki and barely seemed to acknowledge Nakai, the amateur psychologist in my thinks that he wouldn’t care for such things if they were last – it would only be Fukuda or especially Ashirogi Muto whose feelings he’d care enough to spare. I have no idea if or when we’ll find out, but my guess is that Eiji puts “Shady Detective Trap” last.

I suspect Masahiro thinks the same – because as soon as the non-feedback session is over he declares to Takagi that he’s going to re-write the name. That’s cutting it close but if his instincts tell him it’s not good enough my bet is he’s right – and as he always takes the lead in the partnership, Takagi isn’t going to fight him on this. Meanwhile, Azuki continues to thrive as a seiyuu despite being only marginally better than Victorique as a singer, and judging by the turnout at the St. Visuals Academy event in Akiba she’s becoming a big hit. Her young co-star is a big KOOGY fan and professes to vote for his manga no matter what, showing the challenge the others face, but Azuki’s heart is with Masahiro and she texts him so.

There wasn’t really a whole lot of advancement in that ep, but it still worked for me, mostly because of the scene at Eiji’s apartment. There was actually a fair amount of tension in that contest, especially when Eiji’s opinion was on the line. At this point I think it’s all right to have a slightly self-indulgent episode, because we still have another two-cour run in the fall to really settle things – all that really has to happen now is for things to get settled with the Golden Future Cup in time for the hiatus. We can certainly get that done in the next few episodes.

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