Bakuman – 24

At this point it’s become pretty clear where the cliffhanger for the end of season one is going to be. It’s obviously going to be the serialization meeting, but will it end with the results of the meeting – or just before the results? I suspect viewers will be pretty pissed if it’s the latter.

Looks like we know what Eiji’s rankings were after all, assuming Fukuda and Nakai asked him off-screen. “Shady Detective Trap” and “Kiyoshi Knight” tied for the Golden Futures Cup, with “Hideout Door” (my favorite) third. But they all did well, even the third-place finisher – and they all apparently have a shot during the all-important serialization meeting. And that’s where this series dives into the nuts & bolts, insider stuff it does so well.

While this wasn’t as superb as the frantic and thrilling 24th episode, this one was still very effective as setting up the events of the finale and building suspense. I always love it when this series gets into the mechanics of manga writing and the business – I feel like I’m learning something as well as being entertained. You really got a sense of what the editor’s life is like – their mutual frustration at not being able to attend the meeting and champion their authors brought Hattori & Hattori together to commiserate at a Yakitori bar. While obviously fierce rivals, they have the same frustrations and the same goals. Nakai & Aoki’s editor is apparently more senior, as he will be allowed to attend – a fact that Ashirogi Muto’s Hattori uses to his advantage by asking him to present his case. Of course, he’ll be arguing for “Hideout Door” too, and I don’t know how that’s going to play out. Judging by the beer conversation it sounds as if the competition is fierce, and it’s likely only one newcomer will make the serialization cut. With each contender skewing different demographics – “Trap” strong among younger teens, “Knight” among older teens and “Door” among women, it might come down to marketing potential. And what of Koogy’s “Colorfusical”? Well, apparently fandom only goes so far. In a somewhat disappointingly mundane close of his arc, it tanked and he smashed his guitar before the opening credits.

We had some development of sorts in the romance department as well, if you can call it that. Masahiro and Azuki exchanged congratulatory texts, and she even spoke to Takagi to express her thanks for helping Masahiro pursue his dream. But when Miyoshi put Masahiro on the phone she hung up on him – still afraid even to have a phone conversation. Her Mom gently scolded her about the hazards of this kind of relationship, she having never gotten beyond the snail mail stage with Nobuhiro and lost him because of it. Azuki finally relents and asks for Masahiro’s phone number, but that’s a cliffhanger too – for now. I know the audience is a little frustrated with this relationship, and I can see it – the level of idealism involved is a bit extreme. But you know, Masahiro is a romantic and a purist, and while those are dangerous qualities (just look at what happened to his Uncle) he is who he is.

Lastly, of course, we have the continued striptease the manga is playing with the “mysterious stranger” who keeps popping up at random moments, reading manga on the train and at the convenience store, having cell phone conversations with… someone. If you want to know who he is, it’s easy enough to look it up – but the manga readers certainly know already, and they’re all amped up about him. So there’s another teaser for season two for you.

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