Bakuman 2 – 08

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What was without question the best arc in two seasons of Bakuman wraps up this week on a highly satisfying (if slightly puzzling) note.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the solution to the impasse at “Shounen Jack” was.  The serialization going on hiatus until Mashiro’s release was the perfect compromise in that, like all good compromises, it pleases no one.  But it gives everyone a chance to think they won something, and walk away without losing face.  But when you’re dealing with stubborn and proud men like Chief Editor Sasaki, that was always going to be easier to suggest than accomplish.

The irony, of course, is that Mashiro continued to churn out manuscripts and meet deadlines for the entire time he was in the hospital, so there was absolutely no health benefit derived from Sasaki’s decision.  On the contrary, it probably made Mashiro’s health worse by putting him under unnecessary stress, and certainly complicated the lives of all the authors and editors at “Jack”, not least himself.  While a case could be made that a hiatus until Mashiro’s release made sense – just as the contrary case could be made – the same can’t be said about the graduation timeline.  That was simply about Sasaki’s guilt, and once established it was about his pride.  It was never really about Ashirogi Muto at all.

Naturally it was Hattori – GAR, fearless father-figure Hattori – who was the first to suggest this compromise as a means of breaking the boycott, though Sasaki spat it back in his face.  In fact the magazine went to press for a week without all five manga and Sasaki still didn’t budge except to tell his flunky assistant to threaten everyone’s jobs is things weren’t resolved.  Though everyone tried to keep news of the boycott away from Mashiro, naturally he found out when the relevant issue of “Jack” came out, and naturally he urged everyone to go back.  It wasn’t until he agreed to the shorter hiatus that Fukuda agreed to conditionally end the boycott, but even then Sasaki wouldn’t budge.

What of Miura, the boys’ actual editor?  Well, for most of the crisis he was every bit as useless as usual, holding onto Ashirogi’s completed chapters and never presenting them to Sasaki.  About the best that can be said is that he at least didn’t cave and tell Mashiro about the boycott early, and he did redeem himself in the end – sort of – by finally presenting the manuscripts on Mashiro’s release and going to bat for Trap to be restored to print.  To be honest, this conclusion was the weakest part of the arc, as I’m still not really sure what caused Sasaki to cave in the end.  He could just as easily have said, “Great, these are nice – they’ll come in handy in April.”  Of course he’d have had a bloody rebellion on his hands with the other authors who assumed he’d agreed to their deal, but I can’t imagine that would have stopped him.  And he can’t have been surprised to see that Mashiro had ignored him and continued to draw.  He certainly wasn’t too impressed with the Ashita no Joe verbiage that Mashiro threw in his face…

The standouts of the moment were Fukuda, whose militancy finally paid off, and Niizuma, who offered all of his savings to keep the assistants on the payroll until the boycott was over.  And obviously Hattori (both Hattoris actually) who as usual proved himself both a voice of reason and a deeply committed friend and supporter of Ashirogi Muto.  As for our happy couple, Mashiro and Azuki’s relationship continues to be an odd one.  She says she’s never had the urge to kiss him (although she probably didn’t mean it that way) and they generally spend most of their time sitting around like an old married couple, not saying anything – which Azuki points out might be an ongoing part of their relationship as they’re both doormice.  Still, I find that oddness rather endearing – those two are a weird combination of youthful shyness and idealism and an “old soul” quality they both share.  I think the fact that they can remain committed even when apart and don’t need to fill their time together with small talk is a point in favor of their relationship, not against it – although sooner or later, biology will have to be heeded.

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  1. d

    I for one am really happy for Hattori and shed a man-tear with him. I for one believe that he felt the most pain out of all the editors from the hiatus announcement and rightfully should feel the most joy when the hiatus was remove. As for Mashiro and Azuki, I was half hoping Mashiro would blurt out something crazy like he wanted to pounce on her like a hungry lion on a gazelle XP.

  2. A

    "As for out happy couple Mashiro and Akagi" – typos "our" and "Azuki"

    The Chief Editor was being totally unreasonable and I agree that his sudden agreement seemed odd but it was probably the best way to end the arc rather than prolonging it with more boycotts and Fukuda getting violent (although that would be awesome)

  3. K

    When it comes time for the Senior Editor to step down Hattori is clearly the choice to replace him.

    I can't stand the slug the boys have for an editor right now, maybe they will get Hattori back some day if their slug gets hit by a bus or gets caught weaseling them?

  4. There are others ahead of Hattori, so that won't happen. There's Sasaki's toadie assistant chief, and then the glasses-guy who's in charge of Hideout Door also outranks Hattori.

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