Bakuman 2 – 15

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I like Takagi and he’s a nice guy and all, but I’m not at all sure he deserves a wife like Miyoshi.

Considering that almost the entire episode was focused on romantic entanglements and what little that focused on manga was bad news, I liked this episode a lot more than I expected to.  Mostly that’s because the romance side of things was handled about as well here as the series has ever handled it.  It’s more clear than ever just how much all of the protagonists are still children when it comes to relationships, especially the boys.  It manifests itself differently in each relationship – for the main pair it’s stubbornness and a kind of impossibly idealistic purity, but for Takagi and Miyoshi it’s just plan silliness and stupidity.  Takagi is really the source of most of the problem here, but I don’t think it was malicious – he just didn’t think about what his relationship with Aoki would look like to Miyoshi.  That’s not to say that he wasn’t crushing on her a little, and he knew enough to know he didn’t want to tell Miyoshi about it.  But the bigger problem has been the way he’s generally taken Miyoshi for granted, and quite frankly I seriously question whether he loves her – he certainly hasn’t acted like it most of the time.

Indeed, I think it could be argued that Takagi mainly reconciled with Miyoshi not because he missed her, but because he felt guilty (not without reason) for causing friction between Mashiro and Azuki, and because he was worried about how it was impacting Mashiro’s work.  Not that coming clean wasn’t the right thing to do, though Aoki’s appearance at the zoo was enough to make things even worse.  Takagi’s hail Mary pass of proposing was right in-line with his childish relationship approach, and I’m not at all sure marrying her is a good idea whatsoever.  But Miyoshi (though violent) has the patience of a saint, even agreeing to let him keep exchanging ideas with Aoki as long as Aoki can she can “become friends too”, a transparent ploy to make sure she can keep an eye on Aoki.

Of course the nominally adult Aoki and Nakai should know better, and they’re proving themselves every bit the equal of the kids in relationship incompetence.  Aoki let herself fall in love with a guy she knew was taken, and used stuff he told her in confidence to sell a manga (something I don’t think has gotten the criticism it deserves).  As for Nakai, I lost a great deal of respect for him when he gave Aoki the “date me or I won’t draw for you” line in the family restaurant.  That was despicable, frankly, and while I’m kind of mixed on Aoki generally I was pleased to see her give him a sock to the face for that.  It leaves them both in trouble professionally, with her one-shot still lacking an artist and him passing up another chance to draw for “Jump” for purely personal reasons.  As for MashiZuki, well, they’re back together now that Takagi has come clean – though “together” has to be taken with it’s usual grain of salt where these two are concerned.  In their spat I tend to believe Mashiro was right, and that Azuki was applying a double-standard.  It’s OK for her to decide what’s OK to keep a secret, but not him?  She should have trusted him because he never gave her any reason not to.  More than anything I felt sorry for Mashiro, because the level of naiveté and innocence he brings to romance is almost staggering.

Sadly, Tanto did well in the rankings in “Next” – finishing first, in fact, though against a field of lesser talents Ashirogi should really have expected no less.  I fear that means we’re looking at more time wasted going down the rabbit hole of gag manga, as it’s hard not to see Tanto being serialized after that.  Maybe Sasaki will surprise me and look past the numbers, showing some real wisdom in realizing that gag manga isn’t Ashirogi’s thing and that there’s more to serialization decisions than survey results.  I wonder if the authors simply wanted to take some time to explore the world of gag manga and threw this detour in just for that purpose – it does seem as if Bakuman is trying to be a comprehensive look at the manga industry after all.  I have no doubt that we’ll get past this sooner or later, as there’s no question gag manga isn’t Ashirogi’s ultimate destiny, but for my own selfish enjoyment I sincerely hope it’s sooner.

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  1. J

    Shujin and Miyoshi getting married is ridiculous. How can you marry someone you dont even go on dates with, you really show no affection for, and havent even met the parents(i could go on, but you get my point). It would of been better if they just moved in together, that would seem more realistic.

    Im not a big Aoki fan but this arc made me like her a little more. Its nice to see her let her guard down and show her personality. Watching her running in a zoo yelling "im not suspicious!" might be the funnest thing ive seen in this show. I agree with your assessment on why the boys are doing a gag manga now.

  2. A

    I really enjoyed these 2 past episodes. Totally agree with you that Shujin doesn't deserve Miyoshi, she's a far second to his career and he only calls her because of what's happening with Mashiro and Azuki. I thought the fight between Azuki and Mashiro was great, as a female I totally side with Azuki though. She probably should have told him about the photoshoot, but he should definitely trust her with an explanation of what's going on and trust that she won't blab everything to Miyoshi. Perhaps the fact that he won't means that their bond isn't strong enough yet (After all they hardly see each other and mostly communicate via text while Azuki & Miyoshi are best friends and together at Azuki's house).

  3. Well, TBH I think if Mashiro had told her Azuki would have blabbed everything to Miyoshi. But maybe that's the guy in me talking!

  4. K

    I liked Nakai and originally was rooting for him and Aoki to become a couple. I can't believe how much of an asshat he has become. Remember when he sat on the table in the snow to show her how he felt?

    Now he is trying to extort her? Doesn't he realize if she goes back to Jack and tells everyone what he said his career in manga is over? When he said that to her I wanted to put my fist thru my monitor hoping it would end up in his face. She slapped the taste out of his mouth so I guess I will have to settle for that.

  5. n

    I, for one, think that Takagi and Miyoshi getting married isn't such a bad idea. They have already established that they get along and work well together, and that's the most important thing for a long and stable relationship. as for not going on dates – doesn't that just means that they are acting like married couple already? I think it's a much more realistic engagement than Mashiro and Azuki's, who have hardly spent any time together, and might discover one day that crazy love aside, they just don't mesh well with each other..

  6. Karma, I agree – I like Aoki. I like how his talented guy with the clock running out story contrasted with all the optimistic kids. He was genuinely GAR with that sitting in the snow business. But this last arc has been an ugly one for his character.

    Nadavu, It's a fair point – and I'm not suggesting it's a good idea for MashiZuki to immediately get married either. My issue with TakaYoshi is that he totally takes her for granted, and seems perfectly fine not seeing her for weeks at a time. Relationships where one partner loves the other far more than vice-versa are usually headed for trouble.

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