Bakuman 2 – 21

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I don’t know about you, but when Miura said “But that would make me totally useless” I threw up in my mouth a little…

Here’s my basic take on what’s happening here:

  • The two smartest people in Bakuman are Hattori and Eiji.
  • The Two most talented people in Bakuman and Eiji and Mashiro.

Eiji is unique for the obvious reason that he’s on both (short) lists.  He’s smart enough and impartial enough to be an editor – just look what he did with Natural when the quality had started to dip, and even Hattori hadn’t said anything.  But he’s also ferociously gifted – he’s both artist and writer, both superb in quality and extremely fast.  He also knows exactly what he wants and never second-guesses himself.  For him, this is easy – he really doesn’t even need an editor, never mind a good one.  For Mashiro, things don’t come easy.  He’s smart, but he doubts himself.  His talent is primarily visual so he needs to work as part of a team, which is fine as that suits his temperament better anyway.  What he needs to do is trust his instincts implicitly, because when he doesn’t give himself a chance to second-guess he’s almost invariably right.  And if possible, he’d benefit from a really good editor.

As Eiji (the smartest guy in the room) said, Hattori-san is the best.  Alas, Miura is the worst.  He has no eye for quality and lacks the people skills and ethics to be a good manager.  He was full of losing ideas as usual this week, but at least he finally did find the courage to do something right – admit he’s useless (especially to Ashirogi) and beg Hattori to help.  This is yet another thing I love about Hattori, and I mentioned it last week – he’s not afraid to cheat the system if he’s not getting the results he wants.  Merely interfering indirectly with Ashirogi was doing so – to actually intervene (even with Miura’s blessing) is out-and-out scandalous.  But in addition to being willing to bend the rules, he’s also willing to take a risk – because by doing things like helping another editor’s talent and secretly getting Eiji to draw for Iwase, he could be bringing down a heap of trouble for himself.  He got away with the second – we’ll see about the first.

Even I’ll admit that “KTM” wasn’t a half-bad idea from Miura.  The original one-shot was very clever and I like the direction adding physical appearance to the mix takes it.  Fundamentally, though, I see two problems – first, revisiting old ideas smacks of desperation.  And two, when I hear the details on KTM I don’t think of “Jack” – that’s a seinen story if ever I heard one.  While Hattori dropped the ball for once with his (secret) idea – the mainstream fantasy – I think he’s on to something in the idea of a simple and straightforward setting, with the edge and complexity coming from Mashiro’s art.  I think that suits the partnership well – Takagi is better at conventional storytelling and Mashiro is better at “alternative” art.  Mainstream fantasy was the wrong genre choice – anything where both Ashirogi aren’t completely bought-in is a bad choice – but the essence makes sense.  I like the fact that the roles were reversed here, with Mashiro being gung-ho (perhaps unconsciously sensing Hattori’s hand in the plan) and Takagi being the one whose instincts were telling him all along that this was the wrong direction.

The question now of course is, what next?  There’s no suspense in that we obviously know Ashirogi aren’t going to stop writing for “Jack”, but it’s interesting to ponder what that next serialization will be.  It’s certainly refreshing to see Hattori back on the team for real, even if his presence will still need to be kept secret from the magazine – who knows, maybe Miura will even learn something from watching him.  Hattori clearly isn’t as successful with his personal life, though, as witness the clumsy way he’s handling the Iwase situation.  He’s just trying to be professional and she’s the one crossing (more like obliterating) the line, but still – going soft on her as editor, then stringing her along – not well thought-out moves there.  Iwase is very, very hard to like – her way of dealing with people is completely disrespectful and she seems totally self-absorbed.  Still, Hattori chose to make use of her – not without success – and she’s apparently a talented writer, so he’s going to have to lie in this bed he made.  Let’s hope just not literally.

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  1. S

    Eiji is almost too darn good. It is as you say it, he can judge whats going on without being there, not second guess himself, and can practically do everything by himself. While it may be a bit unfair, he has turned almost into a boring guy. Sure we see his usual "SPIN SPIN" and "GASGASGASGASGAS," but hes been throwing himself up against a wall it feels like to say to Mashiro and Takagi "Tanto sucks."

    Hattori is the man though. As much as we know Miura sucks the big one, it was nice to see Hattori "drop the ball" again. I remember early on when there was one meeting he had bags under his eyes just trying figure out how to fix Ashirogi's storyboards. I can't recall Miura doing any of the sort other than when projects are submitted to meetings, and to say to Ashirogi that comedies suck at first but get better in ratings.

    Can't wait for next week, the manga released in US so far ended at the last episode so this is all new stuff for those that don't read the fan-lations.

  2. d

    I for one disagree that Hattori's idea of mainstream fantasy was a bad move. When you think of all the popular Jack genre that is most compatible with Ashirogi's style, fantasy comes the closest. As Enzo said, it forces Takagi to tone done his serious story telling to something more palatable for the everyday Jack reader, check out Miyoshi reaction this episode. As for the art style, I for one think that the more unique the art, the better it is for a fantasy setting. Check out Hideout Door's art for example. We've seen this move before by Hattori, where he gets Ashirogi to do something just so they can learn and make their real manga more amazing. I really hope they come up with something incredible just so Eiji can be more eccentric XD.
    As for Hattori's personal life, man, I think we all can feel for him especially with someone like Iwase being all yandere for him. I mean, the guy is way too nice, I think he should either use his wits and showcase the other Hattori (Yujiro) to Iwase and dump that luggage onto him lol or just be stern and turn her down. I hope nothing romantic grows between them because well, you don't stick it in crazy no matter how good it might be XD.

  3. A

    I find you have a strange underestimation of Takagi in your reviews. The way I've always seen it, he's the "genius" of the pair, the one with talent. He comes up with high concept stories, but also instinctively knows how to turn that into an actual manuscript. When people talk about how interesting Ashirogi's works are, it's natural to assume they're talking about the writing.

    By contrast, Mashiro is the down-to-earth hardworking guy. His art isn't the best, but he practices a lot. He also has the critical eye and experience needed to change his style to match Takagi's writing. His work is relatively unexciting yet practical. The reason he's constantly second-guessing himself is precisely because what he does isn't natural to him. He's skilled, but not talented, or at least not exceptionally so.

    This is amusing when looked at in contrast to their personal lives, which are sort of reversed.

  4. I don't see it that way. In fact, what I see in your comment is more general than specific to this pair – "When people say a manga is interesting, it's natural to assume they're talking about the writer." Maybe that's not how you meant it but that's what I get from it. It's funny because I'm a writer with no artistic talent, but I don't think there should be bias towards the writing half of the pair.

    I see Takagi as a very practical and smart guy, but someone who doesn't get a lot of inspiration on his own – most of best work comes from taking other people's ideas and making them successful. Mashiro, OTOH, generates his art completely internally and provides most of the inspiration in the pair. He's the soul, Takagi is the brain. That's just how I see it, though.

  5. A

    I don't know about that. Take Tanto for example. Everyone knows it's crap. Why is it crap though? It's certainly not because Mashiro's art is bad. His art matches it perfectly. It's crap because Takagi has to struggle to write that kind of humor. He's better at dark, intellectual stories (which is presumably a nod towards the real life authors' Death Note). Tanto failed because it didn't match Takagi's talents, and Miura completely failed to realize that. Mashiro was able to keep up, but that alone isn't enough for success.

    As for whether writing is always the source of being interesting, that's certainly not true, but I don't recall Mashiro's art wowing people as much as the themes of their works. His art certainly suits those themes, and it could be argued that the themes would be weakened with another artist interpreting them, but he didn't create them. Compare Eiji who is explicitly said to rework Iwase's writing into his own style. Mashiro doesn't really "make it his own" in the same way Eiji does.

  6. Heh, I think this is mostly a matter of differing interpretations of the characters. If anything, Mashiro is too talented and that's what gets him into trouble – he can draw any art style brilliantly, but he hasn't got a "signature" style he can fall back on when he's in doubt.

    To make an analogy, Eiji is like KanaHana. Absolutely brilliant at playing themselves, and doing what they do. Mashiro is like Haruka Tomatsu – can do anything brilliantly, to the point where you wouldn't even know it was them doing it unless you saw the credits. Both approaches take a lot of talent – just a different sort.

    I would also point out that Mashiro actually has quite a bit of subtle influence over the content of Ashirogi's works, through suggestion and conferring with Takagi. He certainly did with "Trap" and "Money and Intelligence". One of the reasons Tanto failed is because Mashiro had nothing to offer to help Takagi on the creative side, because he never believed in the material.

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