Bakuman, episode 11: NEXT!

Bakuman has settled into a nice, little groove. It’s not quite the can’t miss hit, I was expecting, but this was the latest in the string of solid episodes.

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Finally, we get an extended glimpse of Nizuma saying more than one line or making random farm animal noises. But perhaps it’d be best to keep his screen time to a minimum. It was pretty funny watching him run around, screaming like a crow amidst the large crowd, but I’ve realized that too much of Nizuma is… too much. Also, thank goodness I don’t need to live next to him. I would’ve killed him in the first 15 minutes.

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Takagi and Mashiro trudge forward with creating their brain download/idea selling name, while juggling studying for entrance exams into North High. They also get some surprise support from some of their classmates, except for a certain spurned Iwase.

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Takagi is the man. Not just because he says the things I wonder about (Kaya must have legs of steel. Check that, Japanese girls and their years of bad weather serafuku training have given them amazing climate endurance skills).

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But also because his cockiness…

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drives the chicks wild. But that’s not all…

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I love the fact that he’s socially deaf, or just likes teasing Kaya, leaving her hanging whether it’s Christmas eve, or whether she’s in tears after getting into North High to go write names. This is a good running gag that I hope they keep up.

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But Takagi sheds some light into Mashiro and Miho’s non-relationship and hypothesizes a pretty good reason for why she decided to wait to meet with Mashiro. I assume the same would apply for Mashiro. But what does this say about Kaya? That she’s only dating Takagi because she has no big dreams of her own? Ok, that’s true. And also that Takagi’s dating her, because he doesn’t care about her enough to distract him from his dreams? Ok, that’s true too. Hmm, things are not looking so good for our violent, little bundle of curves.

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But again, it’s really only when they start focusing on the manga portion that the story picks up speed. I mean that literally and figuratively, as two months from Christmas to Valentine’s Day fly by, while Takagi and Mashiro wrap up their name, submit it to the Hattori, and then get the call that they’ve been chosen for NEXT.

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But everything comes with a catch, and I really like the way Hattori continues to look out for the duo, as he lets them in on a theory he has, that they may be in NEXT to be a age-appropriate comparison to Nizuma, who’s apparently going to be featured in a 50-page color feature. I think Hattori should get his own spinoff show where he goes around pointing a finger at people and having shady phone conversations.

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Still, it’s a great chance for the two to be in NEXT, and Hattori challenges the two to beat Nizuma in the NEXT voting. I don’t know if that means we’ll see Takagi and Mashiro politicking for votes in the next couple episodes, but it should be interesting to see what happens. I can’t imagine the two beating Nizuma, but I bet they get their 20%.