Bakuman, episode 2: Sexism Shmexism

Bakuman, sexist? Perhaps the series gets worse, but based on what I saw today? Meh, it seems like a big deal over nothing. Sexism is the objectification of women into objects of lust. Sexism is the existence of the whole ecchi fanservice category. Sexism is the idea that the only shoujo dream is to get with a better man. Sexism in Bakuman? Mild, at best.

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The bigger issue with the show was its slow pace until the last two minutes when Mashiro gets the keys to his late uncle’s studio. The energy was lacking until then as the show had to take care of the less fun business – like getting parental permission. Still, I do like the developing relationship between Mashiro and Takagi, even though I feel like Takagi is doing the lion’s share of pulling this cart. His outlandish and at times abrasive personality is carrying the show so far.

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So the controversy du jour is the sexist views that Takagi spouts off when he demeans Iwase as just being "book smart." It seems the anime lets her off the hook a little lighter, as Takagi has a few more choice words about Iwase in the manga. It’s sort of in the line of "being too smart isn’t all that hot." Which sure I suppose is sexist, but what I find curious is the seeming backlash towards the whole show, Bakuman or Ohba himself, instead of towards the character, Takagi. When Kamina says something outrageously sexist in TTGL, nobody takes it back to the original writer, they attribute the quote to Kamina’s outrageous personality. Similarly, I relate that quote back to Takagi’s character. He’s opinioned, hot blooded and lacks tact – which isn’t terribly unique for a middle school boy (middle school really? I assumed high school). Does it mean Bakuman’s sexist? No, it means Takagi’s sexist.

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A little bit more on the sexist side is Mashiro’s mother relaying his father’s permission for him to pursue his mangaka dreams. Perhaps this comes off as more sexist because mama-san is the one saying it. Although more than anything it just sounds a bit weird coming from her. But would anyone have batted an eye if Mashiro was having a guys-only chat with his dad, and his dad unleashed that bit of wisdom? Is it terribly different from the "time to become a man (by deflowering a woman)" conversations that we occasionally see between father and son? I personally don’t think so. It’s probably only really an issue, because Mashiro’s mom is rather unlikeable. And hearing her relay the message feels sort of she’s lost a truth or dare bet with her dad. But lost amidst the "controversy" is the fact that Mashiro has a really unappealing home life. His mom’s a wet towel, he doesn’t even have a relationship with his dad, and his grandpa seems like a ghost.

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Controversy aside, my problem with the family scenes was that it was soul suckingly energy-less. It wasn’t particularly fun or interesting to watch. And it wasn’t exactly high drama. But once Mashiro gets permission, we finally get some energy, as he gets the keys to his uncle’s studio, as a gift and approval from his grandfather, which hopefully will lead to more shenanigans and less awkward parental conversations.

7 Replies to “Bakuman, episode 2: Sexism Shmexism”

  1. I really enjoyed this episode. They had some things to deal with in the beginning, but I felt the interactions with the parental units was more fraught with tension. It was interesting that the big event happens off screen. We don’t even see what Mashiro’s father looks like. The saving grace, though, was the burst of energy at the end, with Mashiro’s inheritance of the studio. Hopefully this means things will really start moving on the manga development front, which is my main interest in the series.

  2. Well, I stopped short of saying “THIS IS SO IMMORAL” and labeling Tsugumi Ohba a sexist. You can obviously have sexist characters and even sexist overtones without being a sexist yourself.

    And, yeah, Takagi is in the last year of middle school, haha. That’s what makes it weirder for me — he looks older, so it’s easier to forget that he’s a dumb middle schooler.

  3. My point on the whole debate is I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show after hearing it was sexist, as I’d spend all my time looking for marks of it being sexist. If other people don’t see if that way, then that’s cool. Perhaps it isn’t. It’s all opinion, in the end.

  4. You definitely notice it more when you’re looking for it…I never even thought about TTGL as being sexist, but now that I’m thinking about it, I agree that it had some questionable moments. (Gah! I love Kamina, though TT_TT ) I think it would have been less irritating, though, if the mom wasn’t the only one who was against his dreams. Still, it really wasn’t that bad when you think about how sexist many animes (especially harems >_<) are.

  5. Yeah, I think as with just about anything, if you’re looking for it, you’ll find it. You wanna find deep meaning in a 80s hair metal song, you’ll find it. Jesus in a cheeseburger? you’ll find it. Sexism in Bakuman. You’ll find it. πŸ˜‰

    I do agree that it wouldn’t have seemed as bad, if the mom wasn’t the only wet blanket though. (But on the other hand, what does it say about patriarchal relationships when papa doesn’t even talk to his son)

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