Bakuman, episode 4: Yeah, manga is hard

But you know what’s really hard? Animating a manga. You think the animators were sitting around watching this and thinking "bah! manga artists are wusses!"

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Abandoned Factory has a good post covering the ins and outs of drawing and layout as described by Mashiro. You wannabe manga artists might want to bookmark it for future use.

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Mashiro realizes that he’s way behind the 8-ball and instead of studying for his test spends all night drawing. You gotta admire his super-focused spirit. I could never do that. I just never had the attention span. Like Mashiro, occasionally I think about what I could’ve accomplished if I didn’t spend so much time playing video games, watching anime and writing about it (natch). Unfortunately, unlike him I never had a singular talent that I ever felt was strong enough to devote myself to. Speaking of which…

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Well, damn, way to make me feel bad. Nothing like seeing someone as young (or younger) than you winning an award or getting recognition to kick you in the ass.  True story, back when Avril Lavigne’s Complicated video first came out, it inspired me. Well, first I did like the song quite a bit, but more than that, I thought, "hey, I can play the guitar better than her, I can totally be a rock star!" Sadly, I didn’t have the whole "being a hot chick" thing going for me, so poof went that dream.

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I used to think drawing was fun, then I realized how much work it is. And I realized writing was where it’s at. I laughed at Takagi’s "homework." Mashiro needs to draw until his arm falls off and he looks like he’s more Highschool of the Dead zombiefied. Meanwhile, Takagi just has to read all the manga. Dude, I want that job. Manga reader.

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Still, while the scenes about what it takes to be a manga artist were interesting… it’s not really what I want to see from half the episode. Bakuman still seems to be finding itself. It’s like it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a comedy, a drama, a romance or a documentary, so the momentum in each scene just trips all over each other. One thing I wish Kasai would do more of is the distorted faces that were so prevalent in Honey and Clover and Nodame Cantabile. Everything so far is just way too straightforward. Which is why I liked the scene in which Mashiro is fantasizing a future with Miho – even though it’s 1% as amusing as seeing Hagu-chan in perpetual chibi-fied mode.

When Takagi asks what would happen if Miho went to a different school, Mashiro brushes it off, saying he believes in her. Ah, I remember I used to be as idealistic as Mashiro. Then you grow up and realize everyone’s a slut. 😉 But seeing as how they’re not talking to each other at all anyway, it really wouldn’t make any difference if Miho went to a different school.

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After hearing that Mashiro is going to go to an average high school so he can spend more time practicing drawing, Takagi vows to go to the same school. I wouldn’t mind seeing him break that news to his parents. But why plan for failure? Seems perfectly logical. Although some might say trying to become mangaka is what’s illogical, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing Crisis Core is that "unattainable dreams are the best kind."

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On their way back from the playground, Mashiro and Miho share a scene… and I probably should’ve been moved, but it was totally boring. I feel like the romance is just completely misfiring. Ever since the initial shock marriage proposal, all the romantic interludes have seemed forced and haven’t really added a whole lot to the show.

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I swear the best part of each Bakuman ending is the very beginning and the ending, otherwise it gets bogged down in the middle. But I’m looking forward to seeing Mashiro and Takagi’s new, award-winning rival, Nizuma come into the picture. Besides the fact that it’s always good to have a foil stir the drink, the 5 seconds of him screaming like a chimp was more entertaining than the last 60 minutes of Mashiro and Takagi. At first glance, Nizuma looks like a bizarro version of L. I’m gonna run with that.

7 Replies to “Bakuman, episode 4: Yeah, manga is hard”

  1. Indeed…sometimes the “educational” aspect of the show seems to take over a bit too much. (Maybe the fact that this is an NHK show is coming through.) I just wish they would start coming up with actual ideas already…in my experience as a writer who has collaborated with an artist before, the coming up with ideas phase is by far the most fun and interesting part of it. Then comes the slog of actually doing it, and creative differences. But I digress.

    Bakuman was one of my most anticipated shows, but it needs to get just a little faster. I’m looking forward to more Niizuma as well.

    1. Yes! Actual ideas would be nice. They’ve spent so much time on the setup so far – which really is unnecessary, they could’ve gotten it all out the way in an episode.

      Speaking of which, if Takagi approached Mashiro to team up, you’d think that he had some ideas in the bucket or some draft scripts written. Otherwise it just seems incredibly random for him to want to become a mangaka. Mangakas should always have ideas, even if they’re not good.

  2. Nizuma looks interesting, but I agree, the interpersonal parts of the show so far haven’t been its strength. I liked the fact that they are still running to the studio. If the energy level on this show drops it could be fatal.

    My worry is just that they haven’t really shown yet what the core shounen mechanic will be like. There has to be some small victories along the way. Those drawings looked promising, but I feel this show still lacks something equivalent to a fighting ring. Some way for the narrative to tell us that the protagonists are struggling against an appropriate foe, and then indicate clearly that they have won an important victory.

    Success would be clear if the anime is made, and Mashiro and Miho get married, but can the audience really be expected to wait until then for an emotional payoff? Further any future development on the relationship, such as exchanging email addresses, won’t be enough. I’m talking about victory in the arena of the boys’ choosing: manga.

    The plan to meet with the editor is a good first step. Putting together the manuscript is a difficult feat they must achieve. Introducing the notion of prize winners is also a very good sign. First, this is actually the second episode to mention a contest. Contests are very shounen. Second, the fact that Nizuma has already won the contest is good, because that gives Saiko and Shuujin someone to chase.

    I’m still really looking forward to seeing how this show develops.

    1. Yeah, I really hope the entrance of Nizuma can give them both a kick in the butt. They need something to aspire to. Watching episode after episode of them tossing rough drafts isn’t exactly going to make for the more entertaining fare.

      But with where they are now, and 21 more episodes left, I wonder how they’re going to achieve all the milestones they need to. You figure one arc has to be them just trying to make a story. The next them entering a contest. The next, them finding an editor. Then getting published. Then getting successful. Then creating an anime. With all the requisite failures in between. They still have a lot of steps to take before they can get to the wedding ending.

  3. Really, everything I hear about Bakuman is making me glad I just read the manga every week. There were a lot of shows this season I thought I wanted to keep watching week after week, but it ended up just boiling down to me watching Kamen Rider OOO, Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, and Star Driver every week.

    1. Where do you read the manga? After this last episode, I thought there was no way the manga could be this boring, so I checked mangafox and onemanga, but learned that it’d been licensed, so no scanlations.

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