This was the best episode of Bakuman since the first episode. Why is that? No wasted time on the romance (and what was, was pretty funny), and a lot more focus on Mashiro and Takagi submitting their first draft to the Shounen Jack editor for review.
Having already seen quite a bit of Mashiro’s not-quite-messed-up, but not-quite-Pleasantville family life, it was interesting to get to see a little bit about Takagi’s home life and his motivation for becoming a mangaka. Do you think Takagi’s mom would’ve given Takagi a Death Note if she could’ve? In another world, Takagi would’ve become Light – sociopathic and hating everything about those who may or may not have wronged his dad, and probably his mom for trying to turn him into a weapon of corporate destruction.
Probably the best thing about seeing Takagi and Mashiro squirm while the Shounen Jack editor is reviewing their work is how relatable their angst is. It’s tough putting yourself out there creatively. But it’s one thing if some random philistine or Internet troll rags on you. It’s another thing when when the people judging your work are the actual people who’ll make or break your success in the industry. Mashiro played it pretty cool throughout the episode, but seeing him squirm with Takagi was entertaining too. If this was yaoi-bait, they would’ve been holdnig hands.
So… I get the feeling that Bakuman doesn’t have much of an animation budget. If the bland, straightforward direction wasn’t a cue, spending a 1/3 of the episode "animating" manga panels should seal the deal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing the story in full. It was a pretty interesting story, although the ending seemed to fall apart and the whole originals and clones thing gets a little too close to the Kurokami dumbshit as fucking bricks "doppelganger" theme for my tastes. But perhaps more interesting was hearing some pretty useful feedback from the editor. There’s a lot of usage of panel text vs. telling the story through dialogue and action, which leads the editor to question whether the story would’ve been better as a light novel.
And on the flip side, some good artistic feedback for Mashiro’s drawings. What sort of struck me was how Mashiro and Takagi sort of switch places. Takagi, the typically cocky fellow, devolves into a pandering mess, while Mashiro approaches the whole deal as if he’d been through it before. Learning from his uncle clearly prepared him. And while I think Takagi can eventually write a story better fitting for a manga, and Mashiro’s artwork will improve, I thought they were on completely different levels as far as "mangaka maturity" goes. It’ll be interesting to see if it creates any sort of dorama between the two.
I liked the editor, he was nice and normal… just like everyone else in this show. Everyone on this show is perfectly nice and normal. There’s barely any chibification, nothing crazy happens… wait a second… is this slice of life? Mangaka slice of life?
The episode ends with Mashiro and Miho getting assigned seats next to each other. Yeah, their reaction was all OMG, OUR LOVE IS PURE LIKE DOVES’ TEARS.
But the best part was seeing Takagi reacting exactly the same way I would’ve reacted.