Bakuman 155 – So the race begins (for real)

By November 14, 2011Impressions, Manga

Before I start, I’d like to put the disclaimer that although I will try to keep these posts as spoiler free as possible, it’s difficult to discuss chapters without properly referring to or even discussing previous events that occurred within the series. To that effect, I will post this disclaimer on every Bakuman chapter post, and put the reading jump below that so for those who are just browsing the homepage have no exposure to the written text unless the post link is clicked. I will also try my best to edit out any dialogue or text from the scanlations so as to also not reveal any unnecessary information.

We jump back into the chapter after last week’s exciting build up to Ashirogi Muto (Takagi/Mashiro’s pen name) and editor Hattori’s explosion of emotions regarding their two series “Perfect Crime Party (PCP)” and “Reversi,” which ultimately concluded with the overturning of the decision of running “Reversi” as a monthly series in Hissho Jump while running “PCP” in Weekly Jump. We also quickly discover that “Reversi” will debut on July 3rd, the week after Niizuma Eiji’s “Zombie Gun” begins serialization. This news greatly invigorates Eiji, who has viewed the Ashirogi Muto duo as his one and only rival.

Though “Reversi” is Ashirogi Muto’s new weapon against Eiji, “PCP” is still running in Hissho Jump and requires attention. It is decided the PCP will transition from Weekly to Hissho by means of the characters graduating from elementary school. More assistants are called for, and news gets around that Ashirogi Muto now has two serialized series, motivating Team Fukuda (Hiramaru, Nakai, Fukuda, and the rest of the gang) to leveling up their work. It is greatly entertaining to watch how each author approaches their work in drastically unique ways, but are pushed similarly by the friendly and passionate competitiveness they share with one another. I admire Fukuda’s punk/young teenager vibe whenever we see him in panels; it’s strangely appropriate and refreshing since Fukuda’s “punkness” is merely reflected through his work, love of bikes, and interaction with his “punk” assistants. Through all this, Fukuda is probably one of the more determined and supportive characters in the entire series.

Nakai, however, is a character that I feel has quickly degenerated into a shallow role that I am not entirely fond of anymore. Nakai’s newly added presence in Hiramaru’s studio has consequently added another vantage point from which to view Hiramaru-related humor, but it’s strangely one-dimensional . Nakai did get several arcs to explore his inner psych (and they were well done), but the ultimate trajectory that Nakai has finally taken has landed him as an old artist merely obsessed with younger women who continue to evade his grasp due to his physical size (and unhealthy obsession). Nakai’s expertise in drawing and maturity (he is the oldest and most veteran of Team Fukuda) in the manga world would provide bases for him to be a more substantial character and continual asset to the series.

After all the hulabahoo, however, Mashiro talks with his grandfather who bestows upon him Mashiro’s uncle’s diary. With details about Nobuhiro, Mashiro’s uncle, and his avid love for Miyuki Haruno (Azuki’s mother), the diary brings fresh inspiration to Mashiro to accomplish what his uncle could not. With “Reversi” Mashiro aims to become a pillar of Jump and surpass Eiji as the number one mangaka.

To see Hattori be reunited (after temporarily believing he’d be separated) with his two authors was endearing and calming for me, who was  quite torn with the decision for “Reversi” to move to Hissho and thus lose Hattori as its editor. No offense to you, editor Nakano, but you’re a character that has hardly been explored and despite your position as Vice-Editor on Hissho, Hattori beats you in every category for rights to edit “Reversi.” The energy the chapter tried to instill by showing everyone’s renewed determination was great in how it continued to build upon each character’s motivation and love for manga and healthy competition; there was an emotionally weak part, however, which was the entire diary half of the chapter, where Mashiro reads his uncle’s diary about his love life. It’s something that we’ve already been introduced to and somewhat heavily discussed in the beginning of the series, and for Mashiro to only now be spurred on to complete his uncle’s goals hits slightly lower than the mark we as readers want.

I’m not opposed to revisiting Mashiro and his uncles romantic musings (and their parallelisms), but it’d be great to see a new side or facet to the entire story or see it integrated into the overall plot a bit more. The sudden re-introduction to Mashiro’s grandfather was also sudden and slightly jarring (though still appropriate). Consequently, where the chapter end signals the conclusion of yet another arc, and what shall happen next is completely unknown.

For those who have not been reading Bakuman (and are still reading this post), Niizuma Eiji (pictured to the left), is a 16-year-old high school student hailed as a genius mangaka. He’s the youngest author to be serialized in Weekly Jump with his popular series “Crow” (which has an arc that chronicles how “Crow” ends after a heated manga challenge and battle). Niizuma is someone who seems have been obsessed with drawing manga since he was six years old. Nizuma tends to act conceited because he is hailed as a genius; however, after working on Crow for quite a long time, he becomes humbler, even claiming to “not be good enough of a manga artist to be judging other people’s work” when asked by his editor to judge for the Treasure magazine. Niizuma is eccentric and has a variety of odd quirks, like constantly pronouncing sound effects while he draws and speaks, and working to the sound of very loud music. 

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