Anime Review: Bakuman Episode 1

(Originally published on Livejournal on 11/6/10)

Anime Review in a Minute:
Bakuman Episode 1

Anime Review in a Minute: What this is all about. — Watching all the anime shows so you don’t HAVE to!

tl;dr review: Reluctant slacker artist teams up with gung-ho achieving writer to woo classmate sweetheart; Improbable proposition leads to unexpected resolve.

The Skinny: As a child, Moritaka observed how his uncle met with brief success as a manga artist, only to fade away and die young. With a defeatist attitude, he decides to keep his standards low and aim for a faceless middle management job. But ace student Akito, observing from the back of the class, has other idea. After watching Morikata doodling sketches of his puppy-love Miho, Akito has a proposition for him: Team up to create a hit manga series. But Moritaka, weary of the reality of the situation, understands the near-impossibility of the idea and declines the idea immediately, fearing he might suffer the same fate as his tragic uncle. But Akito is adamant, and Moritaka relents that at least he’ll consider the idea. Later that night, Akito calls for Moritaka to meet him for a special visit to Miho’s house. Akito reveals that he knows Miho’s secret: that she dreams of becoming an anime voice actress, then gets Moritaka to say he’s working with him on a manga project, and gets an enthusiastic Miho to agree to be the main voice talent when their manga becomes an anime. Moritaka, caught up in the moment and channeling his uncle’s greatest regret on not seizing the moment when he had the chance, blurts out a marriage proposal. Shocked, Miho runs back inside, and Moritaka cannot believe what he has done. But Miho, in an equally shocking turn of events, agrees to marry Moritaka if they succeed with their anime, but they cannot meet in person until that time. Aaaaaaaand, we’re off!

Assorted video captures from the episode – click on each one for a full-sized view:

My Thoughts: There you go, we have the geek-magnet show of the season! Every teenage otaku can now imagine themselves in the role of the Kyon-clone (which is rapidly becoming the most overplayed character stereotype), with anime dreams of becoming *both* a star manga artist *and* marrying the prettiest girl in the class! Hm, well, it’s an improbable plot twist and an unlikely series of events, but what I like about this show is that these kids are, essentially, really people that you *can* relate to. In an anime world populated by psychic teams, hidden special powers, one-dimensional walking caricatures, world-changing destinies and other greater-than-life impossibilities, it’s refreshing to have relatively people in the starring role for a change.

As polar opposites, I can see how Moritaka and Akito are going to repeatedly butt heads, and equally how each of them are going to be faced with confronting their parents and societal expectations. It’s more than just a one-note humor vehicle, it’s also being set up as a coming-of-age drama as they try to sort out their role in life.

For more info:

Random Curiosity Review: http://randomc.net/2010/10/03/bakuman-01/
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakuman
Opening video sequence: http://vodpod.com/watch/4597660-bakuman-op-blue-bird

The Verdict:

The tally for Fall 2010 season first episodes so far:
Passing Grade: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, The World God Only Knows, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Psychic Detective Yakumo, Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Letter Bee Reverse

Failing grade: MM!, Star Driver, Iron Man, Fortune Arterial, Motto To Love-ru, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Yumeiro Patissiere Professional, Tamayura, To Aru Majutsu no Index 2, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, Sora no Otoshimono Forte

Up Next (not necessarily in this order): Yosuga no Sora, Arakawa Under the Bridge x2, Otome Yokai Zakuro, Kuragehime, Robin and His 100 Friends, Agriculture Girl, Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu Special, You Are Umasou, Hakuouki: Hekketsu Roku, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Special, Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi no Umi

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