Anime Review: Bakuman Episode 4, 5, and 6

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 12/22/10)

Anime Review:
Bakuman Episodes 4, 5, and 6

Series Premise: C-student Mashiro Moritaka has a secret crush on classmate Miho Azuki. One day Takagi Akito catches Mashiro furtively sketching Mashiro in his notebook, and proposes a plan: Team up to create the world’s best manga series, and convince Miho to become the lead voice actress when it is adapted into an anime. Mashiro, caught up in the enthusiasm, blurts out that he wants to marry Miho once that happens, and to his utter shock she accepts. Now Mashiro embarks on a journey to become a manga artist, following in the footsteps of his uncle, a once-popular manga creator that died from overwork.

ep.4 tl;dr review: Moritaka and Akito settle in to the studio; Did Miho just look at me, yes she did, omigodomigod, puppy love is so cute!

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Episode 4 Summary: Moritaka and Akito settle in to their new studio digs, and Moritaka explains his uncle’s three rules to a successful manga artist if you’re not a genius: pretention, hard work….and luck. In the latest issue of Jack Magazine, the latest winner is announced: a fifteen-year-old protege, whom the duo immediately see as their rival. They determine the best course of action is to create their own manga story over the Summer break and submit it to Jack. Walking home, Moritaka and Akito cross paths with Miho and her family. While they studiously avoid each other’s gaze, after passing they both turn back at the same time to check each other out…twice.

ep.5 tl;dr review: Moritaka and Akito get to work on their story; All work and no play makes Jack something-something…

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new browser window:

Episode 5 Summary: Moritaka views his locked-on gazes with Miho as a sign of fate, explaining that they have admired each other silently from afar for the past three years. Miho’s best friend, Kaya, confronts Akito after revealing Miho’s secret desire to be a voice actress; however, Akito defuses (and complicates) the situation by blindsiding Kaya with an unintentional confession. As the Summer Break starts, Moritaka and Akito spend all their time in the studio, working on their “Two Earths” manga submission.

ep.6 tl;dr review: They visit the editorial offices to present their story for submission; Ya got potential, kids, keep up the good work!

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new browser window:

Episode 6 Summary: Akito and Moritaka travel down to the editorial offices to meet with an editor about their submission. The editor reads through it…then reads through it again, summarily saying “It’s good”. He then points out the various flaws, involving a writing style that is more suited for a light novel and artwork that is more like static portraits rather than using the artwork to tell the story. While not blown away by the submission, the editor sees quite a bit of potential in the team, saying he expects them to be professional manga artists within three years, and asks to see additional submissions in the future. Moritaka and Akito return to school, satisfied with their progress, but the teacher shakes the seating arrangement up by pairing the girls with the boys, and Miho ends up next to Moritaka.

My Thoughts: Most television shows or movies will have a major storyline, but will also have two or three sub-plots that interweave throughout the show. These sub-stories may involve secondary characters, may supply comic relief for an otherwise somber story, may help resolve key elements that are critical for the main story. But as for Bakuman, it only really has one big plot that draws the entire attention of the viewer. This, in itself, is not necessarily a flaw or problem. But it can be — if the main story turns boring, there is nothing to fall back on. There’s no “Oh well, Luke’s mucking around in the swamp, how droll. Let’s see what Han Solo is doing instead.” Nope, you’re stuck with Luke, for better or for worse.

Guess what? Bakuman’s main story has become somewhat boring. Mostly it’s just Akito and Moritaka sitting around, talking or drawing or working, not exactly the most exciting thing to watch. I didn’t quite realize how laser-focused the show was on these guys until I was scanning through video capture images and it was just page after page after *page* of images of the two of them yakking away. The premise for the show is perfectly fine, and I can see where it is going, and the elements of manga production are interesting (for those who are not familiar with the process). But there’s just not *quite* enough to keep me watching.

Bakuman is not a bad show, it just pales somewhat in comparison to all the other shows I’m watching right now. Out of the nine Fall 2010 shows I’m still watching through episode six, two of them did not cut the muster to continue onwards, including Bakuman. Oh well.

The Verdict: – Yawwwwwn.

Coming up next: Kuragehime (4-6), Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge (4-6), Tatami Galaxy Special, Shin Koihime Musou OVA, Bungaku Shoujo Memoire (2), Hairyoru Nyaruani (1), Princess Resurrection (1), Battle Spirits Brave (1)

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