|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Maybe my feelings for Bakuman have softened somewhat after seeing the first season of the series. But I chose to continue on with the series for its second season and it still retains the major elements seen from the first series with Takagi and Mashiro's challenges to be successful manga-ka and their complications with love interests. This time around with the two boys now being established manga-ka, they find themselves going through their fair share of hurdles and pitfalls throughout this second season such as dealing with differences from their new editor, handling the declining ratings of their manga series and being forced on hiatus when one of the two boys become hospitalized from overworking. The other prominent manga-ka also get their developments in this series as the interesting developments I found with the series were Aoki's character softening up a bit and Nizuma Eiji deciding to work on a second manga series. Some big developments with Mashiro and Takagi's romance situations also come about throughout the show as both go about with their challenges of being manga-ka for Shounen Jack. On the other hand though, I still found the comedy for Bakuman to be hit-or-miss in this season thanks to some of the eccentric behavior displayed by the cast. Plus while the Mashiro and Azuki "we won't be together until we are successful" plot element isn't as annoyingly disbelieving as the first season considering their present lifestyles require them to be apart, it still grated me that these two wouldn't bother pushing along their relationship for such a ridiculous reason. Still though, I cared enough about the developments faced by many of the show's characters with how their manga would go that I'm tempted to give the third season of Bakuman a shot when it airs in Japan this fall.
Last updated Tuesday, March 27 2012. Created Tuesday, March 27 2012.
(All episodes watched):|
Looks like more of the same, which is good news since the original Bakuman was a fun and intriguing show. Again, we learn a good deal about the manga business. I couldn’t help noticing that this show had more story to it than the first episodes of three different fall series which I had just watched combined. Episode one of Bakuman 2 quickly brings us up to speed with the plot; the story moves steadily along, yet the jokes that are slipped in made me laugh more than the other three shows, all of which were comedies of a sort. A number of new characters are introduced, plus familiar ones are back. This episode pretty much sets the stage, making clear what challenges lie ahead for Mashiro and Takagi, but not yet approaching any deadlines or running into any trouble. I am optimistic about Bakuman 2.
This show has built up a large cast and isn't about just Mashiro and Takagi anymore. Episode three revolved around a seemingly minor character, yet was entertaining. Bakuman is a show that just 'coasts' along, in that almost everything about it is interesting and entertaining in some way. You can be confident that you're about to have fun when you sit down to watch an episode, because the quality seldom varies and is always higher than average. This show is totally non-episodic; The long-term plot moves steadily forward (it was mentioned that three years of the story have passed since season one began), and this keeps us engaged. The characters are well developed and likeable; some have strange quirks but all are feasible personalities. This is a show which I could concieve of watching indefinitely, no matter how many episodes were produced, provided that they all lived up to the same standards of quality as they have so far. What is there not to like about Bakuman?
Episode six, where Mashiro falls ill after nearly working himself to death, sent me mixed signals and was confusing. Which is more important, getting the job done at all costs, or avoiding foolhardy risks with one's health? The makers seemed to choose the former, but their case wasn't all that convincing. As a result the episode felt disjointed and garbled, which thankfully is unusual for this show. Maybe in Japan the answer to the question would go without saying, and thus viewers wouldn't be confused as much.
In episode nine Takagi and Mashiro's fortunes undergo a downswing as the ratings of their manga, 'Detective Trap' fall sharply and cancelation seems imminent. I have suspected for awhile that Detective Trap might not be their ultimate work; it's hard to believe that they won't suffer at least one devastating setback in 50-odd episodes, and somehow the premise of Trap doesn't seem all that brilliant. On the other hand, there is evidence that it might be revived at the last moment, and there might not be enough episodes left to develop a completely new manga. That's what I like about Bakuman--the exact course that the story will take isn't obvious, and it keeps me guessing.
Sure enough, in episode ten Mashiro and Takagi are already hard at work on their next manga. I had suspected all along that Miura, their new manager, wouldn't work out and one way or another they will team up with Hattori again, and here there are signs of such a thing happening. It's typical of this show that while definitely not as good as Hattori, Miura isn't depicted as a bumbler or a selfish person. Like everyone else, he is given a realistic personality, neither saint nor sinner. I'd be willing to bet that Bakuman is largely based on the author's own experiences in the manga industry--how else could it be so realistic? Supporting characters get a good deal of attention, like the artist who confesses his love in this episode, or his former partner who finds herself with an intriguing problem as she works on her new project. This show sets a high standard for quality, and almost always lives up to it. With this being a pivotal episode of a fascinating series, I couldn't resist the temptation of watching it long after I should have gone to bed.
Bakuman as a whole is a 50-odd episode series which grabbed my interest with episode one and has never released it. Both quality and quantity--that doesn't happen often. I'll be rewatching this for certain once my memory fades a little. With year long series such as this one, rewatching, too, doesn't happen often--indeed, has it ever happened to me before?
Episode 14 was great fun as a host of subplots seemed to explode in every direction. Virtually every character in the extensive cast played a significant part, and the clever and plausible interconnections between the plot strands reminded me of how many shows rely on sorry coincidences to explain things. Mashiro realizing that he has been 'biographied' in a manga was hilarious. This is a show where I really dread the counter approaching the twenty minute mark.
This is a show where I gladly invest the attention necessary to keep track of what's going on, since it is always interesting and the skillful storytelling makes my job easy. Many shows are not all that exciting yet are confusing and difficult to follow, which makes me think 'why bother'? The crazy new plan which came together in episode 17 to revive the competitive spirit among manga authors promises to stir up plenty of trouble (and fun). And Nakai wasn't just a jerk after all. I liked the new ED sequence, especially where the characters march along together at the very end. Afterwards, I immediately rewatched the entire episode a second time.
As we near the 25 episode mark, I can't help wondering if a Bakuman 3 might be in the works. Time is running out, countless plot strands remain unfinished, and surely this 'Tanto' gag manga won't be Mashiro and Takagi's penultimate achievement. My guess is that it will be modestly successful, but a reliable, long-running series and they will have to choose between continuing with the 'safe' choice or going for the gold with a radical new manga. One of my favorite characters, by the way, is Hinamaru (IIRC), the author of 'Otters 11'. This is a guy who has a natural talent for manga yet paradoxically comes to hate it and wish he had never gotten into the business. It takes all kinds, and Bakuman delivers them. It seems that he will play a fairly large part from here on, given the amount of attention he gets in the new OP and ED sequences. It seems that every character plays a significant part in the overall story, which is neat. People who you think the story was done with long ago reappear in a perfectly plausible and well thought-out manner. And yet another new one, Ashirogi's new assistant, was introduced in episode 19, which is all the more reason to wonder if 25 episodes will be enough to wrap things up.
Oh My F--ing God, there is indeed a Bakuman 3 scheduled for October 2012! According to ANN, no less. Today is my lucky day. Bakuman is without doubt one of my favorite anime series of all time, and yet another major dose of this stuff, with presumably the same quality as before, will only cement it in that position. It might even be my #1. I'm currently rewatching season one as season two progresses. Anyway, sure enough Mashiro and Takagi quickly begin feeling humiliated by their mediocre gag manga, even though it is in no danger of cancellation, and decide to try something far more ambitious. Season one ended with them finally getting their first serialization, so it's reasonable to expect season two to likewise end with a major development. Perhaps their answer to +Natural will be approved, but how well it does will remain up in the air until season three. I've got a feeling that Niizuma's demand long ago that he someday be allowed to order one series which he dislikes to be cancelled will play a major part in the climax of Bakuman as a whole. I don't want to give too much away, but I suspect that it will be an act of self-destruction and sacrifice rather than malice towards someone else. Even the spastic Niizuma has too much of a likeable personality to do something shameful and unwarranted.
The speed at which Bakuman's plot moves seems unpredictable and I am often surprised when developments which I had thought would take a good while in fact occur in an episode or two. The story has covered four or five years already (although the characters haven't aged a day). I still find it hard to believe that Mashiro and Takagi's latest manga will be their ultimate one, since the premise seems kind of unspectacular, months pass in a matter of minutes, and yet another season has yet to play out. But my enthusiasm hasn't waned, and indeed I have rewatched season one in it's entirety. Bakuman looks like a Buy, what with the countless clever subplots, jokes, intrigue, etc, all crammed into one show.
It wasn't getting serialized that marked the climax of Bakuman 2 as a whole--I had assumed that that would be the case, based on season one. It was what happened when readers were polled and ratings came out in Shonen Jack. That fulfilled a longtime goal of Mashiro and Takagi, yet leaves much unsettled, like whether they can really do better than Crow or +Natural in the long run. The draconian condition which the Chief Editor has placed on them is a definite cliffhanger. So, a good arc conclusion. Although I notice minor gaffes now and then. Bakuman does so many things right that it is my definite favorite ongoing series, and one of my all-time favorites as well. I can't help noticing how 'easy' it is to watch, in spite of being pretty complex. Good storytelling, I suppose. It is also plenty of fun to re-watch, what with all the detail and the large cast of likeable characters, and rewatchability is a crucial condition for me awarding a 'Buy' rating to anything. I cannot wait for Bakuman 3.
My favorite line: "He avoided my gaze!" --Mashiro
Last updated Sunday, April 01 2012. Created Tuesday, October 04 2011.
|Original website (japanese)||http://www9.nhk.or.jp/anime/bakuman/|