Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi are Ashirogi Muto.

Yay, it’s finally over! No, a third season of Bakuman has been announced. Honestly the second season showed significant improvement over the first season in several ways. First, it had some great dramatic moments, second, it didn’t waste as much time on the romances, third, the artwork was definitely improved, and finally, it ended strong. If the series had been more consistently like episode 25, I would probably say this was a pretty good series. Unfortunately Bakuman hasn’t demonstrated the ability to consistently string together entertaining episodes.

When it is good, it is very interesting, because the premise is so unique, and people have told me that the arc that recently ended was some of the weakest material in the manga, so I guess I understand why a third season is forthcoming. I also think it is a positive thing for J.C. Staff to be working on, because it is so unlike their other shows, which have a tendency to be formulaic. I just can’t feel excited about a third season.

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Mashiro would rather die than give up on his dream.

Shounen powers ACTIVATE! Episode 6 of Bakuman’s second season brings us perhaps the most shounen episode of this franchise yet. Mashiro has collapsed from the strain, and for some reason the quack doctor thinks removing part of his liver will help. Mashiro refuses to stop drawing, however. Even if it kills him, even if he loses the love of his life, he will continue to draw manga. In particular he is working on a color spread, which gives us another chance to check out his art tools — this time some nice color markers.

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Being professional manga-ka is serious business.

This is a first impression of season 2 of Bakuman. For an introduction to the series concept, see my first impression of the first season. I was somewhat negative in my final thoughts on the first season, so I wanted to give the new season a chance to make its case (and stand or fall on its own merits). To sum it up, the first three episodes of season two has focussed on the stronger aspects of the story, without completely overcoming the first season’s weaknesses. If you loved the first season, then season two is a great continuation. For those who felt disappointed that the first season dragged, and spent too much time on the romance between Mashiro and Azuki, the second season has, so far, avoided this particular pitfall. I still think the artwork is uneven and not up to the standards of J.C. Staff, but with this stronger storyline, perhaps the second season can finally deliver. Read the rest of this entry »

In episode 22, everyone gets together -- for no particular reason.

Bakuman is heading towards its climax, which looks like it will be the battle for the Golden Future Cup. I can’t say I love this show, but I am attracted to some aspects of it. On occasion, it has captured the intensity and drive that a good shounen story should present. The drive to be #1 at something is the core of the generic shounen story, and Bakuman manages to present that struggle in a novel arena — the world of professional manga artists. On the other hand, there is something thin about both the story and the presentation. I won’t dwell on the disappointing visuals, except to say that I find it ironic that a show that is in part about the art of illustration should be so flat, awkward, and generally uninteresting to look at. The story itself has also fallen flat at times. What follows is my reaction to what (did not) happen in episode 22.

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Bakuman 5 – effort

October 31, 2010

Liquid inspiration.

In episode 5 of Bakuman, our budding mangaka dedicate their Summer vacation to creating their first manuscript. After several weeks of hard work, little sleep, and fast food they are ready to call the editorial office to show someone the results.

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And so it begins.

Bakuman episode 4 covers the essential tools illustrators use to create the manuscript from a name. No, I don’t even care about the other stuff.

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We finally get to enter Ji-san's studio.

 

Last week Bakuman left us with a pseudo-cliff-hanger. As episode 3 begins, our aspiring mangaka enter the studio left to Saiko by his late uncle. We get a little bit of manga industry lore, and the episode is rounded out by addressing some background issues. It all adds up to putting the lads on the path to making manga. These first three episodes add up to three days storytime, so the pacing actually feels pretty good so far.

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