Bakuman – 03
The third episode of Bakuman is still very much setup and character development as our boys come to terms with what they’re undertaking. For Takagi it’s simply getting his head round just what will be required of him as the writer in the team, and for Mashiro its creating goals to strive for in his relationship with Miho. Both of the boys draw inspiration and learn lessons from Mashiro’s deceased uncle – this episode was basically pure character development.
The boys first take stock of just what they’ve inherited from Nobuhiro. Not only do they have a fully equipped studio, but they also have all of Nobuhiro’s carefully catalogued names & manuscripts; excellent learning material for fledgling manga-ka. They also have Nobuhiro’s substantial collection of manga volumes and figures at their disposal – seriously this is a huge collection, I can’t imagine how much it would have cost to put all that together, even if Nobuhiro could get a lot of his purchases signed off as business expenses!
For Mashiro this is no real novelty as he spent so much time in the studio when his uncle was alive; rather for him its a nostalgia trip and makes his decision to become a mangaka much more immediate and real feeling. It was nice to see that Mashiro then took the step to talk directly to his father on the phone, rather than going through his mother as had been the normal procedure in his household. You can see that Mashiro is genuinely thankful for his father and grandfather’s support in taking a chance on his dream of being a mangaka, and the men in the family seem to have kept Nobohiro’s studio specially for Mashiro, since they knew how much he admired his uncle. In the real world this is completely impractical, but in the idealised world of Bakuman, its pretty touching.
Takagi on the other hand, is like a kid in a toy shop as he bounces from room to room and quickly gets stuck into researching how to draw up a name for Mashiro to work on. It’s again highlighted just how much of a novice (and a dreamer) Takagi is in comparison to Mashiro. Takagi may have enough passion and drive to fuel a small country, but he is pretty damn clueless about the whole creative procedure, so he’s pretty lucky to have Mashiro and his inside knowledge of the manga industry (also its handy for getting the story kick started – how dull would be to watch the two of them flounder about the place trying to get started!). The two also try to get a feel for where each other’s interest in manga lies. For Mashiro his favourite series is Ashita no Joe, whereas Takagi cites Dragon Ball as his favourite, but both are certain that they won’t be writing a Super Hero gag series like Mashiro’s uncle.
The rest of the episode is spent on telling the rest of Nobuhiro’s rather tragic story. Turns out that he and Miho’s mother were in love, but just couldn’t seem to tell each other flat-out. The two only communicated through letters for years after they graduated middle-school, until Miyuki fell in love with another man and got married. Nobuhiro was putting off confessing to her as he wanted to have a successful series under his belt to provide the means to support her, but unfortunately he didn’t get his series serialised and animated until 2 years after Miyuki married someone else – pretty tragic all round. I did have to laugh at Takagi’s reaction to the realisation that the woman Mashiro’s uncle was in love with was Miho’s mother, but it is a rather laughable coincidence that Mashiro has ended up in a similar relationship to his uncle!
The boys decision to go see Miho’s mother was a bit mystifying. I have no clue why they would want to do that except out of some warped sense of curiosity/guilt. Even more mystifying was Miyuki’s reaction to the boys grilling about her love life! Still it served to wrap up the story of Mashiro’s uncle nicely, and gave Mashiro some food for thought – he really does not want to be repeating the same mistakes as his uncle and so becomes even more determined to create a great manga.
So plenty of character development for Mashiro this week and now we’re ready to get on with the business of getting started on properly researching manga and getting idea’s for names. I’m hoping they keep the romance on the back-burner for a bit because it’s really not Bakuman’s strong point – its much to idealised and romanticized (although since these are middle-schoolers we’re dealing with that’s to be expected I suppose). Hopefully next week will see movement on the plot!