Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Obata Takeshi’

Bakuman 108

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Is there anything more irritating than being around a couple fawning all over each other when you are single/longing/heartbroken? Mashiro’s anger is both comical and relatable to the average reader.

Very nice nod by Ohba to some non-Shueisha properties. As far as I’ve been aware, all earlier references to other manga have been references to other Shueisha properties, but Touch was Shogakukan and Ai to Makoto was Kodansha. Company loyalty is perfectly understandable, as is copyright safety, but a series about manga should definitely look at the entire range of series, not just at Shueisha.

Granted, Touch has been completed for a very long time, but considering how few Westerners have read it (in stark contrast to how many should read it), Kaya’s explanation of the plot is a little too comprehensive.

Anything else you'd like to spoil?

Even shoujo series are being referenced, and amidst these references is another cross-publisher nod, with a mention of Nodame Cantabile in the same breath as a few Shueisha titles. This set of references feels a little more overt, though; much in the same way anyone can tell when a line of dialogue in Family Guy has only been written to provide the setup for a cutaway joke, this (and some other) bunch of references feels a little gratuitous, as though its role isn’t to add any meaning or relevance, but rather to trigger a sense of familiarity in the reader.

Great comedy from Mashiro, as he tries to escape receiving help on the feminine perspective from Kaya.

Kaya, not exactly a typical woman

Looking at Hiramaru calms Takagi down? That’s completely bizarre, yet also completely hilarious.

“Miss Jumps” is a pretty great way to refer to Aoki and Iwase together. Thank you, Fukuda.

Finally, this incredible coincidence is being presented to the editor-in-chief. Thanks to some persuasion from Fukuda (whose passion hopefully means he will retake some of the spotlight soon), a quick alcohol- (and Aoki-) influenced decision by Hiramaru, and an unexpected appearance and prompt agreement from Arai-sensei, the editor-in-chief announces what was pretty obviously going to happen: “Super Leaders’ Fest” is now “Super Leaders’ Love Fest,” which sounds awkward no matter how many times you say it.

In keeping with the importance and grandeur of the moment, Mashiro goes so far as to call Azuki. Her response is shockingly direct, and her general willingness to help Mashiro by providing personal details and emotions is a pleasing sign of the strength of the Mashiro/Azuki relationship, regardless of the distance between them.

Final Flash: Good comedy, much-needed plot advancement, and some future plot setup that didn’t take time away from what is currently important. Solid chapter.

Bakuman 107

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

What a strong proposition from Mashiro. While I still worry about the focus diverting away from a unified Ashirogi striving for their ultimate goal, I do appreciate that Mashiro is getting some compensatory treatment after the spotlight was so distinctly turned away from him for a while. That said, Mashiro developing enough skill as an author to contribute is one thing, but him developing enough skill to stand on his own as a solo mangaka would effectively ruin the point of Ashirogi Muto, at least from the standpoint of Mashiro and his desires.

Perhaps I won’t have to worry too long about whether Mashiro will overshadow Takagi as a writer, considering that his determination to spearhead the one-shot was apparently founded on pure confidence, without an actual idea to support it yet. That’s a suitably amateur way of acting, enough to keep Takagi firmly in the picture.

It feels like it’s been such a long time since we’ve actually seen Aoki in an actual scene, rather than in a small cutout panel. I love Weekly Aoki Ko and all of Hiramaru’s comical longing for her, but she deserves more attention than just that.

Aoki’s editor is absolutely right in not wanting her to write another romance, but a hybrid fantasy/romance could be the perfect style of manga for her to stand out enough to work her way back into the main cast.

Iwase is also doing a romance series? I hope something changes, as I’d hate for the two female mangaka to be generalized and gender stereotyped to such an extent.

No, if the middle of this chapter is any indication, I definitely don’t have to worry about Mashiro becoming an incredible author.

Creativity is hard

Mashiro’s walk carries a pretty listless and fairly depressing tone. Writer’s block and lack of inspiration are respectable problems, but Mashiro realizing that he has no particular interests or hobbies is a little sad, whether or not the scene is meant to convey such an emotion.

The relationship between Hiramaru and his editor has grown in a fascinatingly bizarre way, to the point where Hiramaru is almost the one in control, as he deliberately provokes the editor into offering him incentives for working hard. The editor still has enough grandiose plans up his sleeve to maintain the advantage for now, at least.

Like Inception, except incredibly shallow

Whoa. Is this the creepiest panel Obata has ever produced?

Do your worst, internet

The rapid exchange of panels, shifting between Mashiro and Eiji each explaining their ideas for the one-shot competition, is a brilliant idea executed to perfection. Seeing Eiji again is enough of a positive, but Mashiro’s contribution to this entire scene is so great that Eiji doesn’t completely steal the show. Wonderful end to the chapter, and the fact that everyone is coincidentally aiming to do romance one-shots is fantastic as well.

Final Flash: It’s amazing how great this series can be when highlighting the strengths of the established cast, rather than unnecessarily building up a new character far too late in the game. The lack of Shiratori and the interplay between the strongest characters in the series made for a refreshingly good chapter.

Bakuman 106

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

I didn’t mind Mashiro learning from Shiratori last chapter, because I felt it was a way for Mashiro to remain down-to-earth. This chapter, though, the emphasis is being placed on just how good Shiratori is to be able to teach an established mangaka, rather than Mashiro being an open-minded professional for learning from an assistant. This shift in emphasis is slight but enough to make a considerable and upsetting difference.

Moriya’s outburst is more exciting than anything Shiratori has done since his introduction. I wouldn’t approve of Moriya getting the amount of spotlight that Shiratori has received, but at least some of the time that’s been wasted on Shiratori could have been used more effectively to develop Moriya further.

What excellent taste you have

Moriya is in love! How adorable.

Otter #11 is being canceled? What a horrible turn of events! Also, it’s sad to see The Time of Green Leaves leaving the magazine as well. That said, this plot development has led to my personal favorite piece of artwork ever produced by Obata.

A completely new kind of testament to Obata's brilliance

The decision to parody the real Jump’s “Top of the Super Legend” one-shot series is both amusing and perhaps the most up-to-date reflection of the manga industry yet featured in Bakuman. Also, it’s a good method to keep side characters relevant and involved while the primary focus of the series is in transition.

Hilarious exchange between Hiramaru and his editor. I miss when “Weekly Aoki Ko” was a regular feature of the series, rather than an occasional joke in between Shiratori plot elements.

Excellent comedy duo

Mashiro’s demonstration of his two drawing styles is an impressive achievement from Obata, as well as simply being an interesting peek into the life of a professional artist. I can’t overstate how much I appreciate the way this series has kept the technical side of manga accessible to readers. It would be extremely easy of Ohba and Obata to include tons of advanced details, all of which would be accurate but potentially over the heads of the audience; instead, they’ve managed to include just enough to make the series feel authentic, yet not so much as to confuse anyone.

Of course Eiji wants to contribute a one-shot. He can apparently do anything, so why wouldn’t he?

I’m pleased that Iwase is determined to enter, since she’s been marginalized for a little while now, but the strong hints of her pairing up with Mashiro are worrisome. That would be yet another development that leads the story further away from the original goal of Ashirogi Muto and Azuki, and this one could feel worse than any of the others, considering the unsettled rivalry between Iwase and Takagi, as well as Iwase’s earlier dislike of Azuki.

The chapter ends with a united declaration from Ashirogi that they are entering the Super Leaders’ Fest, yet I still can’t shake the feeling that Takagi will be too overwhelmed to uphold his end of the deal, and that Mashiro and Iwase might end up working together. If that’s the case, I’d be extremely disappointed by this chapter, in that the story didn’t just move directly to such a partnership rather than traveling through drama and turmoil first.

Final Flash: A few splendid moments only serve to break up the frustrating monotony of where this series has gone in the last couple months.

Bakuman 105

October 16, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

This week, on The Adventures of Shiratori

Mashiro’s idea for a new PCP storyline is noticeably superior to Takagi’s. Takagi is right to point out that Saiko can now construct a story, and this is promising knowledge for Mashiro’s immediate future. Still, in the long run, I hope it only contributed to Ashirogi’s overall success, rather than downplaying Takagi’s importance or (worst of all) leading to Mashiro successfully splitting off from the duo.

Having to read about poor little Shiratori out in the cold is bad enough, but having to sit through another flashback is borderline insulting.

Kaya, Takagi, and Mashiro holding a small secret meeting about the state of Shiratori’s hygiene is amusing.

This entire scene in the park is completely intolerable, but seeing Mashiro and Takagi acting almost parent-like is funny. It’s almost like I find interest in them because I care about the main characters or something. How odd.

Yet another bizarre and blatant admission of a healthy relationship between Takagi and Kaya.

Strangely honest

Admittedly, the “pet potty” line is fairly funny. Shiratori’s ineptness with household appliances is decent, too, but combined with all the other focus on him, it’s just too much.

Shiratori’s father is the kind-hearted good guy who understands that his son isn’t fit to run the family business, while Shiratori’s mother is this arc’s embodiment of evil, pushing her son to do what best pleases her? This is setting up far too easily and obviously for the father telling off the mother rather than the two coming to an understanding, or even the father politely helping the mother see the error of her ways. Does Ohba have a problem with women?

Shiratori has finally contributed to the characters who matter! His explanation to Mashiro of inking the characters from outlines is a fantastic idea, and an excellent way for Mashiro to achieve the improvement he desires. That said, this revelation could still have been made to feel powerful without weeks of building up Shiratori.

Finally, the classic (or overused) public showdown with the controlling parent.

Wait, are you going to stab her?

I can respect both Mashiro and Takagi showing some outrage at this person who has entered their studio and blatantly insulted their passion, but I can’t accept Takagi defiantly opposing Shiratori’s mother to the point of heatedly declaring that he will work on Rabuta & Peace. This series is about Ashirogi challenging the manga world and defying the odds to succeed. At this point, given the manner in which Shiratori has been made so prominent so quickly, I simply cannot be made to care about him.

For those curious about where this series has gone, I did a little counting:

Pages containing Mashiro: 13
Pages containing Takagi: 11
Pages containing Shiratori: 16

Final Flash: A few funny moments aside, this was yet another disappointing chapter, and one that practically guarantees several more, considering Takagi’s confirmation.

Bakuman 104

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

The focus of the Jump cover is mostly to promote the anime, but the artwork is still nice.

This bold declaration from Mashiro is still worrying. Regardless of how realistic this scenario could possibly be, I read this series in hopes of seeing Ashirogi Muto succeed, not Mashiro and Takagi each.

Unusual yet interesting decision to have the two arguing / heatedly discussing while on bicycles. It’s different, but it works; the speed lines accentuate the passion of the conversation, but they aren’t out of place, because the characters actually are moving.

Some action to complement the mounds of text

Watching Mashiro race against the clock in an attempt to improve his drawing speed is surprisingly exciting. This is about as close to a training arc as Bakuman can get, and it’s being pulled off well.

Takagi needs to open up to Kaya more. Clearly, she is the predominant voice of reason.

Moriya is exactly the type to sneak around behind everyone’s back and visit with a different publisher. I hope the focus on this storyline remains somewhat limited, because I don’t want him turning into another Shiratori, but this definitely has potential.

Excellent running gag

Speaking of Shiratori, we’re being “treated” to more pages of his family life. As with other recent Shiratori development, it’s not that the content of these pages is poor when viewed individually, but it’s how this is meant to matter so much after introducing Shiratori so recently. He’s too new of a character to carry serious drama like this.

Moriya not only spilled the beans about Ashirogi being the penname of a duo rather than a single mangaka, but he also divulged how each of them are seeking new projects. The fact that Ashirogi is a duo never seemed to be a fiercely-guarded secret, but Manaka’s reaction and Moriya’s resulting worry makes it seem as though some important plot will unfold as a result of this knowledge being made available to the competition.

Shiratori is sleeping outside, in the cold, with a dog. This is a surprising yet critical dip in writing quality from Ohba. Continuously throwing sad scenes at the readers isn’t going to help legitimize Shiratori whatsoever. If the plot involving him is really this vital, he should have been developed over dozens of chapters; now that we’re in this scenario, though, with an underdeveloped character already receiving such strong attention, the best thing to do is to relax a little and let Shiratori settle in to the ensemble cast. Instead, Ohba is continuing to force him into prominent scenes where he just doesn’t feel right, and as a result, this entire arc is continuing to disappoint.

Blizzard, pneumonia, next arc

Final Flash: “Too much Shiratori” is an overused complaint, but it still applies. Aside from that, watching Mashiro improve was fun.

Bakuman 102

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

“Awkward” doesn’t come close to describing Mashiro’s expressions and reactions. Clearly, he isn’t comfortable with Takagi branching out on his own yet, but Mashiro isn’t the type to speak up about it at all, much less in front of the involved parties themselves.

Eyes are not meant to look like that

At least Takagi is still thinking about improving for the sake of Ashirogi, instead of focusing on his own individual success. Still, something about this just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it’s how abruptly we’re being pushed towards long-term plot involving a character as recently introduced as Shiratori?

Aoki Ko serving as the judge for Treasure is another subtle sign of the progression of time and the success of our core cast of characters.

Mashiro definitely has issues with this. The scenes of him watching the impromptu Rabuta & Peace meeting from afar add a tinge of sadness to the existing overwhelming awkwardness.

I want a PCP coffee mug.

This is quite a bit of exposition on Shiratori. I’m perfectly fine with him as a supporting character, but I have some serious reservations about his sudden rise to prominence in the plot. It’s rare that I question Ohba’s writing, but the pacing surrounding Shiratori is unusual at best, and jarring at worst.

The exchange between Hattori and Shiratori about Shiratori’s career desires is another example of the over-importance of Shiratori right now. Frankly, the more that’s being made of him, the less I find myself caring about him and plot related to him.

Sorry, I can't be forced to care about him

Rabuta & Peace is set to run in Jump, skipping over the possibility of Treasure or Next. Then, even more pages of convoluted Shiratori story, this time focusing more intently on his family drama. Really, this is getting ridiculous.

Leave it to Kaya to bring some sense to an otherwise increasingly alien chapter. Her take on Mashiro is absolutely spot-on, and Takagi needs to realize she’s right before the plot moves too far away from its original direction.

Where would the series be without her?

It has seemed for a while that Bakuman could be nearing its end relatively soon, and while I’d be happy with more chapters than expected of such a good series, a rift between Mashiro and Takagi seems more like a way to unnecessarily stretch out extra mileage from a series rather than contributing positively to the overall plot, particularly if said rift is caused by such an irrelevant character as Shiratori.

Final Flash: I have enough faith in Ohba to be optimistic and hope this is nothing more than a small stumble in the plot instead of a massive fall in quality.

Bakuman 101

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

PCP being unable to receive an anime adaptation for diplomatic reasons is an unfortunately plausible scenario. Complaints are a harsh truth that mangaka must live with, even when the intent of the work is positive and/or harmless. (The Sket Dance balloon incident comes to mind.) Hattori needed a truly legitimate reason why PCP wouldn’t get an anime, and this plot thread delivers.

Takagi is fighting hard for Mashiro’s side of their shared dream. Often, in scenarios similar to these, when a partnership or team finds overall success but an individual in said group isn’t satisfied, the plot shifts to a developing rift. I’m glad to see that this problem is solidifying the relationship (both personal and professional) between Mashiro and Takagi, rather than introducing conflict.

Impassioned words

At least a midnight anime is still a possibility. It doesn’t seem likely, given the tone of this chapter, but it would be difficult to maintain long-term interest in PCP if there was a defined ceiling on its success that fell short of the biggest remaining goal in the series.

Damn, Hiramaru is loaded. Also amusing is his blatant acknowledgment of Yoshida’s manipulative tactics.

Surprising financial shrewdness

Poignant conversation between Mashiro and Takagi about marriage age. These characters aren’t immature, so the conversation isn’t entirely out of place, but they’re still pretty young.

It’s completely satisfying to see Shiratori praised (and, indirectly, Takagi) and Moriya brought back to reality.

Takagi writing a series for an artist other than Mashiro is worrisome. That would continue to positively portray Takagi as having “made it” as a writer in command of his craft, but it would also take the focus of the series away from the dream held by the original trio of Mashiro, Takagi, and Azuki. This has opened the door to countless possibilities, and has pushed back the potential end of the series by a considerable distance.

Final Flash: A decent chapter with a disconcerting ending.

Bakuman 100

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

While the prospect of a PCP anime is exciting, it does feel like it’s too soon for so much of the main Bakuman plot to be resolved. The drama CD announcement would mean much less if the editor-in-chief is to suddenly accept an offer of an anime adaptation also.

The scene of local kids “playing PCP” is amazing. Manga as a whole offers a plethora of inspiring sights, but few are as realistic and attainable as this. The “meta” nature of the series has rarely been used to such positive effect. Conversely, the discussion between Mashiro and Takagi about how far they’ve come, relative to what they have left to attain, evokes nostalgia befitting of a series’ 100th chapter.

Beautifully rewarding

Kaya praising the kids for playing PCP is adorable.

This chapter is focusing intently on Takagi, and in an interesting way. Between his encouragement and advice for Shiratori and agreeing to write the crimes for the drama CD, Takagi shows confidence and poise that he never had earlier in the series. This is a nice affirmation of his growth.

What a surprisingly direct portrayal of the state of the Takagi/Kaya relationship.

Healthy marriage, evidently

Even more Takagi spotlight. His maturity as a writer is so obvious that once again, I can’t picture too many more major plot developments before the end of the series.

Despite warning Miura earlier not to let potential anime news leak, Hattori directly announces to Ashirogi that PCP won’t have an anime. Is this a true statement and the sign of another obstacle to overcome, or is it merely a tactic to get Ashirogi to stay grounded and focus? There is no clear evidence to support either argument, but I’m leaning towards the latter option.

Final Flash: Excellent, uplifting chapter. The labor of our protagonists is finally bearing fruit, yet exciting challenges still lay ahead.

Bakuman 99

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

What a great start to the chapter. It might have been necessary and expected for PCP to pass at least one series, but it’s still an exciting moment. They were only 2 votes away from Crow, no less.

Continuing that great start, direct acceptance from the editor-in-chief is a huge moment in the series.

Appropriate reaction

+Natural placing sixth elicits mixed feelings from me. It’s a creative touch not to have PCP outrank +Natural by one place, but it diminishes the impact of PCP’s success somewhat to have it achieve the goal through the poor performance of one of the two target series.

The couple pages spent looking at other series are well spent, particularly the peek at Fukuda panicking about Road Racer Giri.

Iwase crying alone at the restaurant booth is truly difficult to read. She’s been chasing after Takagi’s natural success for so long, and after only a short period of success, she’s once again been bested by him. Worse still, +Natural is underperforming as a direct result of her idea to include the character Crow. Tragic moment for her.

PCP is being adapted to a drama CD! Things are progressing very quickly. At this point, it feels like the series could end within a handful of chapters if Ohba and Obata wished it.

Mashiro could not be cuter as he frantically requests Azuki as the voice actress for Mai.

Slightly excitable

I’ve been very pleased with Binktopia scanlations to date. However, to the immature idiot who thought it would be hilarious to subtly write “Boobies \o/” over Kaya’s chest: You are ruining artistic integrity. There is no place in your scanlations for a 12 year old’s pitiful attempt at humor. No one reads manga because of you. Never alter someone else’s work.

That unnecessary idiocy aside, it’s nothing new for Kaya to react in a cute fashion to Mashiro and Azuki’s relationship, and this is no exception.

Azuki tearing up at the prospect of voicing Mai in the PCP drama CD is another fantastic moment. This chapter is really pulling out all the stops.

The editor-in-chief has offers for a PCP anime! Maybe we’re even closer to the end of the series than I’ve expected.

Final Flash: Hugely impactful chapter, with great moments on practically every page.

Bakuman 98

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Good Jump cover, but an even better chapter color cover. Fantastic color spread.

Do want

Interesting timing for a Takagi/Iwase flashback. Also, as well as Iwase has been developed into a rival character, it’s still nice to see the old love-struck Iwase.

Refreshing

It’s always amusing to see Crow’s editor excited over its position, as though it should still be surprising. That said, what placed first? Unless I’ve missed a major plot point, it’s odd that some series can do so well and yet remain anonymous.

Those are pretty… specific bet conditions from Iwase.

Has she been giving this some prior thought?

A rival character, being written by a character with a rivalry, who is written by an author drawing from personal experience (and therefore, who likely has a rivalry). Takagi’s decision to turn Akechi into a rival character is yet another amusing exercise in meta.

Great PCP scene, good decision not to have Akechi turn around, and I love that we actually got full pages of PCP within the Bakuman chapter. That’s something I hope we see more often.

I will admit to thinking the chapter was over when I saw the usual Jump chapter-ending logo on the last PCP page.

What a cliffhanger. Next week can’t come quickly enough.

Final Flash: Diverse and engaging chapter, with a properly infuriating cliffhanger.

Bakuman 97

[scanlation by SleepyFans]

What a typically “shonen” scenario being developed by Takagi. The introduction of a rival character is so often the first step towards serious plot in shonen series.

Has Bakuman ever been more reminiscent of Death Note than on page 4 of this chapter? The “if it happens again while he’s watched” concept is lifted straight from the psychological war between Light and L.

Hello, Yagami

Comparisons to Death Note aside (not that such comparisons are bad), these are some interesting ideas Takagi has come up with for PCP. I find it interesting and all too familiar to see he and Mashiro struggling to forcibly think of creative ideas. The best art is often created by chance rather than deliberate planning, and this chapter has expressed that well.

Disappointingly accurate

Very amusing email from Azuki. What a cute and entirely inane message.

Takagi’s idea of a wordplay code is so good that I find myself wishing real-life Jump had an alternative/mystery series. It’s fun to be engaged with online communities who discuss theories and possible future twists of weekly series. If such communities can thrive for primarily action-oriented series like One Piece, imagine how exciting it would be to exchange ideas over series with plot points that are designed to be solved.

Final Flash: Great chapter with plenty of creative and interesting ideas that finally help PCP stand out. The future looks more promising than ever for Ashirogi.

Bakuman 96

August 6, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Mashiro may be right in saying that the tactic of having Crow in +Natural isn’t unfair, but Takagi is entirely justified in feeling upset. This has seriously muddled the rivalry.

This is a ton of dialogue. When the artist has to use character icons this often to help the flow of speech, perhaps a more concise rewrite of the script is in order.

Maybe Miura hasn’t learned and evolved as much as we previously thought. Here he is getting ahead of himself again.

I've got it! I'll crystallize my hair!

This is quite an unusual and excessive amount of time being spent discussing the difference between places in the table of contents. As could be reasonably assumed given that I run this kind of website, I’m a fan of such detailed nerdery, but I’m aware that I’m decisively in the minority. Discussion over which votes to aim for is a little esoteric for a shonen audience. This could be done with deliberate irony, contrasting PCP’s dilemma with the real-life trouble faced by a series as alternative as Bakuman, but it’s still a bit lengthy and awkward. Focusing on specific storyline elements to use in PCP would be easier to understand.

There’s further irony to be found in how dialogue-heavy this chapter continues to be, as the characters are discussing… the acceptability of dialogue-heavy shonen.

"Dialogue-heavy" doesn't begin to cover it

A decently long arc by chapter 25 seems almost mandatory. I can’t imagine being engaged by a series of that length that hasn’t attempted at least one full-length arc.

Hattori’s speech about Ashirogi “surpassing their editor” is yet another sign of the series being closer to its end than its beginning. Certainly, it won’t be wrapping up immediately, or even within a few months, but clearing this hurdle eliminates a major obstacle between now and the end of Bakuman.

Final Flash: Enjoyable chapter, but the sheer volume of dialogue prevents it from being as interesting or impactful as previous chapters.

Bakuman 95

[scanlation by Sleepy Fans]

It’s happening! Romantic tension between Eiji and Iwase! This is a great moment.

Appropriate disbelief

She’s leaning right next to him, no less. This is going to be a fun chapter.

Eiji’s uncanny prediction abilities come up again, but honestly, this time was a bit much. Most of his predictions have been enjoyable, but this one was too specific and therefore didn’t carry as much impact.

Excellent comedic interplay

Actually, this is starting to be far too much exposition of the “relationship” between Eiji and Iwase for it to be real. It seems everyone is mistaken, and she’s pushing for something else.

Eiji doing a textless chapter is a bold act perfectly befitting of the rivalry between him and Ashirogi. This is exactly the kind of back and forth behavior I’ve been waiting for.

Mashiro continues to be the best part of this series. His shock at Eiji’s actions and his own level of talent by comparison are another great milestone in his fantastic character evolution.

Excellent facial expression

Great showing from Road Racer. Fukuda is still going to figure prominently in the competition for top spot in the magazine.

There’s the payoff: Iwase was pushing for Eiji to include Crow in +Natural. Frankly, I’m not sure I like the idea. Yes, Ashirogi must compete with Eiji overall, so it does condense the rivalry, but this feels more like a convoluted trick for +Natural to stay competitive against the ever-improving PCP. This somewhat cheapens Iwase’s role in the rivalry, especially considering her recent character change.

… of course, worst of all, this means Iwase might not be in love with Eiji after all!

Final Flash: Engaging chapter with a questionable turn of events at the end.

Bakuman 94

[scanlation by Sleepy Fans]

Fantastic punchline delivered by both Mashiro and Takagi.

Insightful analysis

The order in which Hattori lists titles of popular series should serve as notice to anyone who has not yet read Slam Dunk: It’s important. Read it.

As always, excellent precision and detail in Obata’s art, as displayed here by the One Piece volume.

Very funny two-page interlude featuring Hiramaru’s editor contriving new methods to keep him working.

Master schemer

There’s the revelation: Mashiro’s art is inappropriate for the story and for Jump. It’s a good revelation, as it will capitalize on the recent character evolution Mashiro has displayed.

Iwase reveals a shocking blush upon Eiji’s surprising compliment. She couldn’t possibly fall for him, could she? More importantly, Eiji couldn’t possibly be involved in a romantic angle, right?

... right?

Poor Hiramaru. Maybe someday he’ll impress Aoki.

In fact, poor Shizuka, too. Unlike Hiramaru, though, Shizuka looks like he will benefit in the long run from this disastrous evening.

Everything seems to be coming together. Mashiro quitting school completely devotes him to improving his art, and with the story already on the right path, PCP should be ready to seriously contend with Natural and Crow.

5th place! Iwase’s reaction is consistent with her new role as the respectful rival. The change from irate to driven was a sudden turnaround in her character, but now that the shock has worn off, this new facet of hers is enjoyable, and can remain so as long as her relationship (both personal and professional) with Eiji continues to evolve.

Another bold statement from the manga genius lends credence to the thought that PCP is almost ready for success. Furthermore, it reinforces the thought that Bakuman could be a comparatively short series, as there aren’t too many overarching plot points left to resolve.

Final Flash: Good chapter. Funny humor, important plot progression, and a couple interesting new developments.

My favorite Bakuman character

Bakuman 93

[chapter link]

Fantastic facial expression right off the bat. Iwase is becoming a strong antagonist.

Hell hath no fury...

Azuki is either being extremely bold or affirming as strongly as possible that she and Mashiro can’t meet again until they’ve achieved their dreams. This lends credence to the idea that Bakuman could be a comparatively short series, as it would feel odd for these two not to meet again for a long time.

Excellent backbone displayed by Miura in his meeting with Iwase. His involvement in his new role has been a question mark, but he’s obviously up to the task.

These series that are being rattled off in passing sound amusing. Who wouldn’t want to read Catalogue God John?

I’m not sure I like how the stipulation attached to PCP’s publishing run is being spread around so quickly. For Ashirogi to know it is one thing, since they need to be coming up with ideas good enough to keep the series alive, but I don’t like Miura, Iwase, or particularly Eiji knowing it. It cheapens the aspect of competition if everyone realizes that Ashirogi are under greater pressure.

Interesting phone call from Iwase. It seems she still has her wits about her enough to realize that winning doesn’t mean much if your competition isn’t fighting at full strength. Still, I hope she doesn’t completely slide into a more peaceful rival role, but instead adds a touch of respect to her intensity regarding Takagi.

Final Flash: Strange chapter. Iwase is a good character, but all this focus on her results in a disappointing lack of the sense of competition between Ashirogi and Eiji.