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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.

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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.