Joint Review of Bakuman 168: Correction and Declaration
Bakuman 168: Correction and Declaration
A Joint Review
Like I promised in my last review, there will be a little special this time for the Bakuman Section. And this little special… is in front of your eyes, rait nao! After a little break from the showbiz, the legendary and extremely popular Reviewer Alliance returns, and as a comeback present they decided to go with a super mega awesome…
Boys. Girls. LET’S ROCK THIS!!! :headbang
The chapter starts exactly where the last one left off, namely Fukuda starting his speech with his angry eyeless self. You'll notice that right off the bat the commentators’ reaction is negative, and the stereotypical sweat drop is there to show that they find Fukuda's will to rebel to be silly at best, and definitely not inspiring. This is going to be a recurring theme in this chapter. Basically, every "normal" adult is going to have a negative reaction, while all our lovely shounen heroes are going to be happy with it. Bakuman, like most shounen manga, likes to frequently make the argument that the youth's will is more valuable than adults who learned to conform and live in lies only to keep things moving. Shounen manga values the guy that speaks up and yells the truth at everyone's face, even if he gets nothing but shit for it. This will actually happen again later in this chapter, with a rather unexpected character standing up to the adult world.
Anyway, we're shown the first reactions as Fukuda starts telling Mashiro and Azuki's story, Mashiro has his own panel for a bit of a more serious shocked reaction, (albeit not drawn as well as it deserves,) and Takagi and Kaya have their comedic shocked reactions in their own panel. Right on the next page, the commentators continue to show the lack of their support and in fact tell Fukuda to stop because what he's saying is irrelevant to the show. Needless to say that Fukuda, being the never-backing-down authority-punching machine he is, doesn’t give a shit. I just wish he'd be drawn more respectfully in this scene and not just angry and eyeless. He deserves a serious face for this speech. AND HE DOES, well, for a tiny little bit. He finally yells out what's really at his heart, "stop spreading rumors, they're just people," and his face is drawn one of a human and not an eyeless zombie. He means business; they're trying to show us that this is something he really, genuinely feels.
He continues exposing Mashiro's story to all of Japan, and ends his speech with a "I spoke what I said because I wanted to." Of course you did, Fukuda, and that's why I love you so much. Keep punching authority in the face for me, okay? No longer angry and a lot calmer at this point, the speech gradually comes to its end ends and we are shown serious and blank reactions from Mashiro, Kaya, and Takagi. Fukuda yells just a tiny bit more about how everyone in the world is a bastard, and we flip over to the next page.
We’re at the WSJ editor’s hideout. I'd like to point out that both Heishi, as well as Sasaki before him, were very much on the youthful side of the debate. They've tried to be as supportive of youthful and immature ideas as the system allowed them, with Sasaki saying things like, "It doesn't matter. If it's interesting, it'll get serialized." They also believe in truth and guts, and this is perfect for the manga as shounen values are part of the series' theme.
Anyway, Heishi is on the phone with Azuki's director, and of course he’s completely and utterly pissed, not inspired at all by Fukuda's speech. Of course he wouldn't, he is an exact example of the adult world theme -- it's your boss, so you're not allowed not listen to him, and he also happens to be a liar and a bastard. And thus the adult world forces Azuki to be not true to herself.
The manager convinces Heishi that Fukuda needs to takes back what he said, while the rest of the editors also receive phone calls on the same subject. Miura's a bit concerned, him and Yujiro have a short exchange on the subject. Initially, Yujiro refers to Fukuda as an idiot. Heishi lets Yujiro know that Fukuda needs to take it back, Yujiro reminds him that it's impossible, but Heishi makes him do it regardless. Without much enthusiasm, Yujiro gets on his way to Fukuda to hear his reaction to this unpleasant news.
Flat out "NO." from Fukuda. Bitches aren't going to make me take it back, I did not lie and a man will stay true to his words. Then, when Yujiro reminds him of the adult perspective, Fukuda is finally drawn in his fully beautiful Takeshi Obata glory to reveal what the chapter is trying to tell us. "I am an adult as well. I am just an adult who is rightful, while you are adults that have rotted." There you have it, folks. The theme of this chapter, the theme of a lot of this manga, actually. Hell, it's a theme of an endless amount of shounen manga. The rebellious youth knows better than the adult, because the rebellious youth is actually going to say the truth, he's not going to conform to the conventional way of doing things. Yujiro knows this. He’s a respectable character that hasn't rotted yet, and he respects Fukuda's choice. He understands that Fukuda is the right one here… lets it go and leaves.
Thanks to his assistants, Fukuda remembers that his actions might have hurt Mashiro and Azuki, so he calls to apologize. Mashiro, whose face seems to be drawn in a weirdly different way, very optimistic and feminine, thanks Fukuda and tells him he's actually happy about it. Of course he would be, this is Mashiro. He's plays for Team Youth after all. After that he asks him about Azuki, and tells him to apologize to her for him. Takagi reveals that the people of the net are almost exclusively against the general idea, with the percentage of people cheering on them only being about twenty percent. Mashiro discourages his statistics again, and texts Azuki, explaining to Takagi that he'd rather not call.
Azuki's sitting in her parents' pretentiously expensive house, and responds to Mashiro's texts. Her face is drawn properly in all the panels she's in, which is almost exclusive to her as a Bakuman character. Of course, she's happy, too. She tells Saikou that her director is making her deny it, and says that in reality she would want to shout out loud that she loves Mashiro. Mashiro's serious eyes show his reaction, with Takagi's ridiculous grimace completely ruining the mood. Mashiro is clearly bothered, and says that he's happy about the fact that Azuki is lively about this, and texts her this. Takagi mentions that the relationship is unwavering and that Azuki has a strong will about this. Mashiro says it's because the seiyuu will be decided by auditions, and he rejects Takagi's idea that it would be acceptable to say the dream came true even if she doesn't win the auditions. It's clear he takes this very seriously.
On Azuki's end, she's beyond bothered about this, and she really doesn't know what to do. Not lively in the least, actually. She's even considering not denying it. Her mom proceeds to reflect on her relationship with Kawaguchi Taro, and Azuki reveals that she actually knew about it since middle school. In an extremely detailed and beautifully drawn scene, she says that this discovery always made her want to be with Mashiro even more, and she believes Mashiro thinks the same. Her mom is happy and says she'll be cheering for her, and the scene moves on to three minutes before the broadcast. The adult world is barking at Azuki. You have to do this, or else your career will come to an end. Azuki's mind is filled with her memories of Mashiro. Everyone is tuning in to the broadcast, and Kaya is asking if Mashiro will be depressed by her saying they're not together. Mashiro says there's no helping it, and we're shown Fukuda's studio, where the assistants pity Azuki.
After a ten second countdown, the program finally goes on air. Everything goes as planes so far. But when the time arrives for Azuki to talk about her “rumored” relationship with Mashiro, instead she starts talking about… dreams… for some reason. “Does everyone else have dreams as well? Are you embracing your dreams and working hard for them? Are you searching for a dream? If you are, I want to cheer you on.” This means nothing to the director, he just wants her to hurry on.
And she does!
She says it. Azuki flipped authority off, too, and remained true to herself. She was honest with herself. She admitted that she's in a relationship with Mashiro. She's completely serious, and everyone else is absolutely shocked. The director is hopeless, and Azuki, at the peak of her seriousness, says that she loves Mashiro very deeply. Mashiro is shocked to hear this. Everyone is absolutely shocked, with Kaya and Takagi's reactions being a bit less comedic, and Mashiro's completely serious. Azuki then reveals the full story of their dream, and the promise to get married. They have always committed themselves to this dream, and thus the chapter ends, with complete glorification of Azuki's youth and rebellion.
Such a sweet, romantic ending :crying /alpha
This current chapter directly followed the previous chapter, more so than many chapters actually do, as there wasn't a small timeskip.
The chapter as a whole was a significant improvement on the previous week's chapter. Nothing new was revealed to the readers, only to the characters. The most positive part of this chapter was Azuki's character development. However, you can still argue about the fan base in this chapter. Fukuda's actions were largely harmful, in that only about 20% of the otaku believed in MashiroXAzuki, whereas the rest even began to hate Fukuda as well, so nothing surprising there. Azuki's speech was the only thing keeping this chapter afloat because it was generally lackluster.
We earned the right to see that Ohba can draw pretty cell phones once again, but that's not the characters. The facial expressions of the chief of Prince Eight, Fukuda, Yuujirou, and Fukuda's assistants were the same as always, which was, as usual, a letdown. Azuki appeared to be the only one whom Ohba had taken significant time to draw this chapter, but that can't simply be argued away because the chapter was focused on her. The art level seems to have dipped again; not even Mashiro had his usual definition, it just looked careless.
Both Fukuda and Azuki had plot-valuable speeches, through which they both earned development. Did it feel a bit forced? Yes. Was it good for Azuki to finally make that massive love announcement to show that their relationship isn't just smoke and mirrors? Definitely, and it's one of the only times it's been present throughout Bakuman, with Azuki's heroine status being much in debate.
In terms of art, it had a few beautifully drawn moments, but most of it suffered from Bakuman's tendency to look rushed over the last hundred chapters. In terms of plot, I feel like everything I personally like about Bakuman was provided, as well as what a lot of people have been waiting for. Azuki is finally serious about things, and I feel that their relationship has finally gotten the respect it deserves. As to whether or not the fictional fanbase will appreciate it, I don't know. But I don't care. I think what needed to be done for the interpersonal relationships in Bakuman was done, and I love this chapter for it. Fukuda was the friend this situation called for, and Azuki handled it perfectly in terms of Mashiro. Their relationship is finally taking priority over the silly problems, and they're honest about it even if it screws everything up. I loved this chapter, but I can't give it 5/5 because I value Obata's art too much to accept its absence.
During Chapter 168 we find out the different perspectives of the various mangaka. Starting with Fukuda’s radio show for “Road Racer Giri”, Fukuda initially confirms the rumors that were spread at the beginning about Azuki and Mashiro being in love with each other. While, Azuki confirms it also during her own radio show.
In the next chapter, I believe that we will see the reactions of their fans from the various forums and phone calls now that it has been confirmed. Also, I believe that Ririka will enter the scene by being asked to also audition for Reversi and set up the penultimate challenge for their dreams to come true as Mashiro has fulfilled his side of the dream. I believe once Ishizawa finds out that Ririka has been asked to audition he will start a push to help endorse her into getting the role. Which would end us up on another cliffhanger. =/
And that’s how another week’s review of Bakuman comes to an end. I know it’s a little confusing seeing how everyone in this review talked in first person, so it seems like everything was written by one reviewer, when in reality there were 5 people working behind it, but you’ll get used to it ;)
So, I hope you enjoyed reading this review, feel free to leave any feedback or ideas on what you thought about it and… yeah, that’s all for now, see ya next week! :beer
FrostyMouse, kdowns, alphabeta, ~coffee~ and blade5468