Ironically, when the chapters are of high quality and the story passes milestones, I don’t write reviews, but now, when the plot seems just dragged out and strictly speaking a waste of time, here I am, analyzing Ohba/Obata’s work. Strange things, mystifying… Anyway, without further ado, allow me to show you, my extremely new and unimaginably cool and awesome review of...
Bakuman 166: Rumors and Articles
A review by alphabeta
The chapter starts with Kaya and Shuujin sitting in their homeroom watching “Impromptu 12”, and the first thing we are shown is Shuujin’s inhuman eyesight, which allowed him to point out the name of a certain “Kitami Ririka” in the 10 second span when 50 seiyuus’ names are flushed down at the end of an anime episode. Being surprised that she’s actually playing in the same anime as Azuki, he decides to find out what exact role she’s playing and checks out her blog, because apparently, there’s an unwritten law, that every goddamn single second-rate fodder voice actress has a blog, where she regularly writes down what happens in her life. And this time he sees something that even someone with “normal”, human eyesight would notice. Ririka made an entry in her blog pointing out how “totally hot” Saikou and Shuujin are () and that one of them is in a relationship with a voice actress she knows and admires.
VIZ forced Mangastream to cancel Naruto and the rest?
Ho. Ly. F*ck.
After an overdramatic reaction from both Kaya and Shuujin, the later decides to tell Saikou this news, who in his turn decides to call Kato, who in her turn decides to call the original author of the blog entry – Ririka. I LOL’ed because I instantly thought of that little game where a crowd sits down and they have to pass on a message one to another until the last person has to say it out loud and people check whether the original message was lost or modified on the way. Seriously, that was just childish…
So was the whole chapter, for the record.
On the next day, Kato also overreacts in her excuses. Honestly, I’m surprised she didn’t commit seppuku, right in the studio in front of everybody. But since nothing serious happened, it means that everything is all right and life goes on the way it did before. That’s until Shuujin, who is the rightful inheritor of Light’s looks and brains, realizes that if this story goes public, Azuki’s fanbase may go wild and drop a shadow of suspicion on all of Azuki’s early achievements. Which would be horrible. I tell ya, bro!
Mangastream may have stopped the scanlation,
but apparently there are already other teams ready to do the job instead…
After a quick scene of Ashirogi meeting Hattori and discussing the anime, we fly over to Ishizawa’s place. Another rival has appeared for the title of the rightful inheritor to Light’s brains (I’m not sure about the looks part, tbh). Good ol’ Ishi-kun instantly realized that Ririka deleted the discreditable blog entry and that makes him MAD! Who dared to make his Ririka-chwaaan do something do her blog? This means war. THIS IS ISHIZAWA-STYLE SPARTA!
Being influenced by Mello’s words that nothing fuels a person’s motivation like revenge, Ishizawa turns on his computer and decides to cosplay as Takagi Fujimaru, better known as the almighty hacker Falcon from Bloody Monday. He visits several forums and starts gossiping that Ashirogi did that, Ashirogi did this. They’re the one who caused the economical crisis, March ’11 earthquake was also caused by them and doomsday on 21th December 2012 will also be their doing… And the internet folks buy it.
Now let’s take a step back and look at this whole situation from another POV. Let’s just assume that we are random anime otakus living somewhere in depth of japan and for us Ashirigo Muto is just another name, like Masashi Kishimoto or Kubo Tite. Also, we have an even more random seiyuu called Kitami Ririka. Now, this random seiyuu makes a blog entry saying that she met a random mangaka duo at a party and that that one mangaka of that duo has a relationship with another random seiyuu…
But that’s not all. Imagine a super-random ex-mangaka, who wrote a 3-page manga for a monthly magazine five years ago, who reads this “random seiyuu’s Kitami Ririka’s” blog, where she mentioned that she met a random mangaka duo, and there she, bla, bla, bla.
Based on this assumption, our super-random ex-mangaka starts a flame war against the random mangaka duo on the internet front accusing them of illegal drugs business, human organ selling’s and whatnot. Oh, yeah, and also, apparently one part of the random mangaka duo has a relationship with another random seiyuu…
BOOOOOOOOM! The Day After Tomorrow 2.0.
In a time where the economic crises has consumed the entire world, in a time where ground-breaking politic decisions are taken every day, in a time where the computer industry revolutionizes itself multiple times per hour, in a time where none of the above mentioned even slightly arouses any interest in the majority of office plankton, a single failed ex-manaka unites all Japanese otakus into an aggressive crowd, interested only in one topic – the relationship between a mangaka from a random mangaka duo and another random seiyuu.
Yeah, Ohba, I’ll believe that.
That settled it. This arc’s theme has just become official. Anyway, as the folks in the chapter discussion thread already predicted, this arc would be Azuki/Ririka based happening of the theme of Reversi’s anime. It’s worth pointing out some guys said Ririka would be just a fodder character with no future. And if you ask me… they are right. In a certain aspect. Right now, Ririka has done nothing, but post an entry in her blog (which she deleted later). The one who is responsible for the situation at hand, aside Azuki and Saikou who made such a situation possible in the first place, is Ishizawa. He’s the one who started the gossip on the internet after Ririka deleted her blog entry.
Actually, I wonder how this unplanned Ishizawa/Ririka relationship will outflow. In the end, it depends on what Ririka’s real intentions are/were. If she has any “ulterior motives” regarding Azuki/Saikou/Reversi then she will continue playing this card. If she’s just a cute innocent victim of Ishizawa’s never ending stream of unsatisfied otaku fetishes than that’s another story.
It’s also cool how Ohba added a number of similarities between Ririka and Nanamine, one of which is the use of their respective blogs. Remember how Nanamine posted a scanned manuscript of his Classroom of Truth in his own blog. The whole story becomes even more mysterious on backdrop of the events that take place right now with Mangastream and RedHawkScans.
How dare you shut down Mangastream?
Where are we supposed to read HQ Naruto scans now?
Despite the realistic portrayal that I love Ohba for, he did go overboard with the fan base’s reaction to the news of Azuki having a boyfriend. Hell, that kinda reaction would be justified if they found out Azuki had a girlfriend. And even that still is not enough. It’s more like Azuki had… two girlfriends… then she… cheated on both of them… with the brother of the first girlfriend, who in his turn cheated with Azuki’s second girlfriend, who… happens to be the lover of WSJ’s EIC. I don’t know, something on that level.
Otherwise it’s just plain unrealistic.
So, yeah, errrm… after this whole story with Ishizawa, Ohba showed us a scene with Azuki voicing Impromptu 12 and once she got out of the studio, a crowd bombarding her with questions appeared. But her good ol’ manager had a taxi prepared and they safely drove away. After a short interrogation of what happened the manager finds out about the rumors on the internet and ask whether they are true. Azuki replies positively and also adds a “We haven’t done anything wrong.”, which coincidently is a one-to-one quote from Saikou’s speech bubble a couple of pages earlier.
“We haven’t done anything wrong.” Yeah, right. You’ve done nothing wrong. YOU’VE DONE NOTHING! For the past eight(!) years, you have been texting your boyfriend over the phone and send each other e-mails. That is totally “NOT WRONG”!
On a sidenote, at this point of the chapter I felt that Bakuman had inherited Bleach’s problem of an overfilled cast. With all those editors, assistants, mangaka, seiyuus and second-rate fodder characters it’s just too hard to maintain a balance of screen time between all of them.
First Mangastream, now RedHawkScans
This is serious trouble…
After that, we witness a scene from the editorial department where some freaks curse Ashirogi through WSJ’s editors. Practically speaking, everything that happened on the next three pages (15-17) was just fodder IMHO, so I won’t even spend my precious time and energy on such pointless content.
On the second to last page, we see the last act of overdramatic actions in this chapter, provided to us, by Ashirogi’s sports-freak assistant who rushes into the studio with a freshly printed copy of “Touzai Sports”. Saikou replies with a “I don’t read newspapers” line, but instantly changes to “WhatIsThisIDon’tEven” once he sees the article the “sports-freak assistant” mentioned.
A “not very big article” that takes up from the looks of it half a page from the front cover shows a photo of Azuki back in her high school days alongside a three-person diagram showing the relationship between Ashirogi Muto and Azuki Miho. Ishizawa made his move. How will Ashirogi react to this sudden plot twist? Find out next week in
Death Note Bakuman 167.
The last panel showed us a scene with both Ashirogi and Hattori who seem to be reading “Touzai Sports” at the same time. And they also have the same reaction. Coincidence? I don’t know. Therefore aliens.
It’s also nice to see Kosugi in the last panel near to Hattori. Obviously, my Nanamine-fanboy attitude interprets this as a sign that Nana himself could return to the battlefield, this time as Ashirogi’s help, but strictly speaking this role is already taken by Fukuda so I don’t really see practical use in bringing Nana back at this point of the story.
Bakuman 166: Rumors and Articles is that kind of chapter that brings birth to a new army of haters, who gonna hate, YUNO-extremists and self-proclaimed Kira’s who write manga character’s name’s in their deathnotes.
This week’s chapter was week on all fronts. The story was… boring? Stupid? Unrealistic? Whatever, it was just wrong! Everything, starting from the way how Shuujin noticed Ririka’s name in the anime, over Ishiziwa’s war on the internet front, and ending with a f*cking sports newspaper making a romance article about the love relationship of a seiyuu and a mangaka just screams of epic fail.
But nonetheless, everything fades in the shadow of the portrayal of the fan base in this chapter. Jesus, that’s just overdoing it. Fine, the motives behind Ishizawa’s actions could be found if you search really, really, really deep into his character, but the reaction that his doings caused is just beyond human logic.
“I was also Ashirogi’s fan ever since “Suspicious Detective Trap” and Azukyun’s fan as well. I’m gonna sell all of Ashirogi’s comics. ” Sell. Ashirogi’s comics. All of them...
What The F*ck?! Fine, fine, even if I impersonate a hardcore otaku, who spends his life re-watching Azumanga Daioh episodes, I still don’t understand why I should sell the volumes of my favorite manga, if I find out that the person who did them is the boyfriend of my favorite seiyuu. Note also, that that guy wants to sell them, and not throw away. Sell them. For money. Epic Fail x 2.
Basically, I’ve said all. The story was just stupid and made this chapter impossible to enjoy no matter how hard Obata might have tried to bring up its quality with his art. What, for the record, he didn’t. The art for this chapter was pretty much mediocre judging by Obata’s standards. Simplified body proportions, lack of screen tones, unrealistic facial expressions hit the nails in the coffin of this week’s chapter even further then they already were.
I’ve cleared my mind regarding how this arc will flow a long time ago. The predictions for the next chapter depend solely on the size of this arc, in other words, how many chapters Ohba wants to spend on it. Practically speaking, a reasonable number would be anything between 5 (min) and 15 (max).
In the “min-case” things will go very fast and next chapter will be the one before the arc’s climax meaning that there should be some dramatic movements from the animation studio, like making it clear that Azuki will not get the role no matter what. This would inevitably bring us to a Fight-for-the-role-in-Reversi-anime arc, which once again could have anything from 5 to ∞ chapters.
In the scenario of a 15 chapters long arc things will obviously move out more slowly. The story will build up, stone after stone, resulting in the end of the complete building (arc). Personally, I’m rooting for a longer arc, but on the condition of handling it with top-notch quality from both Ohba and Obata’s side. Like I said, in case of a longer arc the next chapter will most likely focus on the results that Ishizawa’s actions took place. The animation studio will probably want to “have a talk” with Ashirogi regarding the situation at hand. They won’t take any drastic measures and leave things as they are, but to bring in more drama Ririka will get the Azuki’s fanbase during the auditions for the role in Reversi.
Bottom line: We will see movements from the animation studio’s POV. Nothing that Saikou does/says/draws(?) will have any significant result. It’s the studio which has to make the decision now.
And with that, I’m getting closer to the end of my review. I took another thing from blackjack’s and underscore’s reviews, namely the rating. Let’s just see how well this category will fit in with my own reviews. Bakuman 166: Rumors and Articles receives a…
2 out of 5
Seriously, it’s unclear how Ohba will hand the arc in general, but this chapter just straight out sucked. The (lack of) story development, the cliffhanger, the repeated camera angles, the unrealistic fan base reaction as well as the cheaply hyped up drama make this chapter a waste of time (and money… if you bought the magazine… or WSJA… whatever).
So, that’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed this review, and…
While I was already creating a new thread for this review in this section, it struck me that the way the Japanese otaku fanbase was portrayed, and the general attitude of otakus towards seiyuus is ridiculously alike with the way 12-year old American schoolgirls react to Justin Bieber. Maybe Ohba has some ulterior motive in this thing. Some long lasting hate against Bieber? Maybe he couldn’t stand anymore those “Baby, baby, baby ooooooooooooooh, like, baby, baby, baby, nooooooooo”?