Too easily; it didn't feel like they deserved it
Not enough detail; O&O should have showed the techniques/energy used
With absolute victory for Ashigori Muto
Was the perfect victory to a battle with no end, allowing them to continue being eternal rivals, and give focus to Azuki and Mashiro
When the night falls, and MH’s servers finally get a little rest, a secret underground organization continues to work through the night doing their shabby business. Yes, you have heard correct. The Reviewer Alliance stroke again. This time they chose a bakuman chapter as their victim. Ladies and Gentlemen. Allow me to present you…
Bakuman 175: Release Day and Last Night
A Joint Review
Banner made by Shinsatsu
The chapter begins not long after the previous chapter left off. Reversi ended in the last chapter and the release of the final two volumes of Reversi has begun. Currently, our duo is worrying about the age old question of what constitutes "beating Eiji." Throughout most of Bakuman, the numerous readers have always questioned and debated about what beating Eiji should be there. Should there be some grand scene where they overtake him, or is it actually something really quite mundane? Mashiro and Takagi discuss their volume sales and for reasons unknown to Mashiro, Takagi appears unnaturally concerned that they have not reached the 1.2 million copies that each volume of Zombie Gun currently sells. Mashiro appears to be contented with having surpassed Eiji in terms of the questionnaires and that Azuki is finally starring in his anime. The concerns that Takagi has seem alien to a Mashiro who is now less concerned with values and numbers.
Ohba uses his artistic talent to show us Takagi's concern and angst, as if it wasn't apparent through Ohba's dialogue. With the knowledge that Reversi is now getting reprints and the impending shift to the imposing Shuesiha building, the chapter appears to take a more serious tone. Hattori breaks the news to Takagi over the phone that Reversi has earned even more reprints, and now they have surpassed Eiji's 1.2 million copies sold per volume with 1.22 million copies sold. Takagi is jumping out of skin and Mashiro is quite excited as well, which brings us to the explanation for Takagi's unease over previously being behind Eiji in the volume sales; he wants Mashiro to marry Azuki as the No. 1 mangaka of Jump. Now, while that lovely sentiment is great and all, the whole plot about "beating Eiji" turned from what could've been a great story plot/theme for a while more into something as simple as, "We beat him in questionnaires and volume sales. That means, we have surpassed Eiji." Give me a break. Ohba's literally cheating the readers by reducing a plot that ran throughout Bakuman into something as simple as just exceeding Eiji in questionnaires and volume sales. It's not even as if AM consistently beat Eiji in terms of volume sales. It was one time, one time, and they're all happy and going on about how they've surpassed Eiji. It can't be that easy or short.
The awkward moment when you meet your fated rivals
and realize that you have a plushy toy in your hand
Our trio has a heartwarming scene where Mashiro thanks Takagi and Kaya, as well as discussing the house that he borrowed money from Takagi in order to buy for Azuki. That scene is followed up by the imposing visit to the Shueisha building, a place that our heroes have not recently visited. Instead of merely seeing Heishi or possibly some editors, Ohba brings us a drama filled scene where Eiji essentially admits defeat for the moment and makes the grand statement that he'll raise Zombie Gun up to the level of three million sales per volume, to which our duo respond that they'll bring their next work up to three and a half million sales per volume. The ridiculousness of the scene is a bit over the top, but it is Bakuman-style.
Ohba continues the trend from the previous chapter of showing a panel of each of the less popular mangakas, before restarting the heartwarming scene with Mashiro, Takagi, and Kaya, but this time, it is the night before the anime airs. Mashiro makes the grand statement that he'll finally go see Azuki once the anime airs, now that their dreams will finally have been realized, but not just, he'll "PROPOSE." Of course, Takagi and Kaya are excited by the prospect, and we're forced to sit through some slapstick comedy filled with less than amusing dialogue about how things are finally coming true, but even Azuki's obviously going to accept Mashirove neroposal, it's still a huge deal, because they've never really spent time with each other, only "cheering each other on from a distance" (that theme that Bakuman always uses), so this meeting will be the most important day of Mashiro's life. Now, while I've always looked forward to seeing Mashiro and Azuki getting together, the cheesiness of the lines was a bit over the top, but it is the almost finale of Bakuman, so I suppose that we can forgive it.
It all makes sense
While Iwase had previously mentioned that Ashirogi Muto came from the combination of Mashiro, Azuki, and Takagi, it truly hits in this chapter. All that time ago, in the audition room for +Natural, Iwase discussed it, but now, Mashiro reveals to Kaya that her creation of the AM name is what drove him to make his and Azuki's dream come true. The sappiness of this bit was killing me while I was reading it. Not only that, but Mashiro psychically knows that the AM name also inspired Azuki. It's like, "Gadzooks, Batman!" How did you know that one? Instead of Ohba continuing with the seriousness of the moment, he brings us to blushing, crying, and people running away.
Then, to finish off the chapter, we're brought three successive power moments. First, Mashiro declares that AM will continue as they are, and then there's bit of interplay with Azuki and her mom, including reminding us that that they're no longer children. The readers get to see that the characters are truly growing up and that the ending is here. Azuki and her mom even talk about the meaning of Mashiro finally coming to see her.
However, the highlight of this chapter, after several lowlights, including the "beating Eiji was just that simple" moment, is when Mashiro has a mental conversation with Kawaguchi Taro. Kawaguchi Taro has inspired Mashiro throughout his life, and although he couldn't succeed at his dreams, Mashiro will succeed at them for him. Although, good readers, you should remember, in case you've forgotten, by marrying Azuki, Mashiro's technically succeeding at Kawaguchi Taro's dream as well. Without Uncle, Mashiro would never have been here. Of course, it's not like Mashiro only discusses his uncle, he also reminds us that without the main cast, there wouldn't have a been of series, so we should be thankful to them all, which is really Ohba's way of breaking the 4th Wall.
Throughout the chapter, Mashiro, Takagi, and Kaya all have big moments, from Mashiro's declarations about how he'll go propose to Azuki, that AM will continue on, and that everyone in his life, especially Kawaguchi Taro, has been so important to him, to Takagi wanting to give something greater than material goods to Mashiro as a wedding present, and finally to how Kaya has been that lynchpin holding them all together and inspiring them throughout the series.
Sadly, Hattori doesn't get much screentime, nor do any of the minor characters. Sakaki and Heishi get a wonderful moment where they discuss how AM and Eiji became "fated rivals," as they'd hope.
Eiji, unfortunately, became less dynamic and less complex as time went on. Instead of a big scene, he's just been downgraded into the shounen rival, by merely saying, "I'll go far above you with my next manga."
The Azuki moment with her mom was the most touching moment in the chapter, and one of the better moments in the series, where you can finally see that Mashiro X Azuki is actually starting to happen.
Yooooooooooooooo, alpha in da house, man! Time for some artistic comments, yano?
Despite this week’s chapter obviously focusing a lot more on the story than the art, Obata still did not forget to create a couple artistic pieces this time. All in all, Obata didn’t revolutionize his drawings in Bakuman 175, all the more, he even managed to simplify some of his drawings (especially those which feature Shuujin) to an even higher level than he already did in the past. Check out these two panels on page 2.
The one on the right, where Shuujin picks up Hattori’s phone call… I’ll let it slide that it’s supposed to be a simplified body drawing, because the panel’s small and it’s a mid-range shot, but I can’t forgive the panel on the left. Obata’s artistic talents ended with him giving the panel a 3D feeling by drawing Shuujin’s head outside the panel border. Other than that this panel perfectly depicts what I don’t like about Obata’s drawings. For starters, there’s not a gram of screen tones in here, Shuujin’s black t-shirt screams of Obata’s unwillingness to draw original clothing rather than Shuujin’s bad fashion sense, and Saikou’s dumb expression hits the last nail into the tomb of this panel. Not even the ridiculous speed lines can save it.
However, it would be wrong to say that there are only bad moments in the art aspect of this week’s chapter. Obata had a couple of glory moments, the most obvious being the Ashirogi/Eiji double spread on which I’ll focus a little later. Before I do that, I still want to mention a few other, not-as-obvious-as-the-doublespread moments in this chapter. The first one a panel from page 3 which shows that Reversi’s volume 5 and 6 have been sold out.
The thing that stands out the most are obviously the volumes of Hiramaru’s new work (forgot the name). Obata always had a thing for drawing volume covers, both of RL and Bakuman-based series. Just remember the 2nd Bakuman volume, where Ashirogi are standing in a book store and Shuujin has Naruto, OP and Bleach volumes in his hands. If you look a little closer, you will notice that at the far right of this panel, we see a volume cover, where the letters “Gi” are visible, which is very likely Fukuda’s “Road Racer Giri”. The one that gives me the most trouble is the volume cover of the series left from Giri. If I didn’t knew better I’d say it’s “True Human”, but it obviously has a big fat “V” in its name, meaning it has to be some other series. (Damn, this is getting longer than I expected. ) Moving on, we have another highlight. This time I’m talking about a little panel from page 5 showing a close-up of Saikou’s face.
Right off the bait, the reason why I choose this panel to be included in my review is because for the first time in maybe some 50 or so chapters, Obata finally gave Saikou another screen tone than white or grey to draw the highlights on his hair (double spreads excluded). I think that’s worth noting, don’t you? Another small thing that I liked in this chapter was the romantic/nostalgic drawing on page 15 where Saikou wants to shake Miho’s hand.
My first reaction when I saw this panel was “ZOMG, THE ART!!!!”. However, after a few moments passed, I soon found out that this panel isn’t nearly as awesome as I first imagined it to be. Seriously, it still looks like Obata has run out of screen tone (he used it all on the background?) and aside from the not-too-erotic drawing of Miho’s chest (which was drawn significantly bigger even during her highschool times, for the record) the highlight in this drawing is the flashback scene in the middle of the two characters. Maybe the fact that Saikou finally is wearing a new t-shirt with a pair of shorts also. Now then, all that’s left in my art analysis is the highlight of this week’s chapter – the double spread.
Hands off, it looks cool. Partly even crossing the border of badass. The plain black background with those explosion-like white lines are obviously supposed to give Eiji’s words more impact than they have already by themselves. For f*ck’s sake, that dude just proclaimed he’s gonna make a volume which is gonna sell nearly three times as much as it is selling now. What can there be more badass than that? The way he leans forward shows that he is in the process of moving while saying that (it’d be stupid if they all stood back-to-back during this scene, no?) and the Zombie-Gun figure in his hands gives the whole scene a nice little touch. Add to all of that Saikou’s and Shuujin’s synchronic-over-the-shoulder-look which practically screams “Bring it, bitch!” and you get a badass double spread.
Great work there, Obata!
The chapter opens with Mashiro and Tagaki discussing print details, making note of the print sum 920k, which is far greater than any previous print they have had, and after the manga ended too. This leads me to believe that the editorial department must have high hopes for their sales, a sentiment shared my Tagaki’s ‘eyes closed statement’, a trait he always exhibits when making an educated guess that is often later revealed to be fact.
Tagaki then makes a point to mention that they still are under Zombie Gun print wise, which Mashiro blows off with his usual nonchalant, ‘Doesn’t matter, we just have to do our best next time’ attitude. At the time I had interpreted to mean that he simply wasn’t worried. And then what do you know, the very next page makes a pessimist out of him, as the stores are completely sold out and 100k more are put into print, and I can’t help but to look back at his “Why do we have to be so worked up over Zombie Gun… In the questioners we averaged first,” as nothing less than a lack of confidence; that he should just cheerfully accept it as the best they can do. But that’s probably looking into his words too much, as after Tagaki excitedly declares their big chance to overtake Eiji, Mashiro blows it off once more, bringing me back to my former opinion; that he simply doesn’t care. I think this is quite contradictory to the Mashiro that risked being fired from Jump just so he could compete with Eiji, but it just implies how much more important Reversi’s anime and Azuki are to him right now; that he is too drained anticipating his date to consider beating Eiji, because give it two pages and the victory in question, and his demeanor does a complete 180, with Mashiro literally jumping for Joy.
Tagaki shouts, “Now Saiko can marry Azuki as Jumps number 1 Mangaka!” This statement is greatly to Mashiro’s surprise, as he was under the impression that Tagaki was head hunting Eiji. But this does not throw the readers for a loop however, as Mashiro has always been the one to take the lead in getting heated up over Eiji, and Tagaki just follows along in support, using it as a stepping stone to accomplish their dreams.
Then if you make safely to page 8 without your computer blowing up, we see the meeting of the ‘Eternal Rivals’ and another of our favorite ‘Epic Eiji’ moments, with Eiji licking his blood to spit it right back at them with a declaration of war, claiming “I’ll be waiting for you after I have ‘Zombie Gun’ sell 3 million copies,” which Ashigori reply with their usual inflamed gusto, “We’ll show you with our next piece 3.5 Million;” thus assuring the manga may end for us, but Bakuman will never die. Eiji smiles like the cool rabid dog he is and departs.
Following this we are briefly led to everyone’s favorite ‘living explosion of PMS’, Iwase, who can’t accept being bested by Tagaki and likely drives her new editor to an off-panel suicide with her rant. For laughs, Mura just sits their slurping idly, with a blank expression that reads, ‘don’t mind me; she you’re problem now.’ It switches again to Fakuda, who is under what seems to clearly misguided impression that Mangaka are popular with women, after Mashiro, Tagaki, and Hiramaru snagged young and cute wives. Poor Fakuda, just date a Bakuman fan girl; he can voice slap otaku into the next dimension, so it shouldn’t be too farfetched to see him craw out of our manga… right? As for Takahama, his smirk leaves the impression that he is drafting an amazing story, which could incite our worst nightmare, another arc.
Hiramaru and Aoki enter to shake things up with their usual comedy routine, and it’s good to see they don’t change even though they’re getting married; at least Himararu is finally confident to speak of his feelings in her presence. Let’s hope the same can be said for Mashiro and Azuki.
After a conclusion of Mangaka’s Gone Wild, we adjourn to Ashigori’s study and experience a moment -that in my opinion- has been long overdue, Mashiro thanks Kaya for their name sake. This is a touching moment where the sparkling art comes together and every girl can be a princess, which translates into, ‘Kaya is swept away by her happy tears’.
And finally it cuts to the most delightful scene between Azuki and her mother, where a simple slender thread of innuendo becomes the highlight of this chapter, as Azuki’s mother cheerfully proclaims to Azuki that “…mom won’t be mad if you don’t come back, alright?” leaving Azuki blushing with a slight grin and all the male readers nodding yes.
All said and done, this chapter has managed to wrap-up the battle with Eiji, leaving us with the promise of future engagements; spread the laughs, as the other Mangaka’s close in their end of the story; and leave us gripping the chair for the development of next weeks date.
And on to the predictions~
Cutting straight to the point. I DO NOT believe that Bakuman will end next chapter. No, no and no. Color page – YES, series ending – NO. Because all you apocalypse fans, who predict the end of the series next week don’t have a single argument aside from the fact that the next chapter will have a color page to base your opinion on. If we pause for a second and look at everything from a rational POV, it becomes clear that be there is no use in ending the series next chapter. The most obvious reason would be the huge amount of plotlines that do simply do not fit in a 19 pages long chapter (even if it has color pages in it).
What do we know from this week’s chapter? The anime starts airing in 19 hours and Saikou plans on formerly proposing to Azuki. Did it ever say that they plan on showing the wedding and all the goodbye toasts from every one of the over 9000 people they met during their story as well? A small reminder for you all. Saikou’s original goal from the very beginning of the series was to marry Azuki. Not propose to her. It’s the same as if Naruto would end just when Tsunade was about to announce he’s being made to Hokage.
Anyway, for the next chapter I predict: Reversi’s anime airing (3 pages, possibly more if the CP will be used for this scene), Ashirogi and Miho discussing the anime (another 2 pages), Miho and her family watching the anime (2 pages as well), Saikou going to Azuki’s place and asking Azuki out (5 pages), both of them going to a random romantic/nostalgic place and Saikou finally proposing to Azuki (5 pages), and Azuki replying “YES” to his proposal (whatever pages are left). The chapter ends with Saikou jumping around from happiness and a panel where the two kiss for the very first time.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand… that’s it for the week. I hope you enjoyed our review, you can leave your comments/feedback in this thread, or the Reviewer Alliance HQ Thread in the proofing area.
See ya all next week!
Brought to you by...
All in all, I think we did a good job. I had fun working with you guys. Hope we can continue to do this until Bakuman actually ends
---------- Post added April 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM ---------- Previous post was April 16, 2012 at 04:03 PM ----------
People, c'mon! Give us some feedback!
You don't want me to turn on "Bad Reviewer Alpha" mode, do you? You know what I'm capable of doing once I turn that on.
It's nice to see that you guys are still at it, you can totally make it to the end of the series.
That's a very good point about Bakuman maybe taking a bit longer, I've been thinking about it as a next week sort of thing. But I don't know, 19 hours is a long time, they would've said it'll air in less hours if they planned on starting the next chapter with that, and there IS the wedding. So I suppose it'll last another two or three. I'm really looking forward to it, personally.