Bakuman 21

Having made it into the Golden Future Cup it doesn’t take long before Mashiro and Takagi stop celebrating and start working again.

On their way to see Hattori again, Mashiro doesn’t appear to be coping well but still goes on and as they pass by they spot Nakai with a particularly young and cute girl. He spots them as well and calls them over in order to introduce them to their rival, the girl who Mashiro could have been paired up with, Aoki Ko who’s also entering in the Golden Future Cup with Nakai doing the art. They’re introduced to her as the pair that make up Ashirogi Muto however she bluntly outright states that she didn’t like Money and Intelligence, thinking that it shouldn’t have been in a shonen magazine. She herself however, writes fantasy stories and while she can draw cute heroines she was paired up with Nakai since her art didn’t suit a shonen magazine. For Nakai it’s something he’s putting his life and career on the line for.

He’s also surprised that he’ll be up against Fukuda as well, who looks to be favoured by the editorial department due to the order of the entries. With him going first with ‘Kiyoshi Knight’, Mashiro and Takagi going second with ‘Shady Detective Trap’, Nakai and Aoki going third with ‘Hideout Door’, and finally Makaino Koji with ‘Colorfusical’. Of course the first entry always tends to have an advantage, where the likes of Nurarihyon no Mago and Beelzebub had also been first. They then start talking about the other entries where Mashiro was surprised at how much action Kiyoshi Knight had and expects it to do better now that Fukuda has reworked it, Aoki on the other hand thought it was too violent and things like ‘drugs’ shouldn’t come up in a shonen story, and while everyone didn’t think much of Colorfusical, Aoki liked it.

Realising the time, Mashiro and Takagi start to make there way to see Hattori again, however when they get there he ends one of the conditions for serialisation he had and is ready to talk about getting them serialised. For Mashiro though it makes him realise how exhausted he really is, but given this chance he still goes on. Hattori then tells them about something special about the rankings for the Golden Future Cup, an extra ‘like’ or ‘not like’ option which allows the editorial department to decide the winner better, to Takagi though it places the first entry at an advantage due to there being nothing to compare it to. Despite that Hattori still tells them that they’re the best suited for it and how he doesn’t want to lose to something like Colorfusical, however he thinks that catching up to Eiji may be out of their reach as even now there’s an anime offer for Crow. But still he wants them to beat them after what he had said to Eiji about them surpassing him in a few years.

On the train ride back Mashiro is already as sleep as Takagi thinks about their competition. Elsewhere though Koogy performs a concert for a cheering crowd, where between songs he announces that after being successful in many fields outside of music, that he’s going to try his hand at manga by entering in the Golden Future Cup with none other than Colorfusical. In doing so he hopes to become a true star, and after the concert he meets with his producer and editor. The next morning Fukuda calls Mashiro to see if he saw the announcement that Koogy made, which because of he’s calling a meeting. When he tells Takagi about this they both agree that it’s a cheap trick to stuff the polls by getting his fans to vote for him, deciding to help put a stop to it.

Next Episode:

Thoughts:

After last weeks otherwise decent episode, this one was great as not only were we introduced to more characters, such as Aoki Ko and the now current antagonist Koogy. But Mashiro and Takagi along with the other members of Team Fukuda were faced by a major challenge ahead of them. Whether a manga really has to be interesting to gain votes.

To start with one of the things that I was really looking forward to in this episode was the introduction of Aoki Ko, who despite appearing just as prominently as Fukuda and Nakai in the opening and ending themes still appeared quite late. Hearing her voiced by Ayako Kawasumi was also great as she simply suited the dignified nature she showed in this episode so well, not to mention seeing her actually critise Money and Intelligence wasn’t that bad either, as everyone before it had pretty much just talked about how amazing it was. But instead she thought it was too dark to be in a shonen magazine and would be better suited in a seinen one, while at the same time she had been shuffled over from a shojo magazine. Other than that it was also pretty interesting to consider that she would have been the one Mashiro would be working with, had he accepted Aida’s offer from Hattori.

After and during that it was also great to see some of the workings to the Golden Future Cup as well, where even though it was a contest it wasn’t to say that the editorial department wasn’t favouring certain entries. Making the whole thing into more of an exhibit to show off their future talents and push them as they saw fit, where the ones that they were backing would receive the coveted first spot which happened to give them a few advantages over the others and was well known for usually being the winning spot. However these sorts of advantages seemed like they would just be swapped around if any attempt to remove them was made. Aside from that the ‘like’ and ‘not like’ options added were also great as not only did they allow the editorial departments to get an idea of the readership but also which series were stagnating. What made me like this aspect of it though was that it wasn’t really related to the rankings themselves and even amongst the powerhouses running in the magazine, it showed how well the entries and newcomers fared and whether they really had potential or not.

Another thing that seemed to stand out in this episode was that Mashiro wasn’t really coping with his current workload all that well, and if anything was exhausted when ever he was doing something other than drawing. Considering how close they are to their current goal of being serialised it’s actually kind of worrying, as even if they manage to achieve it all of the stress that’s been built up could still hit him pretty hard, causing them to be kicked back further. Snatching away what they had worked so hard to achieve. If that wasn’t enough it also works as a way of showing that his characteristic of rushing ahead without thinking about the consequences isn’t really that good for him.

Given the advantage of being first it wouldn’t take much to suspect that Fukuda could be painted as the one to beat, however I think it chose to do something far more interesting instead. Where with Koogy placed in this position instead it asked a question about the ranking polls and such, whether a manga really had to be interesting in order to gain votes. Which in this case as a rockstar/musician Koogy was going to have all his fans vote for him even if what he was writing was mediocre at best, effectively sweeping the competition and kind of breaking it at the same time. If anything he doesn’t seem like the type who would put their heart and soul into what they were writing unlike the other characters either. The way he was spammed all over the place through out the season it’s also something that I’m starting to like now, as it showed just how famous he really is and it kind of puts him in the position of being the end boss for this season. Something which the point this is focusing on makes pretty interesting.

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