Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bakuman - Episode 3

After overcoming the first hurdles on the way towards his goal, things are looking pretty good for Moritaka Mashiro - he now has the blessing of his parents to become a manga artist, and what's more he now has a studio to work from, thanks to his grandfather keeping his uncle's old studio apartment as if in preparation for just this moment.

With the excitement of this revelation, both Moritaka and Akito waste no time in racing to take a look at this apartment, marvelling at its massive collection of figures, manga and manuscripts while discussing the first step in starting to create what they hope will be their masterpiece.  With the pair seemingly on the same wavelength in terms of the kinds of manga they like, and with Moritaka's father offering some rare words of encouragement to his son, it appears that we're all set and ready to go with their project.

However, there's still one further distraction in Moritaka and Akito's way before they really get down to business, as the pair of them find an intriguing box in the back of Moritaka's uncle's studio.  Within it are a bunch of letters exchanged between himself and the girl that he liked - not love letters per se, but rather dull discussions of everyday mundane goings-on, but the intent behind the correspondence was clear to see.  As the boys read through these letters, they finally reach their sad conclusion, with the girl in question Miyuki Haruno announcing that she's about to be married - an announcement that came a couple of years before Moritaka's uncle finally made it big in his career.

This is where things get really interesting, as it eventually dawns on the boys that Miyuki Haruno is quite possibly none other than Azuki's mother, in a scenario that pays more than a passing resemblance to Azuki and Moritaka's current relationship.  Understandably, the two of them want to verify the truth of this, and thus the next day they set off to quiz Azuki's mum about the whole thing, finding her to be surprisingly supportive in the process.

I have to admit that the first half of this episode worried me a little - it seemed to be taking far too much time on things which felt like they could have been covered for more quickly; I suppose I was just eager to move on to the real meat of this series where the manga creation begins in earnest.  Thankfully, my concerns proved to be short-lived, with the second half of the episode throwing a bit of a curve ball in bringing Azuki's mother and her relationship with Moritaka's uncle into proceedings.  Yes, it's all pretty implausible (although perhaps less so compared to Azuki and Moritaka's own pact), but it does add an extra layer and background to the wider story that it arguably needs, and it was done in a rather sweet way that I ended up enjoying, so I certainly can't be critical of it.  Hopefully now we can move on to the show's "serious business", as that seems to be where a lot of the clear potential in terms of both comedy and drama is stored for the series - we've seen flashes of it throughout these opening episodes, now it's time to step up a gear and really let Bakuman shine.

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