Monday, 24 October 2011

Bakuman Season 2 - Episode 4

From a positive start and a third place ranking in its opening chapter, Shady Detective Trap's fall to eighth place in the rankings with its second instalment has Moritaka and Akito more than a little worried.  The good news is, this means that we get an episode devoted entirely to the creative process within in their industry of choice this time around.

As results for chapter three of their manga come in, things only get worse for Ashirogi Muto, as they drop an additional place to ninth in the rankings - not a place low enough to cause real fears of cancellation at the upcoming serialisation meeting at Shounen Jack, but it's still a precipitous slide towards the trap (with every pun intended) door.

As expected, our protagonists series survives the serialisation meeting, but the news that both Nakai and Fukuda have had their respective manga serialised convinces Takagi that there's only one thing for it - to change their approach.  Despite impending deadlines, he puts this opinion to editor Miura, who is even beginning to have doubts himself in the midst of heated debate within the office about the best future direction for Trap.  Is this the time to strike out and do something different or have faith in the creative abilities of the artist to draw in readers over the long-term?  It's a tough call, especially given Moritaka and Akito's obsession with the survey rankings, but come the end of the episode a definitive decision is made.

While I haven't minded its dalliances with other issues quite so much in this second series thus far, this episode is the kind of thing that I signed up to Bakuman for, and once again it does a great job here in depicting the constant struggle between aiming for artistic merit, good story-telling and entertainment value against what is deemed popular and most likely to succeed, together with the various questions that come from that debate.  This was provided in a toughtful and thought-provoking fashion here, showing that whether you're an artist or editor no two opinions are the same, and even with its relatively basic premise for this episode it still succeeded in putting us through the emotional wringer somewhat as we continues to cheer on our heroes.  Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy a lot more of this along similar lines over the coming weeks.

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