Friday, April 6, 2012

Wicked Anime Reviews #31 Bakuman 2

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

Season two of Bakuman has wrapped up and it's time to discuss how the series is holding up.

What rocks?
-Emotional stakes are higher
A plethora of new and old plot strings take center stage and the tension is higher than ever before for Ashirogi Muto. Everything that the first season built toward comes into fruition. Our main duo goes through hell to claw their way to their goal and it's that passion that has always made this series stand out among others.

-Plot twists
The story takes a number of twists that are fully grounded in what has been set into motion previously. Characters that had minor roles manage to shake up every stone that would have been set in place while all the major characters continue their friendly rivalry for making the greatest manga they possibly can. Some of these twists were rather intense and it was great to see the series take those risks.

-Season finale
All of the pieces manage to come together while setting up new plot points for season three. The last few episodes for season two wouldn't have been possible without the setup that we've been given and it manages to leave off on several high notes that should have fans both cheering and grabbing their tissues.

What sucks?
This isn't something that I like to talk about when it comes to anime but it has to be mentioned here. This series was already under fire in the previous season but a lot of those moments that seemed sexist were able to be discussed and considered rather tame. A couple moments in particular seemed to only be played up as a joke while others could be defended in the context of the show. In this season however, it becomes very apparent that the sexism is a real issue here and it wasn't subtle in the slightest. I'm not going to dive into a deep discussion about this here because this is a giant can of worms and Japan has always been known to be rather misogynistic so this isn't exactly something we've never encountered before. I think adding this here in the "what sucks" section is all that's necessary and I'm going to leave it at that.

-Editor change
For the majority of the season, our duo has a different editor and it's honestly kind of bizarre. It becomes apparent that the way the duo feels about this is exactly how the audience not only should but will react toward the change. A major plot point is how this new character just isn't as likable as the previous editor, Hattori, no matter how hard he tries. He isn't a bad guy by any means and in fact he tries his best on a regular basis but he just isn't as interesting, experienced, or developed as anyone else in the show and he never manages to stand on his own. There was one good thing that came from this by having a different plot thread created by not allowing Hattori to be the editor for Ashirogi Muto but it still felt forced and awkward.

-Getting psyched
This is such a minor complaint but it kept slapping me in the face and so I felt I had to mention it. There will be moments where the main characters get excited and possibly have new inspiration or a new rivalry to push them ahead to work at their best and the characters will literally state how psyched they are and then usually make their rounds of phone calls to other characters to exclaim how they won't lose and yadda yadda. You know, typical shonen friendly rivalry mess. The problem I had was with how often this occurs and how often certain phrases get repeated. I couldn't help but think, "You weren't excited before? How many times do you need to get psyched up before you can actually get work done?" I realize there were moments that brought the group down and they would of course need to be pulled out of their slump but it started to get repetitive and unnecessary at some points and I couldn't help but notice it.

-Less about the industry
One of the strongest points for many viewers is that this is a show that is actually showing us what it's like to make a manga and how the industry works. There were certain episodes that did an amazing job at not only showing how the characters have to improve their work but the thought process behind the manga but there were only a handful in total and most of those were near the end of the season. There also wasn't much of anything new to learn about the industry itself which was a bit of a disappointment.

-Strange character reversal
This is a hefty mixed bag that I can't fully discuss because of the spoilers involved but it's something that really sticks out in this season and it's the focus of a large portion of what happens among a few characters. Without saying much, there is a particular character in the first season who gets a lot of time in the spotlight here who changes from having an icy heart to being a thousand times more likable. This change comes with a hefty price however and not only does another character become a terrible human being (and another becomes even worse than they already were) but the reasons for the transformations of these two characters places the sexism front and center.

Bottom line:
I'd like to point out that your enjoyment of this season will entirely depend on how much you enjoyed the previous one and what aspects matter to you. If any of the negative points stick out like a sore thumb that you just can't ignore, then you might not want to continue with this show. If you were in love with the first season then you'll enjoy this one regardless.

This is Kylak signing out and asking politely that the comment section not be blown into arguments about the misogyny.


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