Bakuman II Episodes 4 + 5: Rankings and Fatigue
Ratings for Detective Trap start to become dangerously low, leading Ashirogi Muto to properly question whether Miura’s guidance is the right path to follow. At the next serialization meeting, Mashiro and Takagi are shocked to learn that Baked Cheese, a manga serialized at the same time as Trap, fell too low in the ratings and was cancelled. Meanwhile, both Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight and Aoki + Nakai’s Hideout Door have been serialized.
In Episode 5, Miura’s ideas turned out to be in favour for Trap, and ratings start rising again, even at one point rivalling Niizuma’s Crow. A hectic battle ensues between Hideout Door, Kiyoshi Knight and Detective Trap, while Crow stays constantly high and Otter 11 starts dropping. Meanwhile Mashiro has been overworking himself, and one day ends up collapsing at his desk.
Unfortunately, Mashiro and Takagi learn the hard way that manga ratings do actually matter, and ratings that drop too low will inevitably get you cancelled, with Arai-sensei’s Baked Cheese kicking the bucket automatically. It’s as if this is serving as a warning to Ashirogi Muto that life is harsh, and in the manga world, it’s pretty much survival of the fittest. Baked Cheese got 9th in the rankings, then dropping into the double digits while Detective Trap dropped to 8th from 3rd. The thing is, in competitions like the Golden Future Cup or the original serialization one-shot, Ashirogi Muto were used to frequently aiming for the higher ranks, since in the case of the Golden Future Cup, only the top 3 had any credibility anyway (though they weren’t competing against regulars like HxH, Naruto or Bleach).
I’m assuming a few more manga series were cancelled too, since both Kiyoshi Knight and Hideout Door were serialized, and so Niizuma has to find himself a new set of assistants now that all three of his former assistants are now rivals. I actually want some of these to be made real series – I think something like that was discussed at some point, but I think loads of these series would make epic plots. Which is more than can be said about some of the series this season.
It’s quite noticeable that Mashiro and Takagi did well under Hattori’s guidance, and when moved to Miura, their ratings drop. AND, Miura gives them different advice to what they believe, leading to some conflict. There was that case as well, about Mashiro’s assistant being under Miura’s guidance once, and he ended up disappointed because of Miura’s optimism. Ashirogi Muto want instant results, while Miura thinks a mystery shounen like Trap should take it slow and gradually build readership. Somehow I think that is only done better if the mangaka already has credibility – take this series as an example. It’s from the same people that made Death Note, already giving it loads of credibility as well as a readership.
Ep 5 was really fun to watch. I’m less wary of Miura now that his assumptions for Trap actually turned out correct – because of the solid way the mystery was solved Ashirogi gained a readership, and fan mail as well it seems. I don’t think Takagi actually needs to add in the wit, though to surpass Niizuma that would be helpful. The problem now for them is the other newly serialized authors – Fukuda and Nakai + Aoki, as well as Hiramaru (though he seems to be taking a back seat for now, going on his “holiday”). While Hideout Door isn’t as much competition, Kiyoshi Knight is a constant rival for Detective Trap, and I’m predicting that Fukuda will be a big rival towards Mashiro and Takagi, even before they approach Niizuma.
Mashiro’s really built up some stress since the start of the serialization, and it’s properly starting to take its toll, with huge bags under his eyes becoming really visible. The worst thing about it is, everyone’s taking it for granted that he can cope, simply because he’s done this type of time constraint before. Unfortunately this resulted in his assistants finding him passed out on the floor, not waking up. In the worst case scenario, he’ll be unable to draw – making his biggest obstacle to overcome not anyone else, but himself.
PS. Oh and I saw the SKET Dance Ep 31 cameo. Hmm, I never knew studios were allowed to do that.