Bakuman II Episodes 21 + 22: The Perfect Crime
Mashiro and Takagi try to come up with ideas for their next manga, and Miura suggests they should expand on their previous work, Money and Intelligence. The improved version (which includes Appearance as a factor) now named KTM is rejected by the serialization committee, and Ashirogi decide to go mainstream with their next submission, Stopper of Magma. However this isn’t even considered for serialization, and Ashirogi realize that they have only one chance left.
As Mashiro notices the oddity in some takoyaki not having enough octopus and others having too much, Takagi invites him out on a day of tailing Hattori, where they discover that Iwase is hitting on him, and that he has very high expectations for Ashirogi Muto. When Takagi finds out the present that Kaya is getting Azuki, he commits another perfect crime by swapping out the present with another identical wrapper, except it has a portrait of Azuki drawn by Mashiro inside. With all this in mind, Ashirogi Muto show their latest manga to a sceptical Miura – Perfect Crime Club.
While I did like the original Money and Intelligence, after adding another factor it just seemed like KTM was a bit too forced, and it was as if they were trying too hard. It was complex enough (and not too shounen-esque) for intelligence to be bought, but then with the addition of Appearance it just felt like Ashirogi Muto were trying to cram too much into a setting that may be interesting at first, but will never get anywhere quickly since it’s just a weekly 18-page series after all. Sorry Miura, but your ideas haven’t been stellar in the past and this didn’t get my hopes up much.
Stopper of Magma was pretty much doomed from the get-go, since being the protagonists, Mashiro and Takagi should be innovative and get past their obstacles in unique ways – so regressing back to something like a mainstream fantasy (we have enough of those in WSJ anyway) is a waste of a submission chance, and they quickly realized that from the editing department not even putting it forward to the committee.
It’s pretty obvious they’ll get through with their last and final chance, given that this season’s almost over and Bakuman III has been green-lit for the Fall 2012 season. However, it’s always interesting to see how they’ll go about doing it – I loved the whole concept of a perfect crime and how the whole set-up was introduced. It was told exceptionally well in the manga, and at this point I have a good idea of where this season will end.
From the day out tailing Hattori to Mashiro and Takagi painstakingly swapping out Kaya’s present to Azuki – these perfect crimes are things that aren’t meant to be any harm, but gives this sense of self-satisfaction and pride at being able to commit a perfect crime without anyone realizing, especially to the point where Kaya had no idea the present was different until after Azuki opened it.
It’s just as they said – if they go from small-scale crimes like swapping out a pencil case case to bigger, more risky ones in the future, it has immense potential to rival Niizuma Eiji, even including the “I didn’t expect that” serious humour to keep Miura and Hattori happy. Like Detective Trap, here we have the ideal manga that would define Ashirogi’s uniqueness – but the problem now is whether the editing department think they can beat Niizuma with it or not.