June 21, 2012
Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata – Viz – 2012 – 20 volumes
On one hand, this volume has Hiramaru on the cover. He ranks right up there with Eiji Nizuma in the list of awesome characters in this series. I think I like both of them better than Shujin and Saiko. He doesn’t appear very often, which is probably for the best because he’s kind of a one-trick pony. But it’s a good trick, and I’m still not tired of his constant pleas to be allowed to rest and/or quit, and his evil editor outwitting him at every turn. I thought for a long time his editor was completely faceless, but they do show his face from time to time. Just not very often, for some reason. Probably because he is evil incarnate, and his job is to trick Hiramaru into Jump slavery again and again. I was crushed by his news at the end of the volume, but that only opens the door to more evil tricks, and again, it’s what I love best.
On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the main story nearly as well as I did last volume. The back and forth between Eiji and Muto Ashirogi is resolved once PCP gets underway and is popular, and the story moves on to other things. Unfortunately, these other things aren’t nearly as exciting as that was, and there’s a whole lot less Eiji in this volume.
The other things are interesting story possibilities, though. One of Muto Ashirogi’s art assistants begins exploring the possibility of creating his own series, and as Shujin and Saiko begin settling into the rhythm of creating a popular weekly series, things become much more streamlined and they find themselves with more time on their hands. As they come to realize that PCP will never be animated, they begin exploring the possibility of doing a more commercial series.
There’s a great scene in this volume where Shujin and Saiko meet each other and ride their bikes to work together, stopping in a park and taking a break. They haven’t had time to ride to work together in years, and they haven’t been far enough ahead on their work to take a break since they were in junior high. As they sit and reflect on their past together and their recent success, they witness a group of kids playing Perfect Crime Party in the park. It’s a very touching scene, and I loved seeing Shujin and Saiko enjoying the fruits of their labor like that.
Setting that aside, I think the “dream” goal of the series is rather ridiculous, and it makes me a little cranky every time it comes up. They’ve accomplished so much, and all but met their goal, but it still isn’t enough. It’s a crazy thing they want, but then again, this is a manga, so of course they have to reach for the sky, despite being one of the most popular artists in Shounen Jump at the age of 22. Realistically, I think Eiichiro Oda has done that, and, like, nobody else.
The volume is relatively positive, and ends with a lot of forward momentum, but the next volume preview makes it look like there may be some rough times ahead in terms of the Muto Ashirogi partnership. I suspect that the out-of-context panel is probably a moment of weakness in a small fight, but I certainly hope that the partnership isn’t about to come into problems. Having to weather any sort of lengthy storyline about that would be unfortunate and uncomfortable, because that’s one of the best things about this series. We’ll see, though.
In short, while this volume isn’t as good as the last one, I’m still ridiculously addicted to Bakuman. I’m sure there’s better stuff to come in the volumes ahead.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.