「チョコとNEXT！」 (Choco to NEXT!)
“Chocolate and NEXT!”
It looks like everything in Bakuman has finally come full circle. While it answered most of the questions I had it also raised a ton more in the process. Even so, I was surprised how fun this week’s episode was. To start things off, I almost started to like Nizuma. Out in public he pulls off the neat look really well. His hair down, looking neat with his school uniform, standing in a bad-ass pose with one hand in his pocket, I almost forgot I was watching Nizuma Eiji of all people. Too bad my impression of him went down the hole as a black crow appeared, causing him to let his inner crow out. What the heck is up with his obsession with black crows anyways? Not to start piling on the negatives but his attitude toward manga also irritates me. Besides showing his cocky side by taking a three month deadline and reducing it to one, he continues to have this superiority complex over others. Having the nerve to demand that someone pick up his work since the trains are “too loud”. I don’t know about you but something about Nizuma still just rubs me the wrong way.
With Shounen NEXT’s deadline coming up, a lot of this episode was focused on getting the name finished in time. Having the entire process span over the entire episode, it was interesting watching a name go from draft to finish. While the story of Money and Intelligence is interesting by itself, I found it much more interesting watching Mashiro and Takagi discuss the finer details of the plot. Unlike their first name which had some serious issues since they didn’t work together, it’s nice to see Mashiro and Takagi collaborate together. As they try to create a name that fleshes out the despicable feeling of greed, I thought Mashiro’s concept of selling ideas at a premium to keep them private was ingenious – especially since most people hold a high value on their privacy. Of course Bakuman wouldn’t be Bakuman without Mashiro’s attempt to integrate his relationship into his work. Going off on a tangent about how he and Azuki should reveal each other’s minds to strengthen their love for each other. Besides sounding extra corny, Takagi’s facial expression sums up the situation nicely.
While I’m talking about relationships, I’m fairly confident that the anime-only readers probably share my opinion on how Azuki and Mashiro were handling their relationship. Besides breaking every fundamental rule there is to having one, I know that I’ve questioned multiple times why our strange couple are doing things the way they are. From taking ages to get each other’s phone number too not even talking to each other in person. I’ve been wondering what logical reason could there be, if there even was one? Luckily there seems to be some logic in their madness with the answer coming from the last person I expected – Takagi. During his first date with Kaya, as she starts complaining about how she doesn’t understand why Azuki and Mashiro handle their relationship the way they do, Takagi has a revelation. They act the way they do because of how strong their relationship is with each other. Based off of Takagi’s assumptions, if you remember when Azuki started crying in class, it wasn’t because she was sad about what Mashiro asked her – it was because she’s fighting between choosing her love or her dreams. Their relationship isn’t two lovers who choosing to ignore each other but rather two lovers who choose to focus on their dreams and have a lover. Imagine how productive Azuki would be if the only thing in her mind was Mashiro? Plus we’ve already seen what happens when Mashiro starts to think about Azuki. While I still think this is a pretty ridiculous way of going about things, I’ll admit that it does make sense since both parties agree to it. Almost if on cue Valentine’s Day rolls around and Mashiro receives the coolest chocolate from Azuki – chocolate in the shape of pencils. If that doesn’t describe a girl’s dedication to a manga artist, I don’t know what will. All of this leaves me wondering what Takagi is going to with Kaya. It’s clear that Takagi enjoys being with Kaya, but I’m curious about what will happen when Kaya and manga start fighting over his time and attention. I sense danger coming.
I’m super excited about the weeks to come. Having finally come full circle, our duo’s name makes it into NEXT. After watching the funniest “I’m so freaking happy I could die” cheer, I wasn’t really thinking about what could happen next. Even though they finally got past the judges, the next hurdle looks like it will be Nizuma Eiji himself. I was pretty angry when Hattori revealed that the editors probably chose their work just to provide a point of comparison for Nizuma. However, Hattori took all that anger and turned it into manly enthusiasm as he yelled out not to try to win against Nizuma, BUT TO WIN NO MATTER WHAT. With words like that, I can’t see how our duo could lose.