Comic Picks By The Glick

Bakuman vol. 7

October 14, 2011

This volume’s official subtitle is “Gag and Serious,” but it may as well be, “What to do when your series is cancelled.”  It’s another eventful look at the process of creating Shonen Jump manga, and for all that I talked about the kind of bloat that tends to be a token part of series from this magazine yesterday, this is one title that actually doesn’t succumb to it.  That could just be a side effect of all the text a typical volume of “Bakuman” has, but it also manages to cover a good bit of ground, plot-wise.  We see how Moritaka and Akito struggle to come up with new ideas, and butt heads with their editor as to which of these ideas is the best -- leading to some very heated verbal exchanges later in the volume.  While their struggle is presented with the series’ customary level of skill, it’s the romantic entanglements that crop up near the end that promise to be even more interesting.

In case you’ve forgotten, I think that “Bakuman’s” romantic subplots are its weakest part.  Moritaka and Miho’s relationship is pure and chaste to the point of being both unbelievable and utterly dull.  Akito and Kaya’s is livelier only for the volume of their verbal interplay.  I doubt that we’ll see any serious challenges to the former’s relationship since it’s so tightly wound up in the characters’ goals.  That doesn’t mean that his partner’s love life isn’t up for some disruption as Akito starts to get closer to fellow manga creator Ko Aoki when she asks him for advice on writing from the male perspective in a relationship.

It starts off innocently enough, but after his long phone conversations with Ko wind up cutting Kaya off, you know that no good can come of this.  Complicating matters more is the sudden reappearance of Iwase, the icy straight-A student who lost out to Kaya in Akito’s affections back in vol. 2, who is now a published author and looking to re-connect with her would-be romantic interest.  She and Ko have been attending the same university and Iwase convinces her to arrange an “accidental” meeting with Akito so she can do just that.

Yes, there’s the chance that nothing may come of this situation beyond some tired slapstick and lots of yelling masquerading as character development.  Personally, I’m hoping that Akito dumps Kaya for Ko.  The latter has been a prickly presence in the series since her introduction and it could stand to have one complex relationship that isn’t pure as the driven snow.  Am I a heartless bastard in hoping for the dissolution of a perfectly happy relationship?  Yeah, but after rolling my eyes at every “romantic” development in this series so far, I’m open to the idea of seeing them suffer for a little while.

One other thing:  I hope that we get to see the creator of the “Shapon (The End of Japan)” one-shot at some point in this series.  The very brief glimpse we get of the art, and how we’re told that it’s far too dark for Jump makes me think that we’ve got a creator whose sensibilities are more akin to “Berserk” creator Kentaro Miura’s.  I’d like to see how a personality like that mixes with the rest of the cast.  Wouldn’t you?

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