Ashirogi Muto finally has a series capable of competing with Nizuma Eiji, but there's still room for improvement - just how much better can they make it?
Substantially it seems - with Takagi now writing his story as a literal script and leaving Mashiro to do the storyboarding, their second crack at the first chapter of their new work shows a marked improvement. There's still more work to be done however, with Hattori identifying the need for more striking character designs and names, and even a better title for the series to further improve their chances of success - all thoughts which our two manga authors take on-board as they strive to do their best, even going as far as missing the Shounen Jack New Year party to perfect their work.
As their efforts really begin in earnest, so Ahirogi Muto's new team of assistants arrive, and a rather interesting bunch they prove to be too, with a relative old-timer who has worked with the duo before joined by Moriya and Shiratori, two young artists with very different and almost fractious takes on what creating manga is all about; while one sees it as pure business and sales at the end of the day, the other regards fine art as the only way forward for a good manga. Putting such debates to one side, all thoughts ultimately turn towards how the first chapter of Ashirogi Muto's new work, now called Perfect Crime Party (or PCP), has fared in the rankings. The results make for an astounding way to wrap up this second season, although the threat hanging over their heads from the magazine's editor still hasn't disappeared entirely yet.
After fifty episodes (and another batch on the way later this year), I think it's fair to say that Bakuman is well and truly a known quantity by this point. Not that this is a bad thing - well, okay, in terms of its often clumsy attempts at romance it maybe is, but there remains something oddly compelling about following Takagi and Mashiro as they try to achieve their dreams, feeling the elation or depression that goes along with their victories and setbacks. Ultimately, that's what this series is all about - empathising with and cheering on its main characters as they go about their careers and vicariously enjoying their good fortune when it comes around. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I'll be looking forward to more of the same from season three - with UK license rights now snapped up for the series too, I may well be revisiting Ashirogi Muto's past triumphs into the not too distant future to boot.