Home > Bakuman, Episode Reviews > Bakuman Episode 7 – Earn Your Happy Ending

Bakuman Episode 7 – Earn Your Happy Ending

I ended my last review expressing the hope that the story would take the wonderful comic resource that is youthful romantic awkwardness and run with it. Much to my surprise, not only does Bakuman not generate some great comedic content from the event, but it doesn’t really even bother to try. Instead, this episode plays out as a straightfoward progression of Azuki and Moritaka’s relationship, returning the focus to the motivating factor that drives Moritaka toward success.

Even more to my surprise, the show doesn’t do a half-bad job with the romantic development either; as I’ve always viewed the show’s portrayal of women to be its weakest element, this is no small accomplishment. Of course, Azuki’s actual lines are remarkably limited, so that likely has something to do with it.

Azuki's actual lines are with Miyoshi, and the former, thankfully, is now more circumspect about what she's willing to reveal to her friend

For those who don’t remember, Azuki and Moritaka have promised not to speak to each other, but writing each other was explicitly allowed. So the two of them, placed in such close proximity, are easily able to communicate through gestures, writings, or any other form of communication they can slip past the eyes of their teachers.

It could come across as overly trite or saccharine—Takagi certainly seems to think it is both those things—but the sort of dopey conversations the two lovebirds have plays out in exactly the halting, self-revelatory way that such conversations should play out. Although the two of them have long had a crush on the other from afar, they don’t really know each other that well, and each day leads to a new, if basic, discoveries.

Mocking teachers is a time-honored middle school tradition, and Moritaka is not lacking for source material

Where Bakuman generates its appeal is in its purity. Moritaka might be too much of a romantic for the real world, but here he has the good fortune to have fallen for a girl who thinks just like him. His motives are simplistic and his desires more so, but they reveal a drive for success unencumbered by feelings of jealousy or selfishness that pervade real relationships (or adolescent life in general).

So, when Moritaka suggests that the two of them could possibly start a more direct romance, and drop their self-imposed restrictions, Azuki begins to cry. Takagi interprets this as being tears of happiness, as Moritaka shows that he cares enough about her to want to encourage her more directly. Moritaka takes it in a much more straightforward way: Azuki is saddened that he wants to break his promise and take a shortcut to happiness.

Azuki successful explains her tears to the class by claiming her cat had died, but it's surprising that no one else in the class has picked up on her communications with Moritaka yet

The resolution of the conflict (Moritaka drops his request and reaffirms his pledge to become a successful artist) proves Takagi wrong, but that he is wrong shouldn’t be a surprise. The show has made it very clear that Moritaka’s motivation for success begins and ends with Azuki: not by winning her heart, as he already has that, but by earning the right to romance her. That right is earned only through success—through a pure devotion to Azuki that leads him to achieve great things for their love.

So, Moritaka convinces Takagi that the two of them should try to get a submission together for the Tezuka Award, which would put them on a much more accelerated time schedule than what they had originally planned. Takagi is skeptical, but when Hattori calls back to inform them that their previous submission did not make it as a finalist for the monthly award, he too decides to take the bet.

Hattori considered not even submitting their work for the monthly prize, fearing the likely rejection would dishearten them. He needn't have worried

While this opening setback is clearly meant to be a chance to improve rather than a real failure, it’s still nice to see that they aren’t being set up for a complete cakewalk all the way through. It will be interesting to see if they win the award (I’m betting they won’t, but they’ll wind up as finalists), but it really could go either way.

I’m also going to predict that Eiji Niizuma will become a real antagonist instead of just a rival. His popularity is such that the CEO of the magazine drives out to his rural homestead to convince him to move to Tokyo. But Eiji, when he actually bothers to form complete sentences, makes a single requirement: If (once) he reaches a certain level of popularity, he wants the ability to pick another series to cancel. Three guesses on the one he’ll eventually pick.

I'm not certain if he's more annoying when he's just making spouting off random noises or when he makes arrogant demands, but he's appropriately dislikable in both cases

Producing an outside antagonist was probably necessary, and Eiji’s undisciplined talent has already been compared with Takagi’s careful plotting and analysis. Every story needs a villain, or at least an opponent, and a dysfunctional genius will do quite nicely. That Eiji’s more established and successful will only make the eventual victory sweeter.

I’m sort of disappointed that Bakuman eschewed the comedy route entirely for this episode, but given that we now have proof that the romance is something resembling workable, I’d say it’s a fair tradeoff. Azuki does pass off her email/texting address to Moritaka, so we’ll see how their conversations play out when they can share more than a sentence at a time. Next time, however, everything will likely take a backseat to their newest project.

Despite Azuki's claim, no animals were harmed in the making of this episode. Yes, I'm just making up an excuse to include a cat picture

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  1. December 13, 2010 at 9:27 pm

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