Home > Bakuman, Episode Reviews > Bakuman Season 2 Episode 1 – Right Where I Left You

Bakuman Season 2 Episode 1 – Right Where I Left You

There’s always a question when starting a series up again after a break: How much do the writers assume the audience knows, and how much do they feel a need to explain? With several sequels and spin-off properties this season, we’re going to get several different answers to that question. With Bakuman, which I covered last fall and winter, that answer is simple: Make no concessions to the uninitiated viewer. Instead, with one exception, the show picks up as if it never stopped.

It’s a surprisingly refreshing move, and one which preserves the pacing of the original manga in a way that a hastily thrown together refresher episode wouldn’t. It also means new watchers are going to be completely at a loss to understand the characters, their relationships, and their backstory. For veteran watchers like me, though, it means we immediately get the same story we got last time. For anyone (like me) who was hoping for more of the same, congratulations, you got it.

The show doesn't even bother to explain the enforced long distance relationship between Azuki and Moritaka, which is arguably one of the main dramatic points of the show. The former gets a single appearance

The closest thing to a recap the show offers is by a quick repeat of the last minute of the previous season’s finale, where Hattori announced that he was passing off his editorship to a younger colleague, Miura. It’s later revealed that Hattori fought bitterly to keep his position as the young duo’s editor, but his superiors forced his hand.

The conflict of this episode, such as it is, is with Moritaka and Takagi trying to adjust to a new hand at the tiller. Miura is enthusiastic and encouraging, but his relative youth (23 years old) and newness to the field make the pair wonder if they’ve just been downgraded. More to the point, their creation has been a joint effort with Hattori for, well, ever. Is Miura going to understand what makes them tick?

Miura is short and hyper while Hattori is tall and reserved. The two couldn't be more different at first glance

So far, this episode seems to signal toward the affirmative, with Miura promptly pulling in the additional staff they need and making sure they have all the supplies to keep up with syndication. The help he brings also seems very competent, even if there’s some fun to be had from Moritaka and Takagi as try to adjust to the new way of doing things.

Bakuman has always had an interesting take on its various conflicts, external or internal. Some challenges prove remarkably difficult for the protagonists and some do not. At the moment, it’s too early to tell which way this one will fall. The first season never really gave us a way to tell either.

Ogawa is described as a "professional assistant" and he clearly knows more about what's required for syndication than Moritaka and Takagi. The latter two, however, are far more intimidated by the fact that another assistant, Katou, is a woman

Why does Bakuman intermix serious plots with easily overcome hurdles? I think to acknowledge that even the smallest hurdles in the business of manga writing as hurdles all the same. Every author has to adjust when an editor is switched. Every author has to adjust to working with a support team. Bakuman is devoted to showing the process of manga creation as much as it is to telling a narrative. And oddly enough, the authenticity found in the former often helps to encourage the latter.

That same sense of authenticity emanates from Moritaka and Takagi as they attend the magazine’s New Year banquet for syndicated authors. There isn’t too much “plot” there, as the two mostly mingle with old and new faces. But their reactions—in wondering what to wear, in being overawed by being in the big leagues, to their honest confusion in dealing with some of their fellow authors—all feels completely real. And, although it should stop surprising me by now, it’s still strangly compelling.

Yes, Niizuma is back. Yes, he is still crazy

The dinner party even manages to continue the theme of the importance of editors. The protagonists meet Kazuya Hiramaru for the first time, the genius author who quit his day job and produced a syndication-worthy comic in weeks. Last episode his prospective editor, Yoshida, got him syndicated on the ground that if they didn’t give him a series, he’d just move on to something else. That prediction seems prescient. It’s all Yoshida can do to keep him from quitting now.

For all his brilliance, Hiramaru is undisciplined, lazy, and unmotivated. He was encouraged to pursue manga because it seemed like easy money; now that he understands how much work it takes to be syndicated, he’s ready to move on to something that takes less effort. The brilliance of his editor is to take Hiramaru’s pessimistic rants and turn it back around into manga material. Yoshida is giving Hiramaru just the sort of guidance he needs.

Hiramaru, however, takes Niizuma's crazy and doubles down. He still looks more like a serial killer than a former salaryman, although killing people would probably be too much of a hassle for him

Will Miura do the same for Moritaka and Takagi? We might find out next episode, or it might remain a question for the entire season. The thing about Bakuman, as odd as it sounds, is that the specific conflict doesn’t always matter. As long as the plot isn’t doing something stupid, the natural charms of the show keep up the viewer’s interest. There’s nothing laugh out loud funny about Moritaka and Takagi’s interactions (at least this time), but their reactions and behavior are so true to life as to keep a smile on face the whole episode.

There’s really nothing out there quite like Bakuman, and I’m pleased to be able to say that the show maintains all the things from last season that drew me in then. I can’t say for certain that I’ll blog the series again; that will depend on the quality of the other shows of the season. But I’m certainly going to follow it all the way through.

There's some of the youthful passion that has been the show's other hallmark in the last minutes of the episode, where Moritaka pledges to surpass his uncle's career. It's surprisingly specific too, and ironically has nothing to do with getting an anime series, which one would think would be Moritaka's main goal. We'll see which one he makes first

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