Monday, 8 August 2011


I should really be finishing off the animes I already started watching but temptation got the best of me and I went ahead and checked out Bakuman. An anime about drawing manga. It was initially a manga about drawing manga but an anime version serialised late last year and I just got around to watching it. Obviously it's not actually about how to draw manga as that would be really boring but the story revolves around the life of Moritaka Mashiro, a junior high student aspiring to be a mangaka (one that draws manga if you don't know).

The idea was quite unique and I wasn't sure how it was going to be done without becoming a yawn-fest. I supposed they would have to twist it around romance or something if they were heading for realism and indeed they did. So it was basically going to be a story about Mashiro's road to being a good mangaka while his relationship with Miho Azuki is being thrown around in there somewhere. Needless to say, like all other main love interest for the protagonist, Azuki is boring, bland and has little to no character features other then wanting to be a voice actor herself. The typical average girl persona. No tsundere, no yandere, nothing. Fine, they could still work with that if they had more side plots to spice things up but nope. Just "journey to mangaka" and "relationship with love interest."

Something's fishy about that hair shading...
The art deserves some credit, it's a lot better than many animes I've seen, they've made an attempt to create unique hairstyles and it's consistent, what else can I say? It's nothing to drool over but there are still some inconsistencies that I see jumping around.

I wasn't planning on dedicating an entire paragraph on the correlation between Akito and Light from Death Note but they even had to make a reference of the god damn anime in the first episode. Akito is shown as an intelligent character with the highest grades in the school but still dreams of being the author of a manga however he was never a gifted artist, that's why he wants Mashiro to work with him.

The author tried to shove everything driving the plot forward into his character and that has turned out to be rather wacky as he's supposed to be an intelligent character. On the side he serves somewhat as a comedy relief while being the guy that pushes Mashiro around to actually doing something about his life.

Or is it?
Not only does he confront Mashiro about wanting to be the author of Mashiro's manga but he also gets him to go to Azuki's house and tell her that they are planning to work together as author and artist for no reason whatsoever. In real life, it would result in a terribly awkward situation but here we go...

Oh boy, it was so corny it was almost painful to watch. I mean what do you expect when two boys come to your house in the middle of the night just to tell you they're planning to draw a manga together. Well that was initially Akito's plan but luckily Mashiro sneaked in and told her that maybe she could become the voice actor of the heroine or something "when they were done AND serialised". They haven't even started yet and they just went to her house randomly bubbling about all this unrelated awkward nonsense. The scriptwriters deserve a good slap on the face for this one.

Mother of all randomness
At this point forward I wasn't sure whether Azuki was actually going to scream yes in a mindless melodramatic tone before jumping into Mashiro's arms engaging in a passionate kiss but luckily some common sense hit home and Azuki races back into her house to hide from the psycho sex maniac. This scene is actually one of my favourites as the characters realised the total nonsense they had been spewing out up to this time.

I know the plot of being a mangaka is hard to deliver as it's such a boring subject for animes but I have to be honest and say that I wasn't impressed especially when the author was the same guy that did Death Note. I did quite like the OST but the voice acting was nothing special. If you're going to choose such a boring subject to turn into an anime at least have a side plot or interesting characters to go along with it. And yes, as Michael Westside mentioned this is supposed to be one of those light-hearted "slice of life" animes. Too bad they're missing the interesting characters.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit

Ikigami is a manga about an alternate present in Japan where an act has been passed resulting in random deaths to occur to individuals in the age 18-24 bracket. The general gist is that this law would raise economic growth with civilians living their lives to the fullest as they do not know when they may die. The story revolves around Kengo who is a government agent that hands down "ikigamis" which are basically death notices 24 hours prior to it actually happening.

The National Prosperity Preservation Act
Art is fairly realistic compared to modern anime designs (well this manga is actually 5 years old) and it's obviously directed at an older audience with some serious concepts/analogy trying to squeeze in. The theme is rather dark with glimpses of human generosity and moral lessons on life being thrown around but most characters that are shown usually have an unhappy ending.

I liked the concept and all but they didn't play it out too well with the deaths occurring through a mandatory injection during elementary school...? Sounds very shaky and just not very controllable. There really isn't much character development involved in this manga as it jumps from Kengo the ikigami deliverer, to the ones who received the ikigami with nothing connecting the two so you only get to see Kengo again after the guys are dead.

Rating: 3/10