[gallery columns="4" ids="10802,10803,10798,10804,10801,10800,10797,10799"]
Who would have thought getting what you wanted would cause you more grief? Well. This is Bakuman.
There is always drama afoot in this series when it comes to Ashirogi reaching their goal. Be it illness, content or personal aspirations, they've been cut off at the finish line countless times. This in itself is a formula the series has adapted, and by now you shouldn't be surprised by it. If you are tired with this plot development, there is a silver lining: it's about Azuki.
More than the previous two seasons, the female leads have taken smaller roles. Kaya's participation in Bakuman is essentially background, and Azuki hasn't been shown in quite some time. It's only appropriate that now we get back to her. Mashiro's done his part, and now is the time for Azuki to prove the fruits of her labour. Were it to happen any other way, it wouldn't feel right.
With all of the commentary and insight we've received into the manga industry, it's nice to see Bakuman expanding the scope. Past episodes have shown us the respect mangaka are paid in the anime creation process, however we've never gone past that. This episode shows us what it's like to be a seiyuu (voice actor), in particular, a popular "idol" seiyuu. Especially when controversy is involved.
Being an anime fan, I must admit I was never all that interested in the seiyuu. I've come to appreciate some of them, but for the most part I'm clueless and rely on other bloggers who do take more of an interest. One thing I do know, is that a seiyuu life is just as hard as a mangaka's. An industry as hard to break into and more volatile, seiyuu have it hard and in some cases, they have it harder than the mangaka. In Azuki's case, she's popular enough to receive much of the public attention, which makes her a bigger target whenever her personal life is brought up. Even if she's done nothing wrong - both Mashiro and Azuki strongly believe so - her personal life will be scrutinised.
Certainly this episode covered the witch hunt one could go through. It could have done a better job in explaining some of the finer details of how the event transpired, but that is the bi-product of lack of time. Whilst this did harm the new obstacle, it didn't stop Azuki shining through and displaying her strength. She too has been fighting for her dream. Be it on or off camera, she's been an important part of Bakuman.
Her decision to do what she did was just delightful. Aside from showing us her strength, it was a nice display of romance I so fondly miss. Innocent yet unforgiving, her declaration on the airwaves was a touching moment for the episode. Mashiro's phone call, not so much. It was a nice sentiment, yet I wasn't all that impressed with it - just felt unnecessary - given how desperate he came off. Again, a lot of this has to do with the omissions from the manga and awkward pacing, but his call just didn't cinch it for me like it should have.
Luckily for us, this isn't the last we see from Azuki. With Bakuman ending in three episodes, you can count on at least the next one being all about her. More than fine by me!
Bakuman Episode 23 Preview
[gallery columns="4" ids="10805,10806,10807,10808"]