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Three years and 74 episodes later, we've arrived at the last episode of Bakuman ever.
To say its been a long journey may be understating the experience of watching Bakuman. It has kept me company for the 3 years, 6 seasons and 75 episodes and for that I'm thankful. What I'm even more thankful for is that Bakuman joins the list of series with great final episodes, which in this season is not as surprising.
I'm sure the expectation for this episode was for it to be all about Azuki and Mashiro. The couple have been through hell and more just for the sake of their relationship, so they deserve their moment in the sun. Pretty straightforward right? Not exactly. It wasn't all about Azuki and Mashiro as one might have hoped, but that didn't stop Bakuman from making it as heart-warming and lovely as ever.
Quite frankly, this wasn't just about Ashirogi Muto. The story may have been about them, however it's as much about the minor characters as it was about them. The friends, the enemies, the editors and the department heads all had a hand in the series, making their appearance in the last episode more than acceptable. I've stated how this has been a long journey, and a journey comes with meeting new characters and being exposed to new things because of them. Eventually, they become a part of your journey and not just the spectators. Perhaps the apex of this was Mashiro thanking Kaya for all she has done, and finally acknowledging her role in the entire series. I've voiced some grievances in regards to her diminishing appearances and I understand her being phased out was what happens to less popular characters. Still. There was so much satisfaction to be gained from her acknowledgement.
It was lovely to see the entire cast involved. It made for a nice first half before we got to the long-awaited Mashiro-Azuki love scene. Prior to this we got a few scenes of the Reversi anime - looks a lot like Death Note - fulfilling a desire some fans have harboured, but more on that later. As expected Azuki and Mashiro were as nervous as ever, only speaking coherently a few times. It's still very endearing to see them acting this way, and it was only made better by the kiss at the end of all the awkward situations. A relationship that has stood the test of time deserved this type of ending.
Far from a huge, over-the-top ordeal the moment was kept simple yet brilliant.
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Just when I thought the episode had done enough, it went one step further.
For some fans of the Bakuman manga, the ending wasn't spectacular. I for one really liked what was done, however I can't deny my desire for an epilogue of sorts to bring a little more closure to the series. In many ways, seeing the supporting cast after the end as well as Ashirogi Muto was an addition I welcome.
Hiramaru and Aoki's wedding was the most high-profile epilogue appearance. Excluding Ashirogi Muto, Hiramaru had become a large focus of season three, to the point of getting dedicated episodes. Aside from the married couple, we got a second look at some of the other writers with less screen time and that in itself was enough to remind us about them and feel happy for them.
A happy ending for a series which brings joy. Nothing less from Bakuman.
Bakuman Season 3 Series (Mini) Review
It may have been the most flawed season of the franchise, but season three was still a great watch. The biggest flaws being series composition and directing choices on one or two occasions can be overlooked for the most part, when looking at the series as a whole.
In a perfect world J.C. Staff would have done another, albeit shorter, season of Bakuman. Being stuck with the hard task of compressing the remainder of the manga (80 chapters give or take) into a 25 episode season was definitely challenging for them. So challenging that they didn't get it right in various episodes. It would go too fast and once it even got too cheesy.
It's easy to complain about the flaws, but they in no way should colour the franchise as a whole. To be honest, they weren't even bad enough to put me off the series nor stop me from rating it quite highly. As I said, in a perfect world there would have been another season but even without one we saw a valiant effort be put forth.
Bakuman has been a big part of my anime viewership. It was one of the first manga I completed and just for that, I'm glad to have seen a rather faithful - not 100% mind you - adaptation of a great series. It will most definitely be missed.