Normal, everyday people in episode nines: Chihayafuru, Bakuman II, Working’!!

With Chihayafuru 9 the show has moved from an interesting, complex story about three young people and how their relationships can affect their desires to a more routine show about forming a club with lots of newbies and going for a championship. Not to say it’s going to stay like that. Arata, that absent force behind Chihaya’s passion for karuta, lurks in the background, sending a text message at the end that thrills Chihaya, but not Taichi. But Taichi’s acting oddly too, refusing to let her into his bedroom (or is just because that’s where they hid the cake?). We don’t know exactly what is going on with them. And why does Arata text Taichi and not Chihaya? Other than that the episode is all about training and bonding. The group gets along very well right now. Porky, surprisingly, supports everyone and cheers the loudest when Kana gets her first card. Desktomu is obsessive but not rude. Apart from that there’s the question of the big tournament coming up, where to practice, the miniscule club budget, the things you usually see with club stories, things not really worth writing about. Unless Arata shows up early, the next big thing in the show should be the tournament.

What's up with the weird look the characters get sometimes?

Starting a new creative project is always fun. So many possibilities, nothing seems tired, yet. But in Bakuman II 9, our boys are working for a magazine with a narrow readership and an editor with ideas which may not mesh with theirs. So a lot of scenes here are arguments with Miura. Saiko wants to do a one-shot with the hope of getting it serialized. Miura wants a regular serialization submission, AND he wants a gag manga. And back and forth they go. Little bits like Aoki rejecting Nakai’s confession, and Aoki’s subsequent, charming talk with her would-be new editor give variations on the constraints different manga artists undergo. And in the end our boys pull off a gag manga that’s not funny and a funny manga they want to make dark, and a third piece, and there’s more arguments, more overachieving, and a final challenge. Other highlights include weird facial things, Eiji giving career advice while drooling toothpaste. Typical stuff.

For our third comparatively realistic show today we turn to Working’!! 9, an ordinary, average episode where nothing much gets overdone and everything balances with everything else. At least that’s what the ideal Working!! episode is like. This one’s pretty good. Satou gets to make deadpan reactions to Yachiro’s buying a cell phone, meanwhile her old buddies are spying on her to keep her away from dangerous people. Takanashi’s drunk sister is around to liven things up, Yamada gets mad at Takanashi and runs away, Inami DOESN’T hit anything, and Poplar is hardly seen at all. It’s mostly splendidly timed as usual, though I think they’re in danger of overusing the long pause before the punch line.

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