Bakuman 3 4 slipped by me; often when I realize I hadn’t watched a show for a while it’s because I wasn’t looking forward to it, and so I consider dropping it. But I’ve invested too much time in this show to drop it now, and it’s too good. Besides, how will I get by without learning if PCP passed Natural, or even Crow? They take care of that plot point early on, and then the head editor says the obvious: the manga is too popular to cancel. Which is a better way of putting it than “you beat this other manga in one particular week, so we won’t cancel you,” I guess. So now with PCP in no danger of immediate cancellation the show can start seeding the next arc. For a “crisis averted” episode they manage to keep things moving.
Our boys aren’t complacent, but they’re comfortable. Making their manga has become routine enough that they discover they have some limited free time. So you know the show is going to mess with that, first. Shiratori, one of the assistants, decides to make a manga of his own after Mashiro and Takagi encourage him. And since we also visit his home it’s clear that this is going to be one of the strands of the next arc. Shiratori is a good artist but his wealthy parents disapprove, etc. Not very interesting, but it’s already messing with the other plot point. PCP is popular, they get a drama CD (with Miho!) and a novel–but no anime. Hattori bluntly tells them that they won’t get one, either; apparently PCP is corrupting Japan’s youth, which is a noble thing to do but not popular with parents. How will Miho and Mashiro achieve their dream?? Hey, they got time, now. Make another manga series! But Hattori suggests Takagi and Shiratori collaborate on HIS manga … the plot wheels never stop spinning in Bakuman. About the only time they stop to breathe is to give an inspirational speech …
PSYCHO-PASS 4 gives us our first two-parter of the series. It’s hard to make out the point of it yet. We get a missing, later dead man who was a popular online avatar character, yet the avatar is still going strong. Akane, who hangs out in these online places a lot sets up a trap through another avatar, who happens to know way too much about her. But the people behind the murder pick up on it. Two things intrigued me. First, Akane was visiting Talisman, the first avatar and asking him advice on how to handle Shinya, and it looked for a moment like she might have actually gotten that advice from an AI of some sort. Not a new idea, but still one with interesting implications. The other thing is that the murderers are adamant about keeping the victims’ online presences alive, which begs the question: why are they killing them in the first place? Do they feel that the spirits of the avatars are something important to the community and should be left alone? Talisman was supposedly straying from the things that made him popular before the murder, and as for Spooky Boogie, making a deal with the Feds … well… So are they sort of online enforcers of avatar purity, or are they simply covering their tracks? We don’t see much of the murderers, only that they’re rather bloodthirsty, so I figure we’ll get the answer next week.
Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 5 features the two newest girls, though they’re not all that new anymore; it’s been over a season now since they first moved in. But it struck me that we don’t really know all that much about them.
First we turn to Nazuna, the dullest of the main characters, capable of being cute and helpless and that’s about it. Now she has to make dinner for her visiting parents, you remember, the ones who up and left town without her because the father got new work and claimed he’d be helpless without the mother taking care of him. Well, apart from that they’re lovely people and quite proud of their daughter even though they could tell she got extra help with the fried chicken dinner she made for them. It’s interesting that Nazuna turned first to Yuno for help (Yuno spends the entire episode as a side character) instead of Hiro, even if Hiro gets involved pretty quickly. Sure, Hiro is a senior and studying a lot, but maybe Nazuna considers Yuno a more accessible upperclassman. I was also pleased to see that Hiro had Yuno make the miso soup. Yuno HAS learned a few things. It’s also nice that Nazuna actually did most of the cooking herself in the end. It was the rice(!) that did her in. Nazuna is still a dull character, but since everyone else gets involved it didn’t turn out so bad. And Miyako got plenty of leftovers!
The second half had the more interesting combination of Nori and Sae. Apart from brief Natsume moments we rarely see Sae without Hiro around. Here the two spend some time together after Nori has a nightmare. Nori’s more fun than Nazuna, more mature, outgoing, and outspoken. Plus she’s a computer nut, even though she doesn’t save her work (er, excuse me … ctl-s) often enough and uses Shaftsoft Wonders rather than a Mac or Linux distro (Hmm, which character would use which distro, I wonder?). And we learn from their pointless book vs. computer argument that she can be as headstrong and stubborn as Sae, and mature enough to pull back before going too far. But I kept getting distracted by the sparse arrangement of Sae’s room, and the repeating books on her shelf and that poster … what do all those numbers mean?