Final Review: Bakuman 3

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

As the name implies, Bakuman 3 is third season of the Bakuman franchise that began running in 2010. As it is the third season of a long running title, I will skip most of the introduction since viewers watching at this point are either completionists or obviously fans of the series. Bakuman 3 began airing in Fall 2012 and ran for 25 episodes to end in March 2013. Unlike the first two series, Bakuman 3 was neither simulcasted nor licensed for release in the US. The first season was licensed and partially released in the US before dropping the licensed. The second season was licensed but never released prior to the dropping of the license. Note: I have completed reading the manga prior to watching this series so there may be some bias in my review.

As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” Bakuman is romance, slice of life series with a shounen twist thrown in. The third season continues immediately where Bakuman 2 left off with very little time spared on “flashbacks” to help audience members recall the cliffhanging events. Having read the manga, I can say I’m not too happy with the way the third and final season was adapted. The basic story is there but a lot of arcs were thrown out that would help expand on a number of character relationships, including the protagonists’. To keep it simple, pacing was garbage. The drama and emotion that built up in season 2 was effectively perfect, covering about 2-3 chapters of the manga per episode while keeping the story flowing quite nicely. Season 3 had us covering close to 5 chapters per episode if not skipping/jumping volumes at time. The strongest aspects of Bakuman and Bakuman was the gradual development and buildup of events as it really keeps the suspense going while flushing out various bits and pieces of characters. Here? A lot of it is missing, particularly in the final stretch of Reversi vs. Zombie Gun and Miho’s scandal. I recall these being very interesting events while reading the manga as they are too some degree realistic. Yet, the series rushes right past them in 2-3 episodes as if nothing had happened.  Contrasting to the previous seasons where events occurred over a longer period of time, it didn’t really allow the emotion, build up, and/or results of the third season to sink in properly. That said, Bakuman 3 doesn’t lose its touch entirely but its certainly lacking the impact it used to have considering it is competing with Chihayafuru for the second year in a row.

Art has generally remained unchanged between the second and third seasons. Character designs and animation seem to have slipped in quality every now and then, which is surprising when you consider the amount of shows J.C. Staff was working on in one season around this time last year (hint, think A-1 Pictures this season). Regardless, this is one of the more enjoyable J.C. Staff titles as of late, especially when you look at its same season competition the last two seasons (e.g. Little Busters!, Dangerous Jii-san, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo), the latter of which is still okay though but more on that in another review.

Music wise, OP1 is okay but doesn’t really fit with the series. OP2 is terrible despite by Hyadain, but to some extent fitting with the series. I still prefer Dream of Life from season 2 as the best OP. ED1 is good by sphere but I definitely prefer Tommy Heavenly6’s ED from season 2. ED2 is by a surprising JAM PROJECT. It’s a song that is generally slow for them yet still decent. Background music and sound effects have not changed since season 2. Seiyuu also hasn’t changed. If anything, Saori Hayami continues to only impress me even more.

Enjoyment? Coming into the series, I expected a 4th season to wrap things up given they were only half way through the manga and especially since the latter half of the manga is where things really got good. Unfortunately, J.C. Staff and co. often likes to ruin parties and end their franchises with 3 seasons (I’m looking at you Shakugan no Shana). Bakuman fell into the same trap. As a result, I can’t say I’m too impressed with some of the stuff that was left out vs. others that were kept in. There were far more interesting developments that could have occurred in the middle and the staff mostly chose the most random ones. The series definitely lost me around the turn of the season until Reversi finally kicked in as well as the series’s final arc. The finale wasn’t bad but I was hoping they would at least stretch it out a little more given its “significance.”

Overall, Bakuman has had quite the 75 episode journey over the past 2.5 years. Some people don’t really classify the series as a shounen title due to the lack of action, but personally, I think it’s one of the better titles, especially when you consider titles like Bleach only serves to troll you now until the end of time. Bakuman shows that you don’t need an overly long series to get a good series. 20 volumes is a lot but it really flushes out a fair amount of detail in each volume and makes each one an interesting read (though the Tanto arc in the manga was terrible whereas the anime was actually okay). The story is generally streamlined with a few sidetracks every now and then to really development all the characters introduced. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed Bakuman due to its (ironically) “down-to-Earth” approach. Good shounen titles don’t have to be all battle is basically the moral of the story here and while the anime adaptation is far from perfect, it’s better than 70-80% of the other titles that aired over the last 2-3 years.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Quick from the get go
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Same as usual
  • Character Development (1/2): Its there, but much weaker this time.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Weak cast this time. Bigger focus on the big-shots yet continues to reintroduce supporting/new cast at seemingly awkward moments.
  • Pacing: (0/1): Lousy
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Same as usual
  • Conclusion (1/1): I know the conclusion in advance and am generally satisfied given how much the middle was butchered.
  • Total: 7.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Hasn’t changed much since season 2
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Same as season 2
  • Fluidity (1/2): Inconsistencies.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Same as season 2. More interesting art styles.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): One of J.C. Staff’s better animated titles lately.
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): OP1 not fitting but okay. OP2 fitting but not okay. ED1 and 2 are fine.
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Above average
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Above average
  • Seiyuu (3/3): Love it.
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Still got a kick out of most episodes despite know what happened next.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Weak hooks. Too jumpy and lacking in pacing. Lost interest for a bit around half way.
  • Presentation: (1.5/2): No flashbacks to help viewers recall some events of previous season(s) may hurt some.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): As a 75 episode series run it’s good. Season 3 alone, not really since the manga has better content
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): Same creator of Death Note. Chihayafuru and NANA are josei versions of Bakuman to some degree. Welcome to the NHK is likely the most unique in this genre. Genshiken is the comedy version of this series.
  • Value (1/1): Bakuman is unique per say but could be called best in class. Above recommendations utilize bits and pieces of what Bakuman does and vice-versa. Bakuman would fall into the shounen aspect of this overarching category.
  • Total: 7.5/10

Preliminary Score: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

 

Season 1: 8/10

Season 2: 9/10

Season 3: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

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