Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – Bakuman vs. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

From Milky Holmes

 

Both of these anime come from the capable hands of J.C. Staff but one was hyped, Bakuman, whereas the other, Milky Holmes, was ignored and/or derided (include me in the ignored category). One is a shounen anime and the other is a shoujo anime. One sets itself in a fantasy alternative-history Japan and the other sets itself in a realistic modern Japan. The two really don’t seem to have anything in common outside of the animation studio but watching one reminded me of the other and vice versa so I’m going to roll with it and review them together.

Bakuman

Rating for episode 15/12 C+
Rating for episode 2
4/12 C
Rating for episode 3
4/12 C
Anticipation Level:
0.5/5 Very Low

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

Rating for episode 17/12 B
Rating for episode 2
7/12 B
Anticipation Level:
2.5/5 Average


The Story

In Bakuman, we follow the efforts of two middle school boys as they aim to become published manga artists and have their manga turned into an anime by the age of 18. On the surface this seems very, very unlikely except one is already winning national writing competitions and the other is a gifted artist that had an uncle that was a manga author (mangaka). To add urgency to their quest, one of the boys proposes marriage to the girl he likes and she accepts under the condition of they make a manga that gets turned into an anime and that she gets to voice a character in that anime (she wants to be a voice actress when she grows up).

The world of Milky Holmes is an alternative 20th century world where people are born with magical abilities and these ability users become either gentlemen thieves or great detectives (making the cops look like the Keystone Cops as a result). The Holmes Detective Academy (HDA) is where the future great detectives learn their craft and the most promising group at HDA is a 4 female group known as Milky Holmes. As the curtain raises on episode 1 we find out that our heroes, Milky Holmes, have mysteriously lost their powers and are now on the cusp of getting expelled from HDA.

The Fine Print

Marvel of marvels, Bakuman is the tiresome one to watch and Milky Holmes is the entertaining one.

And what's up with all the scenes of characters talking with only one eye open?

The biggest problem with Bakuman is a combination of it’s main characters and how the story is unfolding. There’s been zero character development in three episodes that makes either of the main characters into anything other then snot-nose brats. At their best I find the duo of would-be mangaka very unsympathetic as main characters and at their worst I actively loathe them and hope they’re unsuccessful in their dreams of becoming published manga artists. At this stage of the story, I can stand the main characters if it looked like the trials and tribulations of becoming mangaka would drive the main characters into becoming more mature and better all-around people, like in Spirited Away, but that doesn’t appear likely. Instead, everything is lining up perfectly and just being handed to them – is there any doubt how this series is going to end??? They might as well queue a montage sequence of the boys writing a manga, having it become huge and the girl doing vocal work on the anime adaptation and ending with a white wedding in a cute Western-style chapel that seems to abound in manga/anime.

Milky Holmes, on-the-other-hand, has four main characters used to having everything perfect for them until they lose their power and become the school screw-ups. This turn of events has already made for a more interesting show and will continue to make a more interesting show. Will the four members of Milky Holmes regain their powers and their place as top detectives or if they learn to become detectives without relying on their special powers or will they get kicked out of HDA and never become detectives? The show could go in any of these three directions or some other direction but however it turns out, it’s a more interesting show and the characters are going to end up being more interesting, more watchable and more likeable.

The crew of Milky Holmes now only rate a really old desk to use.

I have enjoyed both episodes of Milky Holmes and see myself remaining interested in it for the season. I’m not really a fan of shoujo but I have finished Kobato and will finish Kaichou wa Maid-sama when a certain sub group that I love gets it done (no pressure 🙂 ) so I know I can enjoy shoujo series when they don’t rely on clichés of the subgenre. For me, the biggest impedance to Milky Holmes from receiving real high marks is it’s genre. I dislike myself for that being the case but in my defense, at least I’m trying to make allowances for my personal bias in this review.

At least one thing I won’t have to worry about with Milky Holmes is getting offended by sexist writing like in Bakuman. I read this article before watching episode 2 (but after episode 1)  of Bakuman and knew the scene where the Mom relays the Dad’s words “Men have dreams that a woman wouldn’t understand,” to the son as the Dad’s way of telling his son that it’s perfectly okay for a middle school student to become a manga artist was coming up. I reserved judgment till I saw the actual episode and now that I saw it, I have to concur – that’s an incredibly sexist and demeaning thing to say and it really gets my blood boiling when I think about it.

Which turns out to be the final nail needed for me to decide to drop Bakuman and as soon as I get a couple of screenshots for this post – I’ll delete the episodes off my hard drive and feel good about doing it.

The one area – animation style – that might have gotten me to watch a few more episodes of Bakuman turned out to be another disappointment. It’s J.C. Staff’s watercolor look but it’s the most generic, stripped down, dull version of this style that I’ve seen in a very long time from them. Compare Bakuman to Otome Youkai Zakuro, another show done in the same style, and the differences are so glaringly obvious. Heck, even Milky Holmes which obviously received a smaller budget and can’t compete in terms of animation quality has been more visually interesting.

So, in conclusion, Bakuman is getting dropped and Milky Holmes is surprisingly entertaining and has earned a spot on my watch list. I like Milky Holmes enough that I recommend everyone giving it a one episode chance (though if you only watch one episode you’ll miss the adorable cat named Fish Paste that appears in the second episode).

 

Mom from Bakuman and that's it for Bakuman screenshots.
Fish Paste from Milky Holmes

I seem to remember reading somewhere how in shoujo the female villians always have a large chest. That holds up here as well.
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4 thoughts on “Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – Bakuman vs. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes”

  1. Glad other people are giving Milky Holmes a chance. (and enjoying it)

    I think you nailed it with the comment about how each respective plot is unfolding. Milky Holmes is doing a good job messing with the expectations of the watcher. Bakuman is unfolding rather generically. (though I’m still watching in hopes it actually gets good)

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  2. From my experience, anime set in the modern world that isn’t slice of life, can get really tricky. Like Gantz and what not. There’s too much unoriginality going on. It’s like the modern world constrains the limits of the creative author’s vision and makes them all Drek.

    And the strong point of anime was always its diversity and willingness to pave new roads. They can’t easily do that while constrained to the “modern vision” of the world.

    Not to mention the modern vision of the world kind of sucks right now.

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  3. Interesting take. I agree with you that Bakuman doesn’t seem to have the same resources Art-wise. This is one of the interesting developments in this season; as a result, Otome Youkai Zakuro has been a real treat.

    I, however am still interested in Bakuman, because I’m very interested in the content (description of the process of setting up a career as a mangaka). For me a montage sequence would be insufficient detail. I hope there will be a fair amount of explanation of special terms and detailed art of the tools that are used in the process. There was already some of this (especially in episode 3), so I feel pretty confident that we will see this along the way.

    With Milky Homes, I just don’t care if the girls get their magical powers back. That might be an over-hasty decision (it was based on seeing only one episode), and you make a compelling argument in terms of artwork, but I still don’t care about their magic powers. Then again, that’s what makes series end reviews so interesting, if Milky Homes turns out to have had an amazing plot, I’ll get to re-evaluate my interest in watching the show.

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  4. I think the excessive moe in Milky Holmes kind of turned some people off. I decide to watch it and it was pretty cute and fun… like K-ON, but with more ditziness. Sure the girls do things that normal people won’t do, but I find this as a driving factor of the comedy. Also, the villains are so out of wrack, especially Twenty that vaguely reminds me of TK from Angel Beats…

    As for Bakuman, I won’t touch it with a 10 feet pole since I heard it had some sexist content, which I don’t like.

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