So I’ve literally just stopped half way through Bakuman Season 2 episode 3 with the fear that the opinion that I’m basing this post on will fade away shortly after I finish watching the episode. Today’s post is a WhatTyThink Mini on the Character of Nakai in JC Staff’s adaptation of the manga Bakuman. This type of post will be akin to that of a character analysis or evaluation where I give you guys the rundown of what I think about the character that is Nakai Takuro.
Before I begin I would like to say that this analysis is for season 1’s depiction of Nakai meaning that whichever direction his characterisation goes post season 1 is irrelevant. What prompted me to do this is that when I first watched Bakuman, I wasn’t watching it with the critical attention that I am giving now meaning that I’ve noticed a lot more about the show than I did in the previously. With that said, let’s begin. * EDIT I forgot to mention I’m rewatching it*
Character (motivations, age & appearance, relationships etc)
Nakai Takuro is the oldest character among Team Fukuda (age 33) with a gift for art. Among the cast he is one of the most experienced in drawing, however he has yet to have his breakthrough serialization in Shounen Jack and has become desperate for his chance to shine. He’s a chubby character and his main quirk is his romanticised view on youthful competition/rivalry.
A Grown Up still searching for the Spring Time of Youth
Nakai is my least favourite character in season 1 of Bakuman because he represents the future of the “hopeless dreamer” archetype that I love. Essentially Nakai is what could happen if Luffy never becomes Pirate King or if Naruto never became Hokage – I say “could” because thankfully the mangaka’s don’t show us this timeline of disappointment. Firstly his design suggests to me that he doesn’t take care of his body, which could be interpreted as him not having time to stay healthy because he’s on his grind creating manga. However I don’t think that’s consistent with his actions throughout the season which I will soon talk about. I really dislike the idea that his design is synonymous with his dedication to the pen because my own ideal is that: a person who doesn’t even take care of himself shouldn’t be trusted as the face of a company like Jack, for example. The fact that he’s a 33 year old man getting distracted by the youth’s affairs with each other is really disturbing. I would expect a man who has apparently set his heart on the bigger picture of becoming a mangaka for so many years of his life to come across as more experienced in it all. Yet he acts like this is the first time he’s ever seen it and that makes me wonder… what has he been doing all this time?
Since Nakai was introduced to Aoki, I’ve felt obliged to question Nakai’s true motives in drawing manga. Desperation exudes from Nakai. The type of desperation that he exudes doesn’t suggest a yearning for success in industry but for women a field he evidently fails in. His moments with Aoki are repulsive and appeasing; he agrees with everything she does without hesitation which is very disturbing. It seems as is Aoki is the only woman to have ever entered his life in a very long time. What makes this so cringey to view is that they hardly know each other since Aoki is strictly professional and clearly isn’t interested in him in both a platonic way and a romantic way. Everything that Nakai does is for Aoki rather than for his own success in Jack – he doesn’t seem focused on manga, what he’s trained his life on, instead, he just seems desperate for some more immediate form of success. He sees Aoki as his ticket to success in everything – in romance and manga. It’s like he’s spent so much of his life as a failure that the one time he gets close to success – in this case getting a girlfriend – he focuses on that and clings to it. Nakai has clearly mistaken “love” for “lust” and he’s using the energy of his feelings to motivate him to appease Aoki by drawing good mana. Some might compare Nakai to Mashiro in that both are doing this to get a girl. However this motivation is of a different kind. Mashiro is working towards his dream of being a managaka and having his ideal wife – a woman who is successful and of the same stature as he – a companion, whereas Nakai is desperate to become successful at anything. Even Nakai doesnt love himself he wants Aoki to love him for him and at the same time be his success story. It seems like he lacks confidence in everything but drawing and so he NEEDS Aoki’s reliance on him to feel good about himself. He kisses up to her in hopes that she’ll keep him around. Instead of the two being reliant on each other’s individual strife (like Mashiro and Azuki are) Nakai is reliant on Aoki whereas Aoki can just get a new artist.
It is this lack of self-confidence and desperation that lends to him coming across as a pathetic character. I hope that as I watch more of this he becomes a bit more likable – although from what I remember he doesn’t change too much.