Before I proceed, I’ll first clarify that the context of “frenemies” being used here is a certain someone who is both a friend and an enemy. It’s a relationship that is mutually beneficial yet competitive.
Now, I finally completed the second season of Bakuman on a weekend marathon session. While the first season focused on the struggles Saiko and Shujin must overcome in their quest to serialize their manga as well as their partnership, the second season presented another side of manga world – rivalry.
As Saiko and Shujin, pen-name Ashirogi Muto, slowly make their way to the top in the manga publishing industry, they’ve met several other authors along the way. There’s my favorite Niizuma Eiji, who proclaimed Ashirogi Muto as his number one rival, Fukuda-san, Aoki-san, Nakai-san and Hiramaru-san. Each of these individuals are very confident in their own works and always aimed to win, very similar to Saiko and Shujin. It’s really interesting though, to see that instead of engaging in heated rivalry, these mangakas chose to encourage and consult each other in time of need.
Yes, they’re rivals. They said so themselves and it’s plain to see. They challenge each other all the time and might’ve even declared “war” on each other. But it’s amazing to see that each of them fired up in a positive way when they see their fellow mangakas achieved a goal. There’s no signs of jealousy. Envious, maybe. Still, they will turn such emotion into a positive energy that shines through their work, constantly seeking ways to improve themselves and hone their skills. It doesn’t always happen in real life. The normal scenario I can think of and have witnessed is bitter jealousy and hatred, which then often leads to backstabbing and loads of other unwanted tension.
Seeing Ashirogi Muto and frenemies or Team Fukuda as they call themselves working alongside each other is inspiring. Knowledge is meant to be shared. Like in Aoki-san’s case. She’s having trouble drawing panty-shots and Fukuda-san, despite not liking her, offered to coach her. Also, she and Shuji exchanged ideas and experiences so that they are able to produce storyline for each of their respective projects. Depending on the culture one grew up in, sharing knowledge isn’t necessarily welcomed. Knowledge is power and a formidable weapon so the thought of sharing it with someone who is your rival is highly discouraged.
When Nakai-san has given up and settled in his comfort zone, his rivals popped in to give words of encouragements and constantly remind him of what his actual life dream really is. Besides that, when Ashirogi Muto has fallen in their work quality, Eiji used his own method to ignite once again the burning desire within the duo just so they could compete with him again at a higher level. And then, there’s the boycott of Jack publishing company when Ashirogi Muto was forced to go on hiatus until they finish high school. Isn’t one less rival the better? Apparently not for these guys. Pretty cool. Again depending one’s culture and personality, it would’ve been easier and advisable to just ignore a person who’s given up on himself and not poking noses into other people’s business. Cold and cruel? That’s real life, unfortunately.
Personally, I’d love to have a few frenemies. Being rivals, they know best what we’re fighting for because our final destination is the same. They understand our dreams, whatever it may be. The advice given might even be better. However, whether frenemies work in real life or not, I don’t have the answer for it. Bakuman made it looks like something precious to have…