Greetings all, my lovelies and power-hungry mad peoples to my read-through of Bakuman. Today we’re covering Chapter 9, in which I express some disgust, and geek out over the sausage getting made, among other things.
If you would like to start from Chapter 1, please click here for the index. This read-through only has spoilers up through the chapter I have read, so if you’re reading for the first time we’re in the dark together.
If you’re one of the cool kids or want to be one, please consider subscribing to Shonen Jump and support mangaka who be hustlin’ to make monies. It is cheap (1.99) and you get to read a metric fuckton of manga at your leisure. I am not sponsored by Viz Media or Shonen Jump. I’m just a fan of having people who make art get paid cash-money for said art. If you don’t want a subscription, buy a tankobon volume of the series.
A note on naming: last week I elected to use Akira Hattori’s last name because it felt right. I’ll do my best to be consistent with naming practices, and virtually all characters will be referred to by their first name; but if it feels more right to use their surname, I will do so.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on Bakuman Chapter 9: A Condition and Going to Tokyo.
Saiko and Shujin discuss their meeting with Hattori after leaving the Shonen Jump offices. Both resolve to do better, while they lament the draft they submitted. Shujin asks about how Saiko’s class setup goes. Saiko says he’s not getting nauseous, but they’re still sitting quietly. Regardless, he’s happy.
One day, during a lecture, Saiko scribbles a sketch of their teacher, which makes Miho giggle. Saiko – who is not old enough to have any chill – starts writing cute little notes to Miho with abandon.
At the Jump Editorial office, Hattori watches the Editor-In-Chief prepare to leave to meet with Eiji Nizuma. Hattori asks his friend why the Editor-In-Chief would take such a risk on a 15-year-old. His friend explains that the comic Eiji submitted for the Tezuka award ranked highly in the reader’s survey, and he submits great comics to every subsequent competition. Hattori expresses amazement at his ability.
His friend goes on to point out that with the pace Eiji has, a weekly serialization is feasible…and it makes for good marketing to have a “high school prodigy” as part of the team. So, the editor-in-chief is going to meet him personally.
He is brought back to reality by his co-worker who asks him to submit Saiko and Shujin’s draft to the August’s Treasure Rookie Award.
After a breakdown of how the Jump Editorial Office is set up, Hattori narrates that friendly competition between editorial teams is common to bring out the best in each other. Hattori does not want to submit the Two Earths because he doesn’t want to inflate Saiko and Shujin’s egos for a meaningless award. He also doesn’t want it to lose. Ultimately, he wants to take his time with them.
To Break A Vow?
Three days with Miho and Saiko notes how much he loves Miho and wants to be by her side forever. He reminisces on their promise and asks in a note whether they want to actually wait until their dreams come true. Miho starts crying in class – for which she makes an excuse about a dead dog – and Saiko feels like an asshole because he implies they can’t achieve their dreams. Breaking the vow solves the problem
After class though, Miho provides her email address. Saiko is ambivalent about it. Shujin thinks that she gave it to him because she likes him and wants to be with him forever too, but Saiko thinks it’s sketchy. He also wonders why Saiko is overthinking if they’re on the same frequency (heh). Saiko says the closeness is messing up the connection (hehe).
That night, Saiko goes to her place, ready to write an email. But he finds himself unable to do so. The next day he writes a note explaining he’ll email her after their seating arrangements change again and once he has become a Manga Artists and regardless of her success as a voice actress (jeez dude).
Miho cries a bit about, but Saiko thinks she takes it well and resolves never to make her cry again.
Shujin Ain’t No Fool
As opposed to Saiko’s initial plan to work on their next piece for a year, he asks whether Shujin would consider submitting for the Tezuka award at the end of the month. Shujin thinks it’s crazy, but Saiko is determined to do it. Saiko lays out logistics, but Shujin points out that they should take their time and make their work excellent, especially considering they have an editor who wants to read their work.
Saiko finally relents and notes his selfish reasoning for wanting to move quickly: he wants to see Miho smile as quickly as possible, like when they initially set out on the journey. He is doing this to make Miho smile. Shujin ponders whether they should do it when Hattori calls.
Hattori informs them that their story missed out on making the shortlist for the August award. Saiko and Shujin are bummed a bit, but Shujin is ultimately glad. Shujin points out that the award is ultimately meaningless with just a small imprint on the magazine and that it would be too embarrassing to show off. He then promises to win the next Tezuka awards.
Shujin tells Saiko that they’re going to make Miho smile and win the Tezuka Award.
The Editor-In-Chief is in Aomori speaking with Eiji’s parents, who have consented to his move to Tokyo. Eiji is working on Manga and has One Condition for his move to Tokyo.
The Editor-In-Chief thinks this is a dick move (as well he should) and his assistant thinks its rash, but Eiji wants it to be his motivation to be the best. The Editor-In-Chief notes that if, after being a professional, he still feels that way, he’ll consider letting Eiji. Eiji agrees to go to Tokyo.
The Editor-In-Chief wonders if Eiji is being childish or testing him and the chapter concludes.
Fuck this guy.
Ok. It took exactly one panel for me to be done with this Rival’s bullshit. This kid can take his brush and shove it up his ass. Holy fuck what a dick.
There is something incredibly impressive about being able to so perfectly make someone completely hateable in a relatable human way in exactly one panel, but Eiji Nizuma: fuck you.
Because honestly, canceling a series because you want to be the very best like no one ever was? How much of a fucking asshole do you have to be to have the literal embodiment of artistic death be your driving motivation?
It makes me angry that someone would be motivated by something so selfish and mean. But that’s just me. It does speak to the writer’s knowledge of effective trope use because now we have a virtually perfect rival for Saiko.
Think about it. Saiko is pursuing the craft of Manga because of his love for Miho, and this chapter goes to great lengths to show how important she is to his motivation for becoming a mangaka.
Like, this scene represents a failure of character for Saiko to even suggest:
Because love is such a central push for his character to be successful. Just giving up because it’s convenient is antithetical to his drive.
Which now that I mention it, is worth noting:
Sex and Death: the most powerful motivators
Sex and death are regularly paired as thematic opposition to each other because they represent two core human experiences: Creation and Destruction; commencement and cessation; beginning and end; alpha omega…you get it.
So it does make sense that the writers would make Eiji’s strongest desire be that of artistic death. Because you gotta have thematic opposition reflect character motivation, my dude. And if Saiko is all about making the girl of his dreams smile, then you gotta have his rival want to murder his opponents commercially.
And it also allows for a richer complexity to Eiji’s character. As the editor-in-chief notes, it’s unclear why he has such a fucked-up desire, but there may be more to it than callow youthful whimsy. So, despite the fact that Eiji can straight fuck himself because he is officially the absolute worst, he is a compelling character and tracking his competition with Saiko should be interesting.
Shujin flexin’ & Hattori is getting likable.
I think this is the first chapter where Shujin’s intellect really shines. As opposed to previous chapters where his intellect is alluded to, more than displayed, here it’s in full force. Despite being outside the manga industry, he knows it well enough to realize the award his work was submitted for is absolute bullshit.
And that also makes Hattori more likable for me. Not because he thinks their work is bullshit, but because he actually wants Saiko and Shujin to improve their craft. His hesitance to submit them to an award reflects a pragmatism that Saiko got a whiff of last chapter and, honestly, it’s great.
Because Hattori does have faith in their abilities to improve and wants to get them there. Inflating egos too early would be detrimental to their growth, especially for such low hanging fruit. So seeing that internal debate was quite nice, and bolsters my faith in Saiko’s….faith.
And Shujin recognizing it too and telling it to Hattori’s face. It gives a nice reference point for how well Shujin thinks things out, which makes his heel-turn at the end of the chapter very wholesome if a bit troubling.
The Sausage Getting Made
I haven’t really spoken much about it yet, but I really enjoy these little behind-the-scenes peeks at the Manga industry. I always love seeing how the sausage gets made in industry (mostly for practical reasons) and this is one of the joys of this series. From what I understand, this is a very accurate representation of the Manga industry, so to see this panel makes me happy:
Because it really gives a sense of verisimilitude and adventure. Getting to see what the process is always thrilling, for me at least.
And with that, I leave you until next time. Keep your vows, do things for the sake of love, and draw draw draw