Howdy howdy. Welcome to my read-through of Bakuman. Today we cover Chapter 14, in which there are multiple graduations, a moment of d’awww cute, and my cold-dead heart gets a little pump of joy. But only a little.
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Without further ado, let’s jump into the weeds of Bakuman Chapter 14: Feast and Graduation.
Feast and To Battle
Having gotten published in Akamaru Jump, Hattori treats Saiko and Shujin to a meal of their choosing. Shujin chooses Korean BBQ and the two go to town. Hattori – now firmly in the fuck Eiji’s shit category – tells them they don’t have a lot of time to celebrate their victory, as they have to go over the storyboards for further editing.
Right after the meal, Hattori breaks down the Akamaru selections – including a Soccer Manga, a gag Manga and other typical Battle Manga – which are all pretty standard. Hattori notes that Eiji will likely be the most popular of the Battle Manga. In the best of all possible worlds, Saiko and Shujin will be competing with Eiji for top dollar.
From this point, Hattori points out panel changes to the storyboard panel by panel (eek). Shujin asks whether they will be dissecting all 45 pages panel by panel, which Hattori confirms. He explains that he also wants to beat Eiji. Shujin asks whether they have a shot at Serialization because of Eiji’s new series
Three Years to a Dream
Hattori explains that he wants them to wait three years to really develop into excellent mangaka and focus on building up their skills. Saiko – thinking about Miho – asks to be potentially serialized if they do better than Eiji. Hattori asks why and notes his opposition to Eiji getting a series at 14. He thinks it will be harmful to the boy’s health and is only for advertising about a high school prodigy.
Saiko does not specify why, but Hattori says if they do well enough with the surveys and they beat Eiji he will consider serialization. The three then continue panel by panel for the remainder of the one-shot, Hattori keeps them past the last train so he orders them a taxi. On the ride home, Saiko observes that, after the meal and the meeting, it felt like they weren’t middle school kids anymore.
Kaya and Shujin hang out, with Kaya admiring the fact that Shujin and Saiko are being published in Jump. Kaya speculates on Miho and Saiko, but Shujin explains it’s unlikely he would tell her considering their vow to each other. Shujin asks why Kaya brought him out here (she doesn’t want their relationship to be known to the public)
Kaya tells him a secret she knows about Miho that she doesn’t want Saiko to know about: Miho’s whole family is moving to Hachioji for her High School. Miho’s father adores her and wants her to be close to home so he’s moving the entire family there. Uhm…
Miho fought the decision, but her father doesn’t want anyone to grope her on the train and to leave before her. The decision was made when she chose her high school.
Shujin asks if that is why Miho told Saiko that they wouldn’t see each other until their dreams came true, which Kaya shuts down. Kaya asks whether she should tell Saiko about it. Shujin asks whether she planned to tell him herself.
Going on a Date
Kaya expresses a wish for both Miho and Saiko to go on a date, or at least hold hands, and how sad it is that they won’t do either before they move. Shujin notes that they’d be unable to say much to each other, but Kaya insists that they could look into each other’s eyes. Shujin agrees, but recognizes it’s neither of their decision.
Kaya pushes on the issue. She believes Miho would agree to a date as a one time thing. They may have their agreement, but any girl would be happy to be asked out. Kaya freaks out more and then makes some crocodile tears to convince Shujin to talk to Saiko about it.
Once she convinces Shujin, they go to the studio. Saiko shuts them down and re-iterates the party line. Kaya calls bullshit and wonders at his stubbornness. She claims to know girls better – which makes sense. Saiko pushes back and says she doesn’t understand and that he knows her better than Kaya.
Saiko wonders about Miho’s move. He knows it isn’t far away but seeing the chocolate pencils she gave him for Valentine’s Day, and remembering Hattori’s words, he shows some fear. He wonders when he will get a series with real panic.
Graduation and the Wait
The day fo their graduation happens. Saiko is focused on how radiant Miho is during the ceremony. Shujin brings Saiko back to earth with their deadline. He also notes how fast three years went by. Saiko ponders about Miho and whether she’s home. Shujin drops a hint that it will take her a while to get home because she’s taking a walk with Kaya.
Saiko hauls ass to get to her and stops right in front of her and Kaya. Kaya – keeping the title funniest character all chapter – darts away, leaving Miho and Saiko alone. Miho prepares to leave before Kaya tells her that Saiko has something to say. Both Saiko and Miho remain paralyzed.
After 30 Minutes of standing (ouch) and doing nothing, Saiko musters up the courage to ask how long she’ll wait. She answers
With that, the chapter Concludes.
I’m not gonna lie, the whole Miho/Saiko dynamic is complicated for me. It’s not that I think there is anything necessarily wrong with like, romantic love, or the need to make love more special by making it romantic in the way they are doing. I just have the brunt of more experience. And a lot more heartbreak.
I know this is a fucking manga, and I’ve touched on this before, but bear with me.
This kind of romantic “I’ll wait forever” for you is a really nice idea. That kind of faithfulness where you will persevere through every odd, no matter how tough, or fierce, and you will both make it to the other side. And once you have achieved that love, it will fulfill you, and complete you. Miho and Saiko have the benefit of being fictional, so there is an actual possibility that they can end up together.
But in my experience, waiting for something like love is a recipe for fucking disaster. You have to strike while the iron is hot or else it can cool, distressingly fast. It reminds me of this song called “The Gift” by the Velvet Underground, in which a young man is smitten with a girl who is devoted to him, only to lose interest and move on. The story is worth a listen
Here ya go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qkM7Tp3IvY
It gets fucked. But that is often how these kinds of stories go.
But this is shonen…
As much as I think a real life version of this would end very much the same way as Taro and Miho’s mother would go (poorly), I can’t help but remember that this story is unlikely to pull that kind of fuckery. Shonen stories are all about the indomitable human spirit and meeting the challenge – whatever it is to win – so i’m just gonna say that… yeah, this is probably a happy ending.
But I’m not sure that’s a great message. Because I’m kind with Kaya on this one (and shujin, but Kaya is so much more fun than him): they need to establish a relationship. I’m sure they are like, perfect, for each other, but also there is a danger in hopeless romanticism. As a former hopeless romantic, I can attest to this.
Just like pursuing a dream job, real relationships take work. And you have to spend time with a person, get to know them. You have to learn how to live with them and come to appreciate them in all their sonder. You can’t just see the person as a romantic ideal, then marry them, and expect to be happy.
This is probably why their psychotic desire to wait until their dreams are fulfilled – aside from being a good conflict engine – is so frustrating. As they get older, they are going to change, and they won’t have memories of the long road taken together. They’ll have to get to know each other.
It is harder than it sounds. It’s very easy to lose faith. And I guess I’m so passionate because I waited for someone, determined that my feelings would overpower the wait; then they didn’t. And then that person moved on too. It is the story of my existence. I waited – maybe I’m still waiting – and that waiting left me alone. And now, as I start to age, I’ve become aware of how atrophied that waiting made me for real connection. Waiting for a connection that will never come has made it harder to establish new connections.
And now I will have no connections to remember – at least romantically – from my youth. And I was like Saiko. I see so much of myself in his behavior.
But that’s also what made me hopeful about this chapter. And this character. there is hope for him to get the girl of his dreams and establish a healthy loving relationship.
As for the rest of this chapter, Kaya was hilarious and aside from the expected (though not desired) fanservice for a MIDDLE SCHOOLER, she was really doing a lot. But there is something else I haven’t really touched on, something that’s central to this chapter.
Forward Career Motion
This chapter really signals the beginning of the story. From this point on the main characters are mangaka. They are going to pursue their dreams and they are going to fight Eiji. I really loved how there was this really involved ritual featuring their editor being a great editor as they have their two graduations: the feast and the ceremony.
It feels very consequential and substantial, and I really love that. I also need to shoutout Mr. Hattori for being a great, responsible editor. I love that he is cognizant of the challenges of being a Mangaka, so much so that he opposes Saiko, Shujin – And Eiji – actually being serialized while still in high school. And the fact that he’s so invested in Saiko and Shujin’s success that he edits their one shot PANEL BY PANEL, man, that’s dedication. But I admire his conviction that they should wait and hone their craft more.
Pursuing dreams is good, and intense, and health matters but is often sidelined in creative industries. The fact that the editor genuinely wants them to have sustainable success tells me he’s a great editor, notwithstanding his editorial devotion to their work.
And I lowkey envy the characters.
The path of film is not the path of Manga; they are both long roads, but there are just as many hurdles. And it’s really thrilling to see characters in the official world, meeting with an editor and moving forward with their dreams. I have similar aspirations with agents, managers et. al, and getting my screenplays read and optioned.
It’s a .ong, hard road, but one that I look forward to.
And finally, the shoneniest part of this chapter: battle with Eiji.
Even non-shonen battle manga can still have a battle component. Again, I admire the framing of manga as a battle to be fought. The idea that editing and drawing can take on the weight of swords and cool magical attacks is more exciting than I can express.
And that leads us into the next chapter. I’ll see you then