Hi there, peoples and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 25: Jealousy and Love, in which I muse about my own teenage years, and which things have changed, and which things very much have not.
If you are not caught up, please check out this index over here. It has all previous read-throughs up to this chapter. Fear not, dear reader, there are no spoilers past the current chapter.
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Without further ado, the chapter
Jealousy and Love: Summary
Feminine Wiles & Cell Phone Novels
Saiko quits his job as Eiji Nizuma’s assistant and jubilantly runs back home to find old Manga he drew as a kid. He remembers one character he loved who he thinks Shujin will work wonders on. He thanks Fukuda and Eiji for the inspiration.
Kaya “innocently” invites Shujin to her house while neither her parents nor her younger brother is home. She brings him into her room, clearly, she has no toraburu planned for poor Shujin. Shujin realizes this is his first time in a girl’s room…alone. Kaya tells him that her Cell Phone Novel has received attention from two companies already.
Shujin questions the “my” part of it: he wrote most of it (poor boy got it bad). She reads the acceptance letter regarding A Love Apart. Shujin is miffed by her taking credit for what he ghostwrote. She demands the next chapter. Shujin deflects: He has storyboards to do for his work. He also completely misses the point when he says that if she wanted to tell him about the novel, she didn’t have to invite him to room alone.
Kaya, on point, gets all pouty faced and tells him she wanted to share the news with him in person. Shujin asks why they didn’t go to his place. She points out his older brother’s around and she hugs him, making sure to smoosh him properly so that she makes sure he doesn’t miss the point.
Finally getting it – and I imagine some intense blood flow – he jumps off and reflects on how it’s easier to type on the computer. Shujin, desperately, tries to get out of doing anything and explains his frustration in coming up with a battle manga. He offers to help a little bit. Kaya then offers her laptop for him to write.
He balks, and she wonders if he wants to be with her. He says he does and she says they can work together here. Shujin is surprised that the companies were so eager for the story, given how little effort he put into it.
Kaya wonders at how he didn’t try and he thinks it may have to do with the fact that he used Saiko and Miho as reference. Then Kaya pulls out the dirtiest of tricks and rubs up against him chest first, begging him to work on his Manga at her house until her parents return. The sly little minx.
Shujin sees the submission form for the Cell Phone Novel and sees that you can submit multiple genre of novel. He seems to have an idea in mind as he looks at the genre.
Saiko’s Characters & Jealousy
Saiko returns home and gives the little money he received from his gig as an assistant to his mother and asks to give it to grandpa; he promises he will pay the rent and everything else someday. His mother goes to the cupboard and grabs out a copy of Akamaru and looks at his submission The World Is All About Money and Intelligence; she asks him what he wants for dinner, much to Saiko’s confusion.
Saiko rifles through his textbooks from elementary school and looks at his old textbooks and marvels at his suckitude: Overconfidence Hero, Super-Confidence Man. He then leaves things a little less on the nose to find The World of Shady People. He keeps looking for a specific character who isn’t Sherlock Homeless. A shame really
He then finds it: Con-Detective Hikake: A con artist who cons criminals into giving evidence of their crimes for a flat rate of a million dollars. Saiko’s art has much improved and he’s pleased with the character, sure Shujin can make the idea amazing. Saiko is thrilled also because of how classic detective manga are – Lupin III anyone? –and he remembers seeing lots of Detective Novels at Shujin’s house.
He calls up Shujin, confident in Shujin’s ability to make something out of it. Shujin is typing up a novel, while…Kaya watches.
Shujin answers the phone and hears Miyoshi’s voice, she wants to tell him that her dream came true. Shujin explains that two companies have reached out to Kaya to write more cell-phone novels. Shujin thanks him and Miho for the inspiration. Saiko is hurt at the mention of his work on her cell phone novel.
Twisting the knife, unintentionally, Shujin explains that Miho is unbelievably popular on the internet. Saiko hears typing as he talks. He asks where he is. Shujin explains he is at Kaya’s place, alone. Shujin asks how the storyboard is going and leaves us with this devastating panel.
Saiko is disappointed in what is evidently their manga taking second place to Kaya’s dreams. But he tries to remain hopeful that Shujin will follow through. He ponders Con Detective Hikake and reiterates to himself that he needs to trust Shujin. Shujin asks what’s wrong.
Saiko asks whether he’ll get it done by the end of summer break and Shujin says yeah, but also to wait a little more. He’s busy right now and he’ll contact Saiko when he’s done. Saiko has to trust Shujin and tells himself he can talk about the detective manga if the storyboards aren’t any good.
The Grueling Wait & Jealousy (Part 2)
To kill time, Saiko continues practicing drawing illustrations for a battle manga but hopes to write a detective story with Shujin (d’aww). He does this for four weeks (eek), waiting for storyboards. With three more days left of summer break he calls Shujin again to clear things up, although nervous and hopeful that’s alone.
Shujin isn’t alone. He’s at an internet cafe with Kaya with Kaya bringing him tea while he works on her dream….Saiko is taken aback at this but asks about their storyboards. Shujin explains that the storyboards will be ready by the end of summer. Saiko freaks out: summer is almost over.
Saiko asks the hard question: why is he always spending time with Miyoshi. He answers honestly: he wants to. Saiko balks that that isn’t an excuse to neglect their work. Shujin gets pissed: he has been working on the storyboards when he is able. Saiko pushes him and accuses him of neglecting storyboards.
Shujin pushes back and points out that Kaya and his relationship is perfectly healthy and there is nothing wrong with spending time with the person you like; that’s how normal people do things. He emphasizes that Saiko’s hopelessly romantic schtick is the weird version of things.
Saiko ends the conversation pointing out their deadline. Saiko mulls over Shujin’s rebuke. He knows he’s right. So he sends a text asking “Why are you ok with not seeing me?
The Torturous Wait
Saiko spends an anxious night in bed: Miho hasn’t answered which is not like her usual immediate replies. He feels like Miho is drifting away while Shujin gets closer to Kaya. Miho on her part and thinks that she’d probably enjoy being in a normal relationship and she would drop everything to do so; she’d even ask her dad to move back to Yakusa if that happened.
But she knows that’s not the answer he needs and that Saiko would apologize for ruining her life. He gets an answer that morning and performs an Eiji-Pose looking at the answer.
She wants to wait:
Saiko recognizes that she used the term love for their future and he is reignited (again) to pursue manga; he’ll do something if Shujin doesn’t pull through, no matter what. He looks on in Determined Shonen face.
The chapter ends with Shujin explaining to Kaya not to tell either Miho or Saiko that he’s working on a Detective Manga, not a battle manga because Saiko is hung up on a battle manga, but he thinks he can come up with a great detective story…the only problem is he has to do it in…2 days.
Jealousy and Love: Reaction
Panel of the Week
The frontispiece really sold this chapter to me. There was a moment several chapters ago where Hattori pointed out that Saiko’s art doesn’t move. I think Takeshi Obata thinks that of his art to a certain extent because the motion in this chapter was ridiculously fluid.
There were so many crisp motion panels this week but I think this panel of Saiko running through the page is just so. damn. effective. He literally feels like he’s coming out of the page. The crazed look on his face and the happy images of his youth drawing manga fly by him. The action lines make him feel practically frenetic.
It sells so much the idea of motion in comics. A really well-drawn comic – like early Dragon Ball – will convey the fluidity of motion and make you feel like things move. Not only with lines, but the geometry of panels and their layouts, the anatomy, and proportions of characters. When done well, it’s a river of motion and ink. And I love how this does that, especially in that excitable revelatory mood.
This Chapter was too real.
I have to admit that aside from the poses, from Saiko’s joy to his weighed down disappointment to Kaya subtly toying with Shujin with her…uhm, feminine wiles, this chapter felt aggressively real.
I have been in some form of situation in each of the scenes of this chapter. In College I made the mistake of letting feelings get in the way of clearheadedness in service of helping out a crush; I’ve sent texts that felt like they would pull my guts out through my feet when I got the reply; I’ve gotten extremely jealous and frustrated by someone interfering with my dreams or sidelining them in favor of doing their own thing and vice versa. I’ve looked at old work and cringed, searching through my closet to look at the unintentional time capsule of my youthful ephemera and dreams.
This chapter’s realness was frankly incredible.
I’ve rarely felt that I related to characters in Shonen Manga literally. I usually am able to transfer some aspect of myself – good and bad – into what a character is going through. A desire to do better, a belief in myself, a feeling of weakness. When I watch Deku do his thing I can usually translate his experience through metaphor to mine. When I see Luffy act instead of think, I can learn a lesson.
But this chapter was so emotionally true in a tangible way and resonated with me that much more for it. It helps immensely that Ohba and Obata are first and foremost character writers, and that they are writing in the real world. But even by those metrics, this chapter was way more real than your standard shonen cause…
Everyone was shitty for believable reasons.
Aside from all the moments that felt way way too real, all the character motivations and conflicts were organic, and a product of either long simmering tensions over the last 10ish chapters, or the product of genuine character flaws or just a matter of perspective.
Saiko’s anger at Shujin is viscerally frustrating because it’s so easy to see how frustrated he would be when he feels like his dream is being put on hold because a cute girl conned Shujin into writing a novel. Especially when his own dream includes spending his life with Miho, contingent on his success. Especially when he’s putting so much work into being the best he can be every single day. That fury is perfectly reasonable. That sensation of powerlessness is true.
But by that same token, and it’s something I’ve even pointed out, Miho and Saiko’s approach to their relationship is fundamentally unhealthy. I used to be a hopeless romantic and I made it public because I’m shameless. But I have since realized how fucking toxic that methodology and mindset are and have abandoned it. Shujin’s frustration at Saiko’s desires to speed the process along so he can get started with Miho – to the point where he’ll forgo a good idea in favor of something generic – is incredibly frustrating.
And Shujin has a right to hang out with his girlfriend and enjoy spending time with her.
This kind of conflict is potent precisely because there are no winners and losers and it’s not motivated by morality. They want to get a manga but they need to balance their lives out. It’s a product of the mundane foibles of living. It’s something that manga has the capacity for, but rarely is: subtle. that’s not an insult, I love the bombast and histrionics of manga, but good storytelling is predicated on relationships that sizzle and crackle against each other. And this chapter did that in spades, in addition to making everyone believable and human.
Relationships on point
Even better though was how dynamic the relationships were. There was a rare dimensionality that comes at the intersection of week to week interactions and slow builds. These conflicts revealed external conflicts coming to a head – Shujin and Saiko pursuing their real interests over their desire to get published – and the internal conflicts of decisions made.
I loved that Shujin and Saiko were on exactly the same wavelength about the detective manga. That Saiko wants to go for a classic vibe a la detective shonen speaks volumes to his own beliefs and character. That he informed the decision on what he knows Shujin is good at is just love. A friendly love.
And even though they’re at odds with each other, there is a real strength in a relationship based on mutual desires and an understanding of each other’s wishes. Saiko has started accounting for Shujin’s wishes and vice versa – the conflict is motivated by the fact that Shujin still thinks that Saiko wants to make a conventional manga. It’s so good to see that tension bears out. Especially when Kaya getting cuddly with Shujin clearly fucked with Saiko’s own decision making.
Although I’m of two minds on Fan Service – I mostly find it upsetting and uncomfortable – I think Kaya was reasonably utilized here. She wasn’t overly sexualized like in previous chapters but she did use her sexuality to get something she wanted. Her titillation of Shujin was motivated by the scene, not meant to titillate the audience itself.
That she claimed credit for something she’s only tangentially involved with is hysterical too. Exceptionally real as well. That she knows how to play Shujin like a violin is both adorable and only mildly alarming. I will admit that that part where she convinced him to write the novel turned me off a bit, but only because I have been in a similar situation. But this isn’t that.
Overall, this was a rich chapter with a lot of great stuff going on in it, and I’m so interested to see how it moves forward. I have a feeling the next chapter or the one after that will bring this particular arc to a conclusion, and we will get closer to the real battle: publication.
This is also the end of Volume 3. If you like this series and want to continue reading it, please follow me on Facebook, or Twitter, for notifications or Sign up to get emails. Also comment, I want to hear from you.
Onto Volume 4.