In Literature and Music, Saiko Gets Everything He Wants in the Worst Way Possible (Bakuman Chapter 29)

Hi there, hello, and welcome to my Read-Through of Bakuman Chapter 29: Literature and Music, a positively stuffed chapter that is moving lots of pieces, introducing lots of characters, and paying off previous warnings.

If you are not caught up and would like to be caught up because cool kids are caught up, please check this nifty index with all previous read-throughs. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read easy, my friends.

If you’d like to follow along, please consider buying a tankobon of the current volume here or signing up for Weekly Shonen Jump here. To support the artists directly, consider buying some Bakuman Merchandise as well. For read alongs, I recommend Shonen Jump as it’s comparatively cheap (1.99), and you get the whole series. VIZ Media does not sponsor me, I really want artists to get some cash, and these are (some) ways to do that.

Without further ado, the chapter

Literature and Music: Summary

The Race to Gold Future

Saiko reminds us of Hattori’s two conditions: Get Good Results in The Gold Future Cup and Create a 19 Page final draft for a series they don’t have. The two of them push harder than ever – Saiko dozing during class to catch up on sleep – and on June 22nd, Saiko and Shujin make it into the Gold Future Cup.

Saiko and Shujin celebrate the fact that they’re finally in Weekly Shonen Jump (yay) and that millions of people will read their work…only for Shujin to recognize the harsh pressure of getting good results – especially with Hattori’s conditions. Saiko asks how many other works have been entered.

Shujin forgot to ask and prepares to call, but Saiko says to wait until they present their final draft in two days. Shujin asks if he’ll complete the draft by then and Saiko says sure if he skips sleep…again.

D’oh

Shujin glorifies the brutal conditions of mangaka and Kaya promises to make them curry to celebrates. Saiko gets in a quick I love you to Kaya to annoy Shujin and Kaya’s – adorable – delight.

The New Rivals #1

On their way to the office for their meeting with Hattori, Saiko and Shujin complain about their ridiculous schedule – that they signed up for – but Saiko points out that they’ll never get a series in high school if they can’t handle this. As they exit the subway, Saiko notices Nakai -now in full growth mindset – chatting up a cute girl who is distinctly not as thrilled to be there as he is.

Shujin has never seen him before, and Saiko remembers his goals: Girlfriend and Series. Shujin makes a snide remark about his luck, but Saiko thinks it’s likelier an editor meeting or business meeting of some kind because they are in Jimbocho. Shujin corrects him: they’d never find an editor that cute.

Ouch.

Saiko notices that she looks like Iwase as Nakai notices them. Saiko panics when Nakai calls over to them. He asks whether they’re there for their Gold Future Cup meeting. When they say yes, Nakai asks them to stopover for a few minutes, given that they have the time; after all, they should meet their Gold Future Cup Rivals.

Nakai explains that the Iwase look-a-like is Ko Aoki, the Story King award winner who needed an artist. Saiko remembers being offered the role and is shocked that it’s a female. He elects not to mention he was offered the job first. Nakai meanwhile tries to impress Ko because he taught Saiko a lot while working on Crow.

Saiko, as an impressive wingman, agrees and tells her he learned a lot from Mr. Nakai. Nakai, thirsty as hell, plays it off, and Ko seems distinctly uninterested.

That is until Nakai tells her that they are Muto Ashirogi.

She perks up and tells them that she didn’t like The World is All About Money and Intelligence. At all.

Oof.

She goes on that the story was a poor choice for a boy’s magazine as it wasn’t “dream-inspiring.” Shujin gets mad defensive and asks what she writes.

She explains that she wrote dreamy fantasy manga and worked for a girl’s magazine, but her story was more suitable for a boy’s magazine, so she was put in touch with Jump; because her art isn’t Shonen styled, Nakai has been brought on for artwork.

Nakai preens about the story and gets cringey with his attempts to impress Ko by staking his life on this manga’s success while Shujin and Saiko muse on the fact that he doesn’t even have a series yet.

Brass Tacks & Other Competitors

Nakai continues playing up Ko’s artwork, which, although unsuitable for Boy’s manga, is still good, so he’ll be doing the finishing touches. Saiko privately worries about the arrangement as Nakai is a strong artist in every way but faces. Saiko’s artwork may lag behind Nakai’s.

Nakai also brings up Fukuda’s one-shot being in play. He also mentions that Fukuda’s the favorite for this round. Shujin’s shocked.

We’re given a list of the competitors and their release schedule and explains the one’s with the highest expectations go first:

1. Kiyoshi Knight from Fukuda in Issue 37-38
2. Detective Trap from The Boys in Issue 39
3. Hideout Door from Nakai and Ko in Issue 40
4. Colorfusical from Koki Makaino in Issue 41

Shujin asks whether the order really matters, and Nakai doubles down. The editorial team wants to start the GFC with a bang, so they choose a strong first entry. In 2008, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Beelzebub were both the first in the cup and got series. Nakai explains that the first one is the only one that really matters, which Saiko and Shujin take…poorly.

Both Saiko and Shujin recall Fukuda’s one-shot, which placed #7 in the survey — enough for revision and serialization. It was rebellious and explosive, according to Saiko, more than he’s seen in a long while.

Ko pipes up: she didn’t like that One-Shot Either.

Consistent with her previous opinion, she thinks his attempts to depict modern-day urban adolescence is not good for a boy’s magazine, and better suited to a seinen magazine. Nakai continues simping hard (plz kill me) and agrees with her.

Shujin then asks about the final piece Colorfusical. Didn’t it win a Tezuka Semi-final award? Yeah, says Nakai.

Shujin explains it’s a story about the power of music and colors to change the world, which he didn’t like; Saiko thought it was too surreal and musical-like for his taste. Ko enjoyed it because it was filled with dreams and hope.

Jesus Christ. With that, Saiko and Shujin break away to get to their meeting with Hattori. Nakai says goodbye, and Shujin desperately wants to win against Ko and her dreams. He’s also miffed that they didn’t pay for their coffee.

Everything you want in the worst possible way

As they walk to their meeting, Shujin wonders whether Nakai and Ko will be a major challenge. Saiko says yeah, and Shujin clarifies about Nakai’s obvious crush on her. He’s worried he’ll do more work to impress her. Saiko eases Shujin’s mind – Nakai isn’t writing the story – and redirects his focus to their own work.

At the meeting, Hattori is satisfied by the quality of their latest chapter and Saiko breathes an exhausted sigh of relief. Shujin’s ready with the next chapter but Hattori wants to talk about their series.

OH SHIT.

Hattori, like the girl you’ve taken on several dates and is ready to have fun, is ready to prep them for their own series. Shujin asks whether they have to continue submitting chapters, and Hattori assures them they’ve shown him their dedication to manga, so they should focus on making a series.

Shujin asks if Saiko’s cool with it. He is definitely cool not having to write more chapters. Saiko muses that the mere idea of making more chapters is exhausting him – which he then rationalizes as a relief for getting a series. He can’t show his exhaustion, though, if he wants the series cause Hattori will cut it quickly if he does.

Saiko wants confirmation while literally about to pass out from exhaustion: if they get first, they’ll be submitted to the serialization meeting? Hattori’s all like, “yep, but you don’t need to get first.” They respond – appropriately – with shock.

Hattori then explains that unlike Akamaru and Usual Jump surveys, The Gold Future Cup asks the reader a question: Will they support the work, or will they not support the work.

Hattori continues: the editors look at the ratio of will support to will not support and, because not all the One-Shots will be placed in the same release, it’s possible for each one shot to get the same level of potential support. Because of this wonkiness, it is up to the editorial department to choose the first place, even if ANOTHER manga gets first place, somehow. For some reason.

Shujin follows up: wouldn’t being placed first give an advantage to that mangaka. Hattori says that he never thought about it, then compliments Shujin’s intelligence in an obvious – and unnerving – deflection. But Hattori points out that ranking 1 in the Gold Future Cup isn’t required for serialization and some series like Muhyo & Roji, Kirihoshi, Muddy, and K.O. Sen didn’t place first but got a series anyway.

Full Steam Ahead?

Hattori comments on the quality of all the One-Shots: they’re uniformly great. But, he warns, don’t think of it as the Gold Future Cup: think of it simply as one-shots being entered regularly. If it’s good, you can get a series.

That said, Hattori still wants them to be first because that would push them closer to a series; and, he thinks they are the readiest for a series of all the competitors. He also would never want to lose to a one-shot like Colorfusical. Shujin asks what that means, but Hattori tells him to pay it no mind; it’s just an aside.

Saiko tells Hattori they’ll get a series and catch up to Eiji Nizuma. Hattori takes a moment to recognize just how singular Nizuma’s prodigy is. He’s already topping the rankings, and the three available tankobon have sold two million copies. While Shujin does mental math, Hattori also mentions that he’s getting offers for an anime.

Despite Saiko being visibly and aggressively exhausted, he freaks out at the mention and thinks of his beloved and how she’s also starting her career.

Hattori, breaking character, jumps up and tells them he wants them to get first place. He apologizes for his pessimism earlier and wants them to forget about him mentioning not placing first. He also lets them know he told everybody he expected them to surpass Nizuma in three years.

Saiko, moved, but exhausted, says it may take longer than three years, but that they will do it. Shujin gets excited and Hattori, convinced, tells them to get the final draft in, and once done, they’ll revise the storyboards for the series. Shujin gets all gleeful on the train ride home while Saiko sleeps. Poor guy.

Colorfusical

In an apartment in Japan somewhere, a musician is strumming his guitar. A man asks the guitarist whether he’s really going to do it. The man – Koogy – says yes. He’s going to take a break from music and jump into manga. He’ll have the newspapers announce that he’s going to be a manga artist and that he’s going to get his own series.

Koogy sees the gossip magazines going ga-ga for that kind of coverage, and he’ll be able to convince his legions of fans to submit those reader surveys to guarantee a series. His — What I assume is his — Publicist or manager tells him that he will get some survey victories there, but that he should wait until he definitely gets a series before announcing it to the world.

Koogy says that he might not get a series and that he wants to use more than just music to express himself to the world. He was a successful actor and thought about being a director, but really, since he’s good at art too, he’ll do that instead. That way, he’ll be truly charismatic. Therefore, he wants it announced properly in Jump.

The artist Koji Makaino, the creator of Colorfusical is actually Koogy, the famous musician.

Reaction

Panel of the Week

Literature and Music

So I think it was going to be obvious that I chose this particular panel as the panel of the week because, I mean, look at that. It’s active and vibrant and clearly, it was a color page before it was put in the tankobon – you can usually tell what was formerly a color page – and it has so much going on while still retaining the focus.

But also it lends itself to a certain intensity that one might not associate with making manga. As this series has reveled in the “shonen manga as shonen action” stylistic choice before, the use of the pens, g-pens, brushes, Exacto knife, protractors and micron pens behind Saiko accentuating the action lines, the very aggressive screentones in Saiko’s jacket which bleed into the musical notes all drawn precisely but exaggeratedly to give it the appearance of some epic fight. The G-Pen being dragged across the page so violently the metal is bending and emitting stars. The action lines and comic-making implements creating a radial around Saiko in an exceptionally dynamic pose for what is ultimately glorified drawing.

This is firing on all cylinders. And in color it was probably absolutely beautiful. Sigh

But also, it surreptitiously sets up the chapter itself with both the g-pen and the headphones placing metonymy for literature and music.

Nifty, even if an over reading.

Just as packed as this frame, though, was this fucking chapter. Jesus. What a fattie.

Everything you want in the worst possible way.

When I was a wee… 22-year-old (oy) I took a course on Joss Whedon’s body of work because, of course, I did. The Professor gave us a narrative concept that Whedon employed regularly and I still think about when reading stories.

Everything you want in the worst possible way.

It has an element of polysemy. You can read it as getting everything you want in the worst possible way or everything you want, in the worst possible way.

In one sense it’s getting that hard-earned desire that you’ve craved. Like, Amber Benson (Tara) getting billing in the main cast of Buffy in Season 6.

Too soon?

The point of the aphorism should be relatively straightforward: if you give a character what they want, it’s gotta be the shittiest version of that want, or once they get it it has to be rendered into ashes. It’s like the ‘be careful what you wish for’ And in this chapter, Saiko is getting what he wants. Serialization. Not only that, Hattori is WEIRDLY pumped about it. But we’ll get to that in a second.

Saiko is right on the verge of honest to god serialization. And he’s EXHAUSTED.

As I predicted in the previous chapter, the workload for two weeks, and no assistants would be killer, and Saiko is shown to be absolutely knackered. He has bags under his eyes, and somehow Obata has made it seem as though he’s going to fall over at any moment. But he’s proved to Hattori that he can do it. And, now, of all times, Hattori is positively thrilled at the prospect of these two getting a series.

Everything you want in the worst possible way.

The great thing about this particular trope is that it gives a balanced tinge to the nature of desire. Yeah, you’ll get what you ask for, and if you do the work and you get it, there’s still going to be unintended consequences like pure physical exhaustion. It makes it feel more real.

And it also adds tension moving forward. Now that Saiko is ready for a series, will he be ready to produce a chapter a week? It’s unknown because he’s barely able to stand. Worse, he knows that this is exactly what Hattori warned him about to twist the knife just the littlest bit deeper.

It makes me curious as to whether that’s going to drive the next few chapters, or whether the more obvious threats of the competitors will drive the drama.

Either way, I feel vindicated and also slightly worried for myself for meta reasons. But more on the below, first Hattori and his absolute weirdness this chapter.

Hattori’s about face.

What was up with Hattori this chapter?

I have a feeling that Hattori is hiding something, got some good news, or really really REALLY wants to beat Koji Makaino something serious. He was acting the exact opposite of how he’s been literally the whole series. It was jarring, to say the least.

Of course, it could simply be that he’s genuinely proud of the boys – they’ve come so far *wipes tear from eye* – and is willingly overlooking the fact that Saiko is literally death warmed over. But given that final piece of the chapter featuring what I’m going to assume is a wildly famous musician in-universe the, I have to imagine that his hate-boner for Colorfusical has more to do with true mangaka vs. players.

Or, even worse, that Jump being, y’know, a business, is going to get on its knees and unzip Koogy’s pants and let him fiddle with his G-Pen however he pleases because he commands such soft power that it will automatically bring in an enormous readership and circulation outside the norms. Or, more simply, money, not art.

Which, in fairness, doesn’t quite jive with Sasaki who we saw over 21 chapters ago. But again, I’m not going to be surprised if Hattori’s “excitement” is partially feigned because he doesn’t want to be a bootlicker for Koogy.

…That was unintentionally graphic. Anywhoozle.

I think Hattori’s also trying to ease expectations because of the Koogy thing. He hedges about them winning the Gold Future Cup because he probably anticipates that Koogy’s status will ruin the rankings entirely, regardless of the quality of their work. That paired with his enthusiasm, which to date has always been more measured made for a weird read.

But if he is just genuinely glad to see the two put in the work, despite his fears for them, that’s awesome. I guess I’ll see in the next chapters.

But speaking of Koogy, it’s only fair that we touch on the other reason this chapter was T-H-I-C-C.

The Competition

The new characters of Ko and Koogy have me excited. Koogy because he immediately strikes me as a total douchenozzle who kinda doesn’t realize he’s a total douchenozzle because he has a cadre of yes-men to attend his every beck and call. But also, the character design for Koogy – or Koji? I’ll figure that out later – is so gratuitous and overly detailed and ostentatious. It’s such a great way to tip us off about everything we need to know about him, without much dialogue. Not to mention his gorgeous guitar and the fucking glass drawing panel and exquisitely clean drafting desk. I mean, come on man.

And then there’s Ko. She is my hope for the women of this series. I don’t want to be burned again.

As I mentioned last time, at length, the representation in this series is….bad. It’s not Death Note bad, but good lord, it has gaping issues. But Ko, at least, is interesting. She hasn’t decided she wants to quit manga and jump on Nakai’s G-Pen.

I don’t know where this metaphor came from, excuse me.

But aside from the kinda misogynistic dialogue where she’s obsessed with inspiration and uplift *ahem*, something I’d never read Shonen for (looks at my obsession with Gurren Lagann) and thinks that Shonen Manga should be directed solely at young boys and should only be aspirational, she’s actually kinda interesting and not in an objectifying way.

She’s an established mangaka who was recommended to jump, and through no fault of her own, she has Nakai as an ally to make her dreams much more likely. She’s quiet and demure, and Saiko thinks she’s a bit like Iwase. The one female character I thought was good. So hey, it’s a start.

Nakai, exhibiting that growth mindset like a champ, while also still being way too into Ko for my liking. That nice guy shit is very very cringey. But it’s good to see him actually going for it.

I hope Ko remains in the series as a counter to my criticisms of Ohba’s writing. I want her to be compelling and provide some new challenges or perspectives in the series. It’s desperately needed after Kaya’s turn to the traditionally feminine side.

And she’s a good lead-in to the absolutely massive info-dump we got mid-chapter about the Gold Future Cup so let’s touch on that before I get personal about myself for a bit because it’s my personal blog and I’ll lampshade and do that if I want to.

The Gold Future Cup

I think one of my favorite things about Bakuman is that it’s pretty firmly grounded in 2008. Its references to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Beelzebub, Muhyo & Roji all date it firmly in that era and lend it a nice degree of verisimilitude that makes it believable that Shujin and Saiko are actually in a competition. I only know about those manga because some of them are on the Jump Vault, but it’s nice to see mangaka who loves the game.

And I think that also bears out in the dynamics of the competition itself. There is very much a dichotomy between Koogy’s Colorfusical and Ko – who might be a Koogy fan, now that I think about it – and Ashirogi, and Fukuda. It’s one of those purity tests in a way.

Fukuda’s a real challenge and they observe how crazy and real his story was and how with polish it could be nuts. It’s like the previous era’s Chainsaw Man, which was nuts and everybody loved. The same with Saiko and Shujin’s detective story. It’s a classic genre piece and novelistic, but likely has a sharp edge to it and totally counter to Shonen Jump’s general ethos. Fukuda and Ashirogi are both traditional Shonen Mangaka who want to push the bounds of the medium with their own voices. They’re passionate.

Koogy just wants to be cosmopolitan and a polymath, and Ko’s vision of Shonen is limited to its demographic and her idea of “Right.” It sets up a believable and interesting contrast between the two creative forces and reflects what the audience should be.

That reference to Chainsaw Man was not coincidental either. While it was distinctly not Shonen’s usual wheelhouse, fans went nuts over it because it was wild and different.

It was also the first manga I read in Jump.

The Meta

I’m 29, and I’m going to be turning 30 in a month. Obviously, I’m in slight crisis mode about it because there isn’t a 30 year old alive who isn’t in crisis mode about turning fucking 30. I’m no longer young. I’m objectively an adult. And that shit freaks me out. Especially because I haven’t really jumped into the things I wanted to do, that I went to school for. I’m just kinda here, no closer to my major goals in really significant ways.

But Manga, and Anime…they kinda saved me.

When I was 27 going on 28, I was at a profoundly shitty time in my life, and I thought I was going nowhere, and I was getting there quick. I was burned out from work, 40 pounds heavier than I’d ever been, deep in debt, and in a crappy headspace. I also wasn’t using this site at all.

Then I found My Hero Academia. Seeing that show lit a fire in me to start pursuing my dreams. It is as shonen as shonen can get and it did exactly what Shonen’s good at the uplift.

From there, I moved to a different apartment, switched jobs, and got away from some toxic elements of my life. On a whim, I elected to get Weekly Shonen Jump because I had started watching more anime and found that I wanted to continue reading My Hero Academia’s manga, which I burned through in a matter of days after catching up.

That week, Chainsaw Man came out. I then saw Gurren Lagann, and Mob Psycho 100 and I turned all my efforts towards getting ready to pursue the things I wanted to pursue: writing, film, and music.

After 2 years, I’m ready and not ready. Just as Chainsaw Man has concluded (part 1) and I’ve gotten mired in Anime and Manga to the point where it’s seeped in my skin, I’ve gotten my weight down, gotten my personal finance manageable, and finished some writing that was holding me back. I have screenplays I’m ready to share and music I want to make.

The short of it: I’m ready to be an artist, and it scares the shit out of me.

And I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been able to get here without Anime and Manga. So I don’t actually disagree with Ko. Shonen is so valuable as a tool for aspiration and pursuing your dreams. But that wildness is necessary too. The invention. The craziness. There needs to be a balance.

Because when you see both, you get some good life lessons, and you get good manga too.

That’s me being sappy, and I had to say it because I don’t know how this blog is going to evolve next to my creative endeavors. I still want to write it, and I’m planning to, but the future is unclear and scary. But I also can handle it. It’s weird to say that without freaking out.

All that is to say, I hope you will join me in the year to come, and when I have some writing to share, I’ll share it. I have some other plans, too, but those are best left under wraps for the time being.

I look forward to reading Chapter 30 of Bakuman as I turn 30, and start the long journey to becoming an artist.

Hell, I even started drawing some characters for fun. It’s wild.

Now that this has gone on too long, peace. See you next time.

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