Hi there amigo, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 31: Tuesday and Friday, in which we get super duper meta in a way I adore.
If you are new, consider catching up with this nifty index here. If you would like to read along, consider getting a subscription to Shonen Jump, buying the tankobons, and consider supporting the artists by buying merch for either Bakuman, Death Note, or Platinum End. I use Shonen Jump because it’s cheap, and it supports the artists directly. I am not affiliated with VIZ media, I just like the service, and I want artists to get paid.
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Without further ado.
Act 1: Kiyoshi Knight
Chapter 31 begins with the final page of Kiyoshi Knight, Fukuda’s manga. It ends brutally with rough art and a lot of violence. Kaya asks how it is. Shujin and Saiko admit it’s good and that the art has improved dramatically.
Saiko and Shujin discuss their chances, and Shujin laments that their final draft has been submitted, so they’re stuck, no matter what happens. Shujin then gives the run-down of the one-shots and the results schedule. Their one-shot is next, followed by Nakai and Aoki, and finally Koogy. The final results for each will be posted on the Friday of the week it’s released.
Shujin wants to ask Hattori about the results of Fukuda’s one-shot, but Saiko thinks that’s pushing it. The two start overthinking what Hattori’s responses may mean, even though he’s probably not going to tell them anything anyway. They decide not to ask – even though they defo want to – and decide to have faith in their work.
Meanwhile, Fukuda asks for Nizuma’s approval and Eiji tells him it’s cool. Nakai laments how good it is.
Meanwhile, Koogy is reminded about the deadline for Colorfusical which Koogy dismisses because of his work getting the word out to his fans.
Tuesday and Friday, Part 1
Fukuda’s early results come back and they’re excellent to the point that Yujiro privately celebrates the possibility of promotion if he becomes the editor for two knockout series. Yujiro checks his ego when he remembers there are four one-shots to go.
The final report comes in and Fukuda is given the OK to start his own series storyboards. Nizuma celebrates his success while Nakai freaks out internally. Fukuda pushes Yujiro to get him into the serialization meeting.
Act 2: Detective trap
Muto Ashirogi’s One-Shot is released and it ends in an elegantly classic shonen fashion. Kaya thinks it’s better than Kiyoshi Evening, *ahem* Kiyoshi Knight and Shujin admires the fact that they made it into Jump. Saiko’s gloomy because he’s become super hyper-critical artist Saiko who realizes he could do, like, so much better.
Kaya tries to cheers him up, even getting Fukuda’s name wrong, but Saiko discusses how the great mangaka like One Piece and Naruto started out with immediately recognizable vibrant art that only Oda and Kishimoto-sensei could have made. Kaya thinks comparing himself to two literal legends is a bit…premature when their phone rings. Miho. Dutifully and on-time.
Miho sends and adorable text about how embarrassing it is to buy a copy of Jump, but that she enjoyed his one shot and even sent in the reader survey. Saiko does an about fact now that he has Miho’s approval and believes they’ve totally got a shot at first place.
Fukuda and Nizuma think it’s excellent, and it’s more Shonen-like than the storyboards. Fukuda asks whose work is better; it’s a tie, according to Nizuma.
Nakai’s panic worsens recalling what Nizuma said about a tie and one manga in third. Nakai reassures himself that he’s fine.
Tuesday and Friday, Part 2
On Tuesday, Hattori gest the early results and gives Shujin the go-ahead to start making a series. Koogy’s editor asks whether he’s read the other one-shots, but he’s indifferent because he thinks he’s got it in the bag. He gives the final draft to his forlorn editor.
That Friday, the final report comes in and Hattori’s so excited he needs a cigarette: the results have not changed since the early-results which is good. Saiko asks whether they did better than Fukuda; Hattori didn’t say. They conclude that means they likely did better but they resolve not to ask Hattori regardless.
Fukuda, in counterpoint, decides to call Yujiro again to find out the numbers: “They’re about the same” is all Yujiro says. Nakai tries to piece together what that means while Fukuda rages, again.
Act 3, Hideout Door
We get Nakai’s manga and it’s beautifully drawn and fairytale-esque. Shujin is bowled over by the art quality but thinks it’s too much and impossible to sustain longterm. Kaya thinks the artwork is beautiful. Saiko points out he’s staking his life on making this manga work out.
Shujin thinks the art alone will get a leg-up and Saiko realizes this is going to be a challenging competition. Saiko decides to focus on his storyboards instead.
Tuesday and Friday, Part 3
The early results come in and Nakai’s editor gives him a call to start work on a series. Nakai is ecstatic that he gets to work on a series with his crush. Fukuda wonders if Nakai’s the winner while Eiji congratulates him for his hard work paying off.
That Friday, Fukuda comforts Nakai after his final results came back lower than the early results. His editor still told him to move along with storyboards for the series. Fukuda tells him they’ll be fighting for serialization at the next meeting. But Fukuda is so relieved and happy that he even gets a nice close-up on his eye.
He has a moment of genuine, adorable, joy and thanks Fukuda and Nizuma for their encouragement and help.
Act 4, Colorfusical
Colorfusical is a hot-ass – surrealist – mess, and Shujin can’t make heads or tails of it. Kaya thinks it’s just a massive ego-trip to the point where even Saiko’s taken aback by her remarks.
Fukuda is insulted by the comic’s existence and swears to leave Jump if it gets the most votes from his fans. Eiji also offers to quit in solidarity – should that happen – but Nakai talks him off the ledge he was kinda indifferent to already. All four artists wonder who will win.
Shujin and Saiko discuss when the results and serialization meeting are. They decide to focus on storyboards to be prepared for the meeting. Nakai and Fukuda focus on the survey and winners.
Tuesday, Friday, and Monday, Final Results.
Meanwhile, Koogy gets the results for all four one-shots and he’s so furious that he smashes his guitar and vows that it ain’t over yet.
At the editorial office, the editors discuss the flaws in the Gold Future Cup’s structure and they decide that the final say will go to the editor in Chief.
The final results: Kiyoshi Knight and Detective Trap tied for first with 1312 votes and support for 79% vs. 1321 and 76% support. Hideout door is in third with 1103 votes and support at 73%. With Colorfusical coming in dead last with 482 votes, in 14th place and a support rate of 53 percent.
The Editor-In-Chief looks like Gendo as he listens and thinks on the results as the chapter concludes.
Tuesday and Friday Panels of the Week
Before we talk about this knockout of a chapter, I couldn’t just choose one panel, so instead, I think the four individual one-shot panels are collectively my panel of the week. They are simply a flex on Obata’s part. That he devoted time to each to radically change his own art style to reflect the author’s individual styles is nothing short of masterful. I also appreciate how Saiko’s art most closely matches his style.
Even more, I appreciate the added verisimilitude of having a finger hold down a page, and draw a comic within a comic. It’s an extra bit of immersion that just makes everything so much richer.
I particularly like the art for Hideout Door and Detective Trap, which, in-universe, also get props for their art. It’s reflective of the character of both stories. The stippling truly is magical in Hideout Door.
But onto the chapter.
Kishoutenketsu and Formal Experimentation
I LOVED this chapter so much. It was genuinely incredible. And all it was, was four manga, and their subsequent results. But it was incredibly well done.
Since I started reading Bakuman, I’ve also really gotten balls deep into Manga Production because *cough* I kinda wanna make my own. I feel weird saying it out loud because I’ve only just started teaching myself to draw. But it’s a visceral desire to make manga. I even got Clip Studio Paint and a drafting table, and have been practicing, which is genuinely joyful.
And one of the most incredible elements of this chapter is that it employs the Manga Structure of Kishoutenketsu in the most meta-way imaginable.
For those unitiated, Kishoutenketsu is a a japanese style of composition composed of four distinct phases.
3. Twist and Climax
If you’re at all familiar with the three act structure of the west, you’ll likely notice some similarities. They aren’t, strictly speaking, similar though.
Particularly with the Twist or Climax, which is more of contextualization. This is a great article on the concept and it will help explain it better than I ever could given that I’ve just been introduced to it.
But in this chapter, each One-Shot serves as a phase of the four-part kishoutenketsu structure. Kiyoshi Knight introduces us to the premise; not only seeing the comic but also getting news on the final results in a very expository way. Detective Trap develops the premise further and thickens the plot by making Saiko and Shujin get the go-ahead from Hattori to make storyboards for serialization (yay).
Then Hideout Door expands this further and also gives Nakai the go-ahead. This develops things further, making the tension between the three even tighter relative to koogy.
And then we get the twist and conclusion with Koogy fucking bombing out despite all his efforts. Koogy’s also doesn’t even top the NORMAL reader survey only placing fourteenth in reader polls.
That, my friends is an expected, but lovely, twist.
I want to get in the exciting stuff plot-wise. But I also want to appreciate Bakuman’s use of metafiction in this chapter specifically. This type of experimentation is why I’m so obsessed with Metafiction as a genre.
The line between real/unreal in metafiction is blurred because metafiction is intentionally self-referential. That means we can delve into both the fiction within the story and the fiction of the top-level narrative and they are on the same plane of narrative for us.
….Let me try to explain that better.
Technically speaking, in Metafiction, there is a line between real/fictional in universe and a line between real/fictional for the audience. So we operate on two layers of reality. However, the audience (the top-level reality) experiences both layers of fictional reality through the same medium. By doing so, we’re invited into this blurry in-between of fiction and reality where we are engaging with both a fictional text and a fictional-fictional text on the same plane. We become, to some degree, the characters of the story by engaging with the text the same way. But also, the characters engage with their own reality on two levels, rendering reality less real.
It’s a headfuck, and one I love.
That’s why I love the choice to quadri-sect the story into four parts using the paneling. Because we are reading fictional comics, but, in doing so, we’re also just reading comics. We’re operating on two layers of assumed reality. So it’s like we’re mildly fictional ourselves because of that blurred line.
That reflexivity has so much potential and it’s rarely explored to its fullest. So for Bakuman to flawlessly pull it off. Happy sigh.
But the characters. Man we gotta talk about those.
Saiko’s Art Comments, Shujin’s Anxiety, and Kaya’s Cheerleading.
Saiko needs to check himself. I do get that he’s feeling mad imposter-y right now, but comparing himself to Kishimoto and Oda is, if not a genuine stretch, then a lot of ego to beat yourself up with. I feel like he fails to recognize that Oda worked as an assistant for Rurouni Kenshin before he got on One Piece, and Kishimoto also had a one-shot that did well before he ever got Naruto. Both worked their asses off before they found success.
Kishimoto, in particular, goes over the genesis of Naruto in the volumes that introduce Tsunade and he explains that he kept his dream of being a mangaka on the backburner after doing well in his one-shot, then never getting back to it. And, once he realized he was wasting his time he studied and grinded his ass off using films and stories and reading loads of comics to eventually get his skills to the point where made fucking Naruto.
So Saiko needs to chill a bit. Even though he’s in a hurry, he’s doing it like Kishimoto and Oda and his art will inevitably improve if he keeps at it. I do get it, but jeepers.
Shujin being anxious as hell was effectively sold. He’s thinking ahead and taking it from every angle and his worry is convincing given that the competition is so fierce. He’s also on the money with Hideout Door based on the surveys, the quality of the art – while unsustainable – will give it a leg up.
But Kaya’s cheerleading was adorable. She’s obviously going to be a good girlfriend and cheer her boyfriend on. But to see her trash Koogy was wonderful. She also seems to be genuinely honest about her feelings, minus Detective Trap for which she will obviously be biased no matter what.
Fukuda, Nakai, and Nizuma
Despite Fukuda running a streak of being annoying as piss this chapter with his fury, he, Nakai, and Nizuma really gave the chapter an extra oomph in terms of tension. Seeing Fukuda and Nakai’s contrasting responses to the distress of having to wait lent everything an air of reality to waiting for competitions.
That Nizuma is cheering both of them on is also adorable. I really love how they nerfed all the assholish bits of Nizuma early because he’s truly delightful now. And delightfully weird.
Koogy’s definitely not done yet. He’s gotten too villainous a framing for him to be taken out this early – smashing his guitar is peak evil villain in this context – but it is nice to see him get defeated fair and square. While I don’t know if that would actually happen – real life being less narratively neat than manga – it was certainly nice to see Koogy get his do for being an asshole.
Which he was, the entire chapter, totally playing off what he had to do. It set a nice contrast to the earnest heroes and made their victory that much sweeter.
But now the stage is set. We’re going to see who survives serialization. Who will win? I have my suspicions, but we won’t know until the next chapter.
Until next time,