Welcome my humans to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 33 Yay and Nay. Today we talk about the unenviable position of having to be an editor when doing…well, basically anything.
If you are not caught up, please check out this index to catch up. If you’d like to follow along, consider buying a subscription to Shonen Jump or the Current Tankobon Volume. I recommend Shonen Jump cause it’s cheaper and you get more. I’m not affiliated with VIZ, just want to support the industry.
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Without further ado.
Yay and Nay Summary
The Serialization Meeting
The Serialization Meeting commences and it’s explained that they first decide how many new series will start, and, also, which ongoing series will get the ol’ axeroo. Additionally, storyboards and reviews are handed out to all the members.
The team discusses Orihara Sensei’s Tank Top and we’re told the order of reviews is completely arbitrary. The series mentioned will be introduced by the captain of the editorial group working on it, and they will explain the manga and the mangaka to the other editors in the meeting.
In Orihara’s case, because he’s just come off a big hit the reviews are all cautious. The editors all agree that starting a new series for Orihara – despite his improvement in style – is premature, and they will put it on the “revise” pile.
There are four different results:
1. It becomes a series (yay)
2. It’s revised and resubmitted for the meeting (less yay)
3. It’s tested as a one-shot (okay?)
4. The artist is asked for another work entirely (nay/oy)
While the meeting goes on, Saiko and Shujin play cards and discuss the wait time: 2 hours at minimum. Neither are distracted enough by the cards, and they both have a minor panic attack when Kaya calls for the billionth time. Shujin yells at her, but Saiko tells him to invite her over cause they’re so distracted.
The wait begins
Fukuda and Nakai agree to no hard feelings but both privately pine for their own series to make it. Fukuda believes this is his shot given all the work he’s done; Nakai wants a series with Miss Aoki.
Hideout Door is put up for review at the meeting, and Nakai’s editor Aida lays out the background for the series and gives Aoki’s credentials: despite her youth, she’s done three one-shots in Margaret, so writing a series will be a piece of cake for her. He also plays up Nakai’s 12 years of experience as an artist/assistant and his unswerving work ethic and ability.
He goes on that, because of their collective experience, they’re likely to improve over time, rather than fizzle out.
The deputy chief – Heishi – points out that Fukuda and Ashirogi are also up for review in the meeting – who did better in the Gold Future Cup and that that will factor into their decision.
Sasaki gives Hideout Door a yay.
Yay and Nay
The storyboards are split into Yay and Nay groups. If there are only 2-4 yays, they’ll almost certainly get a series. If there are more than that, there will be a debate to narrow down the selection.
Up next: Kiyoshi Knight.
The Captain plays up Fukuda’s credentials: He took all the recommended notes, his one-shot ranked 7th, and he topped the Gold Future Cup. He definitely stands out among the rookies.
Another editor disagrees: he thinks Fukuda is good as a one-shot artist, primarily. His captain defends the work as catering to what the audience liked in the one-shots initially. Isn’t it important to cater to your audience? They debate whether he has staying power or just pizazz.
The Deputy thinks it wouldn’t hurt to put it on yay, so it’s put on the yay pile.
The next series is Arai’s Cheese Crackers.
The Waiting Game Continues
Kaya comes back with playing cards, but the boys are too distracted and have played cards for hours. Kaya brings some coffee, and they continue sulking.
She offers for them to go out and wait for the phone call there. Shujin makes a lame excuse for not going out. He then explains he doesn’t want people to see him moping around or getting excited. Kaya asks about the likelihood of success. Shujin says about 50%; Saiko says 20% and she freaks out that it’s that low.
Shujin points out the Gold Future Cup functionally had three winners. That gives each newbie a 33% chance to start. Shujin continues that there’s no guarantee even if they won, and their status as high schoolers is a strike against them already. Kaya asks about Nizuma, and Shujin explains that it could go either way: they may think one prodigy is enough, or it might be ok.
He also explains that they’ll need to get permission from their parents, if not the school itself. Saiko’s parents are fine with it on the condition that he does well in school. Shujin’s are also ok with him doing it, but the editorial team may not take it that way.
Yay x 7
Another is put on the yay pile and someone points out that that is 7 yays so far; Sasaki believes any good work should go on the pile.
Next up is Otter No. 11. The captain for him says that that’s his favorite rookie. Aida asks why since he’s only gotten an honorable mention in the Treasure Rookie award. The captain explains Hiramaru is 26 and has never read manga before. One day, he discovered a copy of Jump on the bus and thought “I could do this” and so he quit his job and a month later created Otter No. 11 which then won an honorable mention.
The editor points out that most Mangaka get their start by copying other manga and continuing if they find they’re good at it. They then read books about how to draw manga to learn more. He then explains manga instruction books are a dime a dozen; too much information, actually.
Which is why Hiramaru teaching himself from a single issue of jump is so impressive. Also his art style is easily translated to animation if the manga gets popular. Another concurs: most beginners can’t even draw perspective; hiramaru is already at this meeting in a month.
The deputy chief is unsure, but Sasaki thought it was good. Another yay.
Aida introduces our bois work Detective Trap and before they can knock it for being written by 11th graders, he reassures them that they have the right stuff to create Manga at school. He explains Hattori’s scheme and the number of finished chapters and storyboards they did in addition to the GFC.
Aida has personally vetted them for quality: it is consistent among all the chapters.
One editor sees their ability, but questions why they need to be serialized immediately if they’re a year out from graduation. Nizuma is another complicating factor.
Aida explains that Nizuma is their “Rival” and if they want it so bad, they should be allowed to have it. The deputy chief knows they’ve been coming to the offices since middle school and they’ve also been dedicated solely to becoming mangaka since then. They don’t feel like rookies in a good way.
The other editors also see how good their storyboards have gotten, freakishly good and they know that it’s a duo so the writing is top notch, but something about the series feels off. There’s concern that given the nature of detective manga they’ll fizzle out quickly, even if they are good.
They narrow the list down to 7 yays and begin the process of figuring out who the news series will be.
The wait game continues…even more.
Kaya worries about the meeting length, and both Saiko and Shujin are also worse for wear. They start to panic about the extended wait time. Their speculation upsets them even more, and Kaya offers to cook dinner. Shujin shouts at her in frustration, and she gets hurt.
Meanwhile, Hattori, Yujiro, and another editor play cards while waiting for the meeting to end. The meeting is taking forever. Yujiro’s optimistic about the wait time. Hattori asks why. If there are more Yay’s, the meetings take longer because the more series they drop, the more debate there is. Fewer yays, shorter meeting
Hattori asks whether he’ll remain Ashirogi’s editor should they get serialized. Yujiro thinks it likely, though it can go down other ways. He’ll get credit for finding them, regardless. Hattori is indifferent to credit; he just wants to help them get a series. Yujiro says that’s common, but even if they get assigned a series they don’t like, being employees, they can’t complain about it.
Hattori and Yujiro discuss Fukuda as well but Yujiro says it’s for the higher-ups to decide. Yujiro gets a call from Fukuda who chews his head off for taking so long. Yujiro pushes back explaining they’ve been waiting too. Fukuda continues to rant while Yujiro assures him that if he wins, he’ll be the first to know.
Fukuda’s an asshole about it but eventually calms down. Nakai is more at peace, but still worried about it.
After over 6 hours of debate, the editorial team finally figures out the configuration: 4 new series. Two Rookies, Two veterans. Aida calls his team over and he gives them a rundown of the meeting. Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief and deputy editor will have a separate meeting to discuss the reassignment of the series to editors. The mangaka will be notified afterward.
Shujin’s finally on the verge of breaking down when they a phone call. Takagi answers the phone.
And ends the fucking chapter on a cliffhanger.
Yay and Nay Reaction
Sausage Getting Made
Even though this chapter was a bitch and a half for ending on that goddamn cliffhanger, this was my other favorite type of chapter: the bureaucracy of distributing creative arts.
While there is something to be said for the dreamy-ness of getting work in a creative field, at the end of the day, every creative endeavor has a profit motive, and there are a lot of people with the same dreams.
What I appreciate in this chapter is that it is a deep look into the editorial considerations for series to be published, and that the editors can’t just care about the quality of the content alone. They have restrictions, limitations, and demographic considerations that create inflected decisions for every manga.
The illustrative example is comparing Detective Trap and Kiyoshi Knight’s relative demographic appeal from the previous chapter. They calculated the average age of the reader who enjoyed it and whether that appeal aligns with Jump’s branding (ugh). Technically, as pointed out, Kiyoshi Knight is more seinen, and its appeal is to 17.3-year-olds, generally. But for American Weebs like me, who are distressingly older than 17.3, the internet is far more interested in the Seinen-y ventures. See Chainsaw Man and Jujutsu Kaisen‘s precipitous rise in popularity.
I love that shit. It makes editors a more comprehensible force in the creative industry.
I get the vibe that, for most creatives and consumers, the concept of editorial departments is as a force of darkness the all-powerful and evil NO. That they just want to say no to you because they don’t want to realize your creative vision. The only thing that should matter is how good your work is. And your work is good. You know it. Everyone around you told you so.
Fucking no. That’s obvious bullshit, and this chapter does a good job of getting across just how complicated the decision is.
There are limited amounts of space in Jump, to begin with simply due to page count and cost per printed page and cost of printing all the circulating magazines, and tankobon relative to sales. Then you have to figure how to prioritize newbies and give veterans their shot to continue their careers. That is then compounded by how the audience reacts to the manga in the magazine. Then that is further compounded by how much the magazine is making in profit to Shueisha which is what keeps it in existence. And for every series you onboard, another gets axed.
A manga may be great, but it may not be Shonen enough for Jump, a Shonen magazine, or it may be by an author who has already had success. Or Japanese audiences – who get the surveys – may hate it. It’s a lot more of calculus than a simple no. And that’s great. I appreciate and respect that, even if it is stressful and frustrating.
Sasaki, as editor-in-chief, demonstrates his money being where his mouth is by allowing 7 yays for the meeting. That’s kind of ridiculous, but as he said in 10 and 2: if you’re good, we’ll publish you.
And the only reason that they can’t do all 7 is for a more practical and justifiably tough reason: they have to cancel any ongoing series that are currently in Jump. In addition to all the factors, I listed above.
So I don’t begrudge the editorial team taking into consideration things that are outside the creative aspect: has this author written something before? Are they a popular veteran? What distribution of genre, new authors, and demography should we sell? Are these ideas marketable.
That’s a really fucking complicated equation and it makes the editorial team the bad guy no matter what. But the gatekeepers are so intense because they love manga. And that comes through in this chapter. They want to do the most good possible for the most mangaka and readers.
I have a feeling that the debate for Tank Top came up when discussing the now-axed Samurai 8 by Kishimoto. Full disclosure, I fucking enjoyed the fuck out of Samurai 8 and wanted to see it continue, but c’est la popularity polls and Manga Sales.
The comment about veterans having biases against their new work made me think of it because it must be ridiculously hard to follow up a popular series with a brand new property. Especially one with a lot of potential lore, a new art style, and new characters to get invested in.
I imagine that this conversation has sprouted up around Bakuman too, given that it’s following up Death Note. How do you find that balance between Rookie and Veteran, to allow for potential Narutos, while also allowing for Samurai 8s?
It’s just something I found interesting in this chapter, and which gave me a greater appreciation for just how tough this position is.
Internal Consistency & My Own Dreams.
As I said, Sasaki has proved his bona fides this chapter, but what’s especially rewarding this time – aside from charming anxiety of our protagonists and their individual freakouts over the potential serialization – is that, as they were told, the work they put in matters.
Hattori did good by them, to the point that the editorial team not only recognizes the effort they put in but acknowledges that they have treated manga as a profession. That is probably the most important takeaway from this chapter.
Treating your dream job like a job does not go unnoticed. Professionalism, even as an amateur, is worth its weight in gold. And it may be the strategy that tips the scales. Which, Hattori’s gambit certainly is, a strategy for victory. That Aida has that prepped means good things for our bois.
It’s also reassuring to me.
In previous blog posts, I’ve made no secret of my own creative aspirations. I write a lot, outside of this blog and within it, and I want to make money on my creative endeavors. I have started the process already. I’m getting ready to submit my own work to competitions and other venues to be seen and hopefully bought.
I have treated it like a job. And I’m treating this blog like a job, now at least (hiccups included). All the creative endeavors I want to make me money are being treated like a career.
That’s how you eventually get those jobs.
So to see it recognized by an – admittedly fictional – authority figure is reassuring at the juncture I find myself. Because it’s stressful doing so much to create art.
But it’s also incredibly nerve-wracking because the editorial considerations that Saiko and Shujin have no control over apply equally to my own creative endeavors. The market, the brand, the willingness to shell out cash for my work. As much as ability and professionalism can be taken into account, ultimately there are so many other factors that I’m still nervous about it at this point.
Nakai, Fukuda, and the Cliffhanger
Which is why ending on that goddamn cliffhanger was such a nightmare. I want to know man. I want to KNOW what happens for my bois. Right now I’m associating with them hard. And I feel for Nakai especially who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters for manning up so hard, but still being so insecure.
He feels like one of the most important characters aside from Saiko and Shujin because he is an equal demonstration of professionalism over raw talent. While Fukuda is mercifully more balanced this chapter, though still pretty annoying, Nakai’s desperation hurts because he’s staked his life on making this manga work and he’s in direct competition with the boys. I want him to succeed because he represents someone who is a late bloomer finally taking control of his destiny.
That said, given how he is not tied for first, I don’t see it happening for him yet.
It feels real, and it feels scary. But also exciting.
Hattori, Editors, and Stray Thoughts
This reaction has gotten absurdly long and I need to start wrapping up. But I will say that Hattori is the best. I love his dedication to getting the boys their series. That absolute faith is incredible to see. I don’t get his question about whether he’ll still be an editor for them though. That remains to be seen. I assume he’ll remain their editor going forward.
But finally, I love how stressful these meetings are for the juniors and the authors. It shows how the relationship between editors and mangaka is less clear cut than is usually suggested. Their own hopes and dreams hinge on the success of who they find. And waiting a whole work day to find out whether you get to give good news or bad news is horrifyingly stressful.
Finally, Hiramaru. He was mentioned at length and he represents a potential new threat to the boys. I wonder what Otter No. 11 is, and how it will factor into things moving forward.
Sweet baby jesus this reaction is a thicc boi, so I’m going to leave you here. Will they get their serialization? Find out with me next time.