Howdy Humans, and welcome to today’s read-through of Bakuman Chapter 35: Happiness and Sadness, where a new editor is introduced, brass tacks are discussed, and we finally move in the direction of dreams, with a dose of reality for good measure.
If you are not caught up and would like to be caught up (because, obviously), check the index here to start at Chapter 1. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at ease.
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Without further ado, the chapter.
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Happiness and Sadness Summary
Saiko and Shujin wonder who the second guy is. He introduces himself as Miura: he started work at Jump’s Editorial office last year; neither recognize him. He says he’s been there the whole time, watching them.
He sees their studio and is excited that they already have one. Saiko explains his relationship with Taro Kawaguchi while Hattori looks around. Miura asks about the rent: basically just utilities. Miura’s thrilled: usually, they’d have to pay for studio rent with their earnings, but that’s one less expense.
Hattori brings Miura back to reality to discuss the reason he’s there: the transfer.
Miura is going to be their editor moving forward.
Saiko and Shujin are, understandably, confused. Hattori explains that the higher-ups made the decision at Jump. He’s in charge of the new series Taracone, and he’s also been made the editor of One Piece (wtf), and asking someone to cover for him would be irresponsible. Therefore, Miura will cover for him.
Shujin asks whether that’s really necessary, and Hattori explains that it’s a standard operating procedure. Hattori tells a story of a veteran mangaka who came to the office to complain about his editor change, which Sasaki then quelled by being totally immovable on the subject.
Miura tells them they’d have no hope of convincing the Editor-in-Chief because they’re rookies, but also not to worry about it because he’s going to give it his all. Saiko and Shujin see the enthusiasm but are wary. They swallow their pride and accept the change.
Hattori leaves and wishes them well.
As he leaves, Miura explains the real situation: the brass chewed out Hattori for pestering him about staying on as their editor. Hattori privately wishes them good luck, but as he leaves, both of them sincerely thank him for all he’s done for their work.
In turn, he asks them to create something amazing. They both dejectedly stare as he departs. Saiko says his uncle told him you can’t fight editor changes; Shujin worries about whether their new editor will be “good” or “bad” as they discussed several chapters ago.
As they malinger, Miura comes out with BSE (Big Shonen Energy) and assures them both that as a 23-year old, he and they will charge to the top. Saiko is ambivalent about the cost of success and getting everything he wants in the worst possible way.
The three head back inside and are told of their yearly salary, which they think is ridiculously high (lol). Miura thinks it’s silly for high-schoolers, and also mentions they will not be paid extra to cover studio costs. He tells them their page rate is 12,000 yen per page. Miura clarifies that the 9,000 they were told about before was for one-shots, not for series. He also tells them to stop harping on the details.
He explains that Shueisha is the copyright holder and that they are to remain exclusive to Jump, which Shujin points out would be impossible anyway with the amount of work they’d be doing. Miura will bring the contracts next time. He then moves on to the assistants.
He’s hired a professional assistant on their behalf – Ogawa – but he’s short on (cheap) rookies who can lend a hand, so that’s all for now. He asks if they know anyone who could help. They both remember Ishizawa (ah, that douche) before immediately nixing that idea.
Miura keeps pushing and they ponder using Kaya for small tasks as a last resort. Miura checks that down as another task to complete. He says they’ll likely need 2 other assistants.
Shujin asks how much they should be paid. 10,000 yen per day for the younguns, so 160k a month for them and at least 380,000 for the professional. Shujin has a mild panic attack at that. That is the rate to match what he’s been paid previously, and he has skills they’ll definitely need so the other assistants can learn.
They’re also financially responsible for the assistants transportation and meals. They won’t be solvent until their first volume comes out, and they’re likely to be in the red if they don’t last 10 weeks. That said, because they have a studio, they might just survive. Shujin asks not to be reminded of cancellation.
Miura then asks about sleeping arrangements for the studio. They don’t have beds because Taro had two assistants who’d come in the early evening and leave the next day at the same time. Miura asks who his uncle was and freaks out when he finds out he’s related to Kawaguchi.
Miura fangirls and looks around the studio with renewed glee, and he’s even more excited to be working with Saiko. Saiko is worried by this guy’s enthusiastic energy about everything.
Miura says they’ll need a futon for people to sleep over and spare keys for the assistants. They should also tell the assistants about any off limits places.
For their schedule: each chapter is due 2 weeks before Jump is published. They need to be 2 chapters ahead of the Monday release. They should turn their chapters in by Friday. The first deadline is February 11.
Then Chapter 1 is 58 pages; Chapter 2 is 25, and those should be turned in asap. With Chapter 4, reader surveys start to matter. Saiko’s assessment of him changes. Shujin asks Miura about the other mangaka in their Jump Freshman Class, specifically Hiramaru.
Miura calls him the corporate dropout mangaka and explains his backstory. He’s a different type of genius from Nizuma, who was raised in manga while Hiramaru has seemingly mastered it a month in.
The Weight of Expectations
Hiramaru’s work is expected to be great, and everyone agrees so far that it’s likely to be a hit. He might even exceed Nizuma. Saiko and Shujin panic, but Miura assures them that they are not comparable series given its nature as a comedy. Saiko and Shujin – eager to not feel like trash – agree with him and see Miura in a new light.
Miura gets pumped again and celebrates the ability to fuck up when you’re young, much to the alarm of the two. Finally, they are invited to a new year’s party on January 17. Shujin recalls seeing other artists mention this party and asks whether they’re invited. They have a series, so yes. All mangaka are required to attend, lest their editors get punished.
Eek. Both are nervous, but Miura eases the tension: he and Hattori will be there, as will Nizuma. A car will pick them up on the 17th. They prepare to reject the offer, but Miura puts them at ease. Saiko narrates his own fears now that the practical realities of his new life are before him.
Saiko begins working on Chapter 1 the next day, and Kaya argues with Shujin about helping them out while five guys work together alone. She asks about Christmas, and Shujin is unsure, but Saiko thinks it’s ok. Shujin isn’t cool with it if Saiko’s not going to join in the fun.
Shujin explains to kaya that they have stiff competition among the new four series, so focusing on their work is essential right now. Shujin ends up working on Christmas Eve and Saiko’s worries about Miura dissipate as he bros out with Shujin. Miura tells them to focus on a rival: every good series has a rival.
Miura also lets them know he’ll bring the assistants on sunday for intros. On Sunday, he introduces the three assistants: Ogawa, a young man, and a young woman. Shujin panics about the girl, but Miura says she’s a great find and has experience in Shojo manga already. Miura pokes fun at him but he explains it’s his girlfriend.
The assistants and Saiko stand in awkward silence, as the chapter concludes.
Happiness and Sadness Reaction
Panel of the Week
This is, admittedly, a weird panel of the week. While the draftsmanship is there and it’s rendered highly realistically, it’s also just a regular apartment elevator that one finds in Tokyo all around.
But in context, it stands as this small panel of emptiness that feels heavier given that it signifies the (hopefully) temporary departure of Akira Hattori. In the context of his departure, that it is so realistically rendered – especially relative to the rest of the chapter – and that it is so starkly shaded gives it this really lonely vibe.
Despite being nothing in absence, it’s a potent image of loneliness and departure. And it also just catches the eye because of how detailed it is.
Sometimes, simplicity overtakes complex beauty.
So, the prevailing feeling I got reading this chapter aside from “oh, look, more sausage being made” is, “uh-oh”. I also guess I was wrong when I thought there was nothing to worry about in the last chapter with the mention of Hattori being their editor moving forward.
That said, Miura is giving off vibes and I. Am. Ambivalent.
On the one hand, I really love his energy. He’s ebullient, and he’s loud and boisterous and seems pretty free-flowing, which can be good for a mangaka just starting out. But he’s also ringing a particular plot-point bell that was mentioned all the way back in…chapter 8 I want to say.
Bad editors can fuck your shit up.
Granted, when they were musing on “good” and “bad” editors, it gave off a vibe of editors who were indifferent to their wards and ultimately didn’t give them the tools they needed for success. As far as I can see, Miura gives them brass tacks immediately and some much-needed rigidity and commentary. But this is like how the editors talked about Detective Trap in the serialization meeting, and it has nothing to do with the quality.
There is a wrongness, an absence. I was wary of it, but now it’s starting to ring some bells in a way that gives me an uncomfortable inkling—more on that in a bit.
Hattori’s Exit and Shifting Editors
Hattori’s exit was gracefully done, and I hope this isn’t the end of his presence in the manga. Given how characters can disappear pretty regularly, I wouldn’t be surprised – Ishizawa and Iwase come to mind – but he’s so important. I really hope we see him again.
And it’s equally and endearing and heartbreaking that the reason he was functionally shitcanned as their editor was his perseverance to remain their editor. D’awww.
I do like that Hattori is made the editor of One Piece if for no other reason than he gets to preside of Thriller Bark, Saboady, and Impel Down arcs. But also, given how huge One Piece is within Jump, that’s a sincere love letter to the character from the creators that they like him so much they put him in charge of Jump’s biggest property.
But the concept of shifting editors is troubling if, ultimately, it makes sense. Sometimes a good manga will take a sharp left turn during its run, and often that’s chalked up to the authors themselves. But as Bakuman has made pretty clear, there is a strong relationship between the editors and the mangaka, so it makes sense that some stories will be changed depending on who is at the editorial helm.
Really, I’m just worried for Ashirogi sensei. Not because Miura himself is bad, but because he’s unknown, and it’s unclear how his radically different approach will affect Saiko and Shujin’s manga production and storytelling. He seems to care genuinely. He’s young. He’s full of fire, and he’s on point, but he’s also willing to make mistakes and actually celebrates that fact. He has a severe case of foot-in-mouth syndrome.
It’s a question mark that I hope is answered soon.
But one thing he brought up and one thing I wanted to harp on.
The financials and scheduling
This chapter was a fucking goldmine in terms of giving a better understanding of how mangaka make their money and why they are so broke all the time.
When I initially read it, the page rate was actually not entirely unreasonable. Most manga tend to have 19 pages per week and 12,000 yen is approximately 112 dollars USD. Double for color pages. So in isolation, you could live reasonably comfortably on those rates + a salary.
But then he mentioned the assistants and their associated costs. The cost of rent and utilities and then I remembered that pages will be their only source of income until licensing deals come, if they get licensing deals at all. And then that’s not accounting for the fact that they’re splitting the page rate evenly amongst themselves.
That’s… horrific. I wasn’t quite bothered by the fact that Shueisha owns the rights to their work since that is a common thing in creative industries. It happens in screenwriting as well, and it is simply the nature of the beast. Is there a better way? Probably, but for the time being, rights being corporately owned is a simple reality of creative endeavors.
In case you were wondering why I always plug artists getting paid. This is the reason. Unless they are successful in a comically improbable way, they’re barely making ends meet. That is to say nothing of paying for their families and living expenses.
And I know it’s not always possible to buy some manga – Kingdom isn’t officially licensed in English yet, nor is Jojo Part 7 – but if you have the ability, do buy something from the mangaka, especially merch, which tends to have greater profit margins for the creators than their actual job. Buying a subscription for Shonen Jump is a small, tangible show of support, which is why I plug it, even if you’re on a budget.
I’m sad now.
I do love how hard this chapter smacked me in the face with reality. It lends itself to a degree of verisimilitude. I also like that the mangaka tends to be working in advance of the release schedule. It makes sense, honestly, even if the work schedule is still murderously over the top.
New Years Party and New Assistants
I don’t have much to say on these points other than I find it hilarious them having to figure out how to factor Kaya into the studio now with three new bodies. The assistants are unknown quantities, and I’m eager to get to know them. Given how much work is about to go down, they should offer an interesting new dynamic to the situation.
As for the new year part, I have no idea what that is about. But I’m interested to see where this goes. Given that corporate parties are always rather awkward and weird, it should be interesting to see what brand of corporate weirdness jump engages in. I also like the implicit threat from Miura that: don’t fuck this up for me, guys.
Hiramaru was mentioned again. I wonder what his deal is. I don’t have much to say, other than another genius means more competition. Frightening.
Detective Trap Status
This chapter’s changeup is another part of the equation for Detective Trap’s success that remains to be seen. While presumably, it should do ok, this is the second development that has called into question its long-term success potential.
As their financials make clear. Long-term success is necessary for them to be solvent and now with the editorial team being respectful, if not enthusiastic, about their work. And now there is a new editor.
Will Detective Trap survive?
It’s an ongoing question, and I don’t like the way it’s developing.
But it remains to be seen.
With that question I leave you until next time.
11 thoughts on “In Happiness and Sadness, a new editor changes directions (Bakuman Chapter 35)”
One thing about Akira Hattori: like a lot of the other editors in Bakuman, he’s based on a real Jump staffer (full name Akira Jean-Baptiste Hattori, speaking of wtf) who actually did edit One Piece for a while. Taracone appears to be a manga that only exists in the Bakuman universe, though.
Hmm, using the handy “one yen equals one U.S. cent” rough-conversion method, 12,000 yen per page x 19 pages x 50 chapters per year equals a gross pay of $114,000 U.S. for the boys’ first year, out of which would come the assistants’ salaries and expenses, not to mention income tax. And, of course, whatever is left is being split between two collaborators. Lucky for them they still live at home and are able to use a studio rent-free.
Given that Japanese publishers own the copyrights to the manga they publish, I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of a manga-ka being replaced on their own creation by someone else because contract-renewal talks broke down. (There’s a story that the newspaper syndicate that distributed Peanuts had a year’s worth of strips, written and drawn by someone else, ready for use in case Charles Schulz ever held out for too much money. They were never published because eventually things got to a point where Schulz could say, in effect, “I’m already rich beyond my wildest dreams, so if you don’t agree to my terms I’ll just quit!”) Maybe in Japan they figure the readers wouldn’t support, for example, a Naruto that wasn’t by Kishimoto.
Who the heck was Takahashi? The name does not ring a bell.
I did not know that bit about Hattori. Thanks for the heads-up, that makes more sense. Although I still love the character regardless.
I would not complain making 114K a year, I’ll say that much. And if they get successful and get some of these sweet sweet royalties off of tankobon sales, all the better. But given that paying all three of their assistants will cost more than they earn per page. Oy. It is a good thing they’re young and don’t have too many living expenses yet.
Interesting. I’m not surprised by the Charles Schulz anecdote, although it’s certainly revealing how companies use and wield copyright. It may be a cultural difference that you haven’t found any anecdotes, or it may be behind a very significant NDA for the times it does happen. Who knows.
Takahashi was one of their middle school friends who liked to brag about his ability to draw manga, but really only drew cute girls and had no future in the industry. He was brought to mind when the boys were asked if they knew anybody who could work as an assistant.
Regarding replacing a manga-ka: there was a Jump manga called Act-Age that got cancelled abruptly last year because its author (a different person from the artist) had confessed to committing a sexual assault (he was later convicted). You’d think that if there were any circumstance that would justify replacing one writer with another, this would be it, but Shueisha just cancelled the series in the middle of a story arc and ceased publication of the tankoubons and digital chapters. This must have been tough on the artist, who had no personal connection with the author, but apparently she’s been getting published on other projects since then.
Wasn’t Ishizawa the name of the classmate with the limited drawing skills?
I followed the Act-Age situation pretty closely because, at the time, it was the last manga I had to read to be current at Jump. It’s a really fucked situation and I’m glad the artist is getting work. But to your point, that is odd. I’m going to assume there is a cultural element as American publishing has always struck me as particularly cutthroat in its dogged pursuit of profit. Or at least, the more I learn about it, the more evident that profit motive is the overriding factor in American publishing. Not that it isn’t in Japan, but it’s not so overweening that they’ll change authors midstream.
They will however, change editors 😀
You’re right. It’s Ishizawa, do not know where Takahashi is coming from. I’m going to make that correction. Danke!
It occurs to me that if Act-Age had continued with another writer, the disgraced predecessor would still be collecting royalties on tankoubon and digital editions of the chapters he had written. By doing what they did, Shueisha ensured he would never make any more money off of it. Maybe that was their reasoning. I wonder what a publisher would do if something similar happened – but due to the writer suddenly dying, or something else that involved no wrongdoing. Given the punishing schedules manga-ka live by, there must be some real-life situations similar to Uncle Nobu’s.
Ahh, I hadn’t thought of that. The interesting thing about Act-Age is that it was removed entirely from Shueisha’s catalog, so I think the punishment is important here. I have yet to find a situation where the author abruptly died mid-process and the manga continued. However, there are soft hiatuses like Togashi, where the manga languishes in rights limbo (HxH isn’t available in the WSJ vault). Perhaps they just let it hang like a dangling thread? Certainly an interesting question.
I note that Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, has died suddenly. The magazine that published his manga is owned by a company that is owned in turn by Shueisha. It will be interesting to see if it continues under another hand, just stops where it is, or perhaps is turned over to someone else just long enough to provide the readers with an ending, as has been done with American comic strips.
I should add that Miura was both the artist and writer, so it’s not the same situation as we were talking about, but Berserk had been going since 1989 (!!!), so it’s presumably a cash cow for its publishers – who may not want to see it end.
Hey Rusty, I just heard the news. I’m devastated. My friend – who is much closer to Berserk than I am – is pretty defeated, but speculated that this may explain the hiatuses that have been going on. It will be an interesting question for going forward.
To your point, however, there was a whole hullabaloo a little while back about Miura starting Duranki and how he noted it was “training his assistants to be assistants to his art”, given this tragic news, one wonders if this training was done with some prior knowledge of the situation.
In any case, we have truly lost a giant, and it’s going to be a while before we get any clear discussion on the future of Berserk. My thoughts go to his family.
If you haven’t seen it already, here’s an interesting article on how mangaka Jun Watanabe is asking publicly if it’s OK that new manga creators are paid the same manuscript fees as he was when he debuted 30 years ago. Bakuman is used as one example of what newbies can expect to get – the numbers in this chapter, not surprisingly, seem to be in line with what the boys would have received in real life.
Huh, interesting. When I was thinking of the page rate + salary I totally spaced on the fact that you may not be serialized for more than a year, which would make living pretty tough even with royalties factored in. He probably has a point. With that in mind, Japan’s still got that whole deflationary market problem that has been ongoing for the last 30 years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if wage stagnation was a result of that.
Either way, interesting.