I’m baacckk from my month-long move and I’m ready to talk about Bakuman Chapter 42: Humor and Dialogue. In which we admire things going well, talk about good instincts, and see what red herrings are there.
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Without further ado, the chapter.
Humor and Dialogue Summary
Fallback and Weight Loss
April 8th and the boys are now seniors in high school. While heading to school they discuss the seating arrangement of Kaya behind Saiko. She beats him senseless when he makes snide remarks. He wonders why they even changed homerooms this late and Shujin explains that it’s to divide the college and non-college tracks.
Saiko is even more surprised that Kaya plans to go to college. Kaya’s about to sock him when he recants due to his being a professional mangaka ruining his schoolwork. He doesn’t care about college, but Shujin thinks it’s important to have a fallback in case the series get axed. Saiko bitches and moans but Shujin explains it’ll be easier to do in college than high school; besides, Miho’s also going to college so they should be on the same page.
Saiko keeps bitching about how he doesn’t want to do any work to get into college, and wishes they’d let him in based on his actual job, sounding a lot like Hiramaru before Shujin asks about his weight loss. Saiko plays off his loose pants as part of being so busy which puts Kaya and Shujin on alert. He tells them not to worry about it and he asks Shuijin about his own college plans.
Shujin doesn’t want to go either, although he’s interested in studying criminal psychology for Detective Trap. He nixes that idea since he’s studying on his own. He figures he’s doing it to please his parents. Nothing more.
He’ll have an easier time drawing manga in college, than while working. But if Trap gets popular, he won’t bother with college.
New Opponents and A Sense of Humor
Saiko discusses the results from the early results for Chapter 7 at 13th place. He agrees with Miura that Chapter 6 did better because of its case resolution, so they’ll need to depend on those for popularity. Shujin privately freaks about their stagnant popularity.
Shujin is more concerned about Fukuda and Nakai/Aoki’s entrance into the scene. They’re coming out in the next two weeks, and they’ve likely improved since the Cup. They discuss who is in the office at this time: probably Takahama reading manga or working on his storyboards.
They’re right: he’s reading Jump. They greet him and he doesn’t answer. Shujin makes a joke about him being uncomfortable with Kaya; he didn’t know whether to respond to the good morning or the good afternoon…he’s also been talking to Ogawa and Kato. Takahama asks about next week’s issue of Jump and Trap’s chances.
They tell him about Chapter 7’s lackluster performance and he mentions Miura’s 15th place chopping block warning.
Takahama is biased but he thinks Trap should be Top 10 (good guy Takahama). He wonders aloud whether it’s the right fit for Jump. Saiko explains that it’s not Jump’s brand, but that they’re hoping to build an audience for it and are waiting for people to get with the program. Shujin asks what they should do.
Takahama mentions that Otter is funny which Shujin thinks obvious since it’s, y’know a gag manga. Takahama suggests that maybe Trap should have more gags in it. Kaya doesn’t get that since it’s not a gag manga. Takahama explains that “Technically” otter is a story manga with gags and not a gag manga, and you don’t need to make people laugh solely with gags.
His suggestion is to soften up the story with some humor.
Shujin recalls Miura’s assessment of the story as stiff and he thinks humor might be the key, although Kaya points out one needs a sense of humor for that to work. Shujin asks what that means; it means he has a funny face.
Damn Kaya, you cold as ice.
Shujin decides to buy comedy software and chalk it up as a deductible because it’s for their business (lol). Shujin will now study humor like a fucking nerd and totally in character. Kaya likes it, Saiko expects it, Takahama says nothing.
Ranking Changes and Hattori’s Advice
Miura looks over the final report and sees it did one rank better than the early results. It’s still not good, though, and a new manga will only make Trap’s position weaker. Miura gets in his head about all the things that could go wrong if it keeps on this trajectory while Hattori watches.
He asks Hattori bluntly about his opinion on Trap. Hattori demures: he’s not their editor. Miura thinks they’ll have to resort to cheap gimmicks if they get 15th but Hattori simply says there is no rule for that. Miura thinks he’s being cold, especially since he lobbied so hard for them, how is he not worried? Hattori explains he is worried.
Hattori keeps his laconic streak up and making nothing clearer for poor Miura. Miura has an outburst for which he apologizes: the weak rankings are stressing him out so he’s on edge; he points to their inexperience but doesn’t want to attribute their failure to it. Hattori points out that rankings have nothing to do with experience or else the oldies would always be at the top.
Miura agrees, but he doesn’t know what’s holding them back so he asks. Hattori gives him the simple answer: good instincts. Miura flounders because that advice is unhelpful: you’re born with good instincts. Aren’t you? Hattori goes out for a smoke while Miura ponders this advice.
He hits the jackpot: he has to cultivate their instincts. Miura looks through recent copies of Jump. His epiphany has him bolt out of the office and to the bookstore before his meeting with Ashirogi.
At the meeting Miura’s shocked to find that he and Shujin are on the same page: they both want him to research. Miura got them books related to quotes. He got the idea after reading otter.
He explains that while Otter’s quotes don’t always make sense, Hiramaru has incredible instincts for humor so they’re always funny. Miura sees Shujin’s ability to absorb information like a sponge and recommends he polish his dialogue by watching DVDs obsessively. Miura clarifies: don’t steal. Miura expects results after Chapter 10.
Miura will also study dialogue to help them out and tells them not to worry right now about serialization as that’s still in early may so they can do this. Saiko admires their attitude and agrees to step up his art even more.
Kiyoshi Knight Ranking
That Tuesday – April 12th – Miura checks the rank for Chapter 8 of Trap; he’s resigned to poor rankings until chapter 11. The ranking surprises him, especially given Kiyoshi Knight getting 1st (and Yujiro celebrating). Saiko, Shujin, and kaya talk about the fact that Miura hasn’t shared the rankings – likely to spare their feelings because they are poor – and mope about their inability to gain a following. Saiko wonders why Miura hasn’t reached out and is freaking.
Saiko asks Shujin about their upcoming meeting which will be about their research and assumes Shujin will be informed in person. Probably dead last.
At the meeting, Shujin and Miura pore over the research and find value in them already. Shujin will be able to use them to create the recipe for good humor. Miura hopes it helps with Chapter 11’s ranking. Shujin asks the dreaded rankings question, only for Miura to tell him they made 9th: better than before. Shujin doesn’t understand. Miura doesn’t either, but he didn’t want to talk about the early results and get their hopes up.
Final Report and Second Wind
On April 15th, the final report gives Kiyoshi Knight second place – by six votes – and Trap ninth place. Miura is confuzzled by it and Hattori asks why he’s so flustered if they’re doing well. Hattori assures him he’ll figure it out.
The next week Hideout Door gets first place, although the editors think the second week will reveal better information about it since the art is absurdly phenomenal (see: unsustainably so). Trap moves to eighth place.
The next week, Miura shares the final report for Chapter 10 to the boys directly: Sixth place.
They’re both delighted and shocked by the bump and Saiko’s happy that their faith in Shujin’s story was rewarded. Miura’s happy because it means they didn’t need to polish the dialogue. Miura ponders why they shot up and Saiko explains how case resolution ties into popularity.
It also means that people have grown comfortable reading detective manga in Jump. At this point, Miura brings out the fan mail they’ve received. At first, he didn’t show them because he had to read them, but now they’re getting so much mail that there’s nowhere in the office to hold them. Miura directs their attention to the postmarks, and how the volume is increasing: Saiko’s intuition is correct. People are warming up.
A quick peek at the other newbies.
We’re given a snap of the current rankings for the four manga rivals with Crow at the top in 3rd, Hideout Door in 5th, Detective Trap in 6th, and Kiyoshi Knight in 7th. with Otter No. 11 at 4th place.
Nakai is pumped, Fukuda’s pissed that Ashirogi’s outdoing him and Hiramaru has run away from his job. Nizuma’s prediction that Ashirogi would do well is confirmed a fact which Yujiro remembers from Chapter 18 and Eiji comments that now that Fukuda and Nakai are involved, it’s never been so much fun.
Miura leaves the boys with the note that even though Chapter 11 may not have a resolved case, the improved dialogue means it will rank even higher as the chapter closes.
Humor and Dialogue Reaction
Panel of the Week
This chapter was very much a workhorse getting people and things from Point A to Point B so there was little to admire on the art front, that said I like this panel featuring the protagonists of the main four series we’re watching because it gives us a little insight into the psychology of the characters who wrote them.
Fukuda’s main character as a Yankee is rough and tumble with an overdeveloped physique and a scowl on his face which is perfectly illustrative of how Fukuda probably imagines himself; Trap is mysterious and has Saiko’s hairdo and reflects where Ashirogi’s strength as a storyteller is; Hideout Door is elegant and overtly beautiful, and more reflective of Aoki than it is of Nakai, although Nakai’s draftmanship is coming through; and Crow has subtle chaos to him evocative of Eiji, including the feathers popping out of his black get up and head.
All in all, its lines up with how art often reflects its creator more than vice versa. A nice panel, if not the best of the bunch.
With that said.
Humor and Dialogue
Alright, so this chapter is doing the meta-fiction well again by mentioning humor in a humorous sequence with Kaya “trying” to be funny. Sigh. I imagine this will be a continuing habit, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
The one thing I do find hysterical, and also instructive, more on that in a bit, however, is that Shujin does research on how to be funny by reading. What a fucking nerd.
Genuinely, though, I’m fine with it. I do the same damn thing.
This chapter brought up an interesting concept in creative writing not often discussed: instincts and I will go to Mr Sanderson for this one.
I believe in an interview with Daniel Greene, the hilariously prolific Brandon Sanderson mentions that part of the reason he’s so, well, prolific, is that he’s developed his instincts for writing over the course his 30+ book body of work. Each time he writes and gets feedback from the previous book, his instincts for what makes that book good improve. It’s a form of muscle memory. He’s not thinking out every single point for its quality. he knows which things work, and which do not, so he focused on the more esoteric elements that create a good story.
The caveat, obviously, is that he sometimes relies on well-worn storytelling that he’s done in the past. But my contract as a fanboy permits me only one piece of legitimate criticism of him at a time.
You can improve your creative craft by mimicking others and aping their styles and honing your instincts like Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ursula K. LeGuin talked about doing that, and I’m currently tracing Manga panels in Clip Studio Paint to get a feel for drawing comic pages because I don’t have any ability to speak of. Hell, even Saiko redrew Dragon Ball chapters in Chapter 10. Even if it’s not original, it’s giving you the mechanical elements necessary to bring your vision to life
The point is, if you ape the greats, you can develop the muscle memory they have and it will incorporate into your style and makes your style improve, assuming you actually cultivate your voice more. You cultivate intuition.
Case in point Nizuma’s ability isn’t just magic. He’s obsessed with Manga to a degree that others simply aren’t. He’s read and drawn and obsessed over panels and making his own since he was a child. Because he’s done so much and churned out so much volume, his quality has gotten better as his instincts have improved. Like Mozart, his obsessive need to create gave him a significant advantage to the point where he’s a functional prodigy. His instincts are incredible.
So I’m glad to see Shujin and Miura playing to Shujin’s nerdy ass strength and focusing on researching humor and dialogue to improve them. And I like it more because of the…
Call me simple, but I’m a sucker for things going well for the protagonist. It eventually has to go wrong – and Trap is the subject of several potential pitfalls right now – But when things go well it thrills me because it means my boys are doing well.
And that makes the fact that they’re still working to improve themselves all the more satisfying. Because it means they’re not resting on their laurels and they’re taking their place in the magazine seriously. It makes me swoon.
It’s one of those things in creative fields that people overlook for the successful. You have to remain hungry, even when you’re at the top if you want to stay at the top. And even though they’re doing this because things have gone pear-shaped in the early rankings, they’re still translating their fear and anxiety into something positive and empowering.
I am all about that shit. Improve your craft even when you don’t have to and you only get better.
Let me languish in this wonderful feeling.
Anyway, let’s go over some other stuff quickly because I want to touch on some other stuff.
Our other good shonen bois and one shojo have entered the arena and it’s going to be interesting to see how their interplay works in the coming chapters. We didn’t see much of their work, but it looks like each character is handling their entrance in the way we’ve come to expect for each of them. I can only imagine how they’ll act when they’re in full-on series mode.
We’re not over 40 chapters in and we’re in series mode. Trap is doing well, but since this is a story there have to be things going wrong at all times to keep the story interesting. What will go wrong?
If I had to guess at this juncture, it’s probably the competition between the other three. While it’s not going to be easy for any of them I have a feeling that Kiyoshi Knight is going to pose the biggest challenge to the boys. Crow is going to remain a challenge no matter what because Nizuma is OP and he needs to remain their white whale for the foreseeable future.
But it could really go any number of ways, which is honestly a smart move. While the story is done now, there was a point when this was the new chapter and there was no guarantee of the full story being told.
How do you keep people reading? By making sure that the Manga and the Characters are imperiled. And at least for Saiko, there are growing hints of trouble.
Red Flag for Saiko
Saiko’s skinny and he’s losing weight. This is not good. It was only mentioned early on, but he’s already demonstrated an obsessive personality. An obsession that rivals his uncle.
Knowing just how taxing manga is on the body, he could do some real harm to himself if he’s not careful. And this isn’t the first time it’s been foreshadowed. During the Gold Future Cup, he similarly pushed himself to the brink. And now that he’s going hard on both school and manga it’s clearly taking a toll on him.
I’m concerned. Burnout is very real, and no amount of enthusiasm will save you from its pernicious influence. The dude is going to wreck himself if he’s not careful.
And if he does, that’d be bad for everybody.
Stay Safe Saiko. We don’t want you dying because of your dream. Just ride the wave and keep steady. Overdoing it will only harm you.
Trust me, I know. I have blogposts on here about it.
Final note. Good to see Hattori is still looking out for the boys on the sidelines. Doing what he can to keep the ship moving while not actually giving them the instructions to succeed. He’s a good mentor figure that way. Give the people enough to figure it out on their own, and then let them figure it out on their own.
But when’s all said and done, Trap is starting to do well, and their strategy looks to be paying off. Can they keep this up?
We’ll find out next time,
Until then, peace