Ohaiyou gozaimasu and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 45: Illness and Motivation, in which I get really, really angry.
If you are not caught up, please use this handy-dandy index to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter. Read at your leisure.
If you’d like to read along, buy the Tankobon here or subscribe to Weekly Shonen Jump. I recommend WSJ because it’s cheap as shit and you get more content, but I’m not affiliated with VIZ Media. I just want artists to get paid. I like when that happens.
Without further ado, the chapter.
Illness and Motivation Summary
Bring me the Pages
The group discusses Saiko’s condition with the doctor: his liver is infected and the diseased part needs to be removed by surgery.
Saiko asks Shujin to bring his pages. He’ll be in the hospital for three months, so he’ll have to draw there.
Everyone is, understandably, shocked. Saiko sees the color pages as their chance for a big break so he’ll work in the hospital. Miura immediately jumps into action to stop this dumb-as-shit approach. Miura asks the doctor whether Saiko needs rest. He does, he’s suffering from malnutrition as well. His mother looks on worried but Saiko’s undeterred by his failing body.
He lifts himself out of bed to go back to work. “People don’t die that easily”.
The doctor explains that he’ll worsen his condition if he pushes himself further. If he does nothing he could risk irreparable damage to his body. Given that whole oath to do no harm, the doctor ain’t having that.
Saiko asks to work in the hospital instead. And, more importantly: there are no breaks for a weekly series.
Hattori and Miura are taken aback by his fervor but want him to rest and want him to go back to bed. Getting better matters more than the deadlines. Unlike Hiramaru, he’s earned some rest.
Saiko’s desperate not to go on hiatus, especially now that they’ve started to get popular. He asks for understanding. Hiatus will be the kiss of death for a series less than 20 chapters in.
Miura asks about the status of Chapter 18. It’s got only a little left. Miura asks if the assistants can finish the chapter on his behalf. He wants to ink the characters. He’s a professional…
Miura asks how long that would take: about three or four hours. But he wants to hand in the color pages at the same time, so it’ll take the whole day. Miura asks the doctor if he can give Saiko some hours to take care of the pages.
Saiko’s mother finally snaps: do they want to kill Saiko he’s not a robot. Miura apologizes.
The Doctor assures Saiko’s mother that he’ll get rest no matter what.
The visiting hours have ended so he ushers everybody out. He lets Saiko know that as long he’s in bed, he has nothing to worry about.
The assistants get a call from Miura explaining the situation. He asks them to finish Chapter 18 for him. He’s going to talk to Sasaki for more information and he’ll call tomorrow.
Miura laments that the series will need to go on hiatus to Hattori who sees no other option.
Shujin laments himself as he bikes home until he gets a call. It’s Saiko having tricked the hospital staff and asks Shujin to bring the pages from Chapter 18. Shujin is the only one he can rely on. He’s a professional, he can’t drop the ball.
Shujin asks whether he can actually do the work while in the hospital. Saiko explains there’s only an old man in the room and it’ll be fine as long he hides it from the staff. He asks for a flashlight so he can do it Nakai style even at night. He doesn’t have school to worry about either.
Shujin tells him he’ll wait until he recovers.
Saiko flips out at this perceived betrayal: they’re going to lose their readers at this rate. The operation will fix everything. These colors pages are going to be our breakout and chance to beat Eiji. They’ve gotta save Trap. they’ve gotta repay Hattori et. al.
Shujin under immense pressure buckles and decides to bring the pages over to him. Saiko gives him the visiting hours.
Shujin calls Kaya asking where she is. She turns it back on him: where is he, she’s at the studio and everybody else is down in the dumps and his phone was turned off. She asks if he’s cheating. He asks to meet a Momiji park.
Sasaki and Heishi talk with Miura about their decision to serialize high school students. Sasaki asks about Saiko’s wishes to ink the characters. Sasaki plans to run the completed pages with a plan to fill the extra two pages and announce the hiatus. Miura’s disappointed, but expects it.
Sasaki immediately knows that Saiko will be persistent about drawing in the hospital. Miura confirms that shakily. Sasaki orders Miura to keep tabs on him and to not indulge the whims of the mangaka over the doctor’s orders.
Kaya freaks out over the operation. Shujin explains it’s a straightforward operation but it’ll take time before the operation and it’ll take three months for discharge. Hiatus looks likely. Obviously. Shujin explains Saiko’s request and Kaya pushes back, like a rational human being.
Shujin couldn’t say no, he agrees with Saiko on this one.
Kaya brings him in close…
And then slaps the ever-loving shit out of him for being a fucking idiot. She says a real friend would tell him no and she calls him pathetic. He agrees, but he and Saiko are more than just friends, they’re two halves of a whole and he doesn’t want to lose what they just got. He feels survivor’s guilt over not getting sick. He could handle storyboarding in the hospital.
He then asks how to tell Miho but Kaya thinks she doesn’t need to know. Shujin points out that she’s been reading regularly, so she’ll know if it’s on hiatus. She agrees and thinks he should tell her after the operation. Shujin asks whether she’d be ok in similar circumstances.
Shujin sees Miho as his only hope to deter Saiko from acting like an obsessed idiot and actually rest. He admits, however, that there is a possibility that nothing will stop him. Kaya thinks she’ll take the news badly, either way but Shujin thinks she’s stronger than that. At the end of the day, they’ll have to tell her since she’s Saiko’s girlfriend.
Miho gets the news
Miho gets a call and Shujin asks for calm immediately. She gets the news as dinner starts. She rushes into her mother’s arms and explains the situation. She wants to go stop him from being a fucking idiot and working on his manga. Shujin says they’re his only hope.
She explains and her Mother sees why she likes him. her mother asks Mina to go upstairs but Mina doesn’t want to see her sister remain sad.
She reassures her sister that Japan has great doctors and her Mother says she can go visit him tomorrow instead of going to school. Keep smiling.
At the hospital.
Kato’s at the hospital watching over Saiko sayings it’s her duty to do so. Poor girl. Work starts a 4 so she can stay there. Saiko says he’s fine and he’s waiting for his parents to visit. Kato mentions she met his mother yesterday. Saiko privately wants Shujin to get a move on so he can start drawing.
They hear a knock on the door and Miho comes in.
Kato freaks out at seeing the girlfriend and Saiko freaks out at Miho being there. Kato, embarrassed, rushes out and Saiko thanks her for her hard work but she says he doesn’t need to explain that. Kato finds Miho obnoxiously attractive and way out of her league. Miho asks to come in.
Saiko asks what the deal is they were supposed to wait until their dreams come true. She reminds him of his own attempts to see her a few chapters ago and he says it was an emergency.
Saiko – not seeing the emergency despite being in the literal fucking hospital – says he’s still working on her dreams and she doesn’t have to worry. As long as he works through this, his goal is in sight. She’s taken aback but keeps a smile on her face.
She asks to talk to him anyway, especially after coming all this way and she remembers that she’s the only hope of him acting like a normal person.
She begins a question as the chapter concludes.
Illness and Motivation Reaction
Saiko, What the Fuck
Ok. yeah. I’m mad.
Saiko: you’re being a fucking idiot. Full stop. Just. Ugh.
*impotently love taps all the objects in my room out of rage*
Ok. Ok. Yeah. This chapter made me pretty angry. And like, I’m really frustrated. I sincerely hope that someone slaps some goddamn sense into our main characters like Kaya did to Shujin. Because Jesus fucking christ dude: you’re in. the. HOSPITAL FROM OVERWORK.
I haven’t gotten viscerally infuriated by a character’s poor decision-making like this since Robb Stark decided to bury his dick in some on-the-field doctor and got his whole family murdered brutally. Or since Walder Frey fucking did that shit.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Fortunately, I’m only really angry at Saiko not prioritizing his health before his work, because, for the most part, aside from Shujin – who we will get to – everyone else recognizes that the boy needs to rest and recover and get his damn surgery. By and large, everyone here is acting mature.
Although I don’t think I should be surprised, it did ultimately surprise me how Sasaki immediately saw the danger in letting him continue and had the good sense to start a hiatus. That was actually…surprising. At least for the 2009 version of Shonen Jump.
The Big Three
Taking a slight detour into some history, Shonen Jump in decades past has kind of had a notoriously brutal work schedule which, 19 pages a week of a story good enough to continue being paid for more chapters, yeah. Stressful.
And of the major properties in Jump the Big Three are emblematic of the “work until you drop” mentality that seems to have been the SOP for Jump for decades. Those series – One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto – all exceeded 680 chapters and more, and at least for Tite Kubo, it affected their health severely.
But in the old school, it was ride or die, especially since there were print considerations and it was hard to justify letting the biggest property go on persistent breaks. To wit, Kishimoto didn’t even go on his honeymoon with his wife whom he married in 2004 until the conclusion of Naruto in 2015.
But recently, there has been what seems to be a major shift in manga production with the more recent series like Jujutsu Kaisen, Spy x Family, and Kaiju No. 8; in fact, Akutami’s recent hiatus was specifically due to health concerns. And for Kaiju No. 8 and Spy x Family, Manga Plus seems to be actively incorporating rest periods in between to give the mangaka room to breathe.
And hiatuses have been around for ages, but they’ve only become what seems to be a more common occurrence recently with the advent of digital manga where print production isn’t an inhibiting factor, and popularity won’t live on the pages alone but in message boards, and online social media presence.
Which is to say, the way that the series is handling this reads as more novel than Jump’s history would suggest circa the early 2010s. This actually makes the fact that they forced Akutami onto hiatus more understandable
Shujin What the Fuck
While I do appreciate the Miho Gambit he pulls at the end of the chapter the fact that he’s even CONSIDERING giving Saiko pages to work on is fucking ludicrous. Dude, I don’t care how attached to your manga you are, when someone has to go into SURGERY, you let them fucking rest and take the goddamn L.
And I know I know, he’s worried about his chances with this series, and cancellation is a big deal and it will hold them back. But also, ya boi Saiko has to get goddamn surgery from overwork.
I don’t know where this arc is heading, but I sincerely hope the rest of the people end up holding true to their current frustration with Saiko and not letting him work. In fact, I want this arc to be over relatively quickly. Because it’s a dumb conflict.
Why is it a dumb conflict?
Saiko’s in the Goddamn hospital
Yeah. That’s the reason.
Like, I know that in Japan there is a pretty serious difference between their conception of work culture and our conception of work culture. It is frowned upon to go on holiday and it’s normal to spend hours in the office looking like you’re working because that is expected of you regardless of your pay but also.
Saiko’s in the goddamn hospital and even Jump is concerned about his health. When the corporate entity famous for working people to the bone gets on your case for working too damn much, ya done goofed.
It also doesn’t help that Saiko is being a total fucking asshole about the whole experience too. He’s willfully deceiving his parents to get the pages, he’s being hard-headed in a way that’s just obnoxious, especially when he looks like death warmed over. And he’s lost in the delusion that this is his shot.
And look. Look. I get it, man. I really do. I want my art to be successful and I want to make a living off of it, but running yourself into the ground when you’re already in the hospital doesn’t actually make things better, it makes you more likely to die from overwork. A fact which was true to the tune of 743,000 people last year.
Aside from my anger about Saiko being a dumbass, I should probably talk about Miho or something.
Miho’s Mom is making me ambivalent and Breaking Promises?
On the one hand, I do admire that Miho’s mom is paying attention to her children and being considerate, and doing things to comfort Miho, but I think the comment on Saiko’s hard-working nature was a little much. Again, there are cultural differences to consider when talking about this, but now’s not the time to be propping up Saiko as a paragon of working hard.
Also, I wonder how the authors will play this meetup with Miho. Will they actually get him to calm the fuck down and listen to his doctor? I mean, I’d be for that. Will these two dingbats finally actually act like real teens and start spending time with each other? Hard to say, but I’m at least hopeful that they’ll do something that isn’t totally going to hamstring their efforts at a successful healthy relationship down the line.
One can hope, at the very least. It also doesn’t help that Saiko’s fully in deluded dreamland. Oy.
And poor Kato. The girl’s got it bad. Mercifully she doesn’t seem to be willing to risk Saiko’s wellbeing to get his attention and she knows when she’s not going to be the subject of his affection. But ouchies. that one sucks.
Should they retain high schoolers?
This is a question that I didn’t really know where to fit anywhere else. I think the answer is less straightforward than Sasaki and Heishi make it out. There is a genuine issue of temperament and circumstance here affecting Saiko. If he was a little easier on himself in literally every way possible he’d probably be fine.
Granted, a high schooler in the world of manga is an inherently silly prospect, but I don’t think it’s impossible to maintain, granted, the person doing it has to not be invested in high school or may have to work on a different schedule…
You know what, maybe they are right.
Honestly. I don’t know. But in all cases, this situation is ugly, and if I’m being honest, I would have preferred literally any other way for the axe of damocles to fall,
But this is what we got.
Until next time.