Yo, my dudes, and welcome to Bakuman Chapter 46, Loving Gaze and Cooperation, in which I cannot control my abject rage anymore at Saiko’s bullshit.
If you have not read up to this point, please use this handy-dandy index to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter so read without fear.
If you’d like to read along, you can buy the Tankobon here or subscribe to Weekly Shonen Jump. I recommend WSJ because it’s cheap, and you get more content, but I’m not affiliated with VIZ Media. I just want artists to get that cheddar.
Without further ado, the chapter.
Loving Gaze and Cooperation Summary
Miho stands outside the doorway, remembering Shujin’s request. She asks whether Saiko will wait until he’s better to start working. Saiko says he can’t miss his deadlines and recognizes what the play is here. Miho tries to think of a solution while Saiko desperately wants the final draft to arrive, questioning whether Shujin’s even behind this attempt.
Miho begs Saiko to wait until he’s better, or she’ll start hating him. He calls her bluff and tells her to do it, then. She won’t leave until he promises. Ok. She really will hate him. That’s fine.
She calls him out for being unfair since he knows she’s bluffing. He says the same thing since she said something insincere. She apologizes and explains she’s been in love with him for eight years.
Saiko is genuinely surprised by this news and asks about the eight years part. She says since 4th grade, she’s been eying him, even though he took until sixth grade to notice her. She remembers him staring at the swim meet. She noticed him at the city festival in fourth grade.
Miho explains that he had a drawing on display at the town hall. Flashing back, Miho stares at the piece and tells her mother how much she likes it. Saiko has an adorable environmental message about birds and trees, and Miho’s mother notices the name. She wonders if Taro got married before remembering he had an older brother.
Mrs. Azuki admires the painting too, and Miho observes that Moritaka can also be read as Saiko. As she notices this quirk in his name, Saiko runs by with a friend who asks whether he wants to be a mangaka. Saiko downplays his interest, as young kids do, and thinks drawing ability matters more than style. He ushers his friend along to the boat race.
Back in the present, Miho explains that she was captivated by his drawing since then. Saiko wonders why she’s telling this to him now. She goes on about when their schools were next to each other, and she saw him at the Obayashi Stationary store.
Saiko’s having a fit of joy at the possibility of buying a very expensive compass used by professional mangaka like his uncle. His friend reminds him that they are just there to get compasses for math, but Saiko’s bowled over by the compass being legit mangaka tools. He asks his friend whether he has an additional 4000 yen lying around to add to his 500 to cover the cost. His friend points out the obvious: they’re kids, of course; they don’t have that kind of cash lying around.
…points for consistency, Saiko.
In the distance, Miho asks Kaya whether she has any money. Unfortunately, she only has 1,000 yen, not enough to cover him. Miho explains the way he stared at the compass with pure glee attracted her to him, and she ponders whether her own goal to be a voice actress influenced her attraction.
Which do you love more?
At the swim meet in which he finally noticed her, she tried to convey her love through her gaze, and she was always looking for him before and after school. The fact that they ended up in the same high school and then sat next to each other in their third year made her deliriously happy. And then he showed up at her house and declared his love, and she thought she would die of happiness.
But if she died, neither of their dreams could come true. She’s loved him since 4th grade, and he’s irreplaceable. So Miho begs Saiko to please wait until he’s out of the hospital to start drawing for her sake.
Saiko says nothing about this development, and Miho asks the important question: Is manga more important than her?
Saiko demures, claiming he can’t compare between the two, but if he had to choose…
….Saiko, you’re a dummy.
He shocks her by confronting her directly. Saiko asks whether she’s going to stay until he tells her he won’t draw. She says she’ll leave once visiting hours are over. Saiko explains they’d still run into each other at some point. Miho gets defensive, then apologizes.
Saiko says he’s going to keep drawing and tells her not to worry.
Nizuma talks to Yujiro about Ashirogi’s hiatus, which will start in issue 32. Nizuma’s disappointed, and Yujiro agrees, noting the editorial office being in “Chaos.”
Nizuma is equally disappointed that the great chapter idea he was planning to use to compete against Trap’s color pages won’t be able to compete with them. Yujiro says that shit happens in so many words when Nizuma asks to visit Saiko in the hospital. Yujiro gives him the hospital: Yakusa Municipal. Nizuma decides to go – he’s ahead on work as always (lol) – and Yujiro offers to join him, which is good since Nizuma doesn’t know how to get there by train.
Saiko Continues to Be a POS
Saiko calls Shujin talking about his absurd love of manga and how he feels like Joe Yabuki in his final match in Ashita No Joe (nice callback). Shujin’s shocked that his Miho Gambit failed and that Saiko’s comparing himself to Joe’s final battle in which the character ambiguously died….spoilers.
Saiko’s all cracked up on manga making and asks Shujin to bring materials down to the office. Shujin remembers Kaya’s sternly worded warning about friendship along with her slapping him upside the head and…
Immediately buckles under the pressures and decides to bring Saiko his materials. He won’t try to stop him again, and he apologizes for telling Miho.
God, they’re all so dumb. SO fucking dumb.
Saiko, smarmy, tells Shujin he knew about it and how despite ruining their promise not to meet each other, he’ll forgive them on the condition that he get the pages over to him.
I want to punch a wall.
Miho and Mom
Saiko invites Miho in, their promise now ruined, and as she comes in, so does Saiko’s mother. Saiko awkwardly introduces Miho to his mother, flip-flopping on whether they’re friends or more, and his mother is shocked into stunned silence and disbelief that someone as lovely as Miho would be interested in Saiko.
His mother’s unintentional savagery continues as she claims that being around such a cute girl is not good for a boy in his condition, which Saiko meekly agrees with.
Saiko politely asks his mother to leave them alone, which she agrees to and offers additional help. As she leaves, she’s surprised Saiko has a girlfriend, seeing manga as his one and only love.
For the love of manga
Nizuma enters the hospital as only Nizuma can and is surprised to see Saiko working on the colors pages from his hospital bed. Nizuma takes a beat and then heads out immediately, satisfied that the fire hasn’t gone out for Saiko’s competitive edge, much to Yujiro’s frustration.
As they leave, Yujiro is shocked to learn that Saiko also has a girlfriend, and he thought Miho was Kaya. Nizuma points out that she looks exactly like Ami, the heroine in Trap. Awww. Although she’s cuter than Ami. Yujiro agrees. Nizuma admonishes Yujiro as an editor for not reading every week while Yujiro makes a call to Miura.
He yells at Miura and asks what’s up. Miura’s looking for a substitute for Trap, and Yujiro explains Saiko’s working in the hospital on the color pages. Miura freaks out and agrees to bolt over the hospital.
Shujin feels like a third wheel in the hospital room and admires how beautiful Miho has grown in the intervening three years. He offers to give them some privacy, but Saiko orders him to stay and keep watch. He also admits it’s hard being around Miho. Miho thinks he’s a meanie. Saiko quickly recants and tells Shujin he can leave and they’ll be alone so that Miho will keep watch. But, again, Miho tells him to stay. Shujin looks like his headaches are getting as bad as mine reading these two kids.
Jesus fucking christ, these kids.
Miho explains that she needs his help to get Saiko to stop working. Shujin says he can’t. When asked, he explains it’s cause he’s a guy, and isn’t it moving to see Saiko giving it his all. Miho watches Saiko giving it 100%, and she weighs the doctor’s words in her mind. She loves watching him work.
Saiko asks whether he’s watching for nurses; Shujin’s watching out mostly for Kaya if she punches him again. He blanches when he sees Miura heading over and tells him to cheez-it on the pages. Saiko gets ornery and thinks it’s proof he can do the work while in the hospital. Miura enters.
Saiko explains that he’s finished the inks for Chapter 18, and he’ll be able to turn in the color pages for Chapter 19 as well. Miura privately realizes they can get the chapters done on time. Saiko says it’s all good in the hood and that he can work in the hospital, see? See? He’ll never miss a deadline.
Miura debates letting him, and sees his clear motivation. But his job right now is to stop Saiko from making manga.
At that moment, Saiko spasms in pain, and Miura begs to call the nurse. Saiko says it’s fine, and it happens now and then. He begs to keep working. Finally, he spasms in even more pain, and Miura orders Shujin to call a nurse. Saiko protests that he’s fine. Shujin points out that the call button is by the bed. Just as they’re about to click…
Miho stops them. She takes Saiko at his word and points out Shujin brought the pages over. He should be prepared to deal with the decision’s consequences and call him out on his machismo bullshit. She points out Saiko is working hard for his dreams. She grabs a Copic marker and encourages Saiko.
He doesn’t need to take a break. She believes in him. She helps him continue drawing as Miura realizes he’s been checkmated by Miho.
Loving Gaze and Cooperation Reaction
Fuck this. Fuck this so hard. Fuck all of this shit.
I’m going to need a second to process the absolutely enormous levels of absolute fucking stupidity I just witnessed. Or I’m going to need a stiff drink. Or I’m going to need a wall to break a hole in.
What the ever-loving fuck is wrong with you, Saiko.
Ok. I’m going to be cogent for an actual response in a few seconds because it’s not worth simply my wordless anger. But I am gobsmacked at the absolute idiocy of this arc and how, now, it seems to have gotten exponentially stupider. Exponentially.
*Takes a deep breath*
Ok. Ok. I’m good.
No, I’m not.
When you do too good a job at verisimilitude
As I’m reading this, it should be clear that I should treat it as a manga, which it is, and that it exists in the heightened reality of its own world. But so far, Ohba and Obata have done an excellent job of making the world feel real with their fastidious devotion to the procedure of manga production and life.
And I’m invested because I’m not binging it like I usually do, so I have spent more time with these characters than I have virtually any others.
And, as I went over at length previously, I don’t like overwork as a conflict or narrative engine. But Saiko’s acting like a scummy piece of shit, and I’m withholding my empathy for his bullshit borderline psychotic obsession with making manga until he grows up or someone instills the fear of God in him.
What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t want Saiko to die from overwork. And at this rate, this dumb fuck is going to get himself killed, and his lover is going to fucking enable him to do it. And it feels too real for me to comfortably sit back and enjoy it.
I know what this chapter is setting up. I know what this chapter is setting up because it’s one of my favorite tropes in anime. And, in fact, the manga mentions a famous example of it:
Joe Yabuki’s Final Smile
Spoilers for Ashita No Joe. I’ll need to read this eventually, but I had to look it up at Shujin’s mention of it because I thought, “There’s no way,” but then I read about the final sequence where Joe and his Rival finally fight at the end of Ashita no Joe, and the fight brings Joe to his (maybe) death. Still, it isn’t called that in the manga. However, by the end of it, he has a smile on his face, described as…
Burn out. You know. the thing that happens to people who overwork themselves into a fucking stupor that causes horrifying anxiety and reduces peoples’ ability to lead happy and healthy lives.
And that’s who Saiko is modeling himself after because Shonen Jump’s motto is: Friendship, Persistence, Victory.
So I know what is “likely” to happen here because I’ve seen it in other manga.
Saiko’s going to Pull through
He’s somehow going to overcome his limits at the cusp of surgery and get those chapters in somehow, and he’ll fight tooth and nail to get published with the support of his Nakama, and he’ll likely get Trap back in Jump. And he’ll do it risking life and limb.
And when that’s done in other manga, I love it. Because in other manga, there is a level of unreality to the proceedings, a level of necessary melodrama that makes it possible for me to overlook the actual harm this shonen goodbois engage in to reach their goals. Even though in the case of My Hero Academia, the story is actively criticizing and questioning the validity of pushing beyond your limits at the expense of breaking every bone in your body like pop rocks to do so.
Here, it doesn’t work for me because A.) this is a parallel of the real world, where pushing yourself hard all the time leads to unsexy burnout and harm, and B.) I do not get the vibe that Ohba or Obata are at all critical of this stance their character has taken. Given the conflation of women and manga – which ugh, we’ll have to talk about – it seems that this unironic push to get things done is the implicit belief of the authors.
And I do. Not. Agree with that. It’s incredibly toxic. Incredibly. It’s endemic to work culture in Japan, and it’s incredibly, overwhelmingly toxic.
Ugh. Just ugh.
And Saiko is hardly being portrayed in a flattering light. But if his goal succeeds, then the ends kinda justify the means here, don’t they? But there is another element that leads me to believe that this is not something Obata and Ohba are critical of, and that is:
The Nizuma of It All
As we’ve discussed at length, Eiji Nizuma is very much the archetype of the idealized rival. The Yuno or Sasuke or Bakugo functionally embody the story’s vision of a “perfect” character in the field while flawed in their own way. They often lack social graces but have a prodigious talent in the story for all things centered around it. They are effortlessly popular and win easily, and are accepted socially despite their rough edges.
And in this Chapter, Eiji is totally cool with the fact that Saiko is doing color pages and still has that drive. Eiji’s intuition – which is a bellwether for the series so far – is that Saiko is on the right track, even though he’s willing to deceive, chastise, and harm people to overwork himself and meet his deadline.
What the absolute fuck that is that shit.
But let’s talk about some other stuff before I give myself a tension headache.
Women and Manga
As has been hinted several times throughout this series, there is a conflation between Women and Manga that at this point is not so much subtext, as it is one of the major overriding themes. The idea that love for manga is comparable to love of women and that love for one can and does compete with the other and is often intertwined is just, well, fucking gross, man.
I was willing to overlook it with Nakai, but here it’s becoming clear that Ohba’s views of women have not moved as much as one would have hoped. Especially with the whole Miho quietly supporting her boyfriend even though he’s acting in an absolutely horrific way towards her. That whole “I choose manga over you thing” is grounds for breakup in normal circumstances.
But the way this habit fetishizes the feelings of love towards jobs and women is weird. Like. I get that you have to have a passion for the industry to get through the hours, and you have to be devoted. But treating it as though it were your mistress? And as though the love you have for it is a healthy substitute for a healthy relationship? No. Just. No.
And I have the unfortunate suspicion that this idea of loving manga so much it is as though you loved a woman is not going to disappear any time soon. It’s too baked into the narrative with Saiko/Miho’s dynamic, and we’ve seen it played out successfully, I should add, with characters like Nakai.
It’s gross and frustrating and leaves as sour a taste in my mouth as much as Saiko’s overall behavior. Especially with Shujin’s tacit support because it’s the manly thing to do. Fuck that man.
In the running thread of “is Miura good at his job” not being able to rein the boys in poses a serious question about his abilities as an editor. While he’s had his moments, it’s not clear that he’s actually good. IN fact, it’s still unclear after all this time. And it’s of growing concern since Trap is still not canceled at this point.
I assume this question will continue past the hospital since it hasn’t been firmly put to bed yet, but he needs to do something about his wards. Yujiro may be frustrating, but he seems to at least have some kind of handle on Fukuda and Eiji, same with Aida, who is good enough at his to be a rank above him.
I dunno, man, I just dunno.
As for Miho, girls got it bad, and it’s actually adorable how long-standing her crush is. The whole flashback sequence was delightful; also, Saiko’s mom being absolutely cold as ice about her being too pretty was great.
And the flashback is meant to set up her support for him. But ugh, it’s just too frustrating. She deserves better than this asshole right now. He’s truly at his worst, and his worst is fucking bad. But she’s not going to. So in some perverse way, they are designed for each other perfectly.
I hope she helps him rein in his dumbass behavior a bit, although I guess I shouldn’t be too hopeful here.
I’m just so frustrated.
And I hope the series course corrects soon because I can’t stand this dumbassery much longer.
Though I will obviously continue to read it.
Anyway, until next time.