In Recklessness and Guts, The Dumbest Arc (Kinda) Powerfully Concludes (Chapter 50)

Hi hi hi, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 50: Recklessness and Guts, in which I get some relief, and we discuss the difference between recklessness and guts.

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Without further ado, the chapter.

Recklessness and Guts

Miura’s Plea

At the office, Miura tells Sasaki he can convince the four to drop the boycott if he can persuade Ashirogi that the Hiatus will only be after Saiko’s been discharged. He asks Team Fukuda to stop the Hiatus, and he tells the boys that he’ll convince the editor-in-chief if they agree to the end of the Hiatus after the hospital stay.

Recklessness and Guts

Miura explains that Aoki thinks the current Hiatus is too extreme, Nakai is following her, and Hiramaru will just follow to avoid work. When asked about Nizuma and Fukuda, Miura explains they will return when it’s guaranteed Ashirogi will be taken off Hiatus after leaving the hospital. That said, they’re waiting for Ashirogi’s consent.

Saiko asks to meet with Fukuda and Nizuma so he can talk with them. Miura asks whether he’s ok with the outlined setup. Saiko relents if it’ll get them to work, his sense of personal responsibility being too great in this case.

Saiko’s Plea

Back at Shueisha, Heishi chews Aida, Yoshida, and Yujiro and demands they get the chapters from their mangaka even if they have to beat them over the head and steal it. Heishi tells them they’ll be out of a job if they don’t get the next chapters when they find it in poor taste. Yujiro gets a phone call from Miura asking him to bring Fukuda and Nizuma to the hospital. Yujiro yeets out of there, much to Heishi’s frustration.

Saiko asks Nizuma and Fukuda to end the boycott; Ashirogi will wait until they’re out of the hospital. Fukuda asks if that’s what they really want. Saiko doesn’t, but it’s his fault for getting sick.

Oy.

Yujiro prods Fukuda to follow orders, but Fukuda balks at that without evidence that Sasaki has given the go-ahead. He hasn’t.

Yujiro and Miura vow to convince him, which Fukuda doesn’t buy. Yujiro explains this isn’t local to the two and that a lot of the editorial department thinks it’s nonsense. Eiji finds Saiko’s drawing more interesting and is ok ending the Hiatus if Saiko’s ok with it. Eiji thinks he should only work if he’s healthy.

Yujiro notes that he thinks Sasaki’s decision is equally ridiculous and will put himself at Fukuda and Nizuma’s mercy should he fail to change his mind.

Fukuda, frustrated, relents but only on the condition that Ashirogi gets off Hiatus after leaving the hospital. If not, he’ll personally take the murder charge and wring Yujiro’s neck. Hiramaru takes the news about how you’d expect.

A Rock and a hard Place

Yujiro and Miura confront Sasaki with the chapters from Team Fukuda and their conditions for ending the boycott. Heishi’s eager to get his hands on the chapters because they’ve stalled the printer until they can get them. However, Yujiro wants Sasaki’s word before he does anything.

Sasaki thanks him but remains firm in his decision. Yujiro gets openly frustrated and has to be calmed down by Miura, who tells him they still have time. Yujiro sends Crow and Kiyoshi Knight to the printer. Aida thinks that waiting is the right call. Miura commiserates with Yujiro about backing out on their promise and their lie to Ashirogi. Aida asks what deal they struck.

Miura explains that Saiko has bounced back incredibly fast from his surgery because he’s young. Hattori asks to confirm, and Miura essentially confirms that – aside from paleness about the Hiatus – Saiko’s fine. If anything, he’s doing too well, given how he’s still drawing.

Back at the hospital, Shujin and Saiko discuss their plans now that their Hiatus will go for another year. Shujin ponders studying for entrance exams while Saiko decides fuck it, he’ll keep drawing. Shujin points out the fruitlessness of that, and Saiko responds that they’ll need to have faith. Saiko further admonishes Shujin for not focusing on storyboards, given that they’ve staked their lives as mangaka.

In Limbo

Days pass, and Sasaki won’t change his mind. Kaya thinks he’s stubborn for its own sake. Shujin worries about their ability to restart. Saiko is focused simply on drawing.

Over time, Crow’s Anime adaptation is announced in issue 36. Shujin is jealous, given that volume 2 of Trap was supposed to come out in September. Saiko prods him to remain faithful. Shujin reports on the state of affairs with Otter and Kiyoshi doing well, but Hideout Door struggling. Saiko tells him again: keep the faith brother.

Saiko tells us he’d spend time with Miho and that, though everything else was kind of shit, being with her made him extremely happy. Miho wonders at their companionable silence. Saiko wonders if they’ll be this quiet when married, probably, Miho thinks. Miho wonders if it’s bad that they don’t have much to say. They agree it’s fine. She also observes it’s due to Saiko’s work ethic that they’re working so hard. Saiko apologizes, but Miho’s fine, given it’s for their collective dream.

Released

Recklessness and Guts Saiko released from the hospital.

Finally, on September 15th Saiko is released from the hospital. Yujiro’s freaking out that Sasaki hasn’t changed his mind yet, with Yoshida seeing the Fukuda/Nizuma Shistrotm to come. Miura congratulates Saiko on his recovery. Shujin asks whether Sasaki has said anything but Miura says he’s not given any sign that it’s on. Miura also lets him know that Hattori and Yoshida are their allies.

Saiko is gloriously released from the hospital, only for Miho to be nowhere in sight even though she said she’d be there. Shujin thinks it’s because they all came down together. Shujin and Saiko opt to go to the editorial office immediately, much to Kaya’s frustration. Saiko wants to apologize for the trouble he’s caused and show them that he’s well.

Saiko apologizes to his mom, but she’s resigned to the future her son has set for himself.

At the office

At the office, Miura presents Sasaki with 12 chapters that were drawn while Saiko was in the hospital; not only is the quality consistent, it’s actually better than before. Not only that, they have enough content to cover through the end of the year. Miura goes further: with a buffer that large, they only have to work on 1 chapter every two weeks until they graduate. Miura uses this productivity and Saiko’s recovery as proof that it’s ok for him to lift the ban.

Sasaki is furious that he put himself in danger like this. Saiko explains he was acting like a fool, and it’s all his fault. Saiko then tells Sasaki of something Taro told him: you need conceit, hard work, and luck to make it a mangaka; after that, Stamina, Will-power, and GUTS.

Sasaki makes a snide comment about Taro’s interest in sports manga.

Sasaki finally agrees to let them resume after bringing in their strong, willful, and gutsy work. Everyone celebrates while Yoshida wonders what era they’re in. Hattori confronts Miura, who explains he used the same tactic that Hattori used in serialization.

Hattori walks up to the boys and tells them not to push themselves too hard before giving them an enormous tearful hug, and announces how proud he is of the two.

Saiko lets Miho know that they’ll resume on Issue 44 with color pages. Miho tells him to take care of himself; she won’t visit him in the hospital next time. SHe doesn’t like people who don’t take care of themselves (lol).

With that, the chapter ends.

Recklessness and Guts Reaction

Panel of the Week

The frontispiece of this chapter was excellent, but I like the climactic nature of this panel work. Especially the action lines being used to create an unearthly light behind Sasaki giving him religious overtones. Meanwhile we have a dingy office illuminated by the otherworld light in the foreground giving this dissonant, yet totally excellent vibe.

I also like how the boys are framed in relation to Sasaki who, despite being bowed over in the frame has the most power and is portrayed as the most powerful person in the image. Everything cascading out from him at the center point.

It’s an incredibly satisfying image.

Oh, and also.

IT’S OVER

THANK GOD

THANK THE LORD. PRAISE KRISHNA. PRAISE BUDDHA. PRAISE SWEET BABY JESUS. IT’S OVER.

Thank the fucking lord this dull as ditchwater, idiotic, frustrating, stupid fucking arc is done. Thank whoever the fuck at Shueisha said, “this arc needs to fucking end,” because holy fuck, what an annoying…6 chapters of content.

And look, if this leg of the journey hadn’t been so astoundingly stupid, this chapter would have been several times more excellent than it already is – and it is, unfortunately, a good chapter – but because such a stupid series of events preceded it, it’s merely a good ending.

What to talk about first, though?

Let’s start with the star of the shit show: Saiko.

Even though the Hiatus was silly, I’m glad Saiko finally grew up to a certain degree, even if he ended up blaming himself for it in the most childish way imaginable.

That sequence with him taking the blame for everything going wrong because he got sick rubbed me all sorts of wrong ways.

First off. It’s not because you got sick; it’s because you took a shortcut to get to your end-goal and acted obsessive in a way with historical precedent, and though history doesn’t always repeat, it regularly rhymes, and you got caught at the end of a fucking couplet here in this particular stanza that rhymes with Mashiro.

And also, bro, part of the issue is that you have that specific brand of teenage narcissism that Fukuda also has that makes it seem like everything you do is significant. So obviously, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Fukuda found Sasaki’s logic flawed, Eiji does whatever he wants, and Nakai wants to get with Aoki bad enough he’d risk his gig he’s been working on for a while.

But noooo, it’s because you got sick. You dipstick.

Ok. Ok. I’m still not quite over this arc yet.

Stop taking the blame for everything and stop acting like a shonen protagonist for two seconds. I know you are supposed to by design, but it’s freaking exhausting, man.

That said, I do appreciate that Saiko finally grows a pair of cojones for once and decides to have faith in Shujin’s place when everything appears to be falling apart around them. It was good to see him act like an adult, at least a little. Because you know what? Faith is an element of manliness. The ability to calmly approach life with resolute faith that you will figure it out is more manly than any shouting and kicking and screaming and recklessness and guts that we’ll get to.

It’s fucking rock-solid faith, dingus.

On that note, I suppose we also need to talk about the central dilemma of this chapter too.

Is this recklessness or guts?

Miura’s gambit paid off, and although we can pretend Sasaki is against this kind of thing – which he kinda is – the story tells us, in pretty explicit terms, that Saiko isn’t reckless, he has guts. And those guts are why he and Shujin still have Detective Trap.

And…well, I think it should be pretty clear how I feel about it now. But let’s get a little complicated about this.

I know that the entire debate here is about Recklessness vs. Guts and that if you want to show guts, you have to persevere, and we’re going to call in our good friend Guts from Berserk as an example.

Guts is constantly pummeled by life from every conceivable angle, in every conceivable way. Friends and Foes are often indistinguishable, and he’s the victim of severe trauma. By any normal standards, he’d be welcome to lie in a hole and curl up to die.

But he chooses to go forward, despite it all. He picks himself up with his big-ass sword, and no matter the cost, he keeps walking, taking the next painful step forward. No matter how much life throws at him, he takes what it offers. He falls for a long time into despair, and he has to be saved by others. But he is the embodiment of the mindset that no matter what, you keep moving forward through the pain and suffering.

And that is admirable in the context of Berserk, and it can be admirable in the context of other shonen.

But Saiko isn’t showing guts here. And I’ll tell you why.

He endangered himself through his own poor decision-making. He wasn’t endangered by an external force. He wasn’t the subject of some eclipse, he wasn’t abused by his surrogate father, he wasn’t an orphan; no mecha broke in from a cave and tried to kill him. He wasn’t given a special power to become the greatest superhero and assume the responsibility of being a hero. He wasn’t born without magic in a world full of wizards.

He overworked himself because he wanted to get an anime to expedite the process of getting his girl, and then he refused to pay the consequences of that decision by being a petulant shit who would gladly overwork himself to death if it meant he got to be with Miho.

That’s not guts. That’s a series of poor personal decisions coming back to bite you in the ass.

While the line between guts and recklessness is often very thin and sometimes indistinguishable, here, I don’t think it’s that unclear. Guts is how you react when the world fucks you up, not when you fuck up yourself.

And If I’m being perfectly frank, it would have taken more guts for him to rest because he wants so badly to be a mangaka, and he wants Trap to be successful. To simply wait it out in the hospital would have taken infinitely more strength of character, fortitude, and grit because it would have required that Saiko not indulge his desire to move forward.

The difference between Guts and Saiko is that Guts has to keep moving. It’s not just that he chooses to take the hard step; he has no other choice. Saiko has a choice. He can choose to rest and recover and pick himself up. He chooses not to for a silly goal.

And this leg of the journey did not convince me otherwise. it did not set up this dialectic well enough. And as a result, I find this final climax wanting.

But let’s discuss the other things about this chapter I’m neglecting.

Miura Qusetions

While it’s clever that Miura used the same tactic Hattori used to get them serialized, I do have to wonder if Miura will ever do something entirely on his own. Right now he’s playing the classics, and his bit about dialogue and comedy was a good insight, but he’s not shown true inventiveness yet. That, and Hattori fed him the idea to try and cut the Hiatus short instead of eliminating it entirely.

So is Miura actually good at his job? I think he cares about the boys, and he’s going out to bat for them to the point where they got off Hiatus.

But I don’t know if he’s a good editor yet. Or if he’s not a bad editor, I’m not getting a sense of his inner greatness. Perhaps it is a function of his relative youth and being new. But he has not distinguished himself as an editor outside of those two moments.

I think I’ll have to keep an eye on him.

That said, I guess it’s fine that they did 12 chapters if Saiko didn’t harm himself in the process, although I’m pretty much with Aida and Sasaki on it. Dumdumdumdumdumdum.

And apparently, the editorial department is on their side, which, great, I guess.

Eh.

Some things this chapter did do well

I’ve already talked about Miho and Saiko’s weird relationship, and how I’m cool with it, so I don’t feel the need to reiterate my feelings on it, but I would like to mention some things this chapter actually did well.

Namely, aging up Saiko and Shujin.

There are some panels after their release from the hospital where Obata redrew Saiko to be closer to 18; you can tell by the facial anatomy that’s been aged up slightly. I actually really like that since it’s been three months, and they’re closer to adulthood than ever. Seeing that actually reflected in their character design sans major time-skip is actually pretty clever. However, I wonder if we can expect them to age even further in the interim since this series operates on a pretty long-timescale as a matter of course.

There is also the confrontation at Headquarters, which was great for the panel work and climactic nature of it all. But in particular, I liked Hattori and the Boy’s tearful reunion. As much as I hated this arc in general, that moment certainly got to me. Of course, it’s such a small thing, but seeing Hattori in tears at the prospect of losing his wards was beautiful.

And Uhm, that’s all.

I hope this next arc isn’t as frustrating as these last few. And I hope Trap does well, although it’s unclear how it will do given the months-long Hiatus probably affected its momentum. We’ll see, won’t we?

Let’s hope for the best.

And thank god this arc is over.

Until next time,

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