In Adult and Child, The Boys Churn Out Ideas and Act Scummy (Chapter 56)

Hello there, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 56: Adult and Child, in which Miura continues to suck, the boys also suck, and we see some new ideas for a manga.

I’m back from Thanksgiving and Doing some site maintenance-y stuff. So there shouldn’t be any major interruptions for the foreseeable future.

If you are not caught up, please go to this handy-dandy index to do so. No spoilers past the current chapter. So read at ease, my dudes.

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Without further ado

Adult and Child Summary

A Fountain of Storyboards

Kaya is shocked to learn that Saiko and Shujin will stop studying a week before exams start. However, Shujin downplays it because they’re going to pass regardless of studying, and they’ve got more important things to do.

Kaya’s glad that they’re on fire again after their depression. Saiko’s impressed – and alarmed – by Shujin’s raw output and asks how it’s possible. Shujin explains that the pressure of having to do three different stories has flipped some switch in his head and, without a choice, he has to move fast. Also, having to do it weekly has increased his speed.

Saiko, in particular, likes the Storyboard for Me Two.

“Me Two”

Adult and Child me two storyboard

In a man’s house, a man run’s into another man who looks, talks, and acts exactly like him. He realizes that there are two of him, and they debate who is the real doppelganger. Each of them decides the other is unnecessary and decides to kill each other. After realizing that’s dumb, they decide to exploit this situation. They elect to move to entirely different lifestyles and become different people then meet up again.

Due to their homogeneity, however, they can’t decide who should move, so they break a pencil to decide. Then, finally, they make some rules for their separation and figure some practical stuff out.

*end*

Kaya sees how much Shujin likes sci-fi stories. Saiko thinks it’s good and it should be their comedy. However, Shujin puts the kibosh and explains that it will be the serious one.

Shujin asks whether he should do three chapters at once since Miura only reviews chapters one at a time. Saiko reminds Shujin of Miura’s anger and terms. Saiko also asks about the one-shot they planned to work on since Shujin decided to do that one first.

Shujin says he’s working on it right now; it’s a bit like Me Two. When asked, he explains it’s a time travel story. Saiko thinks that genre is played out, so won’t that be overlooked immediately?

The title is Future Watch which Saiko thinks sounds like Doraemon.

“Future Watch”

A man – Hayao Hikari – goes to his father’s abandoned laboratory. His father – a mad scientist – left him debts, a letter, and two watches that can travel to the future. He reads the letter and is given a time travel spiel about how you can’t travel backward, but if you go fast enough, you can travel to the future but only slightly ahead.

The letter explains that the watches provided can move him into the future by precisely seven minutes. The man, doubtful, puts one of the watches on and decides to give it a try. It works. He’s freaked out but decides to try something.

He calls himself from eight minutes ago and manages to talk his past self out of trying the time travel device. Through trial and error, he realizes he can travel forward as two people as long as he doesn’t use the watch to move to the exact same time (e.g. two minutes ahead or behind). He experiments further and he realizes more time has passed.

He remembers waiting for time to pass and deduces the window to talk to someone can only be 8 minutes. The key is the two watches and that he shouldn’t wear both at the same time. After boring out with himself, Hikari asks what they should do with the device since their dad never gave it to anyone like a corporation to use it. Neither knows what to do with the seemingly useless power, other than to buy a phone.

*end*

Like me, Kaya has a headache from the elaborate premise. Saiko sees potential in it, despite the roughness. Shujin’s biggest struggle is making it a battle manga. Saiko’s shocked, but Shujin reasons they need to go the battle route and he poses possible routes to get there. Changing the main character’s background and personality, having other people find out about it.

Saiko sees the similarities to Me Two but because only one will be put up for serialization, it won’t matter that much.

Shujin decides to make Me Two a fantasy and give them reasons for battles. Kaya’s amazed, Saiko’s used to it.

Now they have to come up with the gag manga.

Shujin offers an idea about a millionaire gathering up hitmen for a battle royale for the title of the best assassin and if one agrees, the rest have to enter the competition. The main character is a shonen assassin dragged into it. Shujin’s not sold because of the existence of assassins (or lack thereof). But both agree it’s a good gag idea.

Saiko asks about a manga that isn’t Spy x family about two married assassins who have to kill each other. Shujin emphasizes not sweating it since ideas are a dime a dozen and that for every idea, someone probably has another version of it. he’s not going to research for similar stories so he guarantees no plagiarism and as long as they aren’t similar to any stories in Jump they’re fine.

Saiko gives Shujin the order to work on the Treasure Rookie one-shot: he’ll have it in two days.

Kaya admires Shujin for his talent and claims to be falling for him all over again. Shujin feeds her a Ken Takakura line with a stoic face and Katya swoons.

College and Storyboards

Shujin manages to draw all 45 pages of the storyboard for Future Watch in 2 days to both Saiko and Kaya’s delight. On February 3, they do their College entrance exams, pulling all-nighters and working on storyboards. Shujin falls asleep during the exam.

On February 13th, the results of their entrance exams are posted – anti-climactically – by cell phone. On the count of three, they check and…

Kaya celebrates loudly. The boys get back to work. Kaya’s annoyed at their indifference, but they are dead-focused on Future Watch and need to get moving on.

Saiko asks Kaya, weirdly politely as “Miss Miyoshi” to do screentones and blacks. Kaya makes a joke about how much she’s going to charge to do all this work, although Saiko offers 2,000 yen per hour anyway. She won’t charge, for which the boys are grateful.

On February 20, Shujin completes all three storyboards for Hitman 10 and Me Two. Shujin gives himself a pat on the back while Saiko works on finalizing the boards.

Saiko reads Hitman 10 and thinks there are too many jokes and that due to the volume it’s lame. Me Two is more interesting to him.

On February 27th, the boys submit Future Watch to the Treasure Rookie award. Saiko and Shujin both want Future Watch to be the series they work on. Shujin wants anything as long as it’s not Hitman. Shujin offers to call Miura. On the call, Miura’s shocked by Shujin’s raw output and offers a March 1st meeting.

Miura’s Preferences

On March 1st, they meet with Miura and he reads the storyboards. he thinks both are well done and with some minor fixes ca be submitted to serialization.

Saiko thinks Me Two is the better choice but is worried by the noncommital answer of “both are good”.

Miura, in character, chooses Hitman 10, praising Shujin’s comedic sense, much to both boy’s surprise and clear dismay. He presses on with revisions for submitting Hitman 10 to the serialization meeting.

Saiko and Shujin want to argue and had planned to, but they realize Miura is set in his ways, and nothing they can do will change his mind. They sit in stunned despair at the realization,.

An unfunny joke

Meanwhile, Yoshida laughs at what he assumes is a joke by the pair Ashirogi but the other editors think their submission to the Treasure Rookie Award is no laughing matter. Some have actual rookies submitting and it isn’t fair to them. Hattori and Aida are both gobsmacked by the behavior.

Yoshida interrupts their meeting and asks why they applied for the Treasure Rookie award. The one-shot is good enough to be submitted on its own. He’s going to give it back to them so they can submit it through the proper channels.

Miura is furious and shocked at the subterfuge going on but Saiko pushes back and explains that he wouldn’t let them do a one-shot so that was there one opportunity to be heard.

Miura loses it, again, and questions their common sense. Shujin backs up Saiko and explains their desire to do a one-shot first. he uses Yoshida’s praise as fodder for hir argument to get it into the Treasure Rookie Award.

Yoshida asks what Miura is going to do: will he submit it or not?

Miura points out the obvious fact that a contracted mangaka is not a rookie and should not enter that particular contest. There aren’t explicit rules against it because it’s an obvious unwritten one. There will be no prize money and it’s not fair to the other entrants who want to make mangaka but haven’t been serialized yet.

Saiko bites back that they only did that because of Miura’s own resistance to submitting a one-shot. They don’t want to win, they just want their shit read and judged by Eiji Nizuma.

Miura absolutely loses it, believing they think Nizuma is a better judge of Manga than him (he is, but that’s not the point). Saiko points out Nizuma is responsible for Crow and Miura isn’t.

A bad habit forming.

Sasaki and Heishi discuss Ashirogi’s bad habit of constantly stirring up shit and asks what the deal is this time. Sasaki admires their devotion and passion for manga, while Heishi finds their methods distasteful. Sasaki orders Heishi to put out the fire then elects for Hattori to settle it since they listen to him.

The shit rolls downhill and Hattori is given the command to calm them down. When asked, Heishi explains that Miura and Ashirogi both lack experience, Ashirogi moreso than Miura. . Hattori resists until he learns it’s a direct order.

*Sigh* Daijobu desu.

Yoshida, Miura, and Ashirogi continue arguing when Hattori jumps in to calm the situation down. Hattori asks Miura to chill and asks for empathy from Ashirogi. Hattori then notices how much work they’ve done. Saiko asks if they have to do as their editor tells them.

Hattori says yeah. If you have something to say you need to say it to your editor and turn in all your work through them.

Miura’s Compromise

Miura finally takes a chill pill and admits he pushed them to work on a series instead of one-shots. he offers to submit to the Treasure Rookie award and work on the series to get serialized. Miura recognizes they weren’t malicious when making this boneheaded decision so he’ll honor their wishes.

Miura then offers to quit his job if the one-shot becomes a series. Hattori tells Miura to stop being a drama queen and not to run away. Yoshida tells him to be humble and learn from his mistake. Saying if he quits he undermines all of that.

Miura thinks it’s ok: Hitman 10 is good enough to be serialized. He asks Yoshida to push the one-shot through much to Yoshida’s surprise.

Yoshida takes the one-shot, and agrees to publish it but tells Ashirogi to be on their best behavior. Additionally, they won’t be eligible for a prize, but if it’s good enough, they’ll run the one-shot in the magazine.

With that in mind, they will only run the one-shot if they don’t get a series in April’s serialization meeting. If they get a series, it won’t run. Additionally, if they think they cut corners on their series, they won’t run the one-shot.

Hattori sums up: do your best no matter what. The boys – and Miura agree to that – as the chapter ends.

Adult and Child Reaction

Panel of the Week

This chapter was pretty light on really great paneling, but I loved this visualization of Hitman 10 because it’s a great way to visualize coming up with ideas – I mean that’s what it feels like when you come up with an idea – and I just like the character designs for the potential gag manga. Looks like a lot of fun.

It doesn’t look like something the boys want to work on, but that’s not the issue for the panel of the week.

Speaking of those two boneheads.

These Two Boneheads

We’ll get to the early stuff, but I’m going to join Sasaki in pointing out that Ashirogi are definitely becoming a problem child, and under normal circumstances would probably have already destroyed their career stepping on so many shoes. Kids, do not do this if you want to have a career making art.

Because art of all kinds relies on relationships, even the purely visual arts and experimental stuff, and pissing off the gatekeepers consistently is a good way to burn bridges and not get your shit seen.

Given that this is a story and not real life, and there needs to be a compelling conflict up until the last few pages when everything gets resolved, Ashirogi are going to continue stirring shit aggressively and stepping on toes. So it’s likely to be overlooked.

But as much as you don’t like or trust your editor, going around them to submit your work to an award not geared to you is fucked up. The whole Treasure Rookie Award gambit has ultimately paid off in their favor which I’m…uh, a bit conflicted about, to be honest, but it was certainly scummy.

It does keep the tone ruthless, as the authors are trying to prove Bakuman is better at, though. Are these kids good guys, or are they closer to Light Yagami than I realized? The jury is out.

…although not really because this is way more lighthearted than Death Note and Saiko just wants to be the Hokage/Pirate King/Wizard King/Greatest Hero of manga, not institute a new world order based on killing bad humans.

….Anyway

This chapter was a lot more fun for me – not to summarize, lordy – but to read because it featured one of my favorite things:

META FICTION

As is my wont, I’m hard up on metafiction, and getting to see storyboards – which are somehow even worse drawn than the ones Ohba provides at the back of the chapter – is great. Especially because the line between Ohba and Shujin is made so very thin.

One has to wonder how many of these ideas were abortive attempts at manga that Ohba and Obata came up with between projects, and how many were invented on spur-of-the-moment binges for this manga. While there is a creative license with magically pulling ideas out of one’s ass, it would be silly for me to simply say that it’s impossible because idea generation is, like most things, a muscle. And one that if you stimulate regularly will produce greater and more consistent output.

…That sounded too much like a sex joke for my comfort. anywhozle.

Shujin’s on the money with the whole – I can generate ideas faster because I’m used to the pressure – I have similar abilities riffing on these blog chapters. it takes effort, but far less because I’ve honed my instincts to know how to focus – for the most part – and how to keep the thing moving. Same with screenwriting, same with art and music and all the rest.

Creative arts are mostly developing muscle memory, but I digress.

Aside from that nifty point, it’s interesting to see how this particular batch of meta-fictional elements is used to characterize Shujin’s interest and ability with sci-fi, and subtly hint at his influences.

Or not so subtly. this shit screams of Togashi. Well, maybe Detective stories like Lupin III or Detective Conan too. Although it may just be that Ohba likes writing more than visual storytelling because he’s not a gifted artist. Who knows?

But Future Watch is such peak Ohba storytelling: introduce a minor tool with some hard limits and then create a series of more complex rules around the process to make sure it’s interesting and provides an engine for conflict.

Summarizing it was a pain in the ass because explaining those rules was a nightmare. Borges would struggle with that labyrinth.

But the thing is, that baroque rulemaking is in character for Shujin who seems to love dense rules and gives us a taste of his manga reads. And I love that. I also love that Shujin understands his strength is in sci-fi and logic puzzle-based conflict, where the solution to a problem is not “punch x for y result” but “keikakudoori” and chess moves that don’t necessarily provide immediate payoff is the name of the game.

It’s what makes Bakuman fun to read in the first place.

Speaking of overly elaborate plots that are also unnecessarily dickish

Back to the Treasure Rookie Award.

So, we’ll get to Miura’s…uh, struggles, in a minute, it’s basically a regular thing at this point, but let’s talk about the gambit as a reflection of the above metafiction. Because this series doesn’t really exist solely in its own narrative reality ever.

It features an elaborate set of initial conditions featuring two one-shots, which mirrors the doubling of both Future Watch and Me Two, and it also, conveniently, takes the power out of both Miura’s and the boy’s hands. So, on some level, it will be an objective element of reality for mangaka: the fans.

So it’s kinda like the plot of Me Two and Future Watch in which natural forces beyond the control o the main character are used to make their futures and there’s two of them, which are stylistically identical looking to game the system. It’s actually a clever bit of meta-writing because, like most good meta-fiction, it’s invisible unless you look for it.

And I’m interested to see where this little twist takes the boys, given their general belief in their ability. I’m inclined to agree with them that Future Watch will do better, and I haven’t even mentioned Hitman 10, but the way this story is set up, it’s clear that Miura’s is written to be the “wrong” character in this case, insofar as someone can be wrong in such a speculative field.

With that in mind, the flashes of Hitman 10 that we do get are pretty fun, and I could definitely see something like that blowing up under the right circumstances. But Saiko and Shujin’s total lack of enthusiasm for the project means it would be doomed before it even started since they’d have no emotional investment.

So I’m guessing Future Watch will do well,

Speaking of Miura, again.

Miura, again

Yeah, I’m going to keep watch on this until either a.) they get a new, better editor or b.) Miura stops being so shit at editing. Git gud newb.

And I suppose I should be more forgiving of Miura’s lack of ability since it’s a reflection of his general inexperience, something Even Heishi had the presence of mind to notice during that little shit fit/disagreement.

but on the other hand, that Shit fit is shit fit number 2 in 2 chapters, and it’s really an ugly shade on Miura. Desperation tends to be unflattering on anybody, but here I’m a little more inclined to not be cool with Miura because he’s enforcing his will on Ashirogi and potentially ruining their future prospects.

Although we have yet to see if the boy’s discussion of “Good” and “Bad” editors will bear out on their futures – it really isn’t clear that the concept is anything more than Taro’s black and white view of the world – to continue a mild riff on a shitty editor situation I, myself had, it did impact my writing.

And if I had money, I’d probably have an editor for this blog because editors do make these things work better. But this is a labor of love and one I can’t afford to editorialize. So if it’s mildly bloated, that’s the price of passion.

But that shitty editor did impact my confidence in my writing and made me question my abilities, and made me actively procrastinate on finishing pieces. It also made me associate writing with frustration. So on some level, the shitty editor impacted my ability. The fact that I have any consistency with this blog is by virtue of working past the blocks that that guy instilled in me.

So the fact that Miura is not actually listening to Ashirogi, basically at all, and they’re acting out is a lot of points against him. That is nothing to say for the fact that, narratively, Eiji Nizuma is a better judge of manga than Miura, so they’re working logically, if not ethically.

Sigh.

The sequence where he chose Hitman 10 is emblematic of the issue. Miura engineered a situation in which he would make a choice the boys don’t want to make because of his preferences, not the boys. And with his track record, that’s a problem

That doesn’t excuse the scummier tactics by the boys, but it does make it comprehensible. Also, again, the meta of it all suggests that they will, eventually, be making a limited sci-fi-ish story that features hard elements, so I kinda want to get there.

Stray thoughts

One major thing I’d like to talk about before is Shujin’s very valid logic for coming up with ideas, and something most creatives could stand to remember: generic ideas are only generic until they come into the hands of a skilled storyteller. It isn’t plagiarism to use a classic idea.

So he’s approaching the story generation from a good angle, and it’s probably why he’s able to churn products out so quickly. Once the idea enters your hands, it’ll inevitably end up under your own interpretation so it will become original simply by virtue of that. It may also get a little homogeneous, but no one’s mad at Hirohiko Araki’s character having Same-face syndrome.

I also thought it was cute how Kaya’s so into Shujin’s very uncool in general, but admittedly cool in the moment dedication to the deadlines, and Shujin’s total disinterest in school, to the point, that he stops thinking about entrance exams the moment manga enters the picture.

Also, Kaya doing the work for free is adorable. She’s generally adorable, but aww. It’s so cute.

Anyway, let’s hope the one-shot that’s meant to win, does win.

And until next time, I’ll be wondering

Peace

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