Heyo, how ya doin’ and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 58: Single and Double Digits in which kishoutenketsu appears, we get some nice inversions, and I go on a rant about modern editors and western controversies.
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Without further ado.
Single and Double Digits Summary
Ten as a series?
Saiko and Shujin celebrate their success in getting Future Watch and Ten to run as One-Shots. They believe that the audience will certainly choose the serious manga and they’ll win the argument with Miura.
That said, they’re shocked that the editorial department would consider Ten for a series and question just how different the adults’ sense of humor is.
Kaya finds Ten’s humor to be similar to those that an old man would tell and Saiko points out that modern humor is surrealist, non-sequitur based, and steeped in irony. Shujin’s humor is old-fashioned.
2009 and 2021 aren’t that different after all.
Shujin sulks at the realization he’s an old fuddy-duddy and Saiko plays it down given his bias towards Future Watch.
Good News Everyone!
They get a phone call from Takahama: He’s been serialized. He thanks them for their assistance. Takahama then congratulates them on their two one-shots in a row. Shujin asks whether he’ll include more jokes if Miura asks him to do so.
He says it depends on Chapter 1, but he’ll only add jokes organically, no matter what Miura says. Shujin is just about to bring him into the Gag and Serious debate when Takaham lest him know that he has to bounce for a meeting with Miura.
Shujin and Saiko talk about Takahama’s success and how he’s surpassing them.
Two days later, Miura is late for their own editorial meeting.
He tells the boys the results of the serialization meeting: BB Kenichi by Takahama Space Yellow Gate by Tetsuya Yanagihara, and I am Jump-King by Akina Minami will all start serialization. Meanwhile, Phantom Thief Catcher, Blackbelt Nine by Yoshiyuki Hirai, and Tatsuya of Tsutaya by Kazuhiro Ozawa have gotten the axe.
They observe Phantom Thief Cheater falling in their footsteps.
Miura then moves onto the reviews of Ten, electing to elide “unnecessary details” and tells them that it got generally good reviews, but that they decided on a One-Shot in an effort to get a break after Trap.
Saiko sees through the ploy and asks about Future Watch.
Their new mission
Miura then drops the act: people said Ten should be made into a series, and some others thought Future Watch would be better than Ten, so the editors compromised.
He explains that Future Watch was the highest-rated one-shot among the Treasure Rookie Award and the art and story received a 5 out of 5. But characters were given a 3 out of 5. Shujin’s hit right in the heart with that news. Miura downplays the accomplishment relative to a bunch of rookies.
Miura tells them not to look so thrilled that they got what they wanted. They apologize but he points out a Mangaka should want to be popular and everyone’s surprised by their passion and follow-through. He re-iterates the new conditions of the two one-shots.
When asked what rank he wants, he says there’s no official cut-off, but that they need about 150 votes to hit single digits. So that’s the threshold for success. But, given the editorial office’s hopes, he wants them to get 5th place. Shujin then remembers a key detail.
BB Kenichi will be running thes same time as Ten and Yellow Gate will be paired with Future Watch, which means that votes will get siphoned off to the new series which will each get a first chapter boost.
Miura confirms the uniqueness of the situation: they rarely run both a one-shot and a series in the same issue for this reason. It shows how high the expectations are for them. Miura expects them to exceed both new series.
With that out of the way, Miura asks them to switch gears to revising their Ten to a One-shot.
Shujin points out the difficulty of making a series out of Ten but Miura wants the audience to be enticed to read more: he just needs to cut it down to 45 pages. Miura also pushes for more comedy. Humor begets humor in terms of expectations. Serious begets serious expectations.
Saiko notices the direction Miura wants to take them and takes issue with it privately, but tells Shujin to go for it.
When One Door Closes…
Meanwhile, Nakai is a trash-covered puddle on his apartment floor thinking about Aoki when he gets a call from Miura. Miura apologizes for rudeness and offers him a job as an assistant to Takahama. Nakai glumly offers to help because he needs something to do to keep himself sane.
When he gets to Takahama’s office, he runs into Kato and is instantly smitten because Nakai has absolutely no chill. Takahama apologizes for the presence of only one assistant and that Nakai’s career has taken a dip since he used to be a mangaka.
Nakai puts on a brave face for Kato and tries to be his best shonen good boi ready to save the day. He also asks for a razor to shave. Takahama is absolutely gobsmacked.
Treasure Rookie Award Winner and One-shot Arrangements
Saiko and Shujin admire the Eiji Nizuma award Winner Shapon and that they’d rather read it than the honorable mention. He’s 18, from Saitama and too mature for Jump but could be a cult icon. They start feeling old when they see all the teens following in their footsteps. They get away from procrastinating to get back to work.
Meanwhile, Yamahisa is disgusted by Ryu who is a gamer with severe social withdrawal and has trouble speaking. He doesn’t want to spend any more time with him than necessary.
Shujin wonders why Ten is going first when Future Watch’s final raft was already submitted. Saiko points out that Miura made Takahama add lots of humor to BB Kenichi. Shujin sees it as a ploy to make it harder for Ten to get votes, pairing the comedies together.
Shujin’s feelings about losing to Takahama are understandably complex, but Saiko wants Ten to lose and is confident it will, given their style is suited to cult darkness.
Shujin recognizes the editorial decisions have made it a misfire, but that’s the revisions they were told to make. They submit the final draft and Miura has no problems with it.
Saiko goes over a cheesy joke which he finds dumb but makes kaya crack up adorably. Both are shocked that she finds it funny. But so does Miura and so he decides to submit it. He’s confident it will do well.
Saiko tells Miura not to tell them the early results so please tell them the final report. Miura is late for his meeting with Takahama, but assures them he will.
Shujin is hopeful that Miura’s reaction reflects the audience’s, and Saiko doesn’t want it to fail completely, but he also doesn’t want it to succeed.
On May 28, Ten is released. Yasuoka asks Fukuda about the comedy switch and Fukuda says it’s a Red Herring for the one-shot they want to win. Yasuoka sees overlap with Kiyoshi and asks why they’d develop a series they have no interest in making.
Fukuda fills him in on the contentious relationship with Miura and rightly sees the conflict brewing. He also knows Ashirogi’s calculating nature so he foresees Future Watch doing better.
Eiji is satisfied with the quality of the gag manga. Yujiro asks for Eiji’s manga sixth sense: he thinks they’re both good, but Ten will appeal more to children and won’t be as niche.
Treasure Rookie Result
On June 1st, the news comes in and Ten’s final report is tenth place. 101 votes. Miura’s upset, but he hasn’t given up. He’s taking copium as he explains that series have done worse and still got serialized in the past.
Saiko remembers how well The World is All About Money and Intelligence and Trap did in their one-shot phases and forgets the first rule of statistics by assuming that the correlation of dark/serious stories doing well = Shujin’s not good at comedy.
Miura offers to call them in a week when Future Watch’s results come in.
Miura is crushed, but Shujin and Saiko talk about preparing storyboards for Future Watch. At that moment, though, Takahama calls to trash talk Miura’s ability. When asked, Takahama explains that the premiere chapter for BB Kenichi was 6th place. The one-shot was ranked second.
Just like Saiko, Takahama conflates the lack of notes and his success with BB Kenichi with Miura’s shitty instincts. He believes the humor was salt that killed the bud of his story. Shujin tries to calm him down and he can change the next chapter, but Chapters 2 and 3 have already been submitted.
Takahama begins to spiral out of control before pulling back into focus: Don’t follow Miura’s advice. To thine own self be true. Shujin fills him in on their own one-shot woes, but are hopeful about Future Watch because it was not submitted through Miura. Takahama vicariously hopes through that one-shot that they prove Miura’s inability to be a good editor. He plans to make changes starting with Chapter 4.
The three feel bad for Takahama and are glad about the circumstances around Future Watch. They think they dodged a bullet with Future Watch. If Future Watch gets 9th place or higher they’ll be doing that. Saiko thinks they need at least fifth place.
Saiko and Shujin are convinced that fifth place should be manageable for Future Watch and they hope it does that well to get Miura off the gag track. Kaya feels bad for Miura but Shujin is unsympathetic: this is war and mangaka need to have a spine.
Kaya didn’t think that particular line was cool.
The final report
On June 8th, Future Watch‘s final report comes in. During class Kaya posters Shujin about receiving the report. They get a call during class with the final reports info.
They got Ninth Place.
With that the chapter concludes.
Single and Double Digits reaction
Gimmick of the Week
I ADORE this gimmick. So much. So goddamn much. It’s my favorite new thing. Agh, my little meta-fiction-loving heart can only take so much.
Like, you guys. A popularity poll, but for Manga? Bestill my heart.
At this point, I’m no stranger to the popularity poll contest. I may not have voted for Kobeni’s Car in Chainsaw Man’s character poll, but I love the color spreads that accompany them, and it’s fun to see how much fictional characters play a role in people’s lives.
But the idea of making a manga popularity contest is truly an inspired gimmick and it just makes me happy. I also love the small details, which are what really sell this little gimmick. The fact that Otter attracts mostly older readers and Kiyoshi attracts teenage boys, while all the reader comments for Hideout Door are girls in their late teens. It’s those little flourishes, in addition to the various art styles where it’s clear Obata looked up Shojo, Gag, and Yankee manga references to draw the example panels from each.
I LOVE IT.
Alright, onto the chapter. I haven’t had the opportunity to gush like this in a while, excuse me.
I guess I was right, technically. But not by much. Future Watch did technically do better than Ten.
But honestly, I really like this little twist here, because it is a nice twist in the macro-kishoutenketsu of this arc:
- Miura May be a bad editor and doesn’t know what he’s talking about
- Miura is a bad editor, and the boy’s manga instincts are significantly better
- Both One-shots do equally middling quality
Anyway, as discussed in the Kishoutenketsu post about almost 30 chapters ago, storytelling in manga is not the same as western storytelling, and here we get a good demonstration of how conflicts develop. they follow a more or less narrative straight line, until the situation is recontextualized in the third part which then leads into the climax.
It’s not so point/counterpoint sine-wave peaks and valleys like Western storytelling, in which the contrast of themes and the narrative operates on seismic shifts.
Referentiality is fun sometimes.
I like this twist mostly because it continues to align with the central point of pursuing creative art being: you never truly know what will hit and what won’t. Even professionals get it wrong.
And what’s great about this situation is that literally everyone got it wrong, including Nizuma. the audience didn’t respond to either of them, very much. Although one could say “well Future Watch is a cult series, so it shouldn’t be expected to pull huge numbers” and “BB Kenichi premiered too guys”. Which are technically true.
Or, people just didn’t like these stories. maybe it’s an issue of soul in the game, maybe its Maybelline.
In any event, I not only like this twist because of how it underlines a central theme of the series, but because now I honestly don’t know what comes next. Does Future Watch get serialized?
I’m not sure.
There was a ton of other stuff that happened this chapter, and we only have so many words before you tune out, so let’s get to that other stuff.
Aside from the main conflict, I think Takahama was the most interesting part of this chapter for several reasons, including the reintroduction of Nakai, which we will get to, but mostly because he’s really dogpiling on Miura and man, this series really wants you to think Miura sucks.
At this point, he’s being highlighted as such a shitty editor, I have to assume there is some ulterior motive for it. While it’s clearly not entirely his fault for Takahama only getting 6th, it’s clear that his work is not having the desired impact on his ward’s writing as it should. And he’s a one-trick pony.
Which brings up an interesting concept: Editors needs to be as much about their own improvement as writers.
Miura’s stagnation as an editor is one of the most infuriating elements of his character, and seeing it kill Takahama’s confidence in himself is truly upsetting. Whiel takahama didn’t have the greatest character intro, he’s quickly become one of the most likeable and compelling characters in the series, due in no small part to his parallel path with the boys, and his quieter, invisible development. A kind of quiet work ethic that makes him the guy you sort of expect to do great things, but who does it from the sidelines, invisibly.
And him getting a series, and being serialized so quickly is incredible. and I want to be happy for him in spite of the fact that he’s competing with the boys.
But man, the boy is getting done dirty.
And that’s why I think this final moment of the chapter works so well. because it calls into question just how much of Miura is responsible for the changes. I assume little editorial malfeasance went into the construction of Future Watch, so how much of it is an issue of translation, and how much of it is Miura adding too much humor?
A Small Diversion into Real Life
This question of editorial ability has become slightly more relevant in the Jump reading community courtesy of the recent cancellation of Red Hood a month or so ago, a manga by MHA Mangaka, Kohei Horikoshi’s former assistant. It was extremely popular in the west, but nose-dived to the back of the magazine in weeks, and just joined the U19 club a few issues ago.
Who is to blame for the failure?
The question has become more prevalent in the west, at least, because the editor in question was also responsible for Samurai 8, Kishimoto’s manga that also got the axe. And it had similar problems of front loading huge exposition dumps for major plot beats in the future, a need to end things on cliffhangers, and sometimes being hard to follow. I loved it, but the sequence with Fudo Myo’o was mind-blowingly complicated to put in like, chapter 30.
And he’s also the current editor for My Hero Academia. And while western fans are in a perpetual hissy fit about MHA on the best of days, with the current rigamarole around the latest run of chapters featuring Shiggy and Star and Stripe, and the Traitor reveals they are fucking frothing at the mouth like petulant rabid children.
Sometimes I get irked by fandoms.
But a lot of the blame for the recent changes to MHA’s narrative speed, the cancellation of Red hood, and Samurai 8 are being put at the feet of the editor at least in western circles. While the truth is we don’t really know what’s going on, is he partially responsible? Obviously, editor changes do affect stories for better and worse.
I…honestly don’t know. MHA’s storytelling has always been faster than average with each arc only ever getting about 10-30 chapters at max, even some of the best arcs in the series cap out at 20 like My Villain Academia, and the Sports Festival. And it’s also no stranger to ending on abrupt, trendy cliffhangers. I haven’t honestly noticed a dramatic change in it.
Meanwhile, with Red Hood, I struggled to follow that manga on the best of days. I also wasn’t particularly taken with its setup. It was good, but not great, and the action choreography – especially when paired with other, better, manga currently running in Jump made it an interesting if average story regularly.
But the question gets a more elegant answer in the form of Miura. Is Miura solely responsible for these One-shot’s failure?
While the narratively satisfying answer is that it’s Miura Hyakku pa-se-n-to, the real answer is it’s probably a confluence of factors, including, but not limited to: Ashirogi’s One-Shots not having mass appeal, running in the magazine against two new premieres, Miura’s sense of humor, and Takahama still being green in the gills and not actually matured yet with his writing.
Which is similar to Horikoshi’s assistant and Red Hood. Like Takahama, he’s new to spearheading a manga, and there are definitely rough spots. So I think it’s a mixture of these things.
So I have to wonder if Miura’s shittiness is calculated to be worse than it is. So I don’t really know. I think there is more to it than just the editor.
Although, to play devil’s advocate, the editor for JJK and now Ayashimon is positively cleaning up house right now, even though Ayashimon is still a baby. So maybe I’m totally wrong.
To be clear on Miura: he’s still not a good editor. the humor thing is actively getting on my nerves, and his partisanship going against his mangaka is fucking infuriating. Especially since the boys have voiced their interests and desires, and he’s still pulling them in another direction.
I am grumpy about it.
But there is also other stuff to talk about, like
Nakai and Kato
Ok, so right now, I’m actually reasonably ok with this development for Nakai because he may do better as an assistant. I know when I switched from my more responsible job to one that required less brainpower, I became a happier and more fulfilled person.
And if Kato is actually into Nakai’s flirting, more power to him. I assume she is based on this chapter, although it’s too early to really tell. If that is the case, I think this would be a good endpoint for Nakai’s character. Where he gets to do what he enjoys and maybe ends up with Kato. that’d be nice. and Peaceful.
And not everybody has to win the grand prize to be happy and fulfilled.
Will that actually be the case? Fuck if I know, but I will say I’m glad Nakai’s chilling out, and picking himself back up. Although I’d be lying if I said that his new infatuation puts me at ease. That’s still a problem. That’s all I have to say about that.
I wonder if Shujin is funnier than he thinks, or if he’s actually as unfunny as he claims. Although Kaya is Biased, he got half the editorial team to chuckle. And I thought the fact that the 2009 humor divide with meta-irony and non-sequiturs being contrasted with old person humor is still hilarious because of how little has actually changed. This divide is even worse today. But with more memes and weirdness.
Saiko being just as partisan as Miura was mildly annoying, but not totally incomprehensible, so I let it slide, given how much Miura is shaking their career trajectory. Would I prefer Saiko have an ounce of impartiality? Sure. But I’m not expecting much from him, so it was good to have someone saying the quiet parts out loud.
Otherwise, it’s clear that Saiko and Shujin are both smarter than their editor, which actually fed the kishoutenketsu nicely because it made us assume that they were more right.
And I was giving the boys shit for conflating correlation with causation.
Which I should mention is a major problem here: everyone conflates the two in this chapter, including the reader. But the truth is that correlation is not causation. And it’s rule one of statistics. I played myself.
Anyway, let’s get to the finalish thoughts:
Ryu and Character Work
I guess Ryu is in fact going to be around a bit. Although we haven’t seen him yet. I’m perversely glad that Yamahisa finds him so contemptible only because like attracts like, but I have to wonder how long he’ll be in the narrative given that we haven’t even actually seen him yet.
I’ll put a pin in it for now.
The other thing which I think is unlike the manga itself is Shujin’s character work needing work. This goes back to Soul in the game. But I think if he puts a little more of himself in the work, then the character work will fix itself.
Because Bakuman is the definition of soul in the game, or at least autobiography and these characters are all vividly rendered.
One final note before I jump off, since I couldn’t find it anywhere else to put it: when Miura gives the boys their notes from the serialization meeting there is an insert of a coffee mug filled with coffee which seems like a call back to Chapter 8 when the boys met Hattori for the first time and assumed that good news = Tea and bad news = Coffee. Given that the news they got was not “good” news, but also not “bad news” I wonder if the choice to include coffee inserts was a subtle hint that it was mixed.
I’ll have to reread some other chapters to find out.
In any case, I’m rambling now, so until next time
Let’s see what they do,