In Men and Women, Aoki’s Problem Leads to Stunning Stupidity (Chapter 60)

Hey there, my human, how ya doing? Welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 60: Men and Women, in which Aoki has a problem and Shujin’s a total fucking dingbat, no cap.


If you haven’t been reading – no shame if you haven’t – use this coolio index to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.

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I’ll show myself out now.

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Men and Women Summary

Should they Stick with It?

Outside the cafe, Shujin explains his disgust with Miura. Saiko immediately recants his previous (dickish) obstinance: he’ll do Ten. When asked, Saiko explains that the numbers were convincing and that he is not the only member of Muto Ashirogi. He’s also happy that Shujin was willing to throw down for him, but it’s both their choice.

Shujin sighs and explains that due to the nature of human anger and power dynamics, he can’t just immediately back down after storming off. He also can’t forgive Miura.

Saiko asks if Shujin remembers when they were… freshmen in high school and he thought Shujin was goofing off with kaya? He does. Saiko remembers Shujin immediately gave up then, too. Shujin points out that Saiko was right because of some work ethic bullshit that was bullshit then too. He also points out that Miura’s over-the-top anger is not becoming of an editor.

Saiko agrees but is willing to go along with a gag manga if Shujin wants to. That said, he still doesn’t think that Shujin’s strength is humor. Shujin points out that only Miura believes it to be a strength of his.

Shujin doesn’t know what to do and fears another explosion on his part, so they call it a night.

A Familiar Face

Aoki thinks about her problems writing from the male perspective on her way to school. It’s not something for book smarts. She considers Yamahisa’s advice to talk to someone about love. At first, she wonders about Nakai but realizes his view of love is skewed at best and he’ll get the wrong idea.

She also considers Yamahisa, but he’s offputting. The thought of Fukuda is instantly discarded because of the humiliation.

men and women, the return of Iwase

At To-Oh university, a freshman is accosted to join the Miss To-Oh pageant by two other students. She rejects them and they turn their sights on Aoki. They talk about her behind her back, her unwillingness to join them anyway, and her status as a graduate student, and author of Jump. Also that her name is Yuriko Aoki and that Ko is just her penname. They want to take her on a date because cute. It’s a very natural way to talk about someone behind their back.

The freshman hears “Jump” and introduces herself.

It’s motherfucking Aiko Iwase and she asks why Aoki chose manga, of all things, to write.

She’s genuinely curious and explains she writes literature under the name of Aiko Akina. Aoki recognizes the name as the Subaru Rookie Literature Award recipient, who submitted while studying for her entrance exams.

Iwase explains that she’s been writing novels for fun for ages and submitted that one. Aoki compliments “Green Graduation“. Aoki, seeing herself in Iwase, asks whether the romance was based on personal experience.

Iwase explains it’s fictional.

As Aoki turns away, disappointed, Iwase presses her question: Why manga?

Aoki’s elegant answer? She likes it.

Iwase wants to talk to Aoki more and Aoki agrees to talk again as she leaves.

Miura’s Untintentional Salting of the Wound

At Shueisha, Miura malingers over his explosion at the boys as Hattori watches, as he always does. Miura asks for Hattori’s advice on diplomacy with Ashirogi.

Hattori asks if his outburst about splitting was genuine. No. Hattori tells him he’s wrong and needs to apologize before things get out of hand.

At the studio, The Boys discuss riding out the remainder of their contract when they receive a package from Miura. It’s filled with Gag Manga:” Genius Bakabon, Harenchi Academy, Gutsy Frog, Brat Cop, Sexy Commando Gaiden, Sugoiyo, Masaru San, and Bobobo-bo bo-bobo. Shujin complains about getting duplicates of manga they have already.

Also included are how-to books for writing gag manga. Oy

They piece together that this was sent before their fight given how offensive it would be to them to receive it afterward. Shujin is reminded of Hattori’s similar detective gambit when they were working on Trap. He gives the bump to Hattori who sent six boxes, while Miura only sent 4. Hattori wins.

Saiko also finds post-it notes on the manga everywhere with annotations with cross-references to the manual. He also wrote his own commentary on what jokes he likes and dislikes. Shujin’s furious that BB Kenichi wasn’t causing Miura’s recent absences.

He’s even more nonplussed by the photocopy of Detective Trap in there with markups suggesting more gags.

They realize Miura is a diehard gag manga fan and must really want them to do a funny series.

Saiko finally has a realization that Miura was thrilled by the possibility of doing a gag manga, and Saiko’s veto must have been a bridge too far.

They’re even angrier than before. But then they get another ring at their door.

Armistice

It’s Miura at their door and he asks to come in. he gets on his knees and apologizes to them for being a douche. Saiko explains that the packages have given them some insight into Miura’s perspective.

Saiko let shim know the two are willing to do a gag manga, with a couple of conditions. Miura’s surprised and asks what happened.

They explain that all the work he put in showed them that he was serious about this and they’re willing to go along with it now. He apologizes again even more fiercely, much to their embarrassment.

He then explains that he’s still pretty new to the editor thing and the boys point out they’re in the same boat. He’s grateful and was hoping they’d grow together – which is kinda fucked for an editor to say but he’s not a good editor yet so…

Shujin asks him to have some faith in himself. He apologizes for the day before. Miura’s teary-eyed and ready to go back before they remind him of their two conditions.

He’s annoyed by the conditions but lets them go-ahead

Two Conditions

Their two conditions are:

  1. They want to do something completely new instead of Ten. And they want to do a one-shot first.
  2. They want something even more explicitly kid friendly.

Miura’s freaked out at the possibility of a third one-shot in a row but Saiko points out it’s possible. They want to go again, but balls to the wall this time.

Miura sees the wisdom in this tactic. He offers them a place in Akamaru: the editorial office wants an experienced mangaka to make a one-shot for the issue. It’ll have color pages and it’ll definitely lead to a series.

They’re all aboard this particular hype train.

New Ideas for Akamaru

Miura asks them if they have ideas for Akamaru. They haven’t yet, but it ought to have universal appeal. Something like a Sazae-san, Chibi Maruko-Chan, Doraemon, or Crayon Shin-Chan.

Shujin’s down for that style although it’ll be hard to maintain popularity with that style in Jump. Miura wonders if animals would help, and a main female character. Shujin admits that he has trouble writing women (pfft) and he doesn’t know how to make them appealing.

I’ll agree with that one, Shujin.

Yoshida also agrees with Shujin and wonders how he could write such unappealing women when he has a girlfriend. She’s a tomboy, is the explanation they receive and they all have a laugh about that.

Ha. Haha. Sigh.

A Chance Encounter

Overnight, Shujin thinks about the characters for the new one-shot. An elementary schooler will be one of the characters for sure. The heroine will be a girl the elementary schooler has a crush on. An animal too. He decides to go to the zoo for creative inspiration.

At the Zoo, he runs into Aoki looking at an exhibit. She explains that her university is nearby so she goes to look at the animals to relax. He explains he has writer’s block. She is also having trouble with her work and she asks whether Shujin’s in a relationship.

Shujin is flustered and Aoki explains that she’s not asking him for THAT. She gives him the sitch with Yamahisa and a male perspective. H realizes they have a similar problem and he explains his side. She offers to help him write girl if he returns the favor in the nerdiest quid pro quo of all time.

She sees potential pitfalls of this idea given their conflicts of interest – a girlfriend and a magazine – but Shujin thinks it’s fine if two mangaka help each other out and he’s love for her help.

They make a deal as the chapter ends.

Men and Women Reaction

Shujin, Shujin. Shujin.

What Is You Doing GIF - - Discover & Share GIFs

ok, I probably shouldn’t react solely to the cliffhanger bait which ends every chapter and there was like, a shittillion other things I could have reacted to this chapter. But Honestly.

Shujin. What is you doing?

I really enjoyed this chapter because it did a few things I generally enjoy. But I cannot express how dumb Shujin talking to Aoki is on just a fundamental, baseline level. It is so unbelievably stupid that it borders on being out of character.

Fortunately, Shujin is, at times, a total goofass who can’t read a room, or see how a potential conflict of both professional and personal interest could potentially blow up in his face – see last chapter’s Miura snafu – but Jesus. Dude. you don’t just start talking to a girl when you have a girlfriend.

And look, he’s trying to understand the female perspective and Ohba wants to show he can write women. Cool, great. And also they need to have conflicts to keep the story running week to week. But holy shit, even I know this is an absolutely idiotic thing to do.

I hope he tells Kaya that he’s going to be soliciting Aoki’s advice on how to write women at the very least. Because, like, you know, otherwise that’s mad sus.

I’m not going to get on Aoki’s case quite as hard because she’s been given nothing but shitty men to choose from re: Team Fukuda. So Shujin being the most borderline normal of all the guys makes him honestly the best pick all things considered. Even better than Saiko with his nutty views on love.

Because, self-insert or no, Shujin is very much the everyman of the series. He does have a defining character trait and an identifiable silhouette, sure, but his beliefs and views on the world are the most aligned with the normal everyday dude: go on dates with your girlfriend, ogle cute girls at college, manga is cool and worth killing your future to make.

So he’s one of the better candidates.

But also what a goofass.

Anyway, onto the shittillion other things to talk about.

Iwase

I know the Miura plotline is by far the biggest part of this chapter and the most emotionally rewarding part – even if it’s still mired in stupidity on all fronts – but I gotta be honest.

I thought Iwase was done when she scoffed at Shujin’s interest in manga back in middle school which was like, what? 40 chapters ago now?

I guess Ohba understands that the law of character conservation is a thing, and he’s bringing it full force with college, for some reason. But Iwase was definitely not someone I expected to see again.

That said. She’s totally welcome to be here. I like her character. A lot.

Unlike Aoki’s introduction, her stuck up attitude is operating at a compelling cross-current with her affection for Shujin, something that’s pretty obvious since she perked up at the word “Jump” (ok, that unintentional pun is glorious) and asked what the big deal manga is.

Sidenote: it’s hilarious that those two horned-up college guys did an exposition dump on Aoki purely for an excuse to reintroduce Iwase to her.

And usually, I get kinda pissy about Romance being a character trait for a female character, but she has more going on than just pining for Shujin. It’s clear she has her own life and her own interests. Namely, literature. And also she’s successful.

Is she the most nuanced well-written woman ever? Nah. I don’t expect that from a Shonen manga, except for some notable exceptions. Especially not from the creator of Misa.

But it is nice that a girl has her own things going on, and also is interested in a boy and not the other way around.

I also loved that little peripeteia when Aoki sees an almost literal dark mirror of herself elected in Iwase’s stuck-up attitude and condescending view of manga. Aoki handled that well too.

Cause I’m gonna be real with you, most people don’t seem to understand the appeal of Manga. And as someone who has periodically high falutin literary taste, who used to shun popular stories, I can see it. But now that I’ve grown older and give fewer shits, I just enjoy it, and it fulfills something in me that I need.

So good on you Aoki.

But now that Iwase has been reintroduced, I have to wonder what she’s here for. It’s obviously not just to have her pop in – I doubt Ishizawa’s final appearance was in Chapter 57 either. But I have no idea why she was introduced other than to prove she’s doing well.

Time will tell, I suppose.

But we do have to talk about the main event here.

Miura, and the Reconciliation

So.

So.

I like this plot. And I feel icky about it.

I feel icky about Miura and Ashirogi’s armistice mostly because I don’t think they’re suited to a gag manga. And while I do appreciate Saiko’s sudden attempt at not being a shitheel and acting like an adult, I’m still wary of this turn of events.

It really is heartwarming to see Miura actively get pumped for a potential gag manga and doing all this work (that Hattori did also, but let’s overlook that) to make sure the boys are geared up to be a successful gag manga artist. I also like that he recognizes that he dun goofed, and that he makes every effort to apologize to the boys. It’s very sweet and very in character with who Miura is when he’s not desperate

I also like that, by and large, everyone is acting maturely and like adults and approaching this with some perspective and levelheadedness.

And yet…

This feels like a wrong turn.

And given the fact that Obata has done art for gag series in the past, maybe I’m overthinking it a mite, but I just don’t see Ashirogi excelling at gag manga still. And this decision to go even harder in that direction is in character, but it is not spiritually true to their interests.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this. But even though it’s good to compromise to collaboratively produce the best art possible, this concession on the boy’s part feels like them compromising for its own sake, instead of lobbying for their actual interest.

Sure, Shujin likes da data and there’s a lot of good points for Doraemon, Sazae-San style manga being in Jump. Magu-Chan is doing well enough that it hasn’t gotten canceled yet. There is a lot of potential to become uber-successful given how much of a household name Doraemon and Sazae San are in japan (similar to like, Iunno, Mickey Mouse in the US, for Doraemon) and they could become legendary.

But that’s not where their interests lie.

I’m a broken record at this point. And Shujin’s committed to telling a more gag-oriented story now. So I guess I have to just deal with it.

I also like that, despite reconciling, they still have to have conditions because that’s how Ohba does conflict.

But I would like to say

I Appreciate the Meta of what Ohba’s doing this chapter

So, I’ve given Ohba a lot of shit for his writing of women. And here, he acknowledges it in a meaningful way. And while I can see the contours of his keikaku so that Aoki and Shujin will magically run into each other, it still basically works narratively.

Like, it’s a good conflict, even if Shujin is being a total dipshit. And I like that he’s exploring one of his major weaknesses. Two really.

Humor and Women.

It feels like this arc is designed by Ohba so that he can attempt to right that image of him as being relentlessly bad at both. And I’m open to seeing him try, even though he still has sexist shit like Yoshida’s joke about Shujin writing shitty women because he’s dating a tomboy.

I like reflection and character development for mangaka, as much as I do manga characters.

So I’m definitely interested to see where this all ends up. Because Iwase is almost a good female character, and Aoki is becoming a better female character. And the humor lands more often than it misses.

So there is potential here, is all I’m saying. And I’m willing to give Ohba a shot to prove me wrong about my assessments.

And I actually really love the doubling going on here because parallelism is tight. And Aoki and Shujin having the same issue is a nice little thematic doubling. Who doesn’t love that? And they go about addressing it the same way.

But I’m rambling at this point.

Stray Thoughts

–Saiko’s immediate heelturn was fuckin ridiculous. Kid needs to develop a sense for people.

–I need to read more gag manga, I only know about Bakabon and Bobobo, the others flew over my head.

–A cute animal does make everything better, Shujin. certainly.

–The Akamaru thing was important, but not really worth commenting on in-depth since they’re already so deep into their journey. Akamaru was a bigger deal several chapters ago, now it’s just a means to an end.

–I’d like to express my thoughts on Literature/Manga dialectic in more detail, but this is about this series, and that would be a tangent that would take too long for this post. Maybe another time, however. Because I assure you, I have thoughts.

Anyway, where are we headed next?

Iunno

Until next time,

Peace

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