Welcome, my friend, to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 65: Stubborn and Honest, in which NAKAI, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.
If you are not caught up, please use this index here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.
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Without further ado
Stubborn and Honest Summary
Saiko panics, thinking Miho dumped him. He explains her trust issues to Shujin re: Taro and then immediately tries to reason his way out of a potential nuclear explosion. They’ve been soulmates since 4th grade. Right? Right??
Shujin immediately sees that the pure-hearted Miho will be even more single-minded and unforgiving about cheating than even Kaya. Even, though that’s not something Saiko did.
Saiko makes the rational decision of apologizing even though he did nothing wrong, technically, and calls Miho back.
Instead of apologizing, he proceeds to tell Miho that they have nothing to apologize for and that she needs to trust him.
Great job, Saiko, apologizing and all.
She then asks what’s up, since she trusts him.
He explains faith requires some uhhh, silence, and discretion but Miho is all about that “if you’re not guilty you should have no problem explaining the situation then” life.
Saiko brings up the photobook secrecy fiasco and the two begin a fight over the difference between secrecy because of doing shady shit, and secrecy due to shame; Saiko digs the hole even deeper by repeating what he’s already said, worsening the argument over their trust issues. Saiko loses his temper and hangs up on her.
Saiko’s incensed that she can’t just trust him. The boys haven’t done anything wrong.
Shujin realizes he’s jeopardizing his friend’s romance for a lie and offers to let Miho in on everything. Saiko’s uncertain but Shujin goes a step further and offers to cut off Aoki then tell Kaya too and if she doesn’t forgive him, it’s all over. But Saiko and Miho will be together still.
Shujin thinks if he explains the truth about their professional connection, and how Iwase manipulated the situation, it should smooth things over with the girls. Saiko’s unsure, but Shujin jumps to action and calls Aoki. Saiko wonders how Aoki feels, but Shujin don’t have time to consider the feelings of others after hurting the feelings of others the first time he didn’t think of the feelings of others.
Aoki gets all dokidoki cheerful when Shujin gives her a surprise call since it’s during the day. Even Shujin notices she sounds happy.
Aoki explains her trust in men is faltering but she totally trusts Takagi and enjoys talking to him so she looks forward to his calls.
Oh. Oh no. Oh honey.
Shujin is fucking flabbergasted and it gets worse because Aoki was ready to give up on people altogether without Shujin’s help. This is the first time she’s been able to open up to someone and talk freely. She knows she’s kinda difficult to get along with. She’s looking forward to continuing these conversations.
Shujin decides he cannot break her heart and can’t stop talking to her.
Shujin ends the conversation..
The boys continue to rationalize keeping this stupid thing going strong and Shujin reoffers to let Miho in on it. Saiko recognizes she’d just tell Kaya and the situation would not improve. They elect to do the most rational, smart thing in the world.
Nothing at all and hope for the best.
That’s the humanity I know.
Shujin feels guilty about his interference in Saiko’s relationship, but Saiko’s now on the “she should trust me” train. They immediately jump into storyboarding to get their minds off the chaos. Shujin is frustrated by Saiko’s stubbornness.
On the other side of this…
Kaya returns with all her stuff and apologizes for putting Miho out. Miho states the boys cannot be trusted. She tells her about the call and about how they’re clearly hiding something. She’s rather calm about just having gotten in a fight, but because they’ve hidden something from both of them it’s inexcusable
Kaya also gets guilty for dragging Miho into this and observes her stubbornness.
On August 16th, Akamaru is released. Shujin’s banking on Miho’s usual text messages to bring Saiko back up to snuff. Saiko’s a petulant child about it, but Shujin notices that Saiko’s been in a slump since they stopped talking. Shujin tells Saiko to cut the stubbornness and tell her.
Saiko continues being a child and asks for the storyboards. Shujin’s worried for Saiko and Miho’s relationship but Saiko thinks he’s lying.
Saiko orders him to work on the storyboards while Shujin groans over the 10 day wait for the final report for Akamaru. The boys reminisce about their first go-around in Akamaru and how they could have gotten a series if Eiji hadn’t come along.
The boys try to convince themselves that Tanto will get first place but Saiko’s worried about the age up for Akamaru. Shujin prods him about whether Miho would cheer him up.
A week later Miura gets the early results for Tanto: First place. Yamahisa is crushed (yay) that True Human placed second, and Time of Greenery fourth.
Miura rubs it in at Yamahisa and gloats at not being able to keep it from them if he had to meet Ashirogi. Yamahisa is convinced that Time of Greenery has no shot, but True human is a possibility.
Another week late, the final report comes in and…
FIRST PLACE BABY. Miura and the Boys get a celebratory yawp in and they all get pumped for possible serialization.
Shujin wonders what rank they would have gotten in Jump and Saiko gets grumpy about the question: he assumes better than Ten, at least in the top five.
Saiko decides to Text Miho the good news but…
Miho isn’t Responding But…
Miho doesn’t respond to the news. Saiko realizes he lost the battle by giving in and sending the first message; she probably wants an apology. He thinks she’s being overly harsh about this.
Shujin gets a call from Miss Aoki who congratulates him on his victory. He congratulates her for getting third place in the final report. She’s a bit disappointed about it, but she’s happy a person she “collaborated” with got first place. Ganbatte and all the rest.
Shujin enjoys Aoki when she’s open and nice and disparages Kaya…sigh.
Miura gloats about his first-place victory to yamahisa who points out second place can still get a series, and he didn’t get color pages. The vote gap wasn’t that big.
Yoshida comes in to twist the knife: True Humans is too problematic so it won’t be moving forward. While Yamahisa is stunned, Yoshida gives him an out since Time of Greenery is good, the artwork is amazing, and it got an even split with male/female readership. Plus, there hasn’t been any romance manga in a while.
He asks Yamahisa to pair up Aoki and Nakai again with Aoki doing faces, and Nakai doing the rest and then they’ll test it in Jump. Yamahisa recognizes that the panty shots and backgrounds were the weakest part, though not terrible. He’ll ask Aoki to work with Nakai. Yamahisa is desperate to win against Miura, I mean Tanto.
Yoshida sees a TV drama as a possibility here, so get to work, Aoki.
Aoki and Nakai
Despite only getting third, Aoki’s still happy and she wonders why. She questions whether it’s feelings for Shujin but quickly pushes it away. She gets a phone call and her heart starts pumping but it’s Yamahisa. He explains that Nakai’s involvement will almost guarantee a series. Aoki does not relish the thought of working with Nakai again.
That said, she agrees to do it anyway. When Yamahisa offers to call Nakai, she tells him she’ll do it personally, so it’ll be easier. He’s surprised by this turn, but he warns her nothing is guaranteed.
Nakai is surprised by the call and tries to play it cool when he notices Kato. He goes outside wondering about the gym teacher’s character. Nakai is convinced of his popularity with the ladies,
Aoki explains the situation and Nakai weighs whether he wants Kato or Aoki. He sees a shot with Aoki and asks to meet in person at the restaurant where they work on Hideout Door. Aoki’s confused about that.
Nakai’s Heartless Heel Turn
At the restaurant Nakai gets straight to the point: he’s very friendly with Natsumi Kato and he enjoys his work. But he can’t decide between the two of them.
Nakai. Nakai. what are you doing Nakai?
He agrees to work with her if she’ll go out with him.
Aoki is heartbroken, burst into tears, and slaps him as hard as possible.
Good for you, Aoki
She’s disgusted by the quid pro quo and the idea of a relationship with him. She finds him the most repulsive human she’s ever known.
Nakai makes up his mind and decides to return to Kato, telling her goodbye.
Aoki is in tears, as the chapter concludes.
Stubborn and Honest
Panel of the Week
It’s a good panel, but mostly I’m just using the “Show, Don’t Tell Method” to explain why it’s absolute nonsense that this is the specific panel they chose to emphasize Aoki’s bust.
I like the action, and Nakai getting bitch slapped is satisfying, but I’m also equally frustrated that this has any fanservice in it at all. Which leads me to the below explosion:
WHAT THE FUCK, NAKAI?
Oh God. Oh god. Oh no. Oh fuck. Oh Fuck.
What a fucking piece of shit. Jesus fucking christ. What an absolute turd. What an asshole oh my god.
I cannot contain my absolute disgust at Nakai. Jesus fucking christ. I need something to drink. I need something to punch. Ugh.
This chapter – like all these chapters – is more stacked than Aoki’s redesign so I’m going to have to devote several thousand words to it to match the recap but can we just take a moment to be absolutely flabbergasted by Nakai’s awful fucking behavior. Just to a degree that break the threshold of simply problematic into outright creep and POS levels.
I’ve malingered on Nakai’s status as this shonen’s problem child, and he’s emblematic of the series complicated relationship with women, but here he just took it too far. I’m actively angry on Aoki’s behalf.
And what’s worse, Aoki’s bust got emphasized and her character redesign has gotten more dramatic at this exact moment where she slaps him. It’s almost like they hired an assistant to redraw her to be more appealing. And here – the sequence where she’s being creeped on by Nakai is the moment we need to know that Aoki has truly blossomed outward.
Goddamn it. I’m so angry.
And It’s worse because I don’t want Nakai to be such an insufferable piece of shit/dark mirror. I don’t like seeing myself in such a disgusting character with such a disgusting moment.
But I respond so virulently to him because I see a lot of my older toxic mindsets exaggerated to an extreme level. It’s so uncomfortable to feel like I even used to think in ways that were even remotely similar.
Ok. We have so much else to talk about, and I need to calm down and focus on that.
*Breathes in to calm down*
And also fucking Kato. Jesus christ dude. Go to a bar and ask someone out since you’re an assistant and you have time.
Ok. I’m really done now.
And Aoki too.
OK. I’m back
Aoki the Tsundere
Ok, so I forgot to mention in Chapter 61, but there was a short discussion on Tsundere’s and where Aoki is one (she is), so it was real alarming that she finally realized she’s got ladywood for Shujin. It took a long moment. And she also approached it in classic tsundere fashion. It’s good to see that some people here have some modicum of emotional intelligence even if they are a tsundere.
Ok. I’m not done with Nakai. One thing I do appreciate about that ending is that Nakai is being portrayed explicitly as scum. He’s supposed to be the villain of this moment and it works because the series is finally bringing to light the topic subtext it’s been working with.
And that is no, it’s not cool to conflate women with manga. In fact, it’s very unhealthy to do it. And here we have a major moment of someone acting on that subtext in the most obvious and disgusting way imaginable and it blows up in their faces royally. So props for at least doing that much
Do I think it’s going to change? Ehhhhhhhhhhh, probably not. But I’m hopeful that given this turn it will improve.
So, ok, where was I? I have other shit to cover and I don’t want o think about Nakai anymore.
Miho and Saiko
Ok, so I didn’t mention it last chapter, but Saiko keeping the secret of Taro Kawaguchi from Miho in hindsight is a bit strange. He probably should have just mentioned it at some point. But now she knows, so I guess the secret’s out. Yayyyyy.
Honestly, though, it was good to see Saiko actually suffering this chapter – mostly because the exaggerated faces were, in fact, humorous – but mostly because it was a case of someone getting their just desserts after being an asshole.
But it was also totally relatable to have that person one talks to all the time who is special not picking up the texts. It can really mess you up when you want to talk to someone, you know they aren’t going to answer you, but the reason has nothing to do with availability. It feels kinda universal.
Or maybe it’s just me.
But I felt for Saiko even as I was grumpy at him.
What I could not understand – but what is totally in character for both these two lugnuts – is that he was so goddamn stubborn, same with Shujin. If we wait it out they’ll apologize to us? yeah, good luck with that. Did you finish putting the wings on your pig?
I have mentioned several times how Nakai disgusts me because he is a black mirror. And I used to be similar – though not to the degree he is – to him. As a byproduct of loneliness that would make Hideaki Anno want to yell at me for being insufferable, I was pretty clingy. It made people of all stripes uncomfortable and ended up being an ouroboros. I’m still working through the guilt of having poor social skills and clinginess that pushed people away. Mostly girls. Blegh.
But one thing I’ve learned over time is that if someone doesn’t have to talk to you every day – if you’re the one who is making a relationship work – then they have less to invest and less to lose if it suddenly ceases. Something I learned the hard way.
And even though Miho and Saiko are literally designed for each other, I think Miho still has the power in this situation because she’s the one who can hold out. She’s less invested than Saiko is, or she at least has the ability to cut him out with less of a major impact.
Desperation is Saiko’s problem. And he’s gonna lose. Although he doesn’t know it yet. She’s also way more of an idealist than him, and she’s sticking to dem ideals. Which again – totally nutso – but also gives her more strength in her convictions. I don’t pity Saiko.
…uncomfortable confessions aside, we did get some good news this chapter.
The Boys Got First Place And Notes on Third
That was actually a genuinely exciting, and somewhat unexpected moment but I guess they do have the chops to make gag manga. Cool.
Moreover, it was really nice to see Yamahisa eat shit a little. Take that. I don’t care if your Aoki’s editor, you’re awful, man. I even got celebratory with Miura this chapter which was truly a wonderful thing to behold; his smug face was quite excellent. I actually like how Ohba and Obata portrayed the intense excitement of getting 1st only for it to be marred by that absent voice that Saiko was expecting to cheer him on.
It was a nice kind of disquiet
That said, Aoki getting third place didn’t come off as the abject failure Miura seemed to make it. Perhaps because he was focused specifically on gag manga he thought they would be screwed if they didn’t do a certain level of good – and he wanted to rub it in Yamahisa’s smug face – but it sounds like genre is a major consideration in long term success.
And I’ve mentioned this series before, but Blue Box is really showing us what good romance can look like in manga, which is why I see a lot of potential in Aoki’s manga getting into the magazine.
If you haven’t read Blue Box, go read it. It’s a delightfully down-to-earth romance/sports manga and everything about it is just *chefs kiss*. it also lacks panty shots *looks at Ohba*
But what interested me most is how Yoshida wasn’t interested in an anime adaptation but instead was more looking to a J drama. Which could actually be a real win for Aoki if it were successful. Live action anime adaptations are notoriously bad with a few exceptions, but for romance manga that’d be ideal for a J Drama.
And that’s just a pleasant little insight into the way everything is connected in the Japanese media industry.
On that note
Who will help Aoki out?
I feel really bad for Aoki both for having a crush on Nakai and for being out an artist. Who is going to help her resolve her problem? I think Shujin and Kaya are both ready to reconcile (thank god) given how they’re fucking over the main characters’ romance, but Aoki is going to be left out in the cold.
I actually think Shujin should have just bitten the bullet and done the hard thing early on in this chapter, but in hindsight, it’s probably better that he didn’t given how much of an anus Nakai was about the whole situation – which thinking that two girls are into you based on ambiguous information fucking fuck fuck – ok I’m back.
if this were the real world, I’d want Shujin to end it swiftly and mercilessly because that would be the healthy thing for everyone. But since this isn’t the real world, I will settle for him simply deferring it until he can explain to Kaya and Miho.
Which better be the next chapter.
But man, I’m really at a loss for who could possibly help Aoki out with her panty shots. I’m sure I’ll find out in the next chapter, or a few chapters from now. Given that this volume is literally called “Panty Shot and Savior”. Eek.
Hopefully, we find out sooner rather than later, because I just want to move on to something else.
Goddamn it Nakai.
Ok, I’m done. I’m done.
Until next time,