Howdy and welcome to my read through of Bakuman Chapter 66: Monkey and Marriage, in which we get into the Rom-Com meta, and I cool down a bit from all the blatant stupidity.
If you haven’t been reading – no shame if you haven’t – use this nice lil’ index to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.
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Monkey and Marriage Summary
Saiko’s Dazed and Confused
Shujin gives him notes on the next inventions to work on including Chewing Gum that makes you say cool things and a glove that punches anything. When he asks for Input, Saiko’s lost in la-la land about Miho having gone two months without contact.
Saiko remembers his dream and how it might preclude their contact until then.
Shujin snaps him out of it to go home and gives him a list of gag inventions to work on. It doesn’t work so well. Shujin realizes Saiko’s edge is dulled and decides to bite the bullet and stop pussing out.
Miyuki tries to probe Kaya about what’s going on with her and Miho. Kaya apologizes for spending their break at Miho’s house: she’s fighting with a friend.
Miyuki sees through this instantly and gets into the weeds about her boy troubles, and Miho’s troubles with Saiko. She’s curious why Miho and He never go on any dates. Before Kaya can spill she gets a text she thinks is from Miho. It’s Shujin asking to meet in 30 minutes in a bossy way.
Despite being peeved, she breaks off her conversation to call Shujin.
Shujin pokes fun at her but she pricks him about “That stupid manga”. At first, he thinks Tanto, but she explains it’s Ko Aoki’s one-shot that has her riled up because of ripping off Saiko and Miho’s love story. Miho is pissed off and so is Kaya.
Kaya then goes into her conspiracy re: Iwase and Aoki and how they must be living it up at the studio with two pretty girls. She then goes on an extended tirade in which she vents her frustrations to him and how he’s a cheater, and he should have broken up with her, and so on and so on.
Shujin yells at her to shut up. He asks whether she’s still with Miho. She’s still pissed at him for being a jerk but he explains that he’s worried about Saiko and Miho. Kaya blames Shujin for that, even though it also bugs her. That’s why he’s coming over to explain. Jesus.
She, of course, takes it the wrong way and nothing is accomplished.
Aoki is absolutely shattered after her confrontation with Nakai and decides to call Shujin, for lack of anyone better to call, for advice.
Kaya and Shujin continue arguing over the phone where Kaya prods him on how much more he loves her over Iwase. A thousand times. What about Aoki? Three times.
She’s furious that he took her seriously but it’s more realistic given his nature so she believes him. As he confesses his feelings, she demands they go to the zoo together. Annoyed, he ultimately relents to give his girlfriend the win.
Aoki notices he’s busy and decides to also go to the zoo to decompress. Oof.
Despite offering to go to the zoo, Kaya still flips shit because she’s just angry, not actually trying to engage in meaningful diplomacy. If she doesn’t like what he says, she’s going to beat the snot out of him. Shujin gives himself openly to do with as she pleases and decides to meet her at 3 o’clock.
Meeting at Monkey Mountain
Shujin gets to Monkey Mountain and hopes to be able to differentiate Kaya from the monkeys (yooo) before running into Aoki, nearly giving him a heart attack. He suspects Miyoshi before realizing that’s too above her keikaku (which means strategy) abilities.
Aoki tells him she just called, but he was busy. She’s surprised by the coincidence and runs into his arms unsure what to do.
Shujjin briefly forgets why he’s there because she smells good and then obviously, out of a Rom-com Kaya catches them mid-sitcom moment.
She takes it the wrong way, obviously, and runs off. Aoki shouts to get her to come back and tries to allay her suspicions although even Shujin’s not that dumb. Kaya’s in tears with snot running down her face asking why she wouldn’t be suspicious of something so damn suspicious.
Shujin goes to explain but she has all but confirmed the truth and uses her Aikido to shove him over. She’s convinced it’s over as they try to explain, but failing that, Shujin deploys his last weapon.
He asks to marry her.
That finally stops her dead.
He finally declares his true love in as unambiguous terms as possible but Kaya thinks she’s imitating Saiko. He wants to marry her now, as soon as possible. They’re 19, old enough to be married.
Bro, bro. bro.
He’s also got 5 million yen in the bank and is about to get a new series.
They’re students though, Kaya counters. Aoki is supportive of the idea, actually. Kaya flips out at her for being involved anyway. Who is she, anyway?
She takes that remark literally and gives her basic info for Kaya. Kaya chews her out for the one-shot connecting her to Shujin and then the out-of-context hug. Aoki calmly gives her the deets about their professional relationship but recognizes it was, perhaps, impolitic of her to hug Shujin just now. This only confuses Kaya more.
Shujin asks to explain things and she finally, finally, calms down.
Lingering Questions and Doubts
Kaya’s suspicious about the coincidental zoo meetings happening twice. Aoki apologizes for withholding their relationship from Kaya. Shujin apologizes and Aoki grants her blessing for the marriage proposal.
Kaya thinks that was a line, but Shujin actually meant it. If they’re together he won’t make boneheaded errors like this again and he was planning to propose after he got famous but if she’s willing to go through the rough times together…
Aoki plays a good wingman and points out hard times strengthen bonds.
Kaya asks for a wedding and permission from their parents.
Shujin remembers his parents exist and worries about it, but offers to do his best.
Kaya offers to marry him once he’s serialized. Aoki hands out congratulations. Kaya compromises on the wedding and offers to hand in the marriage license instead of the wedding given how busy he’d be should that happen. Aoki asks for the date.
Helping out Aoki
Aoki pulls back after remembering her vow to cut off contact. Kaya asks about Aoki’s guy situation re: Shujin and she explains she’s not good at opening up to people and that she has chemistry with him.
Kaya doesn’t like that, but Aoki confirms she probably started having a crush on him. Shujin freaks out upon learning that and Kaya thinks it’s TMI. Kaya chastises both Nakai and Shujin for being Dense: she’d choose Aoki all things considered. Shujin makes an ill-timed joke which Aoki takes literally.
Kaya then asks for Aoki to remain Shujin’s friend on the condition that she is also one of Kaya’s friends.
Aoki gets a bit teary-eyed at the generosity but Kaya explains she was being hardheaded and unwilling to understand the situation. Plus it’s helping everyone’s manga, and even if she doesn’t trust Takagi, she still trusts Aoki.
Shujin freaks but Kaya’s just joking: she wouldn’t marry someone she didn’t trust. Katya proposes a friendship between her and Aoki. And Aoki Accepts.
Manga’s a Game
Yamahisa provides Shizuka’s new storyboards. Yoshida is surprised by the turnaround and yamahisa explains that Shizuka treats manga like a game seeing how fast he can clear the next level.
Yoshida isn’t fond of the comparison and when he sees the storyboard he’s worried it’s the same as the previous version. Yamahisa assures him that it’s much more shonen despite having the same title. Yoshida recognizes that this one might actually be publishable. Yamahisa sends Shizuka word that he’ll send True Human forward to serialization. Level 2 cleared.
Yamahisa recognizes that Shizuka’s coping mechanism of gaming has prepared him for the world of manga potentially and hopes to beat out Tanto with this new version of True Human.
Clearing the Air
Shujin’s still concerned for Miho and Saiko but Kaya thinks they’re mad at each other for its own sake. She’s convinced the air will clear immediately.
All three go back to Miho’s and explain that Shujin’s getting married while Saiko slaves away and malingers over the faltering of his relationship with Miho. He’s so distracted he can’t even sketch. He gets an email and has a panic attack.
Miho texts her forgiveness and thinks that Aokki is a really nice person who she’s friends with now (LOL).
Saiko tries to understand what’s going on.
Meanwhile, Shujin gets to be surrounded by three pretty girls; two pretty girls is his response which Kaya thinks is about Miho when Saiko texts back.
She explains the four of them are having tea together and Saiko calls to bitch about being left out of the fun. Shujin tells him he can’t see Miho until his dreams come true but he can email her still. He also casually drops that he’s being forced to get married.
Kaya takes gumption at the phrasing “forced” and they get into a spat but Saiko is thrilled about the two getting hitched and reaffirms his goal of getting serialized and popular which Shujin joins in on as the chapter concludes
Monkey and Marriage Reaction
That’s One Way To Resolve Things
So, now that I’m looking back on the last few reviews, I think I come off as much angrier than I actually am, and I’ve been trying to pin down why that is exactly.
And it’s not just all the rampant sexism, bad decision-making, and frustrating character beats that make me seem angrier.
I’m treating this like a dramatic series, and right now, it’s a Rom-com.
One of the elements that make a rom-com a rom-com – or, more appropriately, a sitcom – is its penchant for putting characters in a situation where they misunderstand each other often to extreme ends, and then as the situation is about to potentially improve, it nose-dives with an equally ridiculous turn for the worse.
Thankfully, Ohba can’t keep it up, and so he chooses to end the Rom-com elements with this chapter in a very rom-commy way.
And this goes a long way toward confirming one of my underlying assertions about the overall structure of Bakuman and its metafictive status. And I think this is to a degree a well-used piece of pastiche to comment on the genre of rom-com.
Specifically, the climax of Aoki/Shujin/Kaya’s arc – with inopportune hugging – is peak Rom-Com material. Which, if this series were a rom-com would be funny and potentially endearing.
But it’s not a rom-com. Up to this point it has generally played it straight, dramatically and has since the series began. Its obsession with the years-long process of making manga in particular. So the end result is less of a well-done pastiche, and more of a overt demonstration of the clash between dramatic writing and rom-com writing. Because Ohba is writing a drama with Rom-com tropes.
So in the end, while I love that Ohba is pretty aggressively pushing the boundaries of metafictional possibilities, he also risks being alienating at times, as the tone changes from classic shonen as it was in the beginning, to more of an SoL manga that was before their first serialization, and now onto Rom-Com/Gag/Deadly serious that it’s currently running with.
I’m of two minds. I can appreciate it more than I can say it’s fun to read.
Because man, if this were real life, I’d just be super stressed out.
Not gonna lie though, the ending with Saiko working his ass off while Shujin was hanging with three gorgeous girls at a cafe was peak sit-com status quo returning ending that I can’t even be totally pissed off about all the chicanery that preceded it. And a lot of chicanery preceded it.
Is the sexism still galling and obnoxious: You betcha!
But am I willing to be a little softer on it in this frame…yeah. Also, the gags worked better this chapter than they have to date because there was more commitment to the bit, this time.
The marriage proposal
So, uh, given that this is still Rom-Com mode, I’m not going to say that it’s bad Kaya and Shujin are getting married. but if this series reverts back to something more explicitly dramatic anytime soon…. Yeah, it’s a bad idea.
Granted, it’s still shonen, and shonen drama gets to have some leeway morally and realistically. So it’ll be fine that Shujin is tying the knot with Kaya now. And his whole admission of love was genuinely moving, even if he took the Aoki bit about being three times better too literally.
But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t just the teeensiest bit concerned about you know, how teen marriages are rarely a good idea. Also, there was that comment several chapters ago – by Kaya no less – about how half of teen weddings end in divorce. Which uhhhhh, maybe Kaya from the past would like to remind Kaya of the present about that?
But again, since this is a manga, it’s probably ok. Shujin and Kaya have been an endgame match up since they started dating and this marriage is only expediting the deal. And, like Kishimoto, it’s not like they’re actually going to get married married, they’re going to postpone the nuptials to a less busy time. Like Kishimoto, who didn’t have his actual honeymoon until after Naruto ended,
Over a decade after he was married. Yeesh.
So it’ll work out for Shujin regardless.
Assuming, of course, Vroom, Tanto Daihatsu gets serialized. Which, if I’m being honest, it’s looking increasingly to be the case that it is.
I don’t like that. I don’t like it one bit. I want to get back to serious drama naooooo.
But we’re stuck.
And besides, maybe Kaya and Shujin won’t get married at an alarmingly young age this way? Right? Right?
Eh, they’ll probably do it. Damn.
I’m also a little miffed that Shujin’s justification for getting married.
As for Aoki.
The Panty Shots Can Wait
Can I say just how lovely it is that Aoki now has two whole friends, who are actually friends, and an actual girlfriend? It’s actually delightful. I’m going to willingly overlook the fact that the key detail she was thinking of when she thought of Nakai was that he had another girl to go back to. That just…that didn’t happen. Ok?
But seriously, I have a feeling Kaya and Miho befriending Aoki can only be good for her. The girl is so lonely, and it’s obvious how badly it’s affecting her that the first sign of non-sexual human contact with a boy got her going dokidoki almost immediately.
I know there is more to it, and obviously, there was a spark between the two which became textual this chapter, but now that she has actual friends who aren’t mangaka – and aren’t guys – she has an opportunity to flourish. And I want that for her because she’s a generally likeable character and she’s grown a lot since her introduction.
And she is also a dark mirror to whom I can relate. Except in this case, it’s being stuck up, pretentious, and friendless, shifting over to having good friends by not being those things.
And I know what it’s like to be lonely to the point where any human contact can feel so intense and powerful. And that’s really all I’m going to say about that. Suffice to say, seeing someone making friends is delightful. And she needs them. because it’ll help her writing
And hopefully, help her get over Nakai.
But I guess the panty shots are a problem. A real problem. One I don’t want to think about. So what else was there in this chapter to comment on?
Shizuka and gaming
So, as someone who likes when Neurodivergent people get the opportunity to flourish on their own terms, I am all for it, and Shizuka treating Manga like a game – while distasteful to Yoshida – actually made me very happy from the perspective of someone who wants to see nontypical approaches to socializing.
And I will say, even though Yamahisa is generally a creepy scuzzbucket, I do like how he’s approaching Shizuka on his own terms. It’s nice to see he knows what Shizuka needs to improve and grow, and that given the right motivation Shizuka is on track to actually get a manga made of True Human.
Do I think we’ll see him?
Well, possibly, although I’m not holding my breath. He may just end up being like Claw from inspector gadget where he’s always off-screen. But overall this moment was small but mercifully welcome in the middle of the rom-com chaos.
If only Yamahisa had the same thoughtfulness with Aoki.
Saiko and Parents
I’ll just say Re: Saiko. This was the funniest bit I’ve seen and the most painful given how bad Saiko got it for Miho. Seeing him in a chaotic daze – due to his own failings – was pretty hysterical. So I’ll leave it at that. Was it cruel to make him the butt of this particular joke? Maybe. But he’s still pulling out of my shitlist since Volume 6, so I’ll let him take the knock.
It’s a more enjoyable flaw than overworking to death.
I guess Shujin and Kaya have to talk to their parents? I wonder when that will happen. Probably soon, but hopefully off-screen, since I don’t need any more rom-com stuff taking over my manga about manga.
It’s really sucking up the oxygen from the story. And I’m more interested in the technical elements surrounding the story.
Anyway, this was a mercifully short chapter, so this will be a mercifully short read-through.
Until next time,