Hey there amigos, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 67: Panty Shot and Savior in which an incredibly silly plotline yield some surprising dividends and Fukuda is the best person in the room?
If you are not caught up, please use this index over here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.
If you would like to read along, and support the mangaka, consider buying a tankobon of the current volume, or subscribing to Weekly Shonen Jump. I recommend Jump because it’s my magazine, mang, but you do you. I’m not affiliated with VIZ Media, I just want Ohba and Obata to roll around in piles of royalty yen and live life and shit.
Panty Shot and Savior Summary
No More Mr. Nakai’ce guy around to help
Yamahisa’s shocked to hear of Aoki and Nakai’s acrimonious split. While Yamahisa is flabbergasted, Yujiro is disgusted. Yamahisa wants to fix the situation with Nakai but she mentions her slap and officially ending it. Yujiro supports the decision.
Aoki’s at a loss and Yamahisa sent the panty-shot master he’d lined up to a seinen magazine. Fortunately, the only thing left to revise are said panty shots. He’ll find someone specifically to do them. Yujiro’s relieved that Kiyoshi – which has panty shots as a selling point – isn’t in danger.
New Dynamics and Panty Shots
The next day at the studio, Saiko and Shujin discuss Shujin’s proposal and how serious he is while cleaning the place up. He’s glad he proposed as he is totally serious about being with Kaya. Saiko points out that their careers are far from stable and maybe he should wait until they have more foothold in the industry before making such a decision.
Shujin brings up another facet: a mutual attraction to Aoki. He wants to give himself a hard limit to not make the same mistakes.
Sigh. That’s…not how anything works. But ok.
Mr. wait-until-our-dreams-come-true-to-start-a-relationship thinks it rash but Shujin won’t budge.
The doorbell rings and Aoki arrives at their spotless studio.
Aoki came all the way to apologize to Saiko in person which Kaya and Shujin find aggressively honest. Aoki points out this entire kerfuffle was the result of lies by omission so she’s not honest.
They then ask about the Nakai situation. Aoki confirms everything and her utter contempt for him. Shujin asks about her crush, tho. Absolutely not! is her answer but Kaya notices she’s blushing.
She admits that she’s confused, but she doesn’t think it’s feelings. It doesn’t matter, since he’s a no-go and she still has to find an assistant or git gud at drawing panties. She’s disgusted by the concept of a panty-shot specialist but…
Shujin remembers that Kiyoshi has been stuffed to the gills with panty shots since Aoki’s one-shot ran and they realize Fukuda has the gift for being a total fucking hentai and she could study under his perverted tutelage. Aoki’s pride forbids her from seeking HIS help, though.
Kaya offers up Ishizawa for consideration, which immediately sets off alarm bells for Saiko and Shujin. When asked, they explain that while he is GOOD at that thing he’s not the right choice.
Aoki thinks Saiko’s a good judge of art, so Ishizawa must be a gifted artist. Kaya explains his work in a monthly magazine which Aoki thinks makes him more interested in his own work, but Kaya reasons he’ll probably be ok being her assistant. When asked why Kaya explains she’s cute and pretty.
Both cute and pretty are a powerful combination, Aoki-Sai.
Saiko and Shujin still think it’s a terrible idea and try to talk them off it. Kaya’s snide, but they’re genuinely distrustful of him and think he’s a bad guy in general, especially when it’s for someone who has trust issues with men, to begin with.
Aoki asks to meet him, anyway.
The boys resist but Kaya and Aoki are persistent. When asked why they’re pushing, it’s because Aoki’s in trouble, and Ishizawa is an adult and should have some pride in his work. Shujin decides to join them if she’s going to go because Ishizawa is unsafe. Kaya thinks he’s overreacting.
Yujiro picks up the final draft and assures Fukuda he’s safe in the magazine for the time being, which Fukuda thinks is bullshit when the only thing getting votes is the panty shots. He then asks for the results of Akamaru. Specifically, he wants to know about Aoki’s one-shot.
She came in third, barely. She’s not a competition for him with her weak panty shots and besides, their stories are hardly comparable so they won’t compete for readership. Yasuoka thinks the panty shots aren’t “real” panty shots.
Yujiro explains the Nakai fiasco to Fukuda while getting a giggle out of Nakai’s shiteheadedness.
Fukuda is dumbfounded by Nakai’s behavior. Not just the Aoki dating, but the opportunity for a one-shot. Yasuoka doesn’t really get what’s wrong, so Fukuda sends him home and calls Nakai. Nakai predicting what’s to come sends him to voice mail.
Fukuda, pissed, goes over to Takahama’s office to bitch him out with Yasuoka coming in with the assist.
Ishizawa gets a call from Shujin and once he receives the brief he’s all for it. Shujin suspects that Ishizawa is reading too deeply into the situation already – he gave Shujin advice on Tanto under a stupid pretext – and Kaya is shocked that his stuff is meant to be a gag at all.
Shujin asks Aoki to tell him if she gets uncomfortable around Ishizawa so they can leave immediately. Kaya joins too to prevent any mutual attraction from developing. He asks her to wait at another table to be back up. Like a bodyguard.
Fukuda rides his bike into the night like someone particularly hardboiled even though he doesn’t know Takahama’s address. While Saiko worries about Ishizawa, Fukuda calls him up and asks for his address given their previous acquaintance. When asked, Fukuda explains he’s going to be biting Nakai’s head off and to have him make amends with Aoki.
At the meeting itself, Ishizawa frames himself as the white knight coming to the rescue. Aoki thinks it’s a joke, but Shujin points out that he’s dead serious.
Shujin gives him explicit instructions that he’s there to provide guidance on male appeal. The professional perv, as Ishizawa so eloquently puts it. He agrees under the condition that she do exactly what he says to make the sexy happen.
While he eats his cake in a particularly crass manner he explains that his approach will be to have Aoki pose for sexy photographs and videos and to also start looking at porn mags and DVDs for inspiration.
Holy what the fuck.
Shujin is as shocked as I am and Aoki’s turning red.
He explains that he needs to draw by observation. Shujin asks for tact, but this is a situation that demands Ishizawa be crass, according to him. Kaya’s watching and ready to jump in at the growing chaos.
Ishizawa frames this as “kinetic learning” in which he’ll be personally instructing Aoki on how to make that body do the work of being sexy. People around them listening in assume he’s a porn recruiter.
Ishizawa explains that the panty shots will be done by having Aoki pose herself to avoid plagiarism and that he will select the best ones. Shujin can’t even and laments Aoki’s loss of trust in men while Aoki’s reduced to total silence.
Fukuda, the Savior
At Takahama’s, Fukuda announces himself and then rushes into the studio.
He comes in and yells at Nakai for throwing away a good opportunity. Nakai, digging himself deeper into the hole explains he chose Kato over Aoki.
Fukuda punches him in the face for the whole fuckin audience and points out that’s an incredibly stupid reason to to stay an assistant in perpetuity. Fukuda was thrilled by having competition when they got serialized together. Fukuda doesn’t care about his love life, but he wants to know why Nakai is killing his own career by not pursuing serialization.
He’s comfortable here.
Nakai indirectly confesses that he’s happy just being around Kato and being an assistant. Kato is fucking shocked, by the way, as the two butt heads. Nakai feels that Fukuda would never understand his feelings as someone chronically incapable of getting a girlfriend and not to interfere with his love life.
Fukuda’s disgusted and sees why Nakai’s artwork has gone down the drain. He leaves in a huff.
Fukuda doesn’t know what to do for Aoki and gives up on Nakai so he calls Yujiro and asks for Aoki’s number. Yujiro can’t just give out Aoki’s number for no reason other than because Aoki’s a woman. Without a reason, Fukuda can’t do anything. He asks for Aoki’s editor instead. Yamahisa’s around, but unless he has a special reason…Fukuda just asks to talk with him.
Yamahisa has the same functional line: he can’t help a future rival. Fukuda explains that the special rivalry bond requires that he check up on her and her search for a good panty-shot artist. Yamahisa wants to know what it’s all about and why he’s checking in.
Fukuda hangs up. He doesn’t even really know himself. He then gets another idea.
He calls Hiramaru who also doesn’t have her number, though he has plenty of other numbers, despite wanting to desperately get it.
Fukuda’s frustrated and asks why he doesn’t have Aoki’s number. It’s hard to ask the girl you like for her number, and he likes her. Hiramaru then asks why HE wants it. Fukuda’s about to hang up but Hiramaru won’t let it go: he doesn’t want Fukuda confessing feelings or anything. He pricks Hiramaru with the possibility which Hiramaru takes seriously. He explains the concept of sarcasm and gives the real reason.
Failing that, he decides to go to her house. How does he know where she lives? Hiramaru will take him there personally in his Porsche. When Fukuda won’t fall for it, Hiramaru reminds him he’s also in Team Fukuda. Hiramaru gives him some bullshit about feeling left out when Fukuda sees something going on.
At the cafe, Ishizawa is going full-on perv offering to draw if Aoki will model for him. Shujin gets Aoki and prepares to leave. Ishizawa gets pissed and doesn’t understand how much of fucking creep he’s being and persist in asking for Aoki’s job by having her model for him. She doesn’t even have to get naked. Just a swimsuit is fine.
At that moment Ishizawa gets slammed into the diner table and Fukuda tells him to keep his dirty mitts to himself.
Fukuda offers to draw the Patny shots himself.
When asked what he’s doing there, he called Saiko. When asked about his series, Fukuda offers to help her over the phone and she can fax over her rough drafts. He’s going to be more critical, though.
Fukuda thinks she’s going to remain stuck up and not want to learn from him. But she bows and graciously accepts his offer. Hiramaru arrives – in his Porsche – to join the fun which Aoki seems to accept and Shujin realizes a powerful alliance has been made, as the chapter concludes.
Panty Shot and Savior Reaction
Panel of the Week
Not much to say here. I like the accurate rendering of the Harley – which now that I look closer appears to actually be just a picture of a Harley traced with Fukuda on top of it. I like the drama, I like the look, I like the sense of motion.
Like King Crimson, it just works.
Ok, I actually really liked this chapter for a bunch of character and story reasons, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t just out and out say this:
This is the single silliest storyline in the history of Jump that I have ever read. By the widest possible margin and every possible metric. Oh nooo who are we going to get to draw three panty shots a week that will make that audience horny enough to buy more manga?
Yeah, aside form the oft mentioned creep factor of this subplot, the drama surrounding it has been equally ridiculous.
That said, I still really loved this chapter for a few reasons. One of the big ones though is that there is a coherent mini-narrative that has been somewhat missing from the last few chapters.
Since the cancellation, there have been mini-arcs with character beats, but nothing with an actual beginning, middle, and end. Or Kishoutenketsu structure. It’s there – it has to be being baked into manga making – but it’s not super, uhm, dramatic? I don’t know.
The lack of a firm, compelling conflict is reflected in the narrative chaos of my reactions. Because there are clusters of action centered around various characters. But there hasn’t been a solid narrative moment that felt truly satisfying because it’s all just kind blended together getting to the next manga.
Distinct, but not narratively so. That changed this chapter with a clear arc of the characters.
I digress, however.
Here there is a question, a setup, an antagonist, a protagonist, and character development. So let’s start with Shujin.
Shujin’s motivation and Aoki’s growth
Ok, so the idea that Shujin can magically will away his attraction to Aoki is not only poorly thought-out, but definitely one of his worst ideas. Worse than starting to talk to her in the first place. Attraction does not work like that, and getting married won’t magically make you more devoted to Kaya. If you are already devoted to her, you will remain devoted, the same is true if you’re not.
So that’s bullshit, and also, when you have Saiko pointing out the flaws in your relationship planning, you know something is wrong as fuck.
Also, I don’t know why this came to mind, but seeing Aoki dressed conservatively – except for that one disgusting panel – was genuinely so relieving. Like, oh god, I’m so glad the horny got turned all the way down for that. because I just was losing my mind with trying to make Aoki appealing to the reader.
She’s appealing enough, but I’m not here for T’n’A; gimme some damn story.
But her general willingness to listen to others, take advice, and see the possibilities in other ideas – including Fukuda, which we’ll get to later – was so great. It shows an increasing humility that I think is partially the result of experiencing failure, but also just a sign of her growth as a person that she’s able to recognize her own limitations and weaknesses. The sequence at the end with Fukuda was great. I loved it.
What was a lot less enthralling was her crush on Nakai which she still clearly hasn’t gotten over, even though she claims it is over. Maybe it’s true, but the series is playing a bit too coy for my taste for me to see it likely that they somehow won’t end up together. I’m really really concerned about it.
Speaking of fucking creeps who aren’t Nakai.
He’s the worst. Officially. Worse than Yamahisa, worse than Nakai, worse than Shujin on a bad day. Worse than Saiko. He’s the worst. Objectively.
And I like how clearly Ishizawa’s character design is made to make him even worse than he would be if he were designed even more remotely appealing. His lips are too large, his cheeks too puffy, and you can just feel the greasy hair coming off the page. And in an inspired moment of setting as character, we can see his cute girl drawings and, pardon my fucking french:
His cute girls are all mid as fuck.
They’re all so basic and averagely rendered that it’s clearly taking advice from him is a bad idea even before we get to his literal on the nose not even subtextual objectification and harassment of Aoki. Dear god. And also the fucking giving advice to Saiko and Shujin despite only having a three-page “MONTHLY” manga that even Kaya didn’t realize was supposed to be funny.
I tell ya hwat.
But that sequence with Aoki was almost comical in how absolutely and abjectly disgusting it was. Just on every level it was terrible. It’s almost miraculous how awful it was. the sequence where he offered to model her directly and then not picking up how uninto it she was. I wanted to have my skin peeled off just listening to him.
Talk about Chekhov’s creepy bastard.
And it’s made worse by his eating habits, and general demeanor. And just ugh.
I’m saying I’m glad Shujin punched him, and so did Fukuda, who actually functions as the protagonist for once.
Fukuda’s Heroics and Yankee Manga
So I’m not SUPER familiar with Yankee manga as a genre, but after finishing Great Teacher Onizuka (which is fantastic) it’s pretty clear that this chapter is borrowing from the Yankee delinquent with a heart of gold wheelhouse with a touch of humor in Fukuda’s demeanor.
I’m sure that was obvious to anyone reading back when he was introduced. but it just clicked for me, as is the fact that the panty shots have become a fixture of his manga.
But his whole arc of protecting Aoki with an overtly disagreeable attitude, but secretly likeable ferocity made this chapter so much more satisfying despite its silly premise. Even though I don’t really like shipping culture, I could see Fukuda x Aoki as a potential pairing in the future
But as I was saying, this feels like an ode to GTO the way Fukuda is framed and approached with both Nakai and Aoki. Swooping in when the douchebag has gone too far to take care of things.
Nakai is currently on my shitlist and now that it’s clear that Kato isn’t actually into him, it has gotten so much worse. He really is embodying the anti-ideal of Jump by settling for assistantship and girls. And Fukuda had every right to chew him out for his increasingly toxic behavior. That confrontation was heartbreaking, but I think Nakai has kinda crossed a moral event horizon
Why do I suspect he will still somehow end up with Aoki? And like, again, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I get what Nakai is struggling with, it is not unfamiliar, but that doesn’t make how he’s handling it ok. There are other ways to do things. But he’s letting life pass him by at this point and shit’s gotten dark. It’s really ugly but I’ve already gone over it at length, and I’m tired, man.
I don’t think Fukuda needed to bust up Takahama’s pad. But given that Bakuman is, at the moment, a Yankee manga, it works in context.
It also makes Ishizawa’s detestability perfect fodder for Fukuda’s tough demeanor, which in this context works so well. He’s a rebel with a cause and he wants to help one of his Nakama in both Nakai and Aoki, and he’s doing it in the best way he knows how. And he looks good doing it.
It was legitimately satisfying shoving Ishizawa’s face into the dirt as he found Aoki and offered to help. Because it had been building on a pressure that had been going on the whole chapter.
It was an effective release of tension and to a degree, releasing a larger tension with the sexism the series has been flirting with elevated what would have been an ok scene to a great scene. That he also respects Aoki as a creator and wants to help her is just icing on the cake.
–It was interesting to note that Shueisha protects the privacy of female mangaka. I actually like knowing that and that Hirmaru has failed to get Aoki’s number, but because he’s popular he has the attention of everyone else.
–Shujin’s framing of Fukuda and Aoki as an alliance felt like a nice little reminder that manga is a battle in this world, and there are belligerents on all sides.
–Kaya being Aoki’s wingman and protectress was adorable and delightful. It was so cute.
–Yujiro is not my favorite editor, but I do like that he has the guts to stick to his convictions and he was disgusted by Nakai’s recent behavior. Good for you Yujiro.
–Yamahisa being freaked out is always great, no matter what.
–Ishizawa as the professional perv…oh god. Tha panel with his fantasy, nope. Nope. Leslie knope.
And that’s all I gotta say bout that.
Until next time,