In Toilet and Bath, Beautiful Momentum Builds Courtesy of Iwase (Chapter 68)

Hiya humans, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 68: Toilet and Bath, in which Chekhov’s Cancellation gets revisited, Fukuda x Aoki is a relationship I can get behind, and Hattori hatches a plot.

If you are not caught up, please use this nifty index 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, please consider buying the tankobon of the current volume or subscribing to Weekly Shonen Jump. I recommend Jump because you get more for less, but I’m not affiliated with VIZ and I can’t make decisions for you. I just want artists to make money.

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Without further ado.

Toilet and Bath Summary

Marriage Plans and Plans to Help

Shujin and Saiko are surprised to learn Kaya told her parents about Shujin. She hasn’t mentioned the marriage yet, she just said she might bring her boyfriend over on October 20th the day after the serialization meeting.

Shujin feels the pressure of proposing the day after (potentially) getting serialized and Kaya points out that is what he said he’d do. Was he lying?

When he gets flustered she gives him a backrub and reminds him he’s still got a month so he doesn’t need to sweat it. Saiko asks if he’s actually considering going and Shujin feels double the usual pressure.

Meanwhile, Yujiro discusses Fukuda’s plan to help Aoki which Fukuda brought up to him to be on the up and up. He explains he’s going to help with panty shots. Yujiro pulls rank on Fukuda: it’s an editor’s job to do that. Fukuda doesn’t take that shit and Yujiro wonders if he even has the time for that with Kiyoshi.

Fukuda slams the table and promises to keep up with Kiyoshi and won’t let it get the axe and, in fact, he promises to make it even more popular just to keep Yujiro happy. Fukuda doth protest slightly too much mentioning he isn’t into Aoki that way, he actually hates her.

Fukuda cuts the conversation off as it heats up and explains that, regardless of his feelings for her as a person, she’s Team Fukuda so he’s going to help her out and he reiterates his promise to change Jump that he claimed when he was an assistant under Nizuma.

Fukuda lists off Team Fukuda and his resolve to change Jump with them.

Yujiro brings up Chekhov’s cancellation that Nizuma asked for when signing his contract, which Fukuda thinks is radical(ly awesome). Yujiro remembers that was supposed to be secret after the fact.

Popularity Polls

Fukuda wants his own quid pro quo: if he’s the most popular, the Jump system needs to be abolished. Yujiro asks for the logistics of this plan and he says manga sales will determine it. Yujiro points out that that means they’ll not know a series’s popularity until well after the fact.

Yujiro further explains that tankobon sales aren’t everything. The surveys improve the magazine. Fukuda thinks the top 3 is too extreme. If a series is fourth-best, it could be screwed by being left off to the top 3. Fukuda offers a full ranking system. Yujiro thinks that’s too much pressure on the readers.

Yujiro does, however, agree that the system is imperfect and shares an anecdote: Third Place Votes are fool’s gold. Third place reads as losing a lot of votes instead of being in the top three.

Fukuda suggests a top five or top ten. Yujiro doesn’t care since Kiyoshi will never hit Number 1 at this rate upsetting Fukuda. It’d be different if there were anime offers, but the only incoming offer is for Otter. Yujiro’s tongue keeps slipping. He’s supposed to keep it hush-hush until the contracts are finalized.

Fukuda ponders giving up on Kiyoshi which freaks Yujiro out. But he’s never going o the number 1, it has been 2 years and he’s steady at 10th place and no anime offers. He might as well just end it at this point.

Fukuda absolutely loses it when Yujiro compares his suggestion to one of the captains who think that lingering in the middle of the pack is bad and that you should pander to the audience or end the series. Fukuda agrees with that but Yujiro thinks that Kiyoshi is doing fine and it’s possible it could get animated.

Yujiro doesn’t mind Fukuda’s helping Aoki as long as Kiyoshi is maintained. Yujiro also remembers that Ashirogi is on team Fukuda. He wants them to get a series to motivate Eiji, whose slump is so bad he’s even been overtaken by Otter No. 11.

Yujiro gets a round of cheers and he recommends Fukuda not leave the toilet open next time.

A new lead for Hattori

 Toilet and Bath Iwase meets with Hattori

Miura heads off to meet with Ashirogi in a bad mood because BB Kenichi is in danger of getting axed.

Aida receives a phone call from Taninaka from Subaru Novels asking for Akira Hattori. Taninaka brings Hattori up to speed on Iwase’s – Aiko Akina – wish to pursue manga. He’s asking a favor for an old friend to look over her work to see if she’s got the right stuff like Gus Grissom.

To sweeten the pot he mentions her connection with Aoki and Ashirogi. Hattori has an epiphany and asks about the relationship: a rivalry towards Shujin that’s persisted over the years. Taninaka confirms her motivation is to show Shujin up. He doesn’t want her doing it, but she’s deadset on it.

Hattori agrees to meet with her and ask for her to bring work in. Hattori is interested to see what he can get from her.

Likelihood of Serialization

Miura approves the first chapter and its 45-page limit instead of more because it’s a gag manga. Shujin offers to add gags as they come to him. Miura approves a primary gag from the second chapter involving fortune-telling.

When Shujin gets into the weeds about the logic behind a gag, Miura points out the humor is the coincidental nature of it all. He comes up with a hypothetical offshoot of the gag and explains what’s funny about it. He thinks the cliches are funny but is willing to change it for a better idea.

Shujin wants to go further, but Miura points out the three-chapter limit for serialization, and since they’re going to be serialized anyway not to worry about it. When asked what he means Miura explains that Heishi was complaining about the lack of series that have been turned in for the next meeting.

Miura did some research and Arai’s one-shot Hustlemin did well so it’s getting a series, and they got first Akamaru so they’ll likely get a series. There is the possibility of one other getting serialized, but only Hustle and Tanto have promise. True Human has to be revised so heavily it’s unlikely to be submitted to the next round and Aoki’s testing her one shot so it’s not up yet.

Shujin’s relieved he won’t have to compete with a Fukuda boosted Aoki but Saiko sees the writing on the wall: they’re in, no matter the quality. Miura still decides they should be gungho regardless.

With serialization all but guaranteed Miura and Shujin jump into potential ideas for Chapter 3 featuring Miss Noa and some pervy inventions and make some suggestive remarks on potential stupid pitfalls. Shujin thinks it’s a little aged up for kids. But Shujin churns out another idea that instant about a chef hat and Meijin Daihatsu hitting on Miss Noa in a maid outfit.

Privately, while reviewing Shujin’s ideas, Miura realizes that with BB Kenichi’s chance of success squandered and on the chopping block next meeting Vroom, Tanto Daihatsu is his last hope.

Hattori’s First Meeting Redux

Hattori meets with Iwase and looks over her – typewritten and not storyboarded – manuscript while asking about her taste in shonen manga. She started reading four years ago – when Ashirogi started. Hattori gets personal and asks about her relationship with Ashirogi and her rivalry with Shujin.

Hattori doesn’t probe further but demands that she do exactly as he says to compete with him. He’s blunt: she’s a total amateur in manga terms but he’ll take the time to make her pro if she’s willing.

Iwase just wants to know if she’ll beat Shujin. Hattori doesn’t promise anything but lets her in on the fact that he cultivated the boys initially and that her talent is on the level they had when they came in for the first time. With that said, Manga is a visual medium and you can’t be in the character’s head so much.

Hattori pulls out a storyboard and asks her about her ability to make one. Her poor drawing skills won’t make it possible so he tells her to include panel and page breaks on her manuscript and not to worry about content. She’ll be done by tonight. Hattori sees her guts and grit and has a scheme in mind.

Another editorial relationship

Fukuda and Aoki butt heads about her (shitty) panty drawings. Aoki’s not receptive to his authoritarian teaching style. Fukuda explains upskirt shorts won’t work in this type of story. She pushes back but Fukuda points out the error even if she followed the instructions. It’s not about taste or skill but basic instructions.

Fukuda offers more advice which Aoki furiously writes down. Fukuda takes a swipe at her school which she takes issue with.

Fukuda continues to be like paint stripper with pointed critique after critique and suggestions on how to improve the sexiness of this bath scene and uses the word “Ass” Aoki asks questions for information but takes offense at the use of the word Ass.

They continue to argue, but Aoki studiously takes notes and after a few final notes Fukuda asks for the revisions tomorrow…which will be in two hours. So, impossible.

Fukuda pulls out the Jump slogan and tells her tough shit if she wants to get the series she’ll have to do it regardless. Aoki, despite the frustration, is excited and promises to do everything she can which finally earns Fukuda’s approval.

New Submission For Serialization

At Jump, Yamahisa brings Yoshida over to look at Aoki’s storyboards. Yoshida sees a remarkable difference in the revisions and wonder if she’s gotten outside assistance. It looks more shonen. Yamahisa suspects so. Yujiro overhears and is surprised by Fukuda’s follow-through.

The improvement is so dramatic they can skip the one-shot and go straight to serialization. Aside from backgrounds, if she can keep up the quality it has a good shot.

Yamahisa revels in the possibility of Shizuka and Aoki getting serialized. Yoshida tells him to set his expectations: no editors have gotten two series in their first years. Yamahisa remains cocky and Miura keeps up his unfriendly rivalry speculating that Arai and Ashirogi will be the winners.

Yamahisa is confident in Arai but not ashirogi. Miura points out the first place Akamaru but Yamahisa points out examples of Second and Third Placers that did better.

Miura gets riled up and yamahisa keeps pushing to the point that Hattori tells them to shove it.

They two get back to work.

Team Fukuda Reunited

Aoki calls Fukuda to give him the good news about skipping straight to a series and thanks him. He mentions that it was a group effort from Ashirogi, Hiramaru, and He. He asks if she needs feedback on Chapters 2 and 3. Nah, she just wanted to thank him. Awww

Fukuda keeps up with his tsundere/yankee/harsh sensei act and tells her to get back to work. Aoki mentions she needs to improve her artwork. Fukuda agrees although Aoki gets a sick burn against Fukuda’s art stylings. Fukuda tells her to hurry up and Aoki promises to do her best, although she’s conflicted about competing with Ashirgoi.

Fukuda reminds her their status is friends and rivals. He promises to let them know the situation and she should keep the focus on her storyboards.

Fukuda calls Ashirogi to let him know the situation and points out that with story tips from Ashirogi and panty tips from himself she’s going to be a tough competitor. He wishes them luck regardless.

Shujin realizes that Aoki is now their biggest competitor and Fukuda’s advice must have been a big help. Saiko doesn’t want to lose.

Preps for Serialization

The days pass and both Aoki and Ashirogi submit for serialization. The day before serialization Sasaki is upset that of nineteen Editors they only have eight new storyboards for potential series. Heishi promises to work the teams harder.

Review for the series are distributed and Yamahisa and Miura rush to see how they did. Yamahisa’s pleased to find that Shizuka got good reviews.

Whatever the results for Aoki and Ashirogi are, they leave Miura and Yamahisa mutually confused as the chapter concludes.

Toilet and Bath Reaction

Jesus Fucking Christ

This summary is 2007 words. Ohba could learn some fucking restraint with the dialogue sometime. And maybe not packing every single chapter to the fucking gills.

Argh. This is very much a me problem. But I do it for y’all. Because I love you.

Anyway. This chapter felt great for one single, solitary reason.

Some goddamn momentum.

The last…20ish chapters? I want to say haven’t been dull, but as I noted in the previous chapter, there’s been a squishiness to the narrative that has made getting through these chapters harder than the earlier chapters. It’s not entirely the mangaka’s fault, they’d be well over a year into serialization at this point and after literally working on 19 pages of manga weekly for over a year, your gears are going to get gummed up.

But what a relief. Shit is happening.

Starting with:

Fukuda and Aoki

I really loved this dynamic throughout the chapter, and how it surreptitiously feeds into something that hasn’t really been brought up in a while, but is always worth reiterating: manga as a business is ultimately a cutthroat endeavor. And helping your cohort out could mean shooting yourself in the foot. See: Ashirogi’s new competition.

It’s a bad sign that Miura is so convinced that the boys are going to get serialized, although I am surprised that Arai is getting serialized again so soon after the disaster of Cheese Crackers only 30ish chapters ago. But the guy is so confident in their serialization happening that it’s obviously not a good sign.

So when Fukuda and Aoki come in from behind (that’s what she said, couldn’t help myself) with Aoki’s dramatic improvement under her new ribald sensei Onizuka Fukuda, it should be ringing off alarm bells. But it really is great to see a relationship based not on some underlying sexual tension, although I’d be lying if I said that Fukuda and Aoki don’t actually have any chemistry. They have a surprising amount. And if Nakai weren’t the likely endgame, I could see them pairing up in the inevitable 2 year time skip at the end of the series that always happens as it is narrative tradition in manga.

Anyway…

Seeing Aoki have a positive relationship with a man where there is no underlying gross expectation on her end – aside from drawing the panty shots – warmed my cold, dead little heart to see. When she and Fukuda were arguing and he was getting ribald and she was blushing, but listening to everything and furiously writing it down. It was great.

And to see that she dramatically improved enough that she got pushed to serialization? Gotta love it. That kind of storytelling is crack for me. Where people sit down, do the work, and rapidly improve.

And Fukuda recast in this pseudo-Onizuka role really works for him because he’s no longer a rebel without a cause, at least mostly.

Chekhov’s Cancellation & The Sausage of Surveys

One of the things I adored about this chapter was the friction between Yujiro and Fukuda, but more importantly Yujiro’s absentmindedness re: Eiji’s cancellation. I think it’s brought up more than likely because Ohba didn’t want anyone to think he forgot about that little bit.

And part of me has suspicions on how that might be utilized, and soon, but we’ll wait until the gag manga is confirmed before I push further.

But yeah, it was nice to see that Yujiro doesn’t like the current system, but he’s not sure how to improve it. Especially with Fukuda’s radical idea to drop the surveys all together which, while nice in theory, means that the lag between a manga’s serialization and sales prospects would totally fuck up the routine. Whether for the better or not is unclear, but I think it would probably just fuck everything up.

It was interesting to hear how 3rd place is not necessarily better than nothing at all. And, further. it’s considered fool’s gold. And Fukuda’s suggestion for a top 5 isn’t actually half bad.

Would it fix the problems in Jump? Probably not given how many external forces are at play here including competing self-interested parties at other companies within and outside of Shueisha like Aniplex, production studios, and other competing magazines which are constantly on the prowl for new talent to boost circulation.

So I don’t know what the answer to it is, but there are probably some means of making the survey system more efficient. Maybe open it up to the west :D.

…Anyway, Yujiro was uniformly enjoyable in this chapter partially because he also recognize how important Ashirogi is to Eiji. Granted, it’s because he wants Eiji to do better, but still. It’s worth noting.

Also, Otter No. 11 may have an anime, imagine that.

Speaking of other editors.

Miura’s shitty editorial abilities tsrike again.

Yeah, dude sucks.

Basically, all I have to say about that. Given how BB Kenichi is now in danger of cancellation – which, what? when did that happen? – and how he’s so convinced he’s going to get serialized. It’s just frustrating.

And it doesn’t help that he still, STILL doesn’t seem to understand that he needs to grow in tandem with the boys. Now that we’re really into the editing of Tanto, he still hasn’t shown an ounce of critical faculties when judging it. And I’ll admit, as someone who likes a well-told story – no matter its novelty – I have a high tolerance for cliche and been-there-done-that storytelling.

But you know who doesn’t? Basically the whole fucking internet.

Miura really needs to step up his game. And the fact that Shujin seems to recognize he can do better makes it all the more infuriating that Miura’s notes are all steam ahead, even though now BB Kenichi – which I liked the rough draft of chapters ago – is now spiraling down the drain.

And one of the elements of this chapter that ran through the three major strains of this chapter – my favorite coming up last – is how an editor – a good editor – pushes their writers to do better.

Aoki is pushed by Fukuda with his varnish stripping critiques; Hattori and Iwase are straight with each other on her abilities and what she needs to do. Yujiro prods Fukuda to do better so that he’ll get something in return – even though Kiyoshi is languishing – and Miura?

Everything’s good boys. You’re going to do fine.

It’s obviously not the case. And that’s fucking alarming man. Like. when is Miura going to get shitcanned? Because it’s looking more dire each moment. And I’m worried for Saiko and Shujin, especially Shujin now feeling the pressure because of his marriage proposal.

Which I still think is a terrible idea, but still man. Still. Miura needs to get his shit together.

But you know who doesn’t?

Hattori and Iwase

I love Hattori man. Big ol’ heart eyes here, I’ll tell you what. The dude just gets it, man. He just gets it. I also like that he acts as a spoiler for Miura and Yamahisa’s collective obnoxiousness. But I got a feeling. A feeling deep inside, oh yeah.

He’s going to use Iwase to some end in one of his gambits. And that doesn’t include his own desire to do well as an editor.

I love the entire sequence with Hattori and Iwase discussing her desire to be a mangaka and their mutual openness and businesslike demeanor in making it happen.

There’s also a clear amount of Idiosyncrasy credit that Iwase is being given because she doesn’t have to do storyboards for her manga. She just has to mark off the panels. Hattori do be scheming, yes he do. But he sees potential and he’s going to capitalize it.

But he’s also not bullshitting her. He’s calling out her lack of ability from the word go. In a straightforward nonjudgmental way. And she’s self-motivated to the point that she will do everything he says, ad probably do it well to the point that she poses a threat to the boys later on down the line.

I’m really loving this plot thread, I gotta be real with y’all. I hope I see more of it. Iwase being a threat is adding some much-needed vigor to the proceedings.

And that’s sorely in need, not just in our world, but in theirs because.

The Editors aren’t doing great

So, one thing that stuck out to me that was not unusual, but I’d never considered, was how there are dry spells for good manga. It started with the Treasure Rookie crop being mediocre, but here it’s really reinforced how low the tide has been collectively. With Heishi and Sasaki’s little commiseration. I guess there are periods where there just isn’t good enough stuff being submitted, which leads to fewer or greater slots in the magazine.

Right now Jump is somewhat saturated with long-running manga. Although that is now changing with the recent releases of Earthchild, Akane Banashi – which both have very promising starts – and the conclusion of my dearly beloved Dr. Stone.

After Red Hood and Neru got axed, we have several new manga whose futures are unclear. But it’s easier to see when a manga has “it” and of the new series, one has it, one might have it, and one does not. I’ll leave you to decide which is which if you read Jump.

Sidenote: I did enjoy Neru, and given that it was one of the new classes that were also canceled with Red Hood the west has speculated on whether Jump is canceling more Manga than usual. The answer is actually the opposite. A solid majority of the manga currently running in the magazine are in excess of a year old simply looking at chapter numbers. Of the current run, 11 are at least a year old, and several are coming on a year.

The issue is now that because of all the long-running series, the burden of being excellent is much higher for newbies. So if you don’t have that “it” factor, you are going to eat shit. I suspect that’s also why some series are going through their final arcs at a more accelerated pace. The Omnibus Collector has a great video about this issue on his youtube channel which I shall link here.

Anyway, Yamahisa continues to be an annoying pissant, but one the series doesn’t seem to hate. His whole bravado at getting two series was – annoying – and I don’t want him to win because he’s obnoxious. But now he has a real shot at getting serialized, especially since there are so few good applicants this round.

But I really don’t want him to. Even if Aoki does get serialzied.

Sigh.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with Shizuka, but if he also gets serialized, that’d be interesting. Although based on Yoshida’s comments. I don’t see it.

Man. This chapter was fat. And the boys barely played a major role in it.

How about that.

Until next time,

Peace

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