In Relationship and Home, Failure and Dejection Abounds (Chapter 69)

High ho christian soldier and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 69: Relationship and Home, in which I wax autobiographical about a certain problem child of this series.

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Relationship and Home Summary

The Reviews are In…

Relationship and Home Yamahisa and Miura get the news of their series reviews

Miura’s shocked to learn that the updated version of Tanto lacks the momentum of the one-shot and it’ll take hard work to keep it going. Meanwhile, Yamahisa is shocked to learn that Greenery did better than expected with most noting a dramatic increase in quality leaving the reader curious as to what happens next.

Their collective shock turns to Yamahisa’s delight and Miura’s dread. The other editors rush in to see how their various works did. Arai’s editor is sure he will be a winner.

Miura does the math and if three series get in and three are going to get axed BB Kenichi will likely end. but if three are chosen, then Tanto will be one of them. Yamahisa gloats at the “likely” prospect of getting two series serialized tomorrow.

God, what a cunt.

At the Studio, Shujin learns more about Kaya’s father (he’s a real-estate and karate teacher) in Yakusa. Saiko sees the power differential with Kaya technically being the daughter of a company president. She’s too good for Shujin. Shujin’s stressed out.

Kaya’s confident they’ll be greenlit and in two days she’ll get to see Shujin propose. That being the case, she wants to practice with Saiko.

The boys perform a bit in which Saiko plays her dad and it’s very stilted and silly. Saiko immediately backs out and offers to practice after getting a series. Kaya calls out his fear of improv.

The Serialization meeting.

Yujiro is late to work as the serialization meeting starts. Miura and Yamahisa fantasize about getting a series and Shujin’s stressed out as all get out because his marriage and future are riding on it. Kaya even has a marriage license already which freaks Shujin out even more. She points out he’d do it immediately, but that’s only contingent on him getting a series.

Saiko snaps at them. He’s feeling the pressure.

At Takahama’s, Nakai is making disgusting sex jokes at Kato and Takahama finally brings up the potential for their series to get shitcanned. Kato realizes this might be goodbye. Nakai realizes he might be fucked in all the ways except the way he wants and asks to keep in contact with Kato.

She offers to keep in contact over the phone. When pushed, she points out they’re not dating so there’s no other reason to do so.

Ouch.

Nakai tries to save face and wonders if she sees him as BF potential. Kato shoots him down in no uncertain terms but she only likes younger guys although she respects him as an assistant.

Ouch.

Nakai’s future is about to fall apart – again – and he gets pissed at Kato for “leading him on” oy. nononononono. He regrets not taking Aoki up on her offer. Nakai tries to salvage the situation and continues pushing when Takahama finally snaps and asks them to stop flirting.

Nakai pieces together that Takahama must be really worried about BB Kenichi if he’s getting that pissed.

Waiting and Results

Shujin and Miura are both nauseous waiting for the results. Kaya comforts Shujin and Miura’s told not to worry given how few works were turned in. Tanto has a 50% chance of getting in even if it’s only 2. He’s remembering his promise. Yamahisa continues to be an absolute POS by pointing out that Arai’s guaranteed serialization means that Tanto only has a one in seven shot of success. The other editor chastises him for being an asshole.

The studios all wait with bated breath.

Aoki is the first to receive the call: Time of Greenery will be serialized in Jump in Issue 2. She’s thrilled. Yamahisa points out that the dramatic improvement in quality is the reason why it got in. Aoki remembers to thank Team Fukuda for helping her out. Yamahisa mentions the need for assistants and a studio since she’s not writing this time. Can she work from home?

She’ll start working from home, but she wants only female assistants. Yamahisa will see what he can do.

Takahama gets the call: Four more chapters. BB Kenichi is dead. Takahama dramatically tells the office that Time of Greenery got in but does not mention the other because he gets “depressed”.

Nakai dun goofed, and now he realizes it. Miura asks if he wants to talk next steps, but he’s willing to wait. Takahama was ready. He dismisses his assistants to be alone and privately loses it.

Nakai Strikes Out

On the way back Nakai wants to confess his feelings but Kato is one hundred percent not interested. Nakai realizing this is a dead-end figures Aoki still needs assistants. He remembers how their last meeting ended and wonders if he should, then immediately rationalizes asking only as an “assistant” is fine.

Nakai. What is you doing?

Tanto is?

The boys get a call and…

Tanto didn’t make the cut. Miura tries to let them down easy: it’s just a revision to turn in next meeting. They’ll make it through next time. When asked about his “Sure Thing” Miura feeds them a line about improving through adversity. He mentions BB Kenichi having a meeting with good ol’ axe and cuts off the convo to talk with Takahama.

It’ll make it through next time, he says?

The boys take the rejection with as much stoicism as one could expect but Kaya is deeply upset by the possibility they were slacking due to Shujin’s fears of marriage.

Kaya, poor baby.

Shujin explains that Aoki beat them out as well as Arai. Shujin also points out how much luck is involved and recognizes Miura’s optimism and resolves to get a series in the next meeting. Saiko wonders if Miura’s habit of getting series canceled should be a red flag for them. Shujin presses for faith in their editor.

They resolve to get a series in the next meeting.

Shujin apologizes for having to push back the marriage.

Yoshida and Yamahisa discuss hiring Kato for Aoki’s series but Yamahisa doesn’t want to bother Miura at this moment. Miura’s prospects are bleak now that he has Zero series running in Jump. What will he be assigned, now that he’s got nothing running?

Nakai’s Spiral

Aoki gets a call from Nakai who tries to pretend that his being a total fucking asshole never happened and asks if she’d be willing to have him as an assistant. She asks for him to apologize first, although it wouldn’t help regardless since she only wants female assistants.

Nakai puts his foot in his mouth (again) by pointing out his series got canceled and he will no longer be seeing Kato and Aoki’s incensed by being the rebound.

She hangs up and tells him never to call back. Nakai only realizing he shouldn’t have said that after the fact.

What a dingus.

At Takahama’s, Takahama is confused that Nakai isn’t in. He calls Nakai only to learn that he’s quitting manga, sitting in a pile of his own filth, and moving back with his parents.

Takahama grills him on the four remaining chapters they need to complete. He was only a temp, ask Miura for a new one.

Takahama learns the reason for Nakai’s sudden departure from Kato and he calls Saiko and Shujin while they discuss what to do about revising Tanto and stocking up on jokes.

The boys are shocked to learn of Nakai’s departure and the reasons and go to try and stop him.

Nakai’s Departure

Saiko calls to check in on him. Saiko begs Nakai to reconsider: he’s too good an artist to give up. Nakai admits he was using those skills for the wrong reasons and now he’s whiling away in self-hatred and disgusted. Saiko pieces it together but Nakai’s determined to yeet out of there by tomorrow night without any input.

Shujin rightly points out that Nakai’s bullshit is responsible for this and he doesn’t feel like stopping Nakai but Saiko thinks he’s being coldhearted.

He calls Fukuda who is equally disgusted with Nakai’s bullshit. He’s 36/37, he needs to get his shit together. Saiko calls the last person to potentially save Nakai from himself.

Aoki.

Woof. She tells him about her acrimonious ending. Saiko recognizes that he got a karmic ending, but he still feels crappy after remembering Nakai’s resolve to succeed.

Aoki and Fukuda discuss his departure and her culpability. Fukuda asks if she wants to stop him: no, she hates him.

Saiko comes to Nakai’s as he packs up. Nakai’s from Akita and his family grows Rice and Apples so he’ll send tons of apples later.

Saiko begs for Nakai not to leave: he taught him how to make backgrounds. Nakai’s satisfied that he’s made his mark on manga then. Saiko mentions that Nakai really inspired him. He wants Nakai to succeed and not give up on his dream. Nakai’s unmoved by the plea and tells him to take care of himself.

As he leaves, though, he’s shocked to see Fukuda and Aoki outside his apartment.

He walks away as she thanks him for his work on Hideout Door. He apologizes for all the trouble he caused her.

Fukuda asks if he’s going to let it end here.

With tears in his eyes, and gripping his stuff extra hard, Nakai walks off on his own, as the chapter ends.

Relationship and Home Reaction

So, I’ve been light on the panel of the week the last several chapters because most of the work has been pretty workhorse getting from Point A to Point B work. But sometimes we do have a nugget of gold in there.

This is an excellent panel.

I don’t know why I find the panels of Nakai’s despair so compelling – maybe it’s something subconscious – but this is just a well-framed, well executed, depressing shot, with the emphasis on Nakai in the distance, him being placed as the literal focal point of the shot, while the characters in the foreground look on.

It’s harmonious and well constructed and rich in detail. I like it

And it brings me to the overweening point of this particular chapter.

Nakai….

Yeah. There is objectively more important shit to talk about this chapter in terms of story – which is mercifully more contained than the previous chapters – but man.

Maaaaannnnn.

I’m not 100% convinced that this is the last we’ll see of Nakai. I’d put money on him reappearing in the narrative not even a little bit down the road, but much sooner than that. Given how he’s part of Team Fukuda, and Ohba is still angling for Nakai and Aoki to be the postgame match-up that nobody wants but we’re destined to get because narrative romances do be like that sometimes.

Also, Aoki’s still interested because the detail she picked up on was that he’s going for the rebound. And he’s a dipshit anyway.

But it still hurts, dude.

Especially with that final shot. To a degree, I appreciate that Nakai has the presence of mind to actually take account for the fact that he’s been a steaming pile of hot garbo for a LOT of chapters at this point, but man. It really really hurt to see.

He’s been such a fucking monster too. I’m genuinely conflicted. He’s a dark mirror, but I don’t want him to be a dark mirror. I want him to turn his life around and keep up the shonen mindset that got him a series in the first place. And not pin all his hopes on a girl saving his miserable life.

But that does not seem to be in the cards.

I appreciate how real that is – not everyone succeeds and no one deserves to succeed, you gotta earn it. And since Nakai’s downward spiral he has proven just how ill-suited he is to manga as a profession. Especially given the manga/women thing.

As for Kato. So, ok. I’m of two minds on this. A.) I don’t think its reasonable to assume that Nakai could have parsed out that her flirting was just showing polite interest to a coworker instead of any actual genuine interest and B.) Beggars can’t be choosers. So Kato’s whole “OH I’m 30, but I’m only interested in younger dudes” reads pretty poorly when considering what she’s actually bringing to the table.

But also. Nakai. Buddy. You gotta learn how to read signals that are ambiguous and NOT ACT on them. It’s a skill. You gotta learn it, buddy. Assume a level of disinterest and professional distance because IT’S YOUR JOB. I was relieved when Takahama finally lost his temper at Nakai because god, the dude deserved the verbal lashing.

But I dunno. The inside part of me that’s still a socially awkward fat loser who self-isolated out of both lack of ability and lack of character, who has since found friends, and healthy ways to deal with women, art, and the world sincerely wanted to see Nakai make that turn.

Oh well. For now, we don’t have to worry about it. And we can move onto other greater concerns such as.

Miura being a Dipshit and Yamahisa being an asshole

God. I hope the dynamic for these two changes at some point because as exhausting as Nakai was, Miura’s absolute fuckheadedness is getting me actively angry on the boy’s behalf, and Yamahisa’s raw cuntitude isn’t even entertaining. It’s just grating

Like, poor Takahama man, BB Kenichi is now axed, and he’s swirling the drain. Miura’s lack of ability is actively harming people who were considered golden eggs, and that is to say nothing of Tanto, which again, we’ll get to.

To be fair to Miura, a bit, Takahama appeared to be struggling under the weight of the jokes he had to write. And while I don’t remember BB Kenichi being strictly funny, if he adopted that style, he had to stick to it. To some degree, his lack of writing ability can be chalked up to inexperience and his own failings.

But I’m inclined to pin this on Miura given his now almost 30 chapter track record of being totally awful at everything and being King Midas with a shit touch. It’s impressive, really.

And again, Yamahisa just does not know how to behave like an actual adult. Ever. And the fact that Time of Greenery got a series is great, for Aoki, but the fact that Yamahisa gets to be a smug shitheel about it drives me all kinds of bonkers.

I will say, however, that Yamahisa’s agreement to find an all-female staff was good? I mean, it’s his job to accommodate mangaka to the extent that it’s reasonable. But it’s something. Hopefully, his character stops being so detestable at some point so I can appreciate the character writing. Or something.

Blegh.

The Boys

Given how sure Miura was that Tanto had it in the bag, it should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that it failed to get to serialization. That’s just storytelling 101 and yet it’s still heartbreaking to see the boys forced in this direction and still fail.

It does put another – Miura is a shit editor – checkmark next to his name, but man, I feel bad for Shujin. Even if marriage is a bad idea, Kaya is still banking on it and now they’re going to have to wait even longer to go through it. Poor girl. I also don’t envy Shujin meeting Kaya’s parents. Karate master and business owner? Eek. that could be interesting to watch.

I don’t want to watch. I just wanna see manga get made. But it would be interesting.

I feel particularly bad for Saiko even though Fukuda is on the money. Also, Nakai is 37, Jesus. Seeing Saiko lose a mentor figure in this chapter was pretty hard to stomach. His reminiscing on all he learned from Nakai and Nakai’s promise to do better along with the whole sequence of Nakai leaving was pretty hard to deal with.

And I know for most people, Nakai’s leaving is probably totally welcome. But again, an older, lonelier part of me, sees too much of my past self in him, and it’s hard to disentangle my own foibles from his. I have, I’m not that guy anymore, worth reiterating however many times I have to. But that’s because I was given the opportunity to grow past my bullshit and make changes of my own volition.

It’s weird.

And now the boys are up the creek without a paddle. I really hope they shift gears – even though that will take even longer because this is a definite warning sign of things to come.

But one thing that was worth observing

A Nice Reversal

I appreciate the reversal of Time of Greenery and Tanto’s ability being the peak example of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Ashirogi and Fukuda helping ut a team member ends with Ashirogi eating shit. It was a neat little piece of chiastic storytelling that went down just right.

The sequence where they’re playacting as Kaya’s dad was also pretty cute.

Also, I guess editor assignments are based on how many series the editors are working on since Yamahisa will be taken off his current manga if he gets two serializations? And Miura will probably be put in charge of another series now that he has none.

I’m just sad, now. And there’s not much else I have to say about this chapter, except to say that Nakai not helping Takahama finish was bullshit, and god, I hope Takahama is ok after this man. Cause he’s really hurting and he was dealt an absolute shit hand.

feels bad man.

Aside from 69 (nice) this chapter made me feel so sad.

Until next time,

Peace

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