Howdy, hi, hello, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 71: Talent and Pride in which Miura Sucks, Yamahisa kinda doesn’t suck, and Iwase has zero chill.
If you are not caught up, please use this nifty index to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter.
If you’d like to follow along, please consider buying a tankobon of the current volume of subscribing to Shonen Jump. I tend to recommend Jump because it’s my jam. But you do you. I’m not affiliated with VIZ, I just like artists making money.
Talent and Pride Summary
In an effort to connect with his mangaka, Yamahisa plays a video game with Ryu Shizuka – the social recluse gamer mangaka – and loses easily. Yamahisa – in a moment genuinely out of character – empathizes with Shizuka and recognizes that pointing out he’s a shut-in will upset him.
Instead, Yamahisa butters him up a bit by praising the profession of manga and how much effort it takes and asks Shizuka to consider all the fans out there. He also fans the flames with his own lack of video game ability. Shizuka says nothing.
Miura and the Boys discuss the upcoming serialization on Christmas day. Miura marvels over the evil inventor and his daughter – using a color-based naming scheme, instead of cars. Shujin clarifies the pun of Pink (Momo) Metaru. Saiko is struggling with integrating them in Chapter 3. Miura, as ever, remains confident.
Saiko and Shujin note they’re struggling to come up with a good silly motivation for Black Metaru but Miura thinks all their ideas are great, no matter how silly or cliche and the boys take Miura’s job on for him when they point out that they have to try harder.
Black & Pink Metaru Hattori and Iwase’s end, Hattori brings over Nizuma’s aka “Moneys” (amazing pun) storyboard. Iwase is thrilled with them. Hattori asks about the revisions: She thinks it’s much better now than it was. Hattori’s impressed by her ability to take the revisions in stride – i.e. professionally.
He’s equally impressed by her bringing over not only chapter 2 but also chapter 3 and likes how they are written. He also likes the story about the other psychic children and their relationship to god; but, he finds the explicit reference to god not Shonen enough. Iwase takes notes easily. Hattori is thrilled.
Aoki and Shizuka
While walking around, the boys discuss Aoki’s success with her new series, the upcoming issue of Jump, and Fukuda’s recent upswing in ranking. Saiko’s heard through the grapevine that Aoki only has female assistants (yay) and he learns that Kato’s responsible for the incredible backgrounds – she’s chief assistant.
Saiko respects her senseis who’ve given her this leg up, but Shujin points out she’s no longer able to work on their series as a result. Saiko suggests going all guys.
Kaya asks about Kato and Aoki and potential friction – given their uhm, relationship, with Nakai but Shujin points out that neither were interested in him, so there is no reason to be awkward.
At Aoki’s office, she commends Kato on her good work, and the other two assistants while Aoki plays the friendly boss and encourages them.
Melts my heart, such a sight.
Back at Jump Yamahisa’s going back to Shizuka’s place to play more games. Yoshida chastises Yamahisa for being too pushy but Yamahisa explains he’s just gaming with the guy and he reasons that Shizuka has a strong desire to be accepted so Yamahisa’s been subtly boosting his ego.
Yoshida has a lightbulb moment about Shizuka’s general demeanor and behavior, seeing now that his work is a true reflection of himself. Yamahisa reasons he can’t just tell him to work and given his understanding of the Social Recluse – a bullied, rejected kid, who is generally fragile and easily discouraged. The serialization failure hit hard.
Yoshida questions Shizuka’s fitness for Jump, but Yamahisa’s confident in both his editorial ability and Shizuka’s talent. It’s a slow burn, though.
Miura calculates that Shizuka won’t be ready for the big leagues before the next serialization, so Ashirogi is likely to win. As he basks, he overhears Aida and Hattori’s enthusiasm for +Natural and its status as “perfect for serialization”.
Aida decides to play up Iwase’s literary bona fides but asks about “Moneys”. Hattori gives him a lawyerly version of the truth: Yujiro’s hidden trump card. He wonders if it’s risky to use an unknown author. Aida doesn’t think it’ll matter given how incredible the art is; he can’t believe this kid’s never been published.
It truly is unbelievable, Aida. Isn’t it?
Miura watches his plans go up in flames with mute horror. He then asks Hattori what’s up with the new rookie and Hattori feeds him a line about they’re all in a competition with each other, too. He ain’t spilling; he does, however, think +Natural is better than Tanto.
Miura freaks out at the realization that Hattori is never this confident without reason. Hattori casually mentions that Miura should let the boys in on the fact that Iwase will be their competition. He also fills Miura in on Iwase’s rival status which freaks Miura out more. Hattori is simply concerned with getting the best possible manga out of everyone. Miura can only focus on his own prospects at this moment but promises to let the boys know.
Iwase is doing WHAT?
Predictably, Shujin freaks the ever-loving fuck out at this news which confirms that Hattori’s intel is right to Miura. Shujin argues she’s not a rival and then provides a definition of what a rival is. Shujin gets gloomy that she’s already speedrun to serialization and…
Hattori’s her editor. Saiko recognizes the danger signs. Kaya thinks it’s a ploy by Iwase to stop their marriage from going through although Shujin points out she doesn’t even know that’s happening. Kaya – understandably upset though getting paranoid – thinks Aoki might have spilled some beans about it.
While Saiko tries to calm them down, Shujin points out that the effect will be the same regardless. Kaya and Shujin pump each other up at the thought of Iwase interfering in their lives and Shujin promises to pull a Hiramaru by getting himself in debt with a really nice engagement ring which leads to a cute gag about the fact that he makes no money because he’s not serialized.
Iwase: Chill out? What’s that?
Shujin gets home late and finds Iwase at his door. Shujin immediately tells her to leave and not risk Kaya’s wrath. She immediately apologizes. Iwase has a request: if they both get serialized and she does better, she wants her senpai to acknowledge his admiration for her. Shujin agrees, but only re: talent.
He goes on to explain that he’s marrying Kaya if he gets serialized which sets Iwase off. She promises to surpass him in every way and refuses to accept his marriage until that point.
Shujin sees through the ploy to keep him from marrying Kaya and plans to go through with his perfectly reasonable (eh) plan to marry the girl he actually likes.
After getting away from her, he resolves not to lose to Iwase.
The Next Serialization Meeting
Miura is convinced that this time – definitely – they will make it through. Shujin points out how worthless that is coming from Miura who downplays it.
On the day of the Meeting, Miura is a ball of anxiety and Yamahisa rubs in the fact that Shizuka wasn’t ready so he’ll just head home. Miura snaps at him.
At the studio, Kaya laments the serialization meeting being on Christmas day and asks to turn in the marriage certificate that day if they win. Despite his conversation, he’s nervous about both Iwase and him getting serialized. Saiko just wants a series.
Iwase quietly – without an upset stomach – worries mildly about Takagi’s skills over her.
In the meeting itself, the group discusses +Natural. Aida mentions that the editor and the artist are one of “Yujiro’s Rookies”. Heishi ain’t having none of that shit. He wants to know who it is.
Yoshida immediately sees the artworks as Nizuma, also piecing together the nickname as Nizuma’s (Ma-Ni-Zu) name backwards and while he’s rendering differently, the layouts are the same.
Sasaki and Heishi both freak out and press Aida for details: he didn’t know that he was submitting Nizuma’s work. Sasaki orders Aida to bring Yujiro and Akira to the meeting despite their lower rank so they can hash this out.
The Con is Up
Aida comes in and immediately orders the two to come to the meeting. The other editors bemoan the unfairness but Aida is royally pissed off.
The two get chewed out by the top brass and asked. They fess up immediately and are asked what is wrong with them. Yujiro explains Nizuma wants to do 2 series. Aida points out that’s impossible. Another editor believes the other artists will rebel when they hear about it.
Even so, Yoshida and the rest think the manga is both really good and compulsively readable. The editor offers to have another artist take it up, but Hattori pushes back. It has to be Nizuma. Hattori shows them Iwase’s original draft and everyone realizes it’s only that good because Nizuma has the magic touch. Even Heishi is impressed by the differences.
Hattori explains that they were motivated by fear of rejection.
The other editors start negotiating with the idea of two series at once. There is no rule against it *technically* although for most mangaka it would be physically impossible. The other editor – Nakano – doesn’t think it’d be right for Eiji to have two series, though.
Sasaki presses Yujiro to keep the quality of Crow up because it’s one of the pillars on which Jump’s current success rests. Yujiro explains that Nizuma will only do better if he’s fired up and how Nizuma’s prepared to be the most successful mangaka in Jump. He also used sales as an added incentive toward that end.
Sasaki asks if they’ll publish under Nizuma’s name: yes.
Hattori then gives Sasaki additional details about Iwase and her relationship with Ashirogi and their explicit rivalry.
And the winner is…
Sasaki dismisses them, but the two overhear +Natural getting the yay vote. Both celebrate their victory. Upon coming back to the other editors, they are asked about joining the team: in a million years, maybe.
The boys are both stressy stressy lemon depressy about the time it’s taking to determine the serialization. Kaya is irritated about her potentially not getting married. Saiko wants a good Christmas gift for Miho.
They get the call and Vroom, Tanto Daihatsu starts in Issue 12. They celebrate. Miura then mentions Iwase got a series – also fine, for Shujin.
And Nizuma’s doing the art.
That immediately kills the mood as the chapter ends.
Talent and Pride Reaction
Panel of the Week
So, this one is special to me not because it’s a great panel with a lot of beautiful details and the classic designs for which Obata is known. Nor is it because of the embodiment of the series ethos of going behind the scenes of manga with specific pens, and model sheets for the characters.
It’s special because it’s the banner for the Jump app; I’ve seen the color version of this spread for the entire read-through of the series. So to see it where it originally appeared is very special.
I don’t really have much more to say, other than that.
Onward and upward.
Pink and Black Moneys
Ok, fuck, again, Ohba doesn’t know the meaning of “succinct” and this chapter was packed to the gills with kahntent, so we have a lot to work through, but I gotta start somewhere, so I’ll start with the nifty bit of foreshadowing/running meta-fictional joke of the boys having to come up with a rival for Tanto, elaborating it being a man and a woman, and struggling to figure out how to implement them in the story.
Looks like Ohba does not have the same issue as Shujin.
I unabashedly love this whole development with Nizuma and Iwase because, just like Hattori’s likely gambit with them, it’s got me riled up for something exciting happening.
One of the weird things reading this series is that, even though a lot is happening, it can often feel like little is happening because the “Action” of the story occurs off-screen through manga sales, and you can’t always dramatize it in a way that feels visceral and satisfying.
But having two powerhouses join up and form an alliance to wreck shit, each with their own motivations to best their opponents is one way to do so.
Especially since Rivals – as the Jungian shadow of any series – are given strength buffs to make it so they’re virtually untouchable in world. As Voltaire famously put it: The perfect is the enemy of the good.
And I actually like the little twist that Tanto did get serialized as well as +Natural, because now we’ll have the two series going neck and neck. Given Iwase’s motivation, it should be interesting to see how what is likely to be a major success will go to her head.
But before we jump into Iwase, and Tanto getting serialized, and Moneys, we gotta talk about it again.
Miura fucking sucks, and…
Goddamn it. I’m hoping Miura somehow magically gets shitcanned at this point because even with the apologia for editors going on last chapter, he’s still doing all the things that Jump hates. An editor’s job is not to see the good in work. It’s to be a nitpicky bastard who finds all of its faults, and forces the writer to do something better. And be better.
The fact that Saiko and Shujin recognize they need to be pushed harder to produce something genuinely good is freaking upsetting because it’s absolutely true. I’ve gone on record since the Gag Manga saga has started that they aren’t suited to making it. And although I may be wrong about that, given Miura’s lack of editorial oversight, I’m going to say that the serialization shouldn’t be seen as a good thing.
It’s telling that Shujin is struggling with even a classic element of shonen storytelling, relies on cliche, and makes up simple punchlines. That they are trying to keep Miura on task. At the risk of pointing out the obvious: 18 year old boys should not be telling their superior how to do his job and be justified in doing so.
If this were a normal situation, they’d be railing at their editor for being too harsh, and cutting creative shit they want to keep. But they’re hungry for critique to improve. An impulse I increasingly understand, and want, even though I know I’d have to toughen up if I actually got it.
That said, I have to admit something terrible. Something I hate.
Yamahisa wasn’t *totally* terrible in this chapter
So I guess Shizuka’s here to stay. Oopsie.
Ok, so there were two things that *shiver* endeared me to yamahisa in this chapter.
One, he’s taking the time to cultivate Shizuka as a mangaka by coming to his level. Playing video games and getting him to soften a bit was a genuinely insightful and thoughtful thing to do. Especially for a social recluse. I like Shizuka’s character design – even if I’m not sold on his schtick yet – but to see Yamahisa go way outside the bounds of his job to cultivate a talent he believes in was a…I don’t want to say it. Also, his ability to recognize Shizuka’s thoughts, desires, and needs was…
It was a….*gags*
It was a good thing to do. And befitting of a good editor.
And although it falls more in line with his *ahem* Job duties, the fact that he managed an all-girls team for Aoki was actually delightful and I loved it. I in fact loved that entire sequence of Aoki being a positive force for Kato and her assistants. It was an empowering move, and it wasn’t overtly sexist – outside of the normal bounds of it – and just seeing a little moment of girl power was great.
So I guess Yamahisa isn’t totally awful.
Don’t get me wrong, him smearing his sweaty nuts over Miura’s face with the serialization thing still drives me nuts. But I guess he’s not a total piece of trash.
Ok, there’s other stuff to talk about like:
Man, them two words go together like peanut butter and jelly don’t they? Love to see it.
Although I’m pretty sure it’s obvious what Hattori seems to be planning, let’s get it out of the way: he wants to get the boys fired up to be successful in the magazine by pushing them with their rivals. He understands that deeply and what’s funny to me is that the editorial staff are more or less aware of it, and don’t seem to give too much of a shit outside of breaking rank.
Seeing Yoshida piece together the play instantly was hysterical, even down to the horribly straightforward pun of a name Manizu = Nizuma. It speaks to the upper echelons of Jump that they can see through these charades so clearly.
And the more I enmesh myself in Japanese culture, the more rebellious it comes off. Especially the sequence where Hattori comes clean to the staff. There is much more of an emphasis on respect for hierarchy over there, so for Hattori to pull an end-run around the staff is pretty brazen, to say the least.
I mean, given that this is a story, it also worked, because obviously, we need some Rival on Rival action to get the boys to do their best.
God I love the Rival trope.
I also just really like Hattori because Hattori is on his shit unlike Miura. His comments on injecting a bit of Mystery into +Natural shows that he understands how Shonen Manga works and seeing Iwase take his notes and get better. Even Fullmetal Alchemist which deals with the Qliphoth and a character named “Truth” doesn’t ever explicitly say whether the characters are dealing with God himself. So good call.
It just makes me angrier with Miura’s stupid bullshit.
Speaking of stupid Bullshit and Iwase.
Girl’s Got Issues
So on the one hand, I really like Iwase because she’s a fleshed-out character with emotional depth, desire, and agency, and she isn’t defined purely by her relationship with men.
And also, wow, she needs therapy like, yesterday.
I don’t totally mind the stuck-upness, but seeing her cling so tightly to her infatuation – and that’s all it is – with Takagi is nothing short of breathtakingly pathological.
Like, I’m not gonna clown on her for having feelings, or for being short-sighted and egotistical: that’s just how college kids and late teens are. It’s not their fault either, that’s the path the brain takes to adulthood.
But for her to totally miss the point about how Shujin feels about both her and kaya is the kind of delusional thought that is really astounding. Honestly.
Perhaps it’s a function of her being so perfect at everything and not really getting rejected in a good and proper way that makes her so uniquely unsuited to Shujin’s rejection of her, but like, how can one be this shortsighted.
Don’t tell me how literally. I was a short-sighted teen. But with the benefit of age and wisdom (eh), it just comes off as wildly egotistical and selfish.
Which bodes ill for any future relationships she might have. Aoki’s flourishing is delightful to see, but it took some fucked up nonsense to get there. If Iwase is going to develop in a similar trajectory – which she might or might not – she is also going to need to learn that not everything can go your way, nor should it. Rejection is really important to growing up and maturing.
As for Nizuma, I really don’t feel the need to go into depth about his pathologies, because he’s going to be fine. Given his prodigious ability to shit out quality manga, I don’t see 2 series as anything that’s going to actually impact him long-term.
As for our boys, though.
Concerns, I have them
This chapter is very much an “Everything you want in the worst possible way” type chapter that happened earlier with Hattori’s other gambits and I mean that in every possible way.
Kaya and Shujin are getting hitched, and seeing the leadup to that was pretty adorable, not gonna lie. But I’m concerned.
But mostly, I’m concerned about what Saiko and Shujin have hitched their wagon to.
They are not suited to this type of storytelling and this is going to bite them in the ass, hard, once they finally get into it. And now that they have so much attached to it, the pressure is going to be even worse. That’s not to mention the cancellation possibility or the fact that they might be successful. Success actually seems worse in this context, given their current struggles with the early chapters.
I’m especially concerned for Shujin who is struggling to come up with ideas and Miura who isn’t helping. They can’t get another cancellation at this point without staining their record in Jump.
So the series is about to enter a precarious point for the boys in the story. Which is good, narratively, but worrying otherwise. Mostly because I have a close relationship with stressing myself out and that is one thing I don’t wish on anybody.
Which is why my current money is on Nizuma’s cancellation coming into play. He clearly wants them to do well and succeed, and given that he’s likely to be Number 1 with +Natural, he could see them floundering and put them out of their misery.
Or maybe it’ll be saved for the climax and third act, which is still at least a hundred chapters away.
But I’m kinda hoping it comes sooner, at last right now.
And that is all I have to say about that.
Stray Thought: +Natural sounds fun, it’s gonna do well.
Until next time,