Hey there, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 72: Complaint and Declaration, in which everyone reacts to a philosophical question, as do I.
If you are not caught up, please use this index to read all previous read-throughs. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.
If you would like to read along, please consider buying a tankobon of the current volume, or subscribing to Weekly Shonen Jump. I recommend Jump because it’s a better deal. But do what feels right. I’m not affiliated with Jump, or Viz Media. I just like when artists make Manizu.
Complaint and Declaration Summary
Two Series in Jump!
The boys get the news that Eiji Nizuma will have two series running in Shonen Jump from Miura. Miura gives them the details on Iwase and also that Tanto got serialized because of its general improvement.
The entire editorial staff dogpiles Yoshida trying to figure out how the fuck this shit is happening before turning on Yujiro. They berate him for greediness and unfairly taking another space from another potential mangaka. Miura cuts the conversation off with the boys early due to the chaos
The editors turn on Hattori next and Miura orders the boys to focus on Chapter 1 while he finds them assistants.
Shujin calmly explains the situation to Kaya and Saiko who thinks it’s nuts to have two series. They both wonder if Nizuma is physically able to handle that amount of work. Saiko points out that some famous mangaka had three manga going continuously.
Shujin worries about Iwase’s ego from this victory since it’s only been six months in-universe since her declaration. Both the boys realize they’ve been outfoxed by Hattori and they’re up against a legitimate threat now.
They resolve to beat the dream team.
Meanwhile, Kaya’s ready to celebrate their own serialization. The boys snap out of it and Saiko calls Miho.
Miho gives her well wishes and compliments the boys on their jeenyuss and talent. as they relish, Kaya begins preparations for meeting the parents. Saiko will play the father.
Iwase receives the news.
Yamahisa and the other editors continue bitching about Nizuma’s placement, but both Yoshida and Aida dismantle his arguments because Nizuma is joined by a Rookie, and they care about good manga above all. The editors call out Aida for this logic before Aida tears into them: it was a good strategy and it paid off.
One of the editors offers to have Oda-sensei do a second series, then. (Jesus). The bickering only devolves from there until Heishi swoops in and restores order. If they have a problem, take it to Sasaki directly. They all give him the biggest side-eye in history and think he’s just trying to look cool.
Iwase takes the news of her victory as expected: smugly. Hattori is surprised by her calm, but she’s never lost a submission in her life. Hattori is surprised but plays it cool. She then asks about Takagi and Mashiro. They were also accepted but only Tanto. He also goes on to explain that Eiji Nizuma is Moneys and asks if she knows him. Yes, she knows about Crow.
Hatori explains the entire gambit and that Nizuma is the best possible artist to coordinate with. Iwase thanks Hattori and asks to meet Nizuma. Hattori agrees to let it happen but doesn’t think it will go well. Iwase wonders what that means but Hattori offers to introduce her to him at the new year’s party.
She asks if Ashirogi will also be at the party: yes. She’s looking forward to it then.
As does Fukuda.
Saiko thanks Fukuda personally for his assistance in getting Tanto serialized who celebrates their victor. His tenor changes – characteristically – when he hears about Eiji’s unprecedented 2 series. Even Yasuoka is shocked by the news.
Fukuda’s soul leaves his body at the idea of doing two series at once, but he wonders what Nizuma’s scheme is. He politely disentangles himself from Saiko to “talk to Aoki” and then calls Yujiro to chew him out. Yujiro gets the call while gleefully seeing how good +Natural already is and its guaranteed success.
Fukuda chews him out for selling out – even though that’s the point – and asks if he was behind the stunt. Fukuda wants to know who else conspired before Yujiro tells him to quit snooping and focus on Kiyoshi. Fukuda wonders about Crow’s quality which Yujiro also explains has already been covered.
Fukuda hangs up and expresses his concern about this development. Yasuoka finds it unfair but he has deeper – unvoiced concerns.
Then Hiramaru Joins in
At the Studio, Saiko pretends to be Kaya’s father – which is admittedly a pretty funny gag – and both Shujin and Saiko troll Kaya. Fukuda calls again to invite them to a party now that Team Fukuda Redux is now back in the magazine. They’re invited over on Christmas Day to party after work. Kaya throws a hissy and Shujin uses work as an excuse.
Hiramaru’s reaction to the news is…predictable. Yoshida chews him out on having not finished his damn story yet, which Hiramaru attributes to his Love Schedule (eek) being thrown off. He got baited into a date with a girl with a misleading photograph but Yoshida chalks it up to also being a victim of fraud (classy) while Hiramaru literally tries to pick girls out of a catalog.
Please change, Hiramaru. Pretty please?
Yoshida questions why he doesn’t just ask Aoki out. It did not occur to Hiramaru that this was possible. Yoshida offers to help him and slyly adds more incentives to keep him churning out pages including male and female manga romance being a thing and persistence being an attractive trait – although pointing out Aoki has to choose – as long as he gets his work finished.
Fukuda calls and invites Hiramaru to the party and when he hears Aoki will be there decides to powerfully and bravely finish the work that was already assigned to him so he can go.
Yoshida also offers him a limited edition tiffany necklace as an extra incentive which he was planning to give his wife for Christmas. Despite Hiramaru’s protests, Yoshida notes his wife wants Hiramaru to be successful which is why she’s helping him find a partner. She’s the perfect editor’s wife.
At Nizuma’s studio, Team Fukuda – sans Nakai – are all there minus Iwase. Fukuda thinks they should call but Shujin tries to put the kibosh on that immediately. When he explains their relationship Fukuda’s indifferent, but Hiramaru sees a – younger than him – opportunity and votes yay to invite her.
As does Aoki.
Womp womp womp.
The boys freak out as they call Iwase and she agrees to meet at Kichijoji station. Aoki reports her interest in meeting Nizuma…and Takagi. Hiramaru’s heartbroken so Aoki explains the tangled dynamics of Iwase’s romantic life.
Be cool, Aoki, damn.
Hiramaru turns this failure into an opportunity to pursue Aoki and imagines after the party inviting her into his Porsche and giving her the necklace.
Which is immediately dashed when Iwase arrives and is, in fact, also pretty. Nizuma greets Iwase as only Nizuma can and Iwase greets him politely – even using a very formal greeting – which immediately kills his vibe.
She asks what the meeting is even about and they explain they are there to read and critique each other’s manga and talk about manga. Fukuda also helps Aoki revise her storyboards.
Iwase asks for confirmation from Aoki that she’s stooping to asking for others for help instead of having supreme confidence in her work. Team Fukuda all see shades of Aoki’s former self in Iwase; for her part, Iwase leaves in a huff after Nizuma finds the comparison hysterical.
Saiko and Fukuda commiserate on this predictable turn of events while Hiramaru keeps his candle for Aoki and Aoki only.
The Crux of the Meeting
Hiramaru wants to toast everyone’s success – and then take Aoki home – but Fukuda downs the drink and asks Nizuma why he’s doing a second series. Is it back up in case Crow falters? Fukuda asks for reinforcements and Shujin admits his both legitimate and petty reasons for not wanting Nizuma to draw +Natural. Aoki agrees and thinks the editorial department is using him.
Hiramaru projects his own – actually pretty reasonable – fears of doing two series at once being murderous. When asked, Saiko is the only one who isn’t bothered by it, but he doesn’t want to lose to his second series. Fukuda disregards Saiko’s statement and tries to convince Eiji this is a bad idea.
Eiji – who only acts like a buffoon – sees Hattori’s gambit hitting the exact spot he wanted. He tells everyone to be quiet.
He then gives them his counteroffer: make a better series than me, but I ain’t gonna lose. The others are shocked.
But then he goes back into zany Nizuma mode: he wants to do it, so he’s doing it and if they can’t do better, that’s on them. Fukuda sees the light and the meeting ends.
Hiramaru finally takes the opportunity to take Aoki home and prepares to get the necklace…..only for his Porsche to get towed because he parked in front of the apartment. Fukuda offers Aoki a ride on his bike.
The next day, Kaya and Shujin prepare to meet the parents.
Complaint and Declaration Reaction
The Central Question of this Chapter
Is pretty straightforward. This chapter feels a lot like Crossroads of Twilight in the Wheel of Time; it’s the fallout of a major event in the previous installment of the series, and everyone’s reaction to it. It’s done well, but it’s also a relative come down from the fireworks of the previous chapter.
But I guess it’s worth posing the question of this chapter: should Nizuma get two series?
Now, I’m going to pose this question in two versions of reality: this one and their version of our world.
In their reality, Nizuma can literally draft a storyboard in minutes that’s top-tier quality and he can make good chapters with the lightest influence from others. So yeah, it’s fine.
In the real world? ehhhhh, it’d be a terrible idea and he’d probably die.
It’s worth re-iterating that Manga is an absolutely brutal industry, especially for a weekly magazine and while doing two series at once isn’t unheard of – it happened as recently in 2019 (which I’ll get to) – it’s also incredibly taxing on a physical and mental level.
Because 19 pages X 2 is 37 pages, a week. And that’s only after your storyboard has been approved by an editor, the crafting of which can take more hours than the actual drawing because the storyboard is where the story is told.
That….is incredibly brutalizing.
The example I’m referring to, of course, is the Dr. Stone spin-off by Boichi while Dr. Stone was ongoing. They ran concurrently and Boichi drew 9 chapters in addition to his load for the main series, which he was only the illustrator for.
And immediately afterward, he took an entire month off because he got sick.
So in the real world, this would be an absolutely nuts proposition. Even the example mentioned above was only a limited series and there were breaks in Dr. Stone to allow for its production.
Three Series a Week
To continue this tangent: I don’t know who was making three series a week in the past, but I assume that it was someone like a Go Nagai or Osamu Tezuka. And if you’ve read an Osamu Tezuka manga, one thing might occur to you.
The art stylings are much simpler, there are fewer pages per chapter, and the stories are far more straightforward narratively.
That isn’t a knock on Tezuka, by the by, the guy was a master and his ability to balance deep emotional storytelling with a fairly straightforward style is legendary. He is a legend for a reason.
But compare his work to something like Bakuman, Dr. Stone, or Chainsaw Man, or any of the ongoing weekly series and the amount of raw power going into those series is leagues more intense in terms of drawing and time devoted to paneling and making it work.
So I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a mangaka to make three series a week with the current artistic, commercial, and simple output demands of the modern-day.
So I’m less inclined to care about the other arguments against Nizuma having two series like selfishness, or something something monopolistic tendencies, or smothering the oxygen of creative newbie mangaka. As we’ve already been over in previous chapters, there is often a balance of newbies and vets who populate the pages, and Jump only cares about what is likely to increase circulation because it is a corporate entity whose vested self-interest is profit. Duh.
Additionally, given recent changes to the magazine – like letting artists end manga on their own terms – I think it unlikely Nizuma would actually be given this in the real world.
So. The question is kind of silly because it only really works in-universe. But it is worth pondering, I guess.
Anyway. Nizuma aside.
No One Care About Tanto
I’ll contain my shock. So far, it seems that Tanto is playing second fiddle to not only +Natural’s quality, but the stunt pulled by Hattori, Yujiro, Nizuma, and iwase.
I do not think that bodes well.
Given my current money is on Chekhov’s cancellation being utilized by Nizuma on Tanto, I think that’s probably intentional, although my heart goes out to poor Kaya who again suffers the absolute disrespect of tying her marriage to a plot development meant to slowly derail the boy’s career in a much more insidious way.
Like, it’s obvious the good news of both series getting serialized was to properly have a rivalry get going. But honestly, I’m so deeply unenthused for Tanto that I’m not even that disappointed that almost no one else seemed to collectively give a shit about it this chapter.
It doesn’t even seem like Saiko and Shujin are that jazzed about the prospects of making it outside of Shujin tying the knot for really dumb reasons.
So to say I’m concerned about it is, uhm, well, not necessarily an understatement. But I don’t see Tanto propelling the boy’s careers the way they intend because. Again. They are totally unsuited to it.
However, the one person who was interested in that development is worth discussing.
Oy. A piece of work she is. Even though her confrontation was childish last chapter, it is nice to see Iwase being used to measure Aoki’s growth as a character with that delightfully nerdy final sequence with team Fukuda.
She’s doing this for all the wrongs reasons. And the fact that she’s not surprised by winning means that it is unlikely that she’s going to somehow falter this early on. By all metrics, her success is basically guaranteed.
Alls I’m saying is if she were a real person, I’d be super jealous of her progress.
What I do like, in particular, is her interactions with Nizuma and the conscious translation note of Hajimemashite for greeting. The polite, formal introductory greeting.
That the translators felt it was important to point out her overt formality when paired with the absolute chaotic good that is Nizuma’s bouncing off the walls personality – and his more informal Konnichiwa – creates a lovely dynamic between the two that could be the cause for either potential friction in their working relationship.
Or could honestly propel them to even greater heights.
It’s worth remembering that Nizuma and Iwase are the jungian shadow of our main characters and embody their opposite virtues or their idealized selves. Iwase’s got the whole Sasuke vibe going on, while Nizuma is playing the Naruto to Saiko’s more subdued demeanor.
So I’m interested to see how this friction manifests. I’m not sure I see Iwase having the heel turn that Aoki did, because she has a very different set of narrative needs. She’s like Wakamiya Shinobu from Chihayafuru whose primary narrative want is a good game of Karuta, but whose narrative need is to lose.
I like it.
I guess that maybe a little gauche of me, given that I didn’t foresee Aoki’s evolution either. So who knows, maybe Iwase will chill out over time. Time will tell.
This chapter was good, but kind of eh…what else is there to dissect?
Yeah, This schtick has gotten pretty tired at this point. Although part of me is tickled by the histrionic behavior of Hirarmaru, that he’s such an overt creep towards women, and his whole mission to get Aoki to come home with him, the tiffany necklace. It’s all pretty squicky and gross.
And like, fortunately, the narrative kinda recognizes the sleaziness because it doesn’t ever let him get his way. The Porsche scene actually cracked me up. But still, I’d like less of Hiramaru’s dirtbagginess being there.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
The other big star of this chapter is obviously Nizuma, who pulls off his greatest trick: being serious when the need calls for it.
It’s pretty clear that Nizuma isn’t an idiot, he’s just an aggressively self-actualized dude who doesn’t take life too seriously because he’s doing what he wants. His severity is a function of wanting more manga, and good manga to read.
So I like that this chapter reminds us that for all his goofiness, Nizuma is not only a real threat but seriously playing 4D chess. I assume he knows why he was chosen, which is why he gives that “git gud if you wanna beat me newb” speech at the end of the chapter.
And he also clearly understands how to motivate Ashirogi – which is his chief desire. He’s a lot like Goku in that respect: he’s looking for the thrill of the fight and to do that he has to motivate his rivals to do better by being both really good at what he wants to do, and also annoying the piss out of them with how good he is.
It makes this somewhat middling chapter more exciting, in that regard.
I don’t have much else to say, other than Fukuda was fun this chapter, if mostly a vehicle to ask about the central conflict. And oh, I guess we’re meeting Kaya’s parents. Saiko playing the dad was cute.
I guess next we meet the parents.
I don’t know man,
Until next time,