In Fate and Star, Nobu’s Tragic Backstory Comes Into Focus (Chapter 73)

Hi, hey, hello, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 73: Fate and Star in which I get more autobiographical than I intended, and I don’t really care.

If you are not caught up, please use this cool index over here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read at your leisure.

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Fate and Star Summary

Meet the Parents

At the Miyoshi residence, Kaya’s father is concerned about Kaya and Shujin’s youth. Shujin – a nervous wreck – apologizes for everything, including things outside of his control. Like being too young, and shaking.

Kaya’s mother – like Kaya – points out that she and Yoshi married when she was only 19. Yoshi thinks it’s different given he was 26 and employed at that point.

Kaya points out that her father was concerned she’d never meet anybody due to being a tomboy. But look here, a real boy who’s cute to boot.

Kaya’s father asks about his professional aspirations as a mangaka for which Shujin is also apologetic. Kaya comes in with the clutch: he is a mangaka already, and his next series is already scheduled for February.

It is at this point that Kaya’s mother brings up their father’s mutual friend who was also, coincidentally, a mangaka. Kaya’s father doesn’t want to hear it.

Saiko back at the studio thinks about the proposal and assumes that exactly what is happening is happening.

Kaya’s Father’s Friend: Nobuhiro Mashiro

Her father doesn’t want to discuss the guy who gambled his life on manga and lost. Kaya asks if his friend was Taro Kawaguchi: he corrects her: his name was Nobuhiro Mashiro in real life. Shujin is shocked as her father explains they were friends since kindergarten and he asks for more info on the relationship.

Kaya explains the backstory to her father and how Saiko is Shujin’s collaborator. Kaya’s father recognizes him as Masahiro’s son; Kaya’s father knew him as the head of the judo team in 7th grade. Small world.

His wife finds it interesting that Kaya is marrying the guy who is making manga with his best friend’s nephew.

That’s a bit of a labyrinth connections wise, but there are thinner ones, I suppose. Shujin immediately sees how this compromises his position given Taro’s death and Kaya’s father plays to that. Kaya’s father asks Saiko to come over as well. When asked, he explains he wants to test their mettle.

Fate and Star Perfect Spittake

When asked what that means: he wants to spar with them in karate.

….uhhh what?

That’s Kaya’s father’s condition: he spars and if they got the right stuff, he can marry Kaya. An idea which sounds suspiciously out of a manga.

Saiko gets the call for this ridiculous set of circumstances and does a spit take. Saiko is absolutely confused by this ridiculous turn of events but Shujin can only muster up their relationship and something about not being a jock. He then mentions Kaya’s father’s relationship to Taro so Saiko – as a gesture fo friendship and nothing more – agrees to join him.

Saiko Meets the Parents

Saiko thinks this is crazy but is intrigued by the Taro angle. He sees the whole family outside. Saiko makes their acquaintance and Yoshi takes the boys – and the boys only – to the dojo to settle things man to man. Kaya worries about their safety but her mother assures her this is mostly just a formality. He likes them.

Saiko asks to be given a handicap for his right hand because he has to, y’know, draw stuff, and Kaya’s father sees hints of “Nobu” in the boy. They get to a restaurant – explicitly not a dojo – and Kaya’s father reveals he wants to discuss some things privately that his wife and daughter should not be privy to.

Nobu was his rival in love.

Saiko immediately guesses that Miyuki Haruno was the object of their affection. Shujin explains the letters they found in his studio. Kaya’s father also went to that studio a lot.

Fate and Star

Yoshi reminisces fondly about the time when Nobu and he opened up to each other on an overnight trip in Eighth Grade.They get into a small competition about it and Kaya’s father asks about whether anyone else has a crush on her. Taro – who looks conspicuously like Saiko – pressures Kaya’s father to ask her out if he’s concerned. He’s shocked by this admission, and asks if he’s actually ok with it.

Fate and Start Yoshi Miyoshi

Yoshi – is taken aback, but Nobu doesn’t really understand what it means to go out with somebody. Neither does Yoshi.

Yoshi confessed to her during the spring break before they became third-year students and they all ended up in class together.

Yoshi is rejected because, even though she’s single, she likes someone else.

On graduation day, Nobu tells Yoshi that he received a letter from Miyuki and Yoshi’s horrified to realize who she has a crush on. Nobu calms him down by revealing it’s a simple letter of support but Yoshi points out that that definitely means she’s vibin’ given how shy she is.

Yoshi infers, further, that she did it this way to prevent a rift in the two’s friendship, given his previous confession. Nobu seems largely unconcerned. Yoshi’s jealous but he’s fine if it’s Nobu going out with her. Nobu seeks permission to write her back, but Yoshi simply wishes him luck.

Intermission

Shujin reveals that both boys know that the romance never materialized and Saiko provides the details that he tried to confess once, but felt the gap between them in social status had grown too big with her role as the secretary to a company president. Yoshi calls him an idiot.

Shujin then volunteers the information that Saiko is dating her daughter, which Saiko does not at all appreciate. Annddd Kaya and Miho are best buddies. Sounds like more than coincidence amirite?

Yoshi pieces things together and sees this as the whims of fate maybe.

Shujin then explains the conditions of Miho and Saiko’s (idiotic) relationship and Yoshi points out how stupid that is if they’re actually in love. Saiko explains it was his idea.

Yoshi remembers berating Nobu for not confessing after being made a mangaka, with Nobu’s excuse being he’s not yet a well-established mangaka. When asked why he keeps creating obstacles for himself Nobu explains he wants to marry her and that he will not settle simply for dating.

Dingus.

Yoshi backs down and lets Nobu do what he wants.

Yoshi is impressed by the similarities between the two, but Shujin points out Saiko and Miho have already confessed, so it’s more a matter of unnecessary formalities and plot device…I mean romance.

Yoshi’s answer?

Yoshi likes the boys and tells Saiko to marry Miho on Nobu’s behalf. Shujin racks focus back to the more central question, like, his proposal. Yoshi makes a joke about following Saiko’s footsteps and waiting until after there is an anime adaptation.

He explains that his real feelings are – given Nobu’s tragedy – one should do whatever the hell they want re: Love and marriage. C’est la vie, que sera sera. Yoshi’s ok with it and offers to get them a nice place to live on the condition that it be near his house.

Saiko and Shujin celebrate the good news and Shujin mostly deflates from the removal of stress and Yoshi understands the nerves that come with asking the father of the bride for their hand. Saiko’s jealous and awed by Shujin’s actually getting married and now Shujin has extra “Motivation” to succeed as a mangaka.

Yeesh. These two.

Yoshi’s advice

Fate and Star Nobuhiro Mashiro - Taro Kawaguchi talking about his crush.
Nobu

Yoshi warns them that their path is incredibly risky. Shujin explains they’ve been working since middle school, which gives them a leg-up relative to Nobu – who started in college. Yoshi thinks Nobu was destined to be a mangaka: he always had interesting idea and was an especially gifted artist. Shujin’s shocked that Nobu was good at art, until Yoshi elaborates that he was good relative to the rest of the school.

Siako explains he didn’t see how bad his art was until he hit the industry.

Yoshi reminisces about his pal. He wasn’t popular, but he was funny. In the first year of middle school the teacher asks a question about “Kabu” to which Nobu replied: Sally’s Little brother a reference to an anime airing at the time. Yoshi would get jealous whenever Miyuki laughed at his jokes.

Nobu was also incredibly stubborn. Yoshi and Nobu were both bad kids although not delinquents, even though that was the culture at the time. They would skip their hokushin tests because school on a Sunday seemed silly to them. Shujin sees the point since they also had school on Saturday’s in those years.

Yeah, fuck that.

Yoshi and Nobu – despite being told they’d make nothing of themselves if they skipped – refused to go to those classes, or study classes in freshman year. They’d have to sit in the hall during lunch. Shujin admires his father-in-law to be.

Modern Worries and The New Years Party

After reminiscing about Nobu more, the boys head back home, Shujin having passed the test. Shujin’s pleased to have such good in-laws and Saiko enjoyed hearing about his uncle and how similar he was to Yoshi. Saiko texts Miho about the news. Miho calls Shujin to congratulate him.

Shujin promises to do his best so that Miho and Saiko can get moving on their own relationship. Miho then calls Kaya while Shujin dedicates himself to making Tanto a huge success.

On January 15th, the boys head to the new years party and the boys discuss their assistants: they only have Takahama right now.

Shujin’s concerns run deeper. After hearing about Nobu’s natural sense of humor he worries about Tanto: even at Chapter 4 he’s running out of gags. Saiko notices Shujin spacing out as they arrive.

They note they couldn’t come last year due to theirs and Aoki’s cancellation, but Team Fukuda has risen like the Phoenix – minus Nakai – plus Iwase.

Miura greets the boys on their way in and ushers them to go schmooze. They catch Hattori and try to say hi, but he gives them a curt congrats and runs off to talk with Iwase about how excellent her latest chapter was and how she’s already farther ahead than she needs to be. The other editors are crowded around and annoyed that Hattori butted in.

The boys observe the attention, in addition to all the attention Nizuma is getting from the editors around his successful second series start. The boys are peeved by the success of Eiji and Hattori’s disinterest. Eiji asks to see the next chapter immediately. They also notice Nizuma pays no attention to either of them, going out of character.

The boys also see Fukuda who doesn’t know what the big deal is over +Natural. Heishi makes a toast to Hattori as the rising star of the department for his success and Nizuma prods the boys as the rising star of jump.

That finally sets the boys off who see what’s going on and a fire is lit under their ass to wipe the floor with Eiji.

Fate and Star Reaction

Fate?

Before we get into the bulk of this chapter which was pretty decent, although I’m a little iffy on it, let’s just give some respect to Ohba for timing the New Year’s Party almost exactly 37 chapters from when the first New Years party occurred at….Chapter 37.

I know not exactly one year has passed, but that’s a neat little bit of detail that feels entirely intentional. Also, I remember this moment exactly a year ago because it was the week I resolved to move to New York. Which I have since done. Yay me.

Anyway, onward with the chapter.

I mostly liked this chapter…mostly. I guess it’s one of those bridge chapters where we’re in-between spaces and setting up for future conflict, but it was a nice bit of breather and character development.

I also kinda want to slap “Nobu” upside the head. Also, I’m definitely more concerned about Saiko, now, in context. The entire backstory was very well constructed, and I liked seeing how Nobu’s behavior remained consistent up until his death. it provides clarity and context to his situation.

So is Saiko fated to end up with Miho and rectify the ancient wrong as all Shonen Goodboi’s must eventually do? Yes. It’s one of the most foundational elements of all shonen. You have a boy from a lineage that was tainted by the sins of the father – or the uncle in this case – and has been paying for it, and it’s now up to the newer generation to save the day from the past bullshit.

Happens in Naruto, Happens in Fullmetal Alchemist, Happens in Attack on Titan, Happens in The Promised Neverland, Happens in My Hero Academia.

It doesn’t always look like this, but it is almost always there.

And honestly, it’s a trope I like.

However, I have very complicated feelings on fate and romance, which I hope have translated in the previous 70+ read-throughs. And I’ll tell you why.

I used to believe in it

Back when I was a teenager/early 20 year old who was *ahem* mildly obsessed with Dante’s Divine Comedy and specifically Dante’s beatific love for Beatrice, I had a similar pining for a kind of unrequited romance that transcended time and would be a bastion for lovers 700 years in the future. Assuming we make it that far.

And, as a direct result, I pathologized the process of finding a girlfriend.

There were many, many other issues going on at the time that fed these toxic beliefs, but this was one of the less abjectly terrible ones.

But, this hope for a fated meeting, or a belief in a fated meeting with that one true soulmate was so strong that, if I met someone who I vibed with who wasn’t that fated girl (oy) I kinda did nothing about it. More importantly, I also believed that life should come to me, and not the other way around. All in the name of fate.

Because you know, I was a dumb kid who believed that fate would intervene, because fate does intervene, sometimes. I believed that my writing would be “discovered” or my music – which I didn’t record – or my films – which I didn’t make. Once I had those things in hand, once I had established myself to the world. Then fate would come knocking, and the girl of my dreams would be there. My Bice Portanari.

But then I hit my mid-20s, and then my late-20s, and neither friends, nor romantic partners magically materialized out of my doing nothing. And so I started questioning this impulse. Not only that, but by holding onto this vain hope – among other shittier reasons – I was unbearably clingy and pushed a lot of people away.

By the time I hit 28, having achieved none of my tangible goals, I realized, to my horror, that I had had it entirely backwards.

You can’t force fate by doing nothing. Fate intervenes on behalf of people who DO things. Like Teddy Roosevelt.

And while I’m upset that I let so much time pass me by, I have stopped waiting for life to come to me, and I now go hard to get the things I want, with no expectation of their coming to seek me out. I started this blog, started learning instruments, started making sushi. I moved to New York. I’m submitting screenplays to places. Learning to draw. You name it.

And I’ve started dating for real. And it’s complicated and messy, and often frustrating. But it’s real and visceral and I’m enjoying the chaos of it all in spite of myself.

So….

I don’t believe in fate

Which brings me back to my central frustration with this chapter. Nobu believed in fate, and he ate shit because he assumed it would do the hard work of asking Miyuki out for him. And that’s fucking bullshit.

So that Ohba treats Nobu’s doomed romance romantically is…well, frustrating. Because it’s the exact wrong message that boys need. What socially awkward boys need to hear is that if they want things in life, they have to do something to get those things. Like ask that girl out, and risk rejection. Or go out to social events and meet people if they want friends.

And for all Saiko’s will, determination, and shonen goodboiness, he’s still basically operating under the same assumption about Miho. It’s not enough that they like each other and are in a “relationship”. He needs to get off his bullshit excuse of having an anime and just date her already.

I’m going to continue harping on this too, because we all know that Saiko will ultimately succeed in getting an anime adaptation, will marry Miho and will live happily ever after. It is implicit in the promise of the first chapter and the series to this point.

But he’s not going to do the thing that lonely guys who struggle with women SHOULD do. He’s going to pursue his dream, like Nobu, and succeed. He has the protagonist’s protection from true failure.

And I hope I’m wrong, because the series at least seems to know on some level that what Saiko is doing is idiotic, because this chapter underlined how vain it is to have this hope an do nothing with it.

Point is: live your life, my dudes, and don’t expect anyone to come and live it for you. Do shit, and you will get shit in return. It may not be what you want, but you will get nothing for nothing.

I’m kvetching a bit too much, so let me switch gears.

Yoshi’s a bro

Ok, I really like Yoshi. He seems like an excellent dude. Seeing him play up the tough as nails father act with the karate and the gruffness was…uhh, cute, more than anything else. He seems like a decent guy overall.

The karate intermezzo was a fun little manga-y segue into something serious, too. It cracked me up. That’s one of the few times a gag has unironically worked in this manga so far. The Spit-Take was great.

But from the little I’ve seen of him, he seems to have his priorities and understanding f the world pretty much straight. Although I don’t think his views on fate are necessarily helpful – the connection between him and Saiko is like that Spaceballs gag about Lone Star and Dark Helmet in its thinness – I do think he’s old enough to recognize how stupid a lot of that shit is which in fairness, he does point out to Saiko about waiting.

But his comments on Nobu are….complicated. So let’s go into it.

Nobu’s Art and Destiny

So, like, I’m of two minds of non-romantic fate. I like that Saiko pointed out how much of a case of big-fish small pond Nobu’s experience is, because that is something I am currently going through.

I have mentioned that I want to make manga, obliquely, on this blog, several times. About 37 chapters ago – the last new year’s party – I even shared some of my leisure time is spent watching mangaka like Miyajima-sensei drawing manga. And Murata-sensei, and Inoue-sensei.

Well, I have not been idle in this regard. Although sporadic on Instagram, I have been drawing fanart of manga I enjoy and original content, with the intention of making my own Manga. I even made my first three-page strip which is on this website. I’ve also spent the last two years learning Japanese out of a love for language learning but also, unconsciously, because I would like to work on making manga in japan, even knowing how fucking insane the hours and lifestyle is.

But am I fated to be an artist? Am I going to be a mangaka?

Well, I also want to direct/write movies, record music, and write novels, and maybe do some animation and sometimes other fancies slip in there like my extended passion for making Sushi or writing poems, or short stories.

So the answer is, I don’t know. I believe that one’s nature is, to a degree, unavoidable, but I don’t think it’s all-encompassing. What you do matters as much as who you are. Which is the chief appeal of Shonen Manga. And if I commit to manga, I’m going to go hard, and I will be a mangaka because I have that ability. But it won’t be through the auspices of fate.

It is by leveraging your natural abilities and interests and throwing yourself in the environment to cultivate them, that you become the best version of yourself. Or, as Yoshi put it, live your life to the fullest and do whatever you want.

So do I think Nobu was destined to make art? Or Saiko is destined to be a successful mangaka?

I think most prophecies are self-fulfilling, on the condition that you do something to fulfill them.

So will I be a mangaka?

It’s not impossible, is all I’ll say,

What I will also say is that there are so many fucking artists out there, and they make me realize how limited my skills are, but simultaneously, it does light a fire under my ass to improve.

So y’know, maybe there’s something to it.

But now I’ve veered into the autobiographical a bit too hard, so let’s rack focus, shall we?

Hattori’s Gambit, and the New Years Party

So I love the new years party at the end here, because it’s fucking delightful to see Hattori’s gambit paying off in spades.

It’s also a nice inversion of the previous new year’s party. Or a re-contextualization a la Kishoutenketsu.

The situation with the boys is very similar: still unknown, still playing second-fiddle to Nizuma. But now there’s an edge to it, since the series for which they are serialized is not what they are suited towards. In fact, this version of the new years party feels downright cruel in comparison to the previous one, because it’s clear that no one really cares about them relative to +Natural.

Which of course is all part of Hattoris’ Keikaku (That means strategy). You can literally see the fire in the character’s eyes at the end of the chapter.

So to have a similar version of the same events in a wildly different context, creates a nice little sense of tension. Will we get another new year’s party in another 36ish chapters in which the boys are riding high on their success?

Well, I guess we’ll see when that time comes.

For now, I’m content to watch them stew as no one pays any attention to them, and they question their fate.

Although given the situation with Shujin’s gag generation, I can’t say things are looking too good.

Oh well, until next time.

Peace

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