In New House and New Series, Everything is Fine and it’s Awful (Chapter 75)

Hi hi hi, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 75: New House and New Series in which we talk about the Jump Masthead, POV, and Iwase makes me le sad.

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Without further ado.

New House and New Series Summary

The Perks of A Dad Who Works in Real Estate

Shujin and Kaya luxuriate in their amazing new apartment – courtesy of her father – for only 50,000 yen a month (less than 500 dollars). A 3 Bedroom with 333 Square Foot living room. Shujin’s amazed by their luck.

That sounds too good to be true. Making me salivate over here.

Kaya explains that the apartment is owned by a rich acquaintance of her father on the condition they live in it, maintain it, and keep it clean. The furniture and appliances will arrive on their move-in day: that Sunday. There is little need to do anything else.

Shujin switches gears to real life and Tanto’s early results/final report. Shujin heads off to work and promises to make Kaya happy.

The Results are In

Takahama and Orihara discuss Takahama’s next piece. Takahama’s at a loss but he plans to overwhelm Miura with his brilliance. Hopefully, Miura doesn’t turn it to shit. As they discuss Kaya and Shujin arrive. Saiko updates Shujin on his progress with the latest chapter and the alternate chapter.

When asked by Orihara, Shujin explains that they’re going to have a gag chapter – Root Beard – and a battle-oriented chapter – a suit that makes you a superhero depending on the forthcoming results. That way they can make it a battle manga worse comes to worst. Orihara’s impressed by the foresight.

Takahama doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He explains that BB Kenichi went sour when it shifted gears to a gag manga but Tanto started off as a gag manga; the opposite of BB Kenichi. Shujin pushes back that the change would be gradual; Saiko points out Shujin is working on the exact thing he swore never to write

Shujin plays it off with a light comment, and Orihara see the difficulty of being a mangaka. Takahama, however, sees they’re struggling, and not doing what they want.

At that point, Miura phones the boys about the early results.

Fifth place. Miura points out for a Gag manga that’s pretty good and that he’ll give them additional details when the final report comes in on Friday.

They ask about +Natural and Crow: third and fourth, respectively. Not bad for a second chapter.

Shujin gives the news that the second chapter of +Natural beat them, and, by extension Iwase. Orihara tries to put a positive spin on it, bless his heart. Takahama – having read the second and third chapters – actually agrees with Orihara’s aggressively positive spin.

Ashirogi, however, reminisces about Trap getting third place for its first chapter and decide to put their faith – albeit tepidly – in Miura re: Fifth place. They think the second chapter will decide their fate.

Orihara asks whether this is the norm, which Takahama more or less confirms. Miho’s review of the series also comes in: it’ll be fun for kids.

Yikes.

Shujin’s Burden

On Friday, the final report comes in with 200 votes for Tanto putting it firmly in fifth, which means it will be a stable series. Miura’s thrilled to hear that it has a solid demographic and stable shot in the series. Yujiro catches on to Miura’s glee, as does Hattori.

Miura reports the news, as well as Aida’s cheery disposition, which surprises the boys. When pressed, they just wonder how fifth place for the first chapter could be seen as a good thing. Miura assures them that the next chapters are more important and, also, to keep focus on Chapter six.

Shujin sees Miura’s confidence as a good sign, and he still has “faith” in him, but he’s concerned about “making a living”. Saiko thinks Miura’s confidence is more about not getting axed, rather than any genuine success. The boys part ways to focus on their respective tasks.

On Sunday, Kaya unpacks their shit and unloads on Shujin who sits at the table drinking coffee. She even adorably tries to use his first name while he sips because they’re gonna get married (holy fuck). She assumes it has to do with being depressed about manga and offers to move his shit on his behalf.

He explains that it has nothing to do with manga, but their bed. The two quarrel over the bed itself, which Kaya picked out and is, ahem, opulent. Kaya thinks romantic; Shujin thinks erotic, like love hotel erotic. The two bicker about the curtains and Shujin offers to end the conflict with a game of rock paper scissors, no sore losers.

They play the good ol’ Janken and Kaya wins before bolting for the door.

Iwase’s Revenge

At the door is Iwase who provides a bouquet and congratulates them on their marriage. When asked how she got their address, she explains she called Kaya’s parents. Iwase is simply there to congratulate them. Shujin is ready for this whole ordeal to end but Kaya pushes the situation: she read the letter and she knows the score.

Iwase explains that she was attracted to the Takagi who was talented.

Shots fired across the bow. Holy shit.

Kaya, blessedly, is ready to beat the everloving snot out of Iwase but Shujin stops her: +Natural is doing better, so Iwase is more talented. Which isn’t how anything works, but ok.

Iwase is satisfied with the results fo the meeting, but Kaya gives her the bouquet back and rubs in the fact that they’ve been sweethearts since middle school: Good luck finding anyone to love you who is as or more talented than Shujin. As she leaves she explains she’s already found someone: Mr. Hattori.

I’m sorry. Hwat?

She explains they’re not together, but he’s the man for her. Both talented and worthy of respect. Which leads to Kaya gossiping about her the next day to Saiko, who reacts with the appropriate level of alarm. Shujin plays it down as trying to get a rise out of them, and she hates losing. But +Natural is winning, hard.

Weddings and CHildren

Shujin brings up his marriage to Kaya: she wants to be a June Bride so their wedding is on June 9th; he asks whether Saiko will join them at the reception and would be willing to move their golden week break to June. Miho will be there, as well. Saiko’s fine with the break, but not Miho.

New House and New Series Iwase's revenge

Kaya sees it as an opportunity to get them to stop acting like dick heads about their relationship. When asked how they secured the hall, one of the two mentions reserving it early in case they got cancelled. The other doesn’t think that joke is funny.

At that point, Orihara and Takahama arrive. Orihara mentions his little brother found Tanto hilarious. Orihara’s brother is 9, and the boys realize that Tanto is, in fact, popular with kids. Orihara also mentions that Jump got passed among all the kids and they liked Tanto best.

Kaya uses the moment to also invite everyone to come to their new apartment and their newlywed wife. Orihara thinks that because he’s 18 it may be too much for him; Kaya points out Shujin’s only 19; Shujin doesn’t want them to see the bed.

hattori’s new headache and surprise success

At Iwase’s latest editorial meeting, Hattori scolds Iwase for not making the requested revisions. It’s fine right now, but later on down the line…

She’s aware, and apologetic. She seems off. When asked what’s up, Iwase asks whether she is “attractive as a woman”.

Damn it.

Hattori, shocked, asks what that means so there’s no subtext: is he attracted to her? His appropriate reaction: “you’re a kid, no” immediately runs into conflict with his realization that Takagi’s marriage played a role. Seeing a ticking bomb, Hattori doesn’t know what to do about the situation.

Meanwhile, chapters 2-5 of Tanto drop to the high double digits, but stay there, and, true to Miura’s word, they remain safe during the serialization meeting, and the department is pleased with Tanto’s performance.

Orihara peaces out and because they’re on schedule, Saiko gives Takahama carte blanche to work on his own stuff, which he is already doing. Kaya receves a phone call from Aoki to congratulate her on her marriage, as well as Ashirogi on their success with Tanto. She thinks Saiko’s art is naturally suited to comedy, and she doesn’t get the opportunity to praise Shujin’s humor before Kaya hands the phone over to him.

Shujin finds writing gags difficult, but Aoki reasons that once he has a child he’ll have better grasp on children’s humor. At the same time, Fukuda calls, and Kaya explains Fukuda and Aoki are buddy-buddy now and probably coordinated their congratulations. Fukuda is surprised by Tanto’s success and encourages them to do better because and Aoki are in the single digits.

Saiko recognizes the gap and wishes to do better.

The Psychology of Gag Manga

The next day, Chapter 6 also gets 11th place and the number of kids sending in surveys remains consistent. Shujin’s still struggling with gags, but he’s doing something right, at the very least. Miura points out that kids often find the funniest thing to be the best, so gag’s have a natural advantage with children.

As Miura and Shujin break the story, Saiko wonders how Shujin really feels about this sequence of events. Saiko asks about how to break their stagnant rankings. Miura sees the value ofhitting the top ten and so they need about one hundred votes. When asked, he explains that all editors want their mangaka to hit top ten and 100 votes.

He breaks it down further: there are 20 manga in jump and because of that, whoever has at least 100 votes will be in the top ten. That’s why 20 has been the golden number for ages.

But that’s not what Saiko wants to know. He wants to improve their ranking. Miura points out the demographic struggle – 17 is the average reader age – and Shujin thinks he has to stretch the appeal to older demo’s, but Miura goes the route they went with Trap: you have to attract more kids to read Jump. To create a boom, of sorts.

Shujion doesn’t know how to do that he thought it worked in reverse: be successful get an anime, and video games, then success. Saiko suggests a catchphrase.

Miura latches on immediately and points out several famous – if outdated catch phrases which spur Shujin to reminisce on comedian’s own catchphrases. He can’t think of anything, but he sees the point. Re-use phrases again and again. Shujin sees the appeal of it and even Saiko gets fired up.

Meanwhile at Eiji’s

Yujiro is pleased that both +Natural and Crow are doing so well, although Crow’s rank is also improving. Yujiro mentions Ashirogi comfortable at 10th place. Even the editorial department is surprised by their success. Yujiro wants to know Eiji’s thoughts on Tanto.

He doesn’t read it anymore, a fact which shocks Yujiro given Eiji’s habit of reading literally everything in Jump.

On that note, the chapter concludes.

New House and New Series Eiji doesn't read Tanto

New House and New Series Reaction

Shujin is on the Struggle Bus

Aside from the fact that, according to Google’s currency calculator, he’s paying 384 dollars a month in rent. In Tokyo. For a 3 bedroom apartment.

I guess it does pay to have a father-in-law who works in real estate. Jesus tap dancing Christ.

But yeah, something I don’t really talk about frequently – or think about frequently – but have since started paying more careful attention to is the concept of POV in Manga and Film. I don’t really talk about it because, unlike novels and video games, it’s much harder to specifically pin down a POV unless you are actively looking for it.

But one way to do it is to focalize the conflict around a single character and give them the most room to breathe narratively. For better and worse, Saiko has been pretty out of the spotlight for several chapters because he’s not the locus of conflict. He’s just drawing a manga he doesn’t want to draw, but his ability to draw it isn’t as existential to the series failure as Shujin’s struggles.

Plus, he’s not married.

Plus, he’s not trying to support a family because he’s married and his super cool wife decided to bend to Ohba’s whims and she’s going to be a doting housewife.

Plus, he’s not trying to generate ideas for which he is unsuited, and which he swore never to make.

So yeah, this leg of the series is all about Shujin. And I think it works well for this chapter that all these struggles are so uniquely his that it creates this omniscient POV that’s really a Shujin POV.

We’re seeing Shujin taking on things he’d rather not do because it’s for the benefit of his growing family. But it’s clearly eating at him. Not to mention this chapter handed down L after L in the form of Iwase, +Natural’s success, and even their assistant’s playing with tempered expectations.

Kaya was absolutely adorable this chapter, though, so I guess there is that.

And I actually like the final quirk about this chapter in that everyone’s actually OK with Tanto, so far, except for Shujin. It’s another case of “everything you want in the worst possible way”. He’s clearly way in his own head about it and it’s eating him alive. He’s already hedging his bets and prepping for a battle manga.

But yeah, as far as POV goes, this is Shujin’s chapter and he’s handling it…uhh, not great. He’s not doing badly, but the way this chapter piled on is really driving home how deep in the shit Shujin is. That little moment where he promised to make Kaya happy was lovely, but also alarming as he’s trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. Metaphorically. Even Aoki’s polite suggestions aren’t going to get two shonen protagonists to engage in some marital nookie. They’re only just now on a first-name basis.

Anyway, the one thing that keeps the conflict spicy is the fact that the editorial department is cool with Tanto?

And with that in mind let’s talk about how we know Tanto is not long for this world. Of this, I am 100% confident.

Tanto is doing “fine”

You thought I was going to mention Eiji isn’t reading it, but it was I. DIO.

No, honestly, that’s the most obvious sign that Tanto is bullshit. But more to the point, Tanto is succeeding in the least shonen way imaginable.

It’s coasting stably and not exceeding the limits and all that trope-y nonsense that endears me to Shonen so.

If this were the real world, and Takagi and Mashiro were real people – and it wasn’t literally eating one of them alive coming up with ideas – I would have no problem with their success. And yes, this is success even if it is a tepid unsexy kind. In fact, if the narrative construction of Bakuman differed in a few key beats, I’d be really jazzed about this series’s stable success.

Because I am a fan of stability, and progressive, incremental improvement.

But the Masthead of Jump isn’t Stability, Steadiness, and Progressive Incremental Improvement.

It’s Persistence, Friendship, and Victory. Which in fairness is equally cheesy.

But that Thesis statement is the lynchpin of Shonen manga that run in Jump. And having the story end with the boys settling for the middle of the pack, with a long tenure, never rising above themselves, and marrying and living happily ever after goes totally against the Persistence and Victory elements.

So it’s obvious that, even though this is a substantial victory in the real world. In here, it’s the polite way of going “this shit is fucked”.

It doesn’t help that Iwase is rubbing it in Shujin’s face about his lack of talent, which, holy shit, I’m starting to get warning bells for Ohba’s treatment of women again.

Which….which. Yeah we should probably talk about. Sigh.

Iwase and Hattori

This is gonna be a big ol’ Yikes from me, dawg.

I was really, really hopeful that Iwase was going to escape Ohba’s women writing impulses and that she would remain focused on the manga stuff, and being the best Rival she could be and do all she could to do that. But nooooo, we can’t have nice things like self-motivated female protagonists, undefined by their romantic entanglements.

I’m sad, y’all.

Mostly because of Roe V. Wade is probably dead and the Supreme Court is gunning for more civil rights because they’re partisan hacks at this point who have totally delegitimized themselves through Republic malfeasance, authoritarian bullshit, and just plain malice (fuck those guys), but also because the character I admired so much for their self-determination is not, explicitly, defining herself by her relationships to men.

And it’s worse, because, just like Nakai, it’s conflated with manga production. It’s not so much the reverse of Nakai as it is a doubling down on the same issue.

I can only foresee future issues with this.

Thankfully, my man Hattori remains clutch with being the only adult in the room, it seems. He is able to immediately shut that shit down in a reasonable way. Thank you, bro. Keep doing you, my dude.

Like, holy shit, the levels of inappropriate behavior are through the roof here. And I get that there is sufficient motivation for Iwase to shift her attraction and she clearly likes intelligence and ability. And also, there is the necessity of pointing out that manga isn’t written in a vacuum because the whims of the authors can affect the story.

But also, I want me some more Aoki characters. And Kato, kinda, even if she’s not precisely my fave character.

God, I hope Nakai doesn’t come back at this point, or else that’ll shit the bed too.

I”m not putting money down to bet that he isn’t, is all I can safely say at this point.

Anyway, let’s talk about something mildly less depressing, like Tanto and Miura

Tanto and Miura

So, as I’ve already mentioned above, the fact that Tanto is doing good would, on the face of it, be successful. In spite of myself, I was pretty happy with both the explanation of how Gag manga succeed – Mother’s Basement just did an excellent video outlining the many benefits of gag manga over other forms of it pushing the medium forward – and how Tanto is, in fact doing well.

But it all rang a little hollow. The excitement feels tepid. That’s probably a bit of personal bias, but we’re well on the way to true mediocrity at this point, and man, it’s heartbreaking.

The fact that Saiko is even excited by the fact that schoolkids share Jump and seeing the potential for a series also feels…wrong, somehow. And it’s not just because of the Eiji stinger at the end, but it runs deeper. It feels like settling.

Again, you and I know that tanto will not keep going on long because neither Shujin nor Saiko are able to sustain it, but right now, the series really wants me to believe that it will go well. And to a degree, I’m inclined to run with it because I like it when good things happen.

And to Miura’s credit, his tactics are sound in this case. Although he’s still copping gambits from earlier successes and he’s playing the bet-hedging game as much as Shujin, he’s still, fundamentally, right. Which I kinda like, even if i don’t think he’s a good editor. It plays into the uncertainty about manga production angle.

But it’s all so wrong, and no one is jazzed about it in a way that feels truly genuinely excited. Even Orihara and Takahama are pretty measured in their response to the series, and Aoki’s comments on childbearing were, uhh, more stress inducing than anything else, honestly.

But that does create an interesting Detective Trap for the boys. There is such a thing as being a victim of one’s own success, and in this case, I have a feeling the boys are about to find out the cost of being successful when it’s successful for something unsustainable.

But for Shujin that seems to be enough, bed decor gags and inability to come up with gags notwithstanding. He needs to make a living.

I just hope that burden doesn’t destroy him.

*sees we still have over 100 chapters*: well, I guess it won’t destroy him toooo much. And this is a comedy/slice of life type story anyway.

Let’s see what happens.

Stray thoughts:

1. Kaya is extra adorable being a fiancee. That is all.

2. Seriously, can someone get me a Tokyo 3-bedroom apartment for only 50,000 yen? I’d love that.

3. Catchphrases? I’m not sure how that’s going to help but I guess we’ll see. that seems like a conversation for another time.

4. 100 Votes in the Top 10 is the golden ticket? I guess that makes sense.

5. Iwase being petty is still fucking hilarious, even if everything surrounding it is fucking awful.

6. That bed….is certainly a bed. Yeesh

And that’s all I got,

Until next time,

Peace

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