Hello there, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 78: To Quit and Not To Quit, in which the boys are incredibly selfish, and I’m somehow OK with it for entirely biased reasons.
If you’re not caught up, please use this index over here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter.
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To Quit and Not To Quit Summary
At Kinugawa, a relaxed Kaya is pleased with their choice of honeymoon. Shujin, however, ruminates on Saiko and Hattori’s confrontation. Shujin explains to the audience that he doesn’t understand what’s going on with Kaya and Saiko. Saiko promises to explain the situation after the honeymoon.
Kaya begs for Shujin to just enjoy their honeymoon, but Shujin won’t let go and suspects it’s bad news of some kind. She reassures him so he asks her what’s up. She’ll tell him once they’re home.
He gets ornery and asks for a game of Janken to settle it. As all good jokes do, with the rule of threes Shujin prevails, to Kaya’s alarm. She makes him promise not to get angry. He won’t promise until he hears what’s up.
She reveals that Miho called two days before the wedding and explains Saiko’s concerns about Shujin hitting his limits. She agrees with Saiko on this with his lack of sleep and general unwellness.
Shujin defends his behavior as trying to make the best possible manga but he hasn’t done anything satisfactory yet. Kaya is concerned about how he might end up hospitalized like Saiko. Shujin’s glad that everyone cares, but he points out he’s not naturally good at manga, so he has to work hard to compensate.
Kaya calls bullshit on that, it’s just gags aren’t his thing; if he did a story manga, he would be doing fine.
Shujin is rendered silent by this and the other admission: he wants to compete with Eiji again.
Shujin admits he wants to compete against Eiji again as well. He asks for his wife’s advice. When she asks for clarity he explains that part of this was Iwase’s overwhelming victory. Kaya’s not concerned about that; Shujin then asks if Kaya wants him to continue. She points out that it’s not her series or career.
Shujin pieces together what Saiko is probably thinking. He more or less accurately diagnoses the situation between Hattori and Saiko as having to do with a story manga doing better against Eiji. Shujin recognizes that while he loves Saiko’s artwork, he fell in love with it because it was so radically different from gag manga.
With Tanto‘s popularity stalling, Shujin starts to see the light, but he doesn’t know how to shift gears with this premise.
Shujin thanks Kaya for talking it out, then asks to go play table tennis in their yukata and get a little naughty. the two start to actually plan shit to do on their honeymoon and feel better having talked it out.
Imagine that, talking things out.
Yamahisa to…the rescue?
Shizuka’s mother calls Jump to yell at Yamahisa because Shizuka is planning to move out. Yamahisa thinks that’s nuts given his lack of social skills, and money, which Shizuka’s mother recognizes. She wants to know what Yamahisa did to make such a radical change come about.
Yamahisa thinks this is a matter of Shizuka finally pursuing something he wants and pursuing something better. What’s the big deal? Shizuka’s mother totally lacks faith in her son’s ability to live on his own. Yamahisa is more hopeful, but Shizuka’s mother ain’t having any of it.
Yamahisa then jumps to Shizuka’s defense pointing out that entirely on his own he came up with an award-winning manga, and then a wonderful work that ran in Akamaru, which is incredibly significant. Yamahisa sees Shizuka’s desire to get out of a situation he no longer wants and that he’s a gifted mangaka with loads of potential.
Shizuka’s mother doesn’t think being a mangaka is a career for normal people, but Yamahisa pushes back: he’s a shut-in, is that normal?
Yamahisa thinks they shouldn’t stifle his progress when he has so much potential and then hangs up the phone.
Right as Yoshida is about to tear him a new one, Yujiro claps for him.
Yoshida shoots it down and points out that you can’t be rude to mangaka’s parents like that. He points out that no parent would willingly wish for their kid to take on the unstable career of mangaka and that with his frequent visits she pegs the changes Shizuka is going through on yamahisa.
Aida comes in on Yoshida’s side: Editors wield incredible influence, but if a manga fails, the blowback is entirely on the artist so the artist’s will and opinion take precedence over their own desires even if it looks like you\rebeing derelict in your duties as an editor.
Miura watches the exchange with what seems to be a peripeteia while Yamahisa nails his point home. Aida gets defensive and tries to calm Yamahisa down.
Meanwhile, Shujin is shocked by the admission that Saiko no longer wants to draw Tanto anymore, since he thought he just wanted to change focus. Saiko realizes Miho left some key details out of her conversation with Kaya. Shujin’s uncertain whether Kaya would have brought that up either way.
Shujin is more interested in pandering to the audience before out and out quitting which Saiko is game for since it’s not just his series and he knows why Shujin is working so hard.
Shujin recognizes his own desire to continue but also sees that they’ll never beat Eiji with Tanto.
He explains that Eiji’s admission that they were rivals didn’t fire him up, but made him feel pathetic. Saiko agrees with that, but it was worse when Hattori explains he believed they’d surpass Eiji.
Shujin is glad Hattori continues thinking about them and then asks if they wanna quit.
Saiko does a spit take and asks if Shujin is for serial. Yep. Saiko thought he’d veto it. he then asks about Kaya: she doesn’t care either way. Shujin then goes on about how pathetic he feels now that Iwase is wiping the floor with both of them and he doesn’t even bat an eye.
Saiko then brings up the more practical issue of the editorial department: will they even allow it if they quit? Shujin reasons that they can’t force them to draw, and they plan the magazine a month in advance so if they finish up the month they can’t object. It’s the nature of contracting gigs. Saiko’s uncertain whether it’s that clear-cut.
Saiko knows they won’t just let a series end if the tankobons are selling millions, but Tanto isn’t doing those numbers. Shujin explains that the ranking for chapter 16 was at 14th, while Chapter 14 of Detective Trap held 3rd place so the popularity is dipping. The editors may welcome a clean break. Saiko points out that Miura is just happy to have a series.
Shujin thinks Miura wouldn’t handle it well if they were to take this course of action. Shujin thinks they should ask about it in a roundabout way during their upcoming meeting.
Predictably, Miura will absolutely not allow them to quit writing Tanto. Shujin clarifies that he was just asking if it was possible. He doesn’t want to end Tanto but it doesn’t have a future going as is. They can pander to the audience if necessary.
Miura is relieved by the alternative of pandering. But Saiko thinks they should take things in a darker direction. Miura points out that it’s impossible given their key demographic of literal children. Saiko sees this as intractable, as without older readers, there is no hope for the series to continue.
Miura doubles down on his favorite advice: humor is the key.
Shujin however about shits his pants at the idea of more gags, and even Miura recognizes Shujin’s out of steam based on his recent storyboards.
Miura compromises on a battle manga shift. Shujin also thinks they’d be bad at Battle manga. Miura then asks if they actually do want to quit, but Shujin just wanted his opinion.
Saiko then asks: if a mangaka asked to end their series, could an editor allow it. Miura wouldn’t allow it; Shujin reiterates “Hypothetically” if it’s possible.
Miura doesn’t see it happening. Although he also recognizes that he has a great influence on their lives, so he’d consider it. However, he can’t let it happen. He thinks about talking to his bosses about this.
Miura offers to take them down to the deputy editor to ask if it’s possible, just hypothetically, at least.
Heishi ain’t having none of this shit
Heishi, predictably, yet also hilariously, chews the boys out for wanting to work when they were sick and now wanting to quit. Could anyone be more selfish? the boys got the answer they expected and Hattori is surprised they want to quit.
Heishi explains that being popular with kids is important to Jump, so they want to keep Tanto around. Jump needs younger readers. The boys ask about their rank. Heishi wants them to do better, but they aren’t in the crosshairs.
Miura comes to their defense: they’ve run out of gags, how do they do better? Heishi pulls rank: it’s Miura’s job to figure that shizz out.
Saiko recognizes that this was always the answer and that it’s up to the editors whether they can end the series. They have no say.
Heishi gives them the skinny on when it’s ok to end a series: when a popular manga is losing popularity and the story is winding down. If it’s a story manga, the editors will only do it if the mangaka themselves are at their absolute limit.
Heishi tells them to check their egos with that shit re: Tanto. Other manga got canceled so tanto could continue. Don’t waste that sacrifice. It sounds like they want to start over from scratch to do something better.
Shujin confirms that is exactly what they want to do.
Miura chimes in that the other time they can end a series if another manga is waiting in the wing and the current series is a flop. Heishi points out that were that the case they’d test with a one-shot. Heishi asks if they’ve created anything else. Shujin hasn’t given how much effort it’s taken to make Tanto.
Miura points out that that is what Shujin is supposed to do. Saiko thinks at this juncture they mayhaps are falling into Hattori and Eiji’s trap a little too hard. They decide to ask the editor-in-chief about it. Heishi shoots it down immediately and Sasaki will only reiterate it.
Saiko allows himself to get yelled at and walks up to Sasaki.
He asks to quit working on Tanto.
Sasaki’s answer: quit if you want to.
Everyone’s shocked by that.
Sasaki goes on: Jump has no need for mangaka who abandon their works midway. Feel free to quit if you never want to work in Jump again.
Sasaki asks what’s the matter: weren’t you prepared for the answer?
Saiko explains he hadn’t thought that far ahead. He wants to keep working for Jump. Sasaki’s answer remains simple: keep working on Tanto until he can do no more or until it’s been canceled. That’s what being a pro is.
Miura apologizes on their behalf and now that they’ve had their tantrum it’s time to get back to work.
But Saiko isn’t done yet. Besides, Sasaki said they weren’t allowed to quit. Uhh, yes he did. Saiko says he didn’t.
Saiko asks Shujin: Do they stay with Jump or quit?
With that ominous question, the chapter concludes.
To Quit and Not to Quit Reaction
I need to stop using normal brain for this shit
It is a blessing and curse that this series relies heavily on verisimilitude to tell its story because I find myself constantly having to check my expectations of actual reality at the door, because, y’know, it’s shonen, and ridiculous shit happens in shonen.
To be clear, what Ashirogi is doing is almost certainly unacceptable in the real world, especially ca. the time this story is supposed to take place. You don’t just ask to quit Jump and then actually get to work there again.
The fact that Bakuman has more or less let the news loose about when it’s ok for a series to end is still technically speculative since the series has to keep some of the sausage grinding secret for obvious reasons, but is perfectly recognizable in context. I have almost never heard a circumstance in which a series ended while it was still popular and was in the middle of its run.
The only example that comes to mind that’s even feasible would be something like Mitama Security Busters, Magu-Chan, or Agravity Boys. But I’m pretty sure those were canceled…so.
Oh wait, there’s also Chainsaw Man which was ended by the author’s request. But we have a Part 2 for that coming out soon on Manga Plus, so even that doesn’t count.
What I’m trying to say is that this may be the most selfish the boys have been since the hospital arc and it would never happen like this in the real world. I’m 100% fine with Heishi even pointing out how comically over-the-top selfish this decision is.
With that said…
I’m much more ok with it, this time
Partially because this is a shonen manga and the limits of realism are regularly stretched in even the most grounded shonen manga. So for a manga that indulges in all the most popular elements of shonen rather freely, my expectations for realism are measured, to say the least.
But also because, and I can’t believe I’m saying this only 78 chapters in, the boys have finally demonstrated healthy emotional growth and the requisite maturity to do something so bone-headed.
Let me explain.
I loved that A.) they both talked it out with their significant others in a way that was open and vulnerable. The sequence in Kinugawa and Saiko’s conversation were very wholesome. And it was a healthy, undramatic way for the boys to confront the fact that writing Tanto is not working.
I loved that B.) Saiko and Shujin are mindful of the other’s needs and wishes. Saiko isn’t going to cancel the manga for his own selfish desires nor is Shujin willing to do that for the same reason. They have both talked things out and have mutual respect for both sides. They’re also mindful of Miura’s position and even take into account his desires and wishes.
C.) Shujin is at his limit and if he burns out it will be bad for everything. There is an interest in keeping Shujin healthy and productive, and not running himself into the ground for the sake of having a series.
In other words, the things I’ve literally been bitching about the boy’s NOT doing for the last almost 80 chapters, they are now doing.
It does my heart good to see that kind of emotional growth.
And while it is absolutely selfish – and I would prefer Eiji’s cancellation instead, honestly – I am ok because they are clearly willing to take the risk in the end. Sasaki’s ultimatum is a good one because it’s going to test the boy’s mettle.
The side effect of all this surreptitious emotional growth is that it also tells me narratively that we’re close to the big idea that’s finally going to set them on the path to glory.
Which, as Senku would say is, something to get excited about.
Now, do I think they’ll actually quit Jump and terminate their contract? No. They’re going to find some magical way to end Tanto early and make a new series and that series will probably be successful.
But I suppose we have to pretend at this point that there is some actual danger of them losing everything because the stakes always have to be as high as is humanly possible.
Anyway, there was some other stuff going on in this chapter.
Poor Miura (Still sucks)
Miura is a bad editor. It has been the case for a LONG time now, but at this point, it’s just gotten so exhausting to deal with. The fact that the boys have fully crossed the threshold to some kind of emotional maturity while he has remained somehow totally immoveable with his approach to the world is, to put it mildly, frustrating.
Miura is one of those characters whose potential to grow alongside his wards is near limitless. If the series had any interest in making him grow and change, it could absolutely do so. But at this point, I am not convinced the series is interested in doing that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Miura is going to remain the same editor playing the same tune every time.
And it’s really really frustrating.
I want him to end his relationship with the boys because he’s got no good notes other than more jokes. And I’ve been one note about this because he’s one-note. But at this point, I’m just fucking done with him, man.
And I know he’s a foil to Hattori who is going to be the boy’s editor at some point, but Miura has been endemic to all the things that have made the gag manga arc so damn frustrating and I’m very done with it.
With all that said, I still feel bad for him because he’s been put in an impossible situation. He knows things are falling apart, but he can’t just tell the boys to quit. But he also doesn’t know how to give them substantive notes that will actually save their stuff.
It’s really infuriating. Almost as infuriating as…
Yamahisa stepping up
Yeah. this one physically hurts to mention. I almost feel like Ohba realized that Yamahisa’s introduction was so overwhelmingly scummy to begin with that he had to dial it back by introducing this Shizuka subplot. But you know what, I’m not going to complain about a character getting progressively less scummy.
I continue enjoying Yamahisa’s encouragement of Shizuka’s self-actualization. Although Yoshida is still his very conservative self, I think it’s actually a very promising sign that Shizuka wants to strike out on his own and make his own decisions. It means he’s interested in becoming an adult. And although I’m also a fan of taking baby steps and incremental growth the simple fact that Shizuka no longer wants to inure himself against the rigors of, well, existing is a very positive thing that I find incredibly enjoyable.
What will the boys do?
I think they’re going to make some kind of bargain with Sasaki to keep the stakes high but will lead to them getting what they want. It seems to be how Ohba handles conflicts of actual importance. And aside from the insider baseball about manga schtick, this series revels in its little schemes and gambits, and I too enjoy them.
So we’ll see what happens.
But I’m ready for success man. For one other reason.
I feel myself at a very different crossroads, but spiritually similar. To an extent, I see myself in the boys. I have made some strides in my creative endeavors, but I feel miles away in other regards. Seeing the boys head patiently towards success over several years is encouraging. And I feel like I’m hitting an emotional point myself where I’m ready to act like the boys.
In other words, I’m transferring hard.
So it is in my emotional interest for them to succeed.
I hope they do.
–Kaya, you’re luck ran out because the Janken gag already played twice on the screen. Rule of three baby.
–Yoshida’s characterization is so solid. He’s a hardcore conservative in a lot of ways and it’s so good to see that kind of consistency.
–Sasaki: purveyor of badass ultimatums at his own little resolute desk. Gotta love it.
–Heishi said what I basically said last week about Me & Roboco: good on me for having the foresight to pick up on it. They want new potential readers. Neener.
That’s all I got,
Until next time,