In Selfishness and Advice, The Best Things for the Boys is the Worst Outcome (Chapter 79)

Hello there, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 79: Selfishness and Advice, in which things I want finally happen even though they are the worst possible outcome in the real world.

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Selfishness and Advice Summary

Should they stay or should they go?

Picking up directly where we left off, the boys question whether they should quit Shonen Jump or not. Miura talks on their behalf: they’ll keep working on it, seeing his career following them out the window.

Shujin apologizes to Saiko: he wants to beat Nizuma and Iwase in Jump. Saiko wants that too, but that’ll never happen with Tanto.

Sasaki asks if this is about Nizuma’s television appearance. The boys confirm it. Sasaki asks them if they think they can beat him with something new. Saiko explains it’s less about a belief in their ability as it is a desire to win.

Yujiro – watching with Hattori – encourages the boys while Hattori himself runs in to take the blame. He explains his role in the situation, and Sasaki sees his own side’s complicity.

Selfishness and Advice the boys asking to quit Tanto.

Yujiro is on Ashirogi’s side: this is an unprecedented step they should be allowed to take and if they fuck up their next work it’s on them.

Sasaki rebukes Yujiro and pulls rank: Miura is their editor.

Miura cogitates on his role as their editor and his influence on them and speaks up: he’s in support of them doing something other than a gag manga.

Heishi interjects with information from the serialization: a lot of editors felt they didn’t have the stuff to do gag manga, but they decided to run Tanto because they trusted Takagi’s ability to figure it out. Yujiro also notes they weren’t expecting it to be so successful.

Sasaki bluntly asks if Shujin could beat Nizuma with a story, and before Shujin can answer, he gives him a flat: nope. Heishi, however, thinks Shujin has the ability but has not yet reached his full potential.

PLEASE END TANTO

Hattori interjects: he also thinks Shujin has the stuff, but with something non-mainstream. Saiko agrees, as well. Obviously. Heishi brings up that once upon a time, the boys were neck and neck with Nizuma, but their recent work – based on rankings – isn’t even close.

Sasaki wasn’t asking anybody else. He asks the question again.

Shujin takes a moment and realizes he can’t progress with Tanto and asks, forcefully, to end the series. He asks how many serialization meetings are left before their contract expires. Heishi answers three, August, October and December.

Shujin promises to have a great series that can beat Nizuma by the end of the year. He also promises to never work for Jump again if he fails to do so. He then points out Sasaki specifically brought them over when Takahama had his hissy fit about Miura to make the point about not being good enough. He wants a chance to prove to everybody he has the right stuff with story manga, not gag manga.

Yujiro sees this as, well, a bit extreme and tries to mitigate the situation any way he can: they don’t have to leave Jump for not being at Eiji’s level. The top ten is fine.

Shujin doesn’t accept that. His goal is to beat Nizuma and if he fails to do that he can be canned after chapter 10. That’s the trade-off for their selfishness.

Sasaki asks for Saiko’s input: Saiko is fine with this turn of events.

Sasaki tells them that it’s not his decision alone to make and asks whether Miura is ok with it. If they quit the series now, it will be treated as a second cancellation. Saiko takes Sasaki’s own words against him: if they’re good, they’re good. No matter their cancellation.

Fuck yeah.

Selfishness and Advice Shujin asking to end Tanto

They ask Mr. Miura’s permission. Miura joins the party to bring down Nizuma.

Yujiro is surprised they succeeded; Hattori thinks they’ve set themselves up for failure with such ridiculous stakes. They might really be fucked over now.

Heishi decides to end Tanto in issue 31 on July 1st. The boys thank them, which Sasaki notes is a very strange thing to hear regarding a cancellation.

Both boys swear to beat Nizuma/Iwase with Miura. Miura offers to get started immediately and come up with something now.

Sasaki and Heishi discuss the boy’s ambitions, but Sasaki is not confident they’ll pull through this time. Heishi is on their side, though. They’ve got talent, Takagi has kept Tanto successful, and Saiko’s art has also improved.

Sasaki then calls Hattori over and tells him to stop pulling these little schemes behind everyone’s back: he would have transferred him had +Natural failed.

Sasaki tells him to next time just say what he wants if he wants it.

Ending Tanto

At the coffee shop Miura is shocked that it came to this, but the boys are motivated now. He reminds them they have to finish up Tanto now in Two Chapters: something they aren’t quite as motivated to do. Shujin shits out a conventional ending where Meijin Daihatus becomes a famous investor and Tanto stops relying on his inventions. Miura is surprised by the speed with which he came up with that ending: was it planned?

He thought of it yesterday.

Lol.

After decompressing the boys realized that that decision was, mayhap, impulsive and SHujin asks if Siako’s ok with it. They have six months to beat Eiji with a non-mainstream story; or, at the very least, not a battle manga.

Shujin reminisces about The World is All About Money and Intelligence beating crow in Akamaru and Detective Trap’s tie. So something in that vein, but better.

The next day, Orihara and Takahama are notified of the situation. Orihara is shocked but Takahama sees something up and asks whether they quit. Orihara can’t comprehend someone just up and quitting but Takahama is all for the decision; he never saw them as the type. Now they can focus on a story manga that will blow everyone out of the water.

Saiko isn’t confident that they’ll impress Miura and then goes on to more prosaic details of the situation such as their pay: both will receive half salary until their series concludes. Takahama’s fired up – and is fine going without money – and now wants to focus on his own work. Orihara is so pumped up he doesn’t care about being paid. They mention that they want to keep both guys on retainer, but Orihara mentions he has several part time jobs and then rushes back to work.

Man, what a convenient great group of guys who don’t need to be paid even though they just got fired. How realistic.

Fukuda and Yasuoka receive the news, and Fukuda admires Ashirogi’s guts and believes they’re on the cusp of greatness. He’s rooting for them now.

Hattori bring the news to Nizuma who asks if Hattori got what he wanted: no, he wasn’t expecting it, but he assumes Nizuma is cool with it.

Nizuma promises to win no matter what. Hattori reassures him that he’s unbeatable.

Miura’s Desire

At Miura’s apartment, he thinks about his predicament and tries to figure out the best way to help them. Should he offer ideas or wait for them? Given the time frame and the stakes, he decides to see outside assistance from Hattori.

Shizuka now has his own apartment – paid for by his parents entirely – which Yamahisa finds unnecessary but easier for him to deal with. he then brings up Ashirogi’s likely submission to jump: non-mainstream story. The bosses don’t want two dark stories in Jump and Ashirogi will be tough to beat. But Yamahisa’s confident Shizuka and He will annihilate them.

Yamahisa looks for encouragement from Shizuka himself, who gives a polite, quiet “Yes”.

Selfishness and Advice Sasaki Smirking

At Hattori’s apartment, Miura asks for advice on how to approach Ashirogi’s next work.

Miura then asks why Hattori has so much faith in the boys and the secret to beating NIzuma. Miura apologizes for talking to his enemy in the field and feels like a disgrace, and that he’s being pathetic but he doesn’t care about that. He just wants the boys to succeed no matter the cost.

Hattori is glad he asked for help though because he was planning to shoulder the burden should they fail. Hattori is still thinking about Sasaki’s own comments and while it’s inappropriate for him to butt into other people’s works, he’s going to give advice anyway. Miura’s surprised he’s actually going to help, but Hattori wants them to succeed.

Hattori goes on: while there is only so much editors can do, he does want to help realize their potential. With some experience, they can use their talents in all-new ways. So he’ll help Miura, if Miura will let him.

Miura is happy to let him do so, as the chapter – and volume – conclude.

Selfishness and Advice Reaction

Getting this out of the way now

THANK GOD.

Man, I’m so relieved that we’re getting out of this arc and presumably into more, well, manga-based storytelling. This arc that started in Chapter 55 has been far from bad, but man, it’s been a drag having to put up with not only Miura, but the increasing sense of stagnation as the boys have been stuck doing something they didn’t want to do.

You might have noticed that I haven’t included Panels of the Week – with some exceptions – for WEEKS. That is because, in large part, the story has been so workmanlike and straightforward. There have been few moments of legitimate splendor. It’s been gag panels and some serious panels. But nothing extraordinary.

Given the uniquely meta nature of Bakuman’s storytelling, I have the feeling that this emphasis on gags and the lack of any truly exceptional storytelling – outside of Iwase and Nizuma teaming up – was probably airing out dirty laundry in real time. Ohba’s not a bad joke writer, but he doesn’t have the stuff that perhaps Aida wanted him to do. But that’s just speculation.

Even though I’ve litigated the Good Editor/Bad Editor dialectic to death at this point, I really think that dragging this arc – or saga, I guess – out as long as they have has really sold just how much an editor matters in making or breaking a manga. The fact that Miura has sandbagged them every step of the way with his youthful exuberance and total incompetence has really demonstrated what can derail a manga.

I was hopeful at first, and while Miura is still their editor, I can’t imagine with less than 100 chapters left he’s going to remain their editor much longer. Especially since the stakes are so high. Which I guess we really need to talk about.

But yeah, thank fucking god. I’m so glad that this run has ended.

Now let’s talk about this chapter.

Is there a right answer here?

Fortunately, this chapter is one where the ethical dilemma isn’t so clear cut as it has historically been in previous chapters and arcs. This isn’t like the hospital arc, or Shujin miscommunication, or Eiji getting two serises; I think in this situation there isn’t a definitive answer as to whether the boys can or should get a cancellation.

Because on a personal human level, I think the boys are making a good call and walking a – relatively – responsible path by putting their career in jeopardy in favor fo their health and their own personal needs.

And also, other series had to get cancelled to sustain Tanto. And there are a lot of people vying for Jump all the time. It’s an extremely competitive magazine. Heishi can be fun, and periodically obnoxious, but in this chapter his basic concerns – and also, surprisingly, his faith in Ashirogi – is pretty much spot on.

From that perspective, it’s harder to say whether this is a good track the boys are taking. I’m almost 100% sure that Japanese people would not be onboard with this behavior at all, given what I know of Japanese work culture and just jumping ship midstream.

Also, props to Sasaki for being a fairly simple – but still complex – character. Since his introduction almost 70 chapters ago he’s basically been the same guy: if you’re good, you got it. Git gud, newb. He’s basically the Dark Souls of Editors.

Which makes his placement in this chapter particularly compelling. Because he’s got a vested interest in keeping Jump popular and getting it in the hands of grubby little kids to keep circulation up, but he also cares about good manga. So the fact that his party line is: Git gud makes his allowance of these extenuating circumstances believable, if not realistic.

But he’s also eminently reasonable, and willing to do things to ensure a good product is released which is why I think he’s willing to go along with this gambit. Which is why, even though he’s a simple character, I still really like his overall place in the narrative.

Speaking on one-note characters who I don’t like as much.

I liked Miura this chapter

Yeah. So. Miura finally didn’t suck for about two seconds.

It’s good to see that the now somewhat obvious “plot moment to give a character the seed of an idea that will bear fruit in a later important chapter moment” with Yamahisa/Shizuka actually was utilized pretty well.

I’ve been giving Miura hell now for a lot of chapters, and deservedly so. But given that he finally took something approaching a real risk by letting the boys end Tanto so that they can defeat Nizuma and that he’s onboard with the boys to the point that he solicits Hattori’s help.

Mannnnnn, I’m all about that shit.

Like, one of my issues with Miura – aside from his total inability as an editor – is that his views of the boys’ work is motivated almost entirely by his desire to have a successful comic that he would personally enjoy running in the magazine. His view of his work revolves entirely around his own personal whims and interests.

Which makes it ironic that of all fucking people, yamahisa is the one who finally shines a light on the role of an editor: to facilitate the growth and success of their MANGAKA.

That Miura has taken this long to figure out that his role isn’t to do his own thing, but to make the own thing of his mangaka better so that they can be successful is somewhat mind-boggling. But it does explain my deep frustrations with him. Because frankly, he hasn’t actually considered the Boys up until this chapter.

And maybe, if we’re lucky, this is the first sign of growth. Like actual growth. And if that’s the case I’m all for it because if anyone needs growth desperately, it’s fucking Miura.

But I gotta say, it’s really good to see Miura soliciting outside help, and considering the boy’s needs over his own.

On that note.

Hattori and Everyone Else

I actually love that Hattori got called out for being le sneak. Sasaki ain’t no fool and just calling out Hattori and telling him to do some growing of his own made me pretty happy. Because while I adore Hattori, it’s pretty clear that these gambits are on some level a problem and he shouldn’t have to resort to them if he wants things.

Plus Sasaki’s smirk is fucking priceless.

But the other major enjoyable part of this chapter is that everyone’s reaction to the news of Tanto ending isn’t really shock, but relief and excitement. Even Sasaki and Heishi don’t seem too busted up by this turn of events.

In particular it was nice to see a fire in Takahama’s eyes after the disaster that was BB Kenichi and his regaining of the will to make manga again. And it was also good to see Nizuma pumped to read some Ashirogi manga.

All in all, there was a lot of positivity in this chapter despite the somewhat dire circumstances.

And I think that’s because the series is hitting the midpoint and as I’ve already said we’re going to get to the boy’s first true success at some point. And you can feel that success in the air at the moment. There is a sense of momentum building.

Even Shizuka is getting fired up in his very whispery way, which I also like to see.

So I’m very excited for the next volume because we’re on the road to a good idea. And that excites me.

Although…

The Gambling Element is Kinda Silly

So I know that in Shonen manga there have to be life and death stakes at every turn. But man this whole life or death scenario is kinda overkill.

On the one hand, I know the power of at truly scary deadline. So does stuff like Beeminder which can take your money if you don’t meet a deadline. But man, if anyone was going to win awards for melodrama, it would Shujin right now.

And obviously, the worst isn’t going to happen and they’ll be fine. But I’m not even sure real editors would even entertain a logic game this silly.

So in this way, Bakuman is still very much a shonen manga showing its narrative machinery. We’ve had several of these little gambles play out over the series, but few have been so transparent.

But I am willing to overlook it. Simply because I’m ready to see what the series has to offer when the boys are successful. That’s what I’m interested in, right now.

So we’ll see it there

Stray Thought:

–Orihara’s great. A little bit nutty with the pay thing, but great.

–Eiji calls Hattori by his first name. Weird.

–I didn’t mention it, but Fukuda and Yasuoka are also rooting for the Boys. Warms ma heart.

Until next time,

Peace

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