In Crime and Hurdle, Miura is finally awesome (Chapter 85)

Yellow, my friends, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 85: Crime and Hurdle, in which Miura finally does something I like, I talk about Heartwarming and Filthy Doujins, and Yoshida is the worst

.If you’re not caught up, please use this index over here. There are no spoilers past the current chapter. So read easy, my dude, for it is Friday.

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Crime and Hurdle Summary

Miura’s Reaction

On November 5th – the same day as Miho’s birthday and, coincidentally, Guy Fawkes Day, (remember the 5th of November) they complete Chapter One of the tentatively titled “Perfect Crime Club,” which the boys will show to Miura before moving onto subsequent chapters. Though both are eager to continue onward.

Miura heard their confidence on the phone but remains uncertain about their ability to finish on time. Miura hedges his bets but likes the idea of submitting both Ashirogi and Takahama if their work is good enough.

Miura gets a call from Shujin confirming they’ve finished, and he rushed over to read it.

Miura’s dubious about the new piece being 100x better than MIA, and he finds that title…troubling. He hopes it can run in Jump. They invite him to read.

Miura – and the audience – are treated to a highly realistic storyboard of an exceptionally petty crime which Miura thinks makes the title hyperbolic. They explain that that is the point.

He turns the page and gets hooked. The realistic artwork and the seriousness of the main character are really engaging. Saiko explains it’s more realistic for the crimes to be small scale. Miura is spellbound and reacts how the boys want.

Miura grins ear to ear as he assures the boys that this is the ticket. A hundred times better than MIA, something he’s never even seen before. A brand new genre. They’ve mastered realistic humor. Miura declares the work perfect and congratulates them – although Shujin and Saiko themselves are holding their excitement until after the serialization meeting.

Miura asks where they got the inspiration, and they explain they committed some “crimes.”

Bruh.

When asked, they explain that they wouldn’t be perfect if they told him. Miura thinks this is perfect for Shujin and lacks the cynicism of his previous work.

Mai Annojo

Miura almost suggests changes for the chapter but then thinks it’s perfect as is. Shujin, now pumped, asks if Miura wants to know about the next chapter. Miura asks about the cliffhanger at the end of the chapter – which Shujin will save for later – and they’ll instead add a female member: Mai Annojo. Miura characteristically loves the pun.

Saiko characteristically thinks the pun is too silly and questions the humor.

Mai – who looks similar to Miho coincidentally – is a fan of mystery novels and has great deductive skills; the Perfect Crime Club wants her to join but realizes Mai will be upset if she finds out, so they have to keep it hush-hush. Miura asks how they’re going to recruit her.

Crime and Hurdle: Eiji wonesr if the boys will be able to do it.

Also, coincidentally, it’ll feature a birthday surprise, but a surprise that no one in the class will be able to figure out. The mystery will lead her to the club, which will be all part of their keikaku (that means strategy). She’s normally calm, so seeing her flustered will fulfill some messed-up fantasy of Saiko’s will be tres amusant and endearing.

Miura really thinks they’re on to something with this. He asks if Chapter 2 is already written in Shujin’s head. Yes. Miura gives carte blanche to write it as is. Miura will have more to say if he doesn’t know what’s coming. They’ll have it ready in a week.

The boys have cleared the first hurdle.

Miura’s Realization

Miura has no revisions for either Chapters 2 or 3, but the boys still have 2 weeks before the deadline, and they want notes. Miura thinks it’s great as is but suggests that they keep it on the DL until the last minute to surprise his bosses and keep the excitement at the right pitch. That’ll also give them time for any last minute revisions.

That said, Miura’s not giving them total freedom to mess around; it’ll only get stiffer if they keep working on it. Shujin’s always heard that faster storyboards mean less revision.

At the office, Aida is in full-on crisis mode about Ashirogi: they have a week until the deadline. Miura’s confident in their ability to finish, so Aida shouldn’t panic. Aida disagrees completely.

At the same moment, Miura receives a call from Takahama about his storyboards. Aida thinks Miura’s priorities are misplaced.

At Takahama’s studio, Takahama is confident his work is sufficiently good and has a lot of confidence in the piece.

Miura thinks the piece is good, but it’s missing something. Why does it lack that special sauce?

Miura realizes it’s due to Ashirogi’s storyboards being of such high quality. Miura tells Takahama it’s good, but he won’t be submitting them. Takahama’s aghast at Miura’s unexpected response. Miura explains that Ashirogi’s serialization is more important and explains the stakes of their agreement with Sasaki to him.

Takahama thinks he’s being left out to give them a leg up, but Miura explains that Ashirogi’s work is of such high quality that, had he not seen them, he would have been more confident in Takahama submitting. However, Ashirogi’s work is so much better that Takahama can’t possibly compete. Miura’s confident that Takahama will never be serialized with these storyboards if he submits. He will, however, turn them in if that’s what Takahama wants.

Takahama still wishes to have his work submitted.

Miura apologizes and agrees to submit them on his behalf – especially given his hard work – but Takahma is confused by the sudden change in mood. Miura privately realizes that he was too focused on serialization and that it was a mistake to only focus on getting serialized and not serializing something fantastic.

Tension at the office.

The Hattori’s – Yujiro and Akira – give Nizuma the news that +Natural already has an anime order, and it will start in April. Nizuma asks if it will be more popular than Crow. Nizuma worries for Ashirogi, given that the earliest they can start is February, and they can’t work for Jump if it’s not more popular than Crow or +Natural.

Nizuma notices that even Hattori is weirdly quiet about his confidence in the boy’s ability to see this through.

Crime and Hurdle Miura is thrilled to see they made a good manga

Meanwhile, at Shueisha Yoshida comments on True Human’s increasing quality, another editor chimes in that it beat +Natural to finish Fifth. The other editor asks how Yamahisa managed to get Shizuka to develop such a “spunky” female character. Trade secret.

Blegh.

Yamahisa is confident in Shizuka’s upward climb from this juncture. Yujiro tells him to shove it in so many words, and he won’t’ allow that to happen. Yujiro thinks the ones who will suffer are Ashirogi since it’ll be hard enough competing with Crow and +Natural; they may even get taken out of the running from a series altogether.

The other editor wonders why Yujiro cares, and Yoshida answers with, “You reap what you sow.” What an asshole.

Aida, for his part, has finally lost patience with the whole situation and believes it will be impossible for MIA to surpass NIzuma. He runs off to beg the editors to let them continue working even on a series that’s moderately popular. Miura tells Aida that they will be fine and not to worry. Aida is in no mood for Miura’s “tough guy act”: mangaka’s lives are on the line here.

He reiterates the special influence mangaka have on their wards. Miura is steadfast. He then parrots Yoshida’s phrase back.

Submitted

The deadline is upon them, and Shujin can’t think of a single thing to fix, nor can Saiko. Kaya offers some small line edits. At the same time, Saiko gets a call from Takahama asking about their storyboards.

Saiko explains that Takahama is coming over to read their storyboards. Shujin’s shocked, given their potential rival status at the next meeting. But Saiko wants to hear his opinion; Shujin remembers he does have an eye for manga, but that makes it more nerve-wracking.

Takahama read the storyboard and confirms Miura’s assessment: it’s several times better than his. He explains he’s planning not to submit his work to the serialization meeting. He’s ashamed at the comparative quality and apologizes for thinking Miura was just going to push their series through. The boys say he can still turn in something, but Takahama wants to create something better, something as good as theirs.

He leaves, rooting for them but warning them he will be better than ever.

Shujin feels more confident given Takahama’s blessing, and Saiko hopes they are successful for his sake and theirs.

On the deadline day, Miura rushes in with the storyboards for Perfect Crime Club (tentative title), and Aida freaks out that it’s not MIA. he asks if Miura’s serious.

Dead serious 😉 As the chapter concludes.

Crime and Hurdle Reaction

Panel of the Week

Crime and Hurdle Miura reads the storyboard for Perfect Crime Club

I’m a cheap date sometimes, and this panel hits literally everything I love. Sue me.

I actually like that there are two whole pages of this, but I’m only providing one because I’m pretty sure I’ll anger the gods of copyright if I go any further.

But this two-page spread is delightful. Not only because it’s a very clever semi-fourth wall break – we’re reading a manga from the perspective of someone reading a manga – so there’s a recursive element to the proceedings.

Not only that, but we get a contrast in the art style of the present era of the series – which is somewhat realistic, but with more exaggeration, versus the dense – pencil drawn – storyboards which have the added touch of being a mixed medium, which gives the spread a particularly nice flavor.

And also, the storyboards themselves are great.

I also like the contrast of the blacks against the storyboard and the over the shoulder perspective of Miura.

It just works, like King Crimson, man.

But speaking of Miura.

Miura’s Turn

Goddamn, that’s what I’m talking about. This chapter is pretty much all my favorite things rolled into one, and now we’re finally firing on all creative cylinders for the boy.

But I’d like first to talk about Miura, or, more specifically, how he finally exhibited some goddamn character growth. Like, y’all, I haven’t been this excited for a character to change well…basically ever.

Because Miura finally realized that settling is not the answer. It was incredible seeing Miura actually see what good work looks like and realize that just doing the bare minimum is not enough. I love that. I love that we also literally got his perspective to read it, as explained in my panel of the week.

But mostly, I love that he’s willing to give something approaching an actual note because of this realization.

I sincerely hope this sticks, and he makes an active effort to continue pushing his mangaka to improve by focusing on how they can improve their craft to be the best it can be. It’s pure shonen wish fulfillment, and I am here for it.

And if I’m being honest, there’s a personal element – there always is, isn’t there.

Chaotic Life Events

As I’ve mentioned, my life has been very chaotic, and I haven’t been able to post regularly – for which I am truly sorry – because I lost my job.

I’m not going to go further than that because y’all are internet strangers, and you don’t need to know that shit about me. But needless to say, it has thrown me for quite a loop. And it threw me for a loop partially because I had been comfortably ensconced in a job I had settled for. I settled for it because it met all my needs in ways that good jobs do, and I liked doing it, even if it wasn’t the most excellent job.

But I’ve also known for a while that I’ve had to leave it for precisely the reason Miura struggles with Takahama’s storyboards: it wasn’t the right fit at that moment.

So while the search has been quite stressful, it has been liberating because it has awakened a vital need in me to not settle for something but rather to push myself and get the things I want. This has been a long time coming, but now I’m finally ready to go hard in pursuit of my dreams like a shonen protagonist.

So to see Miura on a similar wavelength was really nice. But there is something else I want to speculate about that is totally unrelated to that, and it’s based on the storyboards:

Onani Master Kurosawa

Also known affectionately as “fapnote” is a doujin manga I read back in the winter months, and the first chapter of Perfect Crime Club instantly reminded me of it. The reason being that it’s drawn entirely in pencil and involves Kurosawa performing “Perfect Crimes,” where he masturbates to girls in an abandoned restroom until one day he is found out and is coerced into doing it as an act of vengeance by a lonely, shy girl who is getting bullied.

To be clear, what Kurosawa does in the manga is a real crime, and if I’m being honest, even though I think it’s a very well done, emotionally mature manga, the way it resolves doesn’t really reflect the severity of the crimes he commits during it.

But I have to wonder if Ohba was familiar with the doujin, given that the lengths the main character goes to achieve his mission of revenge fapping are so elaborate it mirrors Light Yagami, thus the nickname for the series. Especially with those storyboards.

I see it as possible that the inspiration for Perfect Crime Club might be Onani Master Kurosawa since it was released in 2008. It’s worth a read if you can separate yourself from the heinous shit the main character does.

Anyway

Takahama and Shizuka

I really felt for Takahama in this chapter because I’ve been in similar situations where I’ve written something I thought was really good, only to be outclassed by my competitors to such a degree that I totally lost confidence in the work I had written. That struggle is real.

But on the flip side, I also love that he’s not down about it, and that’s using it as motivation to make his own work even better. Again, Shonen is one of the few meta-genre – I don’t think it fits neatly into one genre category – that is so earnest about facing your fears and failures by working harder and self-improvement that I can’t help but utterly adore it.

But also, I find it hilarious that the boys find Takahama to be a more trustworthy voice than their own editor. It’s really telling that they simply do not believe Miura’s word all that much anymore. This makes me wonder if Hattori is going to be their editor for Perfect Crime Club.

Let’s be real; that’s gonna happen. We don’t have to pretend, right?

Aside from Takahama, I’m really uncertain how I feel about Shizuka’s newfound success cum hostess club. I’m going to go so far as to say I don’t like this particular creative choice for reasons that are so well trod it almost doesn’t bear repeating again.

But I’ll repeat it again.

The representation of women in this series is problematic; the conflation of women and manga is also problematic. And now that Yamahisa’s scummy side is coming out again, I am distinctly worried about the trajectory of Shizuka’s character arc.

And that’s mostly because there are certain stereotypes of shut-ins and their relationships with women. And the fact that Shizuka’s first seeming experience with “Spunky” females is going to be at a hostess club which isn’t sex work but operates along the same vectors of a transaction – you pay for the pleasure of female attention that is feigned – means that he is going to develop some….uhh, not healthy views on the opposite sex.

It’s a big ol’ yikes from me, dawg. And that yamahisa is encouraging it as a “trade secret” just makes it infinitely grosser.

Anyway, we should probably talk about Miura’s Gambit.

Miura’s Gambit?

Miura did a gambit. Sure, it wasn’t as elaborate and crazy as Hattori’s tend to be, but it’s a gambit nonetheless and a very good one. A gambit based on anticipation.

I’m surprised Miura has the presence of mind to use the stakes of the current race with the boys to increase anticipation and interest in their series. It reminds me of when the final season of Breaking Bad came out, and there were virtually no promotional materials accompanying it because they kept everything tightly wrapped. The anticipation was huge, so when it was finally released, everyone wanted to watch and see it conclude.

It was great.

But it’s great to see that Miura developed enough of a spine to even fight against Aida’s worries and fears – which is kinda hysterical – and even kept Hattori in the dark, who looks pretty uneasy about the whole situation as well – it creates a nice zest to the proceedings because at this point most of the editorial department is freaking the fuck out.

Except for Yoshida. On that note.

Yoshida is the Worst

Yamahisa is pretty bad, but Yoshida is quickly dropping in my estimation as one of the most frustrating characters in the series. Although I have no problems with conservatism and the idea that people should bear the consequences of their actions, he’s also so petulant and shitty about it, even though he’s just sniping from across the room.

But his dealings with Hiramaru and the lengths he’s going to get him to do work come off increasingly maliciously, as well as his total lack of faith in Shizuka. It’s really, really annoying.

And I’m sure the real Yoshida is nothing like this guy, or if he is, there are some very obvious exaggerations, but yikes dude, Yoshida has become so unbearable to deal with of late that I kinda hope he has a heel turn at some point.

As for some small other stray thoughts

Mai Annojo

At this point, Saiko’s blatant female character introductions are more adorable than annoying, but they have gotten so blatant that it borders on self-parody. Mai Annojo is clearly the character Miho is meant to play – she has the same initial as Miho Azuki – and her design is so similar it’s comical.

That said, I like that they’re doing this because, to me, it signals that the series will be going forward with Perfect Crime Club.

Partly that’s a narrative thing, as in, no narrative if PCC dies, but also in Detective Trap they only mentioned Ami – the love interest – in passing, and the same with Tanto.

Given that the whole conceit and Saiko’s drive are tied so intimately with his relationship with Miho, the fact that we’re finally getting some forward motion can only mean that an anime is in the future.

At least, I hope so.

In any event, I also like that the characters all believe MIA will be up for revision, and Miura did another seriously humourous turn by submitting Perfect Crime Club.

This was great. I’m happy.

I don’t even care what happens next. I just want to relish this moment right now.

Until next time,

Peace

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