Yo, my humans, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 89: Title and Character Design, in which character growth is negated for plot reasons.
If you’re not caught up, please use this index here to catch up. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so you won’t be spoiled – unless you are reading this chapter prematurely, which, uh, no judgment. I do that sometimes.
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Title and Character Design Summary
Written Storyboard Verdict
Saiko reads out Shujin’s written storyboard about their protagonist Kei Chimitsu and Shujin asks for input. Saiko provides his eye for the scene that’s forming simply as a result of reading the piece. He has tons of visual ideas already, including some preliminary character design elements. Shujin’s amazed.
Saiko also points out that the expository detail helps with what Saiko wants to emphasize. He recognizes, however, that he’s going to need to decide what to cut and what to keep, but he’s certain of one thing: this process works.
Saiko’s excited by the process of figuring out how to divide the panels and add pauses on his own. He always felt a little constricted before.
When Shujin apologizes, Saiko reminds him that he thought it was necessary for writers to sketch the story out beforehand. This has opened his eyes, though: when it’s written, he can visualize it much better.
Shujin wonders if the verbosity will be an issue; Saiko wants as much detail as possible because it will help him understand the characters better, but it will take him longer to work on a page than before. Shujin will also need more time. Kaya happily cleans the studio.
The boys discuss their timelines for producing the pages. It’ll take them each a few days to get their respective jobs done; they’ll probably finish around the first or second. They discuss working through New Year. They both decide to do so, and afterward, they’ll look and see whether there are any improvements relative to the first storyboard.
They want to make it as good as possible before showing Hattori, and they’re determined to beat Eiji. Shujin remembers his wife at that moment, and Kaya is perfectly fine letting them work through New Year; she’ll make them a treat. Shujin promises to drop by her parent’s place for a greeting, but Kaya eases his mind since they aren’t sticklers for that.
The Same Energy
At that moment Hattori calls them to ask about their storyboards. They ask about his vacation until the 6th. Hattori – as if reading their minds – knows they are reworking the entire chapter so he doesn’t have time to relax so he’ll come by to look over their work when it’s done. He doesn’t want it on new years day though.
They ask if the 2nd; he’s shocked at the turnaround given they’re doing 52 pages, but they assure him they’ll manage. He plans to call them at noon on the 2nd.
Shujin and Saiko are touched by Hattori’s efforts and promise to do good for him as well.
Miura comes over to Hattori’s to handle the transfer of Nizuma over to Miura. Miura is excited to be working with such a big-time mangaka, but Hattori warns him that if he’s not careful, he’s liable to be cut out of the editorial process altogether.
Given Miura’s track record, I’m not sure that’s bad.
Miura thinks that even though Eiji doesn’t need much editorial oversight, he might learn something from him which Hattori agrees will be good for him.
Transfer of Power
At Nizuma’s studio, Hattori gives Miura – first name Goro (I wonder how they chose that name) – over to Nizuma. Nizuma remembers he was formerly Ashirogi’s editor. Miura’s glad to be Nizuma’s editor, but Nizuma has some notes for Miura:
Don’t make Ashirogi do gags and cheesy stories. Realistic stories, realistic drawings. Nizuma gets hilariously intense about it and then chills out once he mentions Perfect Crime Club being exactly in their wheelhouse.
Eiji enters his own world and pieces together most of the elements of Perfect Crime Club. Miura’s astonished and asks if Hattori told him. When asked, Eiji points out that he just pieced it together from its title and its competitiveness with Crow and +Natrual. Nizuma gets pumped to work together to beat his rival/friends.
After they leave, Miura is both exhausted and also impressed with Nizuma’s manga acumen. Hattori thinks he’s a psychic.
Miura and Hattori are done for the year. He’s not looking forward to his meeting with Iwase on the third. Hattori laughs it off and mentions he’ll be back to work on the 2nd.
New Years Eve
On New Year’s Eve, Shujin provides Saiko with a written storyboard. Even though he’s exhausted, Saiko approves and plans to start work on the storyboard now. He can be finished by the second. Shujin, equally exhausted, begins work on the second chapter. Saiko orders him to go home given that it’s new years eve.
When Shujin protests, Saiko points out that Shujin is married and even if he promised to work through new years day, he should still go home and keep his wife company. Shujin sees the light but asks if Saiko can also work from home. Saiko promises to do so as well when Kaya’s noodle delivery service arrives.
They’re shocked by the arrival, and Kaya soundly beats Shujin for being a dipstick; they’ve been living together for a year he should know by now.
The three celebrate the new year, although Shujin and Saiko are particularly exhausted. At 3:00 AM they call it a night.
As they go home, they look up at the stars, and Saiko is reinvigorated because he can make out Miho’s face in the stars.
Kaya finds his romantic pining adorable, which, y’know, it kinda is. I’ll give it a pass. This one time.
The New Storyboards and A Title
On January 2nd, Saiko finishes the boards. Kaya and Shujin agree that they are significantly better than the previous boards. Saiko, despite his later exhaustion, wants Hattori’s approval. Shujin asks about Saiko’s health, given the crunch time but Saiko makes the same observation. Kaya leaves the boys to their work, and they thank her for the noodles.
Hattori comes over and notices a drastic improvement in the storyboards. The boys are relieved for about two seconds before asking how they can make them even better and how they can beat Nizuma.
Hattori is shocked by their frankly dangerous levelsof motivation and notices their sleep deprivation and their tight deadlines but willingness to keep going. He can’t let them down.
He notices the main character is a serious weakness, but that’s not something that can be helped because he’s in elementary school. Before he can offer advice, Shujin asks about the title given it’s also the name of a movie.
Hattori thinks that to be safe, they should change it.
In a bit of unintentional translation comedy gold, they decide to change the name of the series into English from Perfect Crime Club* to….Perfect Crime Club.
The name Perfect Crime Club doesn’t sound much better than Perfect Crime Club, and it’s kinda long
They debate about whether the main character’s name should be the series with series like Captain Tsubasa and Slam Dunk. Hattori also thinks the protag’s name, “Kei Chimitsu” is nothing special. Shujin points out other catchy names, like Kaede Rukawa from Slam Dunk. Hattori is a fan of Mai Annojo (MA), and Shujin points out Saiko came up with it. Saiko doesn’t want to be in charge of names or anything like that.
*Kanzen Hanzai Club, but the joke was too perfect
Title Change and Other revisions
After 2 hours, they still can’t come up with a good name, and Hattori’s homework is for them to come up with good names. Saiko asks for any additional revisions; Hattori is concerned about the timing since he needs to start working on the final draft. Saiko explains that he has Orihara on standby and if he gets two more to help on the art then he should be able to finish the draft on time.
He wants to do as much as possible right now; Shujin also wants more notes for the upcoming draft. Hattori remains shocked at their absolute intense drive to beat Eiji and recognizes the news that it was a close call at the meeting has only fired them up more. They must know they’re not out of the woods yet.
Hattori has found two assistants for Saiko, but the New Year’s Party is on the 13th. The mandatory party. Saiko forgot.
Hattori offers to let them skip the party and take the heat on his own. The boys resist, but Hattori points out it’s hardly the worst problem they’ve caused.
The boys ask about the morning of the 13th – their coming-of-age ceremony. Saiko isn’t going, but Kaya’s parent’s bought a kimono for the event and Azuki will be wearing a kimono as well; Saiko reminds Shujin that he’s made that dumb promise and she’s out in Hachioji anyway.
Hattori praises the work and thinks names and a title are necessary changes. The most important one, however:
The main character needs to be more interesting.
Hattori points out that he understands their goal for realism, but this is too real right now and, therefore, kinda boring. Saiko pinpoints the issue as having to do with his character design. Hattori suggests some special characteristics.
Saiko delegates the title and characters to shujin and the design elements to himself. He gives Shujin until the final draft is released to come up with a title. Hattori, for his part, has done all he can, so he must now put his faith in the boys. They go over some minor changes that can be addressed now.
The boys are aside by the relative paucity of notes, but Hattori has maxed out his advice for the time being. The boys promise to ganbatte, and Hattori plans to call them later.
Character Design and Miura’s Notes
On January 3rd, Miura and Iwase have their editorial meeting. Iwase is confident in work. Miura agrees: pretty good.
Iwase expects more, and when Miura isn’t forthcoming with specific notes, Iwase chews him out by telling him about Hattori’s practice of being specific.
Not undeserved. But yikes.
Miura doesn’t understand the concept of specificity and just thinks it’s good, infuriating Iwase further: she wants a piece-by-piece breakdown of everything that works and questions Miura’s editorial skill. Miura finally realizes why Hattori struggled with Iwase, but he has to meet Nizuma in any case.
At Eiji Co Ltd. (Eiji’s apartment), Nizuma is pleased by the new chapter of +Natural, and in a hilarious case of failing upward, he praises him for getting Iwase to be interested again and asks how he got her to focus again.
On January 13th, the coming-of-age ceremony/excuse for Kaya to be dressed in a kimono and Shujin a yukata ends “early” (aka Iwase and Ishizawa were there), and Shujin comes to see Saiko finishing up with the designs.
Saiko shows them about one hundred different designs. Shujin tells him to choose the one that works best. None of them worked – which is why he drew so many. He thinks a cool accessory is the secret sauce in this case.
At that moment, Kaya gets a call from her friend Abe who she got to see for the first time in years recently. Saiko finds her cell phone ornaments interesting and has a moment of insight.
At the New Years’ party, Nizuma complains about the boys not coming, although he’s glad they are working hard. Hiramaru notices Fukuda is also absent; Yujiro explains he’s working on his own one-shot and didn’t have time.
Nizuma gives a line about working hard like their compatriots. Hiramaru, with the success of his otter dolls, feels less pressure and thinks he can take it easy. Aoki loses respect for Hiramaru on the spot, defying expectations of not already having lost respect for him long ago, and Hiramaru tries to save face. Yoshida scolds Hiramaru for his alcoholism.
Nizuma praises Iwase’s latest chapter, which Iwase takes as a matter of course; she will be the greatest writer in the business. She expects more from Nizuma moving forward.
Hattori is confident the boys will figure their work out in time, but he worries about Fukuda, Nizuma, and Aoki. |
At the same moment, The boys finally have a workable perfect crime design for their unnamed hero featuring a crime tool strap and a different look with glasses; the design is both cool and realistic.
With that, the chapter concludes.
Title and Character Design
I’m having trouble coming up with things to talk about in this chapter, although there is undoubtedly stuff to talk about. I guess the thing about this chapter that is missing from the previous stellar run of chapters is that despite momentous things happening – Hattori x Ashirogi is finally full steam ahead (aww yiss, more on that in a bit). This was more of an in-between chess piece moving chapter than the previous one. I.e., it’s the comedown.
Which is fine because breather chapters are certainly needed when doing long series. And in the case of some series – like One Piece – the in-between chapters can be more refreshing and enjoyable than the main plot sometimes.
Despite that, there is a clear sense of buildup to the main event, which I actually want to get to now that it’s happening. So it’s weird because there is stuff I want to talk about, but I’m trying to rub two brain cells together to make it happen, and it’s a bit of a struggle.
Let’s start with the obvious thing:
Hattori and Miura have not necessarily changed
One of the weird things about this chapter, in particular, was how it feels like the characters have all somehow taken a step back from their previous progress in the last arc. Most notably Miura.
It really bums me out that Miura doesn’t seem to have actually picked up any editorial skills while he was busy growing, and now that he’s with Nizuma and Iwase, it’s unlikely that he’s going to be able to learn anything new that will help him grow as an editor. Which is actually super irritating.
It’s a little more obvious to me now, with the benefit of this chapter, that Miura’s narrative reward was to be placed with the dream team so that he could do no damage while still being basically useless as an editor.
It’s particularly grating that he can only articulate, “This manga is good, you know that?” without specifically pointing out why or how it can be improved.
That is some weak sauce, man. Especially when the last 40ish chapters have been devoted to Miura’s inability to provide notes of seemingly any kind.
At the very least, he won’t be causing more damage, but sigh, man.
Fortunately, Hattori being himself has never been an actual problem, and the fact that he’s able to provide the boy’s notes was refreshing. Although the dynamic being set up at this juncture seems a bit…unhealthy.
Some old bad habits
One of the jarring things about this chapter was the Boy’s overwhelming desire to beat Nizuma by any means and sacrificing their health to do so. Given that this whole thing was resolved 4 volumes ago, you’d think they’d find a way to not engage in it anymore, but I guess the demands of the narrative are greater than the demands of the character.
In fairness, cramming isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world when done in limited amounts; in this case, it seems to be temporary. But gahhh, I want the boys to have learned from their mistakes in a more tangible way. And this don’t feel like it.
Although I continue to enjoy the conceit of Shujin writing out his storyboards. It’s a good reminder that in art, there are guidelines but no hard and fast rules for writing and drawing, which is why it’s always a speculative venture. And it’s also interesting how Saiko uses the non-visual information to inform his visual storytelling. It’s a neat bit of work here.
Which leads into the fun part of the chapter.
Character Design is key
The little class on character design and naming was a fun little diversion, although I find it funny that of all the many, many names the characters could have chosen to focus on, they chose characters exclusively from Sports Manga, like Captain Tsubasa and Slam Dunk. It’s a nice little reminder that Saiko is into the old-school stuff like Ashita no Joe and sports manga in general, which is fun.
But now it’s got me thinking about naming characters and making compelling designs.
Although my manga production right now is painfully slow – there is a lot to learn at one time – I have been workshopping my ideas for names and character designs. We’ve discussed the silhouette test in the past, but it’s also interesting to see how gadgets and fashion inform a character’s interest and their name.
I guess people in Japan like interesting names just as much as people in the US. Although that could just be a people thing.
It’s kind of funny how people want their characters to be cool and want their characters’ names to be cool or more heightened than real. I don’t know how cool Mashiro Moritaka or Akito Takagi are in japan, but Saiko and Shujin are memorable. And their designs, while realistic, are fairly memorable too, with Shujin’s glasses and light color scheme and Saiko’s striped shirt and G Pen.
Oh look, more meta-fictional stuff peeking through. Isn’t that just the bestest.
More than that, it’s interesting to see how holistic you have to be in designing a series for mass appeal. You have to come up with a good premise, you have to have interesting characters, but those characters only become interesting when they are both visually appealing, distinct, and also have a cool factor to them.
You don’t have to do any of that, but for Jump, you definitely do.
And as for the Title, I thought the pun here was fucking hysterical because it’s one of the few times where Translation just doesn’t work. There are plenty of times where that is the case, but here particularly, it was much more obvious because they’ve been translating PCC literally from the Japanese.
In any event, things are moving forward. And I am glad of that, which brings us to the final topic for the time being.
It looks like everyone is in the spirit of getting fired up, which actually makes me happy because it means there will be more manga-based competitiveness going on between all the members of Team Fukuda, Hiramaru, notwithstanding.
I think Fukuda being jazzed to make another One-Shot is one of those subtle things that will come back soon, and I like that it’s inspired by the boy’s work ethic. It’s just nice.
Hiramaru is….well, Hiramaru, but at least Aoki knows how to deal with him, at this point, and can effectively shut down his bullshit with a word.
As for Iwase. Well, at least she’s no worse than usual. But I hope she finds a better motivation soon.
Finally, I also like that the series has basically acknowledged that Nizuma’s manga abilities are superhuman, not literally, but effectively. It was a nice little thing to have recognized.
Also, speaking of character design, the fact that Miura’s first name is Goro makes way too much sense given the shape language of his body is that of a gorilla. It’s probably a pretty cruel pun, all things considered. But then again, Miura is still failing upward, and it’s pretty grating.
So, where do we go from here? Well, I guess we’ll have to see,
Until next time,