Minna-san Konnichiwa, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 93: Middle and Ultimate, in which Iwase and Miura are great; again, Yamahisa returns to my shitlist, and everything is heating up.
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Middle and Ultimate Summary
Pure Unadulterated Smut
Saiko recounts the dramatic finale to last week’s chapter and wonders if his decision means that he and Miho are progressing.
Iwase is furious. She notes that even though Ashirogi are so focused on relationships, she’s giving it all she has. Plus, Nizuma is probably their ally. He is ready for the audition to start. Iwase demands that she and Miura meet after the audition. Miura’s frightened but glad for the motivation.
Meanwhile, the absolute travesty of smuttiness between Saiko and Miho continues as they *gasp* hold hands while discussing which train to take. Miho notes they’ve only spent a few minutes together, so she asks to go to Yakusa with him.
Saiko points out he’ll be working, so it’s impractical (baka) but Miho is fine just going to the station before heading home. Saiko wonders at her “Forwardness.”
Saiko valiantly offers to hold her hand in the meanwhile, which Miho takes as him being “reliable.” Saiko mentions his views on her “forwardness.”
These two kids, I swear.
They ride the train for 40 minutes, holding hands, and having the time of their lives. Once Saiko arrives, they reluctantly break their handhold and Miho teases Saiko with the prospect of kissing the next time they meet.
Saiko almost has a heart attack and wonders how his GF went from not even holding hands to kissing.
She amends her previous statement: it will have to be after their dreams come true. Saiko finally puts the pieces together: she hasn’t changed a bit.
….alright. That was cute.
Back at the Studio, Shujin and Kaya try to figure out what put Saiko in such a good mood. It has to be more than the audition. Kaya decides to ask what’s up. She can tell something has happened, which surprises Saiko. Kaya wants the deets.
Based on Saiko’s goofy expression, she assumes it was a kiss. But when she gets the real deets, she has the appropriate response for anyone older than 10: are you still in elementary school? Shujin gets a chuckle but sees it as progress for these two loveable dingbats.
Saiko is not amused.
At their editorial meeting, Iwase is furious at Miho and vows revenge against her to ensure she never succeeds as a VA. She also plans to have Muto Ashirogi taken out by whatever means necessary. She asks Miura to provide some ideas. Miura has a moment and tells her bluntly that the boys are taking things seriously, too.
Iwase thinks Miura is on their side and remembers he helped with PCP. He’s not taking sides in this. Iwase keeps pestering him for ideas which makes Miura raise his voice: he wants +Natural to succeed as her editor more than anybody else.
But taking revenge and bringing others down isn’t how you go about that. He finally maturely tells her to calm down and compete with them as a writer. Beat them fair and square. Iwase finally seems to register something other than abject rage and asks for ideas because that’s what Hattori would do.
Miura agrees but also struggles to remember where they left off previously. Yikes
On March 7th, the final report comes in with Crow in third, +Natural in fourth, and PCP in fifth. Miura is relieved to see +Natural above PCP but Hattori is concerned that Chapter 3 is only in 5th place. Hattori recognizes the danger the boys are in: Sasaki isn’t counting the first seven chapters and if they’re not competitive by Chapter 25, they will be cut.
I don’t remember the 7 chapters, but that sounds like bullshit.
Miura wonders why Hattori is so upset, given the good scores.
Hattori calls the boys, who are excited to receive the nominally good news. They mention that chapter 2 got second, so they were hoping for third, but fifth is still good. Hattori confirms that the series is popular, and the boys get pumped for the possibility of an anime which alarms Hattori.
Meanwhile, the boys are relieved that they are so popular that they’re guaranteed not to get axed, and the series is pretty much guaranteed to stay on. Fifth place, man.
The results of the March 13th serialization meeting are in Takahama’s series Mikata of Justice is greenlit for Issue 25; Kyotaro Hibiki’s Why?! will start in double issue 26-27, and Fukuda’s Road Racer will start in issue 28. Kiyoshi Knight, Space Yellow Gate, and Whaddaya think about this shot? will all end in issues 21, 24, and 25, respectively.
Further, True Human is at risk of cancellation and John the Catalog God.
Miura is pumped to hear the news about Takahama; Hattori is even more concerned by three new challengers coming against PCP, and Yamahisa is shocked to learn of Shizuka’s possible cancellation.
He then remembers that True Human is circling the drain at 13, and Yoshida points out that the most recent developments – featuring women being…*reads dialogue* – forced into virtual sexual slavery without resistance or issue has been rubbing readers the wrong way.
Oh. Oh no. Oh fuck no.
Yamahisa surprisingly recognizes that this is obviously problematic and, at Yoshida’s insistence, goes to do damage control.
At the studio, Shizuka’s assistants inform Yamahisa that he’s been out at the hostess club and not working. Yamahisa recognizes he dun goofed by introducing the susceptible boy to such pleasures and goes to look for him.
He finds Shizuka in an alley, wasted and hugging a female mannequin. When asked what’s going on, Shizuka explains that he likes talking to girls, and yamahisa recognizes, again, shockingly, that maybe he shouldn’t have introduced Shizuka to something like a hostess club when he’s still a fledgling hikikomori.
He asks if Shizuka did anything for those girls, which Shizuka might’ve, which only upsets him further.
Sixth isn’t going to cut it.
Meanwhile, in genuinely good, not scummy, bullshit news, Takahama thanks the boys for helping him to get serialized. They congratulate him. While they discuss, Takahama sees them as his biggest rival and he’s out to beat them.
Shujin and Saiko are pumped to have more competition and vow to keep ahead of the pack.
At Fukuda’s, Fukuda is dying without an additional assistant and two series to work on, while Yujiro indulges in the joy of Fukuda getting serialized before his series ends.
The following Friday, Hattori visibly freaks out at the results for Chapter 4: sixth place.
Miura picks up the bad mojo and asks Yujiro what’s up. Yujiro explains the additional conditions on it to succeed, which shocks Miura.
Miura confirms the details even though he heard nothing about it at the serialization post-game. Yujiro doesn’t have the specific details; he assumes it’s an unspoken agreement.
Hattori, meanwhile, is desperate to keep PCP running at all costs; he won’t see this series get canceled. He goes to the boy’s studio.
They’re confused about why he came to them directly but pleased with the results. Hattroi drops the bomb: They have to be competitive with +Natural and Crow after six months or they are fucked.
Shujin takes the news about as well as one could hope, but Saiko sees this as the natural response to their boast of their follow-up to Tanto. Shujin sees the reasoning.
Hattori didn’t tell them until now to keep the pressure off, but there is no point in hiding it now. The anime for +Natural begins in April, in addition to several new series. Hattoris’ goal is third place and potentially beat +Natural and Crow: they have to go beast mode on this shit.
I apologize for using beast mode unironically.
The three members of the meta-PCP rub their brain cells together to devise a plan to do this.
At Iwase and Miura’s editorial meeting, Iwase chews Miura out for having no ideas for the next chapter. She continues comparing him to Hatttori, who always had ideas for her. Miura points out – correctly – that they’re not comparable.
Iwase is disappointed that Miura isn’t as fiery as he was the other day and has returned to his compliant mood. She goes for the jugular and asks if Miura even cares, and they’ll slippery slope fallacy into oblivion at this rate. Miura does want her to succeed and provides a reasonable insight that he’s her editor, not her co-writer and she’s going to have to come up with ideas while he guides her.
Iwase continues throwing a hissy asking for ideas and refusing to lose, but Miura is resigned to the probability that Ashirogi will be done in 6 months anyway.
Offscreen, the conditions are explained and Iwase wants to know why she was left out of the loop. Miura also just heard about it and while he’s not taking sides, he thinks it’s totally unfair.
Iwase is alarmed by the prospect of losing her competition
(because she secretly cares) because then she can’t beat her competition fair and square. Miura’s confused because of her stated goal of beating Ashirogi before realizing that Iwase likes the competition with Shujin.
Iwase jumps into Tsundere mode and shuts that shit down immediately. Shujin must be there for her to dominate. That’s all.
Meanwhile, Miura is confident PCP is done because he consulted Manga-Spirit Medium Nizuma, and Nizuma said at the current pace, PCP will not be able to beat him. Because Nizuma is the One Punch Man of manga predictions, it’s basically a given.
Iwase demands Miura call Shujin and give her the phone.
On the other end, Shujin is surprised to get the call and even more shocked when it’s from Iwase, who apologizes for wanting to take any means necessary to beat Shujin. Now she’ll just beat him fair and square with her own abilities. Shujin is lost because he doesn’t have the omniscience of the audience.
She explains that Eiji’s prediction of DOOOOM is coming for them and they have to step it up. Iwase gives them the old college ganbatte and now that they know Eiji thinks they’re worm food – figuratively – they have no excuse not to push themselves to greater heights.
With that, the chapter concludes.
Middle and Ultimate Reaction
Miura Finally Gets a Spine
This was a fattie, as these chapters always are, but it was also quite a plot-heavy chapter on all fronts; there was so much going on here that it is probably worth just going character by character, given just how much is going on.
First up, I’m going to start with Miura since he was one of the more surprising characters in this whole thing. It seems like he is finally coming to accept his role as Iwase’s editor and making a good-faith effort to exert his authority over her.
I mean, he was also used pretty blatantly as a vehicle for the plot this chapter. Still, I will *ahem* willingly overlook that because it’s nice to see Miura have something resembling a spine instead of acting like the invertebrate he’s been acting like around Iwase.
Too mean? Probably, whatever; Miura’s not my favorite character.
But Miura does make a very important point about the value of beating someone professionally rather than personally and not confusing the two. A fact which Iwase is *thankfully* starting to recognize. If Miura was more regularly capable of this forceful behavior I’d be much less inclined to find him totally obnoxious especially when it’s a baller move like setting appropriate boundaries with his ward.
The point that one should defeat someone with one’s skill rather than getting petty revenge is an important point and one that’s a key feature of shonen: you have to win on your own terms, but you still have to play by the rules. It’s frustrating to internalize that, but you gotta man.
Because often, the desire to personally destroy someone in your field is just rampant insecurity rather than a valid desire to win. At least for me.
Of course, Miura immediately backpedals when Iwase responds positively, which, I’ll pretend to give him a pass on because I do that shit myself, and it’s mad frustrating but it is a realistic thing to do.
That said, I do love that Miura pointed out explicitly that it’s not his job to write Iwase’s manga for her; it’s his job to edit her writing. That’s such a fine distinction but one that’s so important to recognize. If anything, it’s a flaw of Hattori’s that he fed Iwase so many ideas and allowed her writing not to be the best possible writing it could be.
I hope Miura becomes less of a blob, but this’ll do for now.
As for Hattori
Dude is stressing me out
God, yeah, I feel for Hattori, these extra constraints are legitimate bullshit and he is embodying my current stress about this arc. As far as ticking time bombs go narratively, the idea of having extra constraints on quality is uh…questionable. Still, we’re almost 100 chapters into a story about writing a manga, so I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt coming up with stakes raising things.
That said, Hattori is stepping up, as usual, and it makes me happy to see how dedicated he is to making the boys the best they can possibly be, and have utter faith in their new series to the point where he’s going so hard to keep it afloat.
I’m not sure, however, that he should have kept them in the dark for so long. It probably would not have helped them to know immediately that they’re in danger of cancellation so early, but also, it hurts to see them so excited at something which could easily vanish.
I mean, it won’t – rule of threes, narrative machinery being obvious, and all that – but it does suck to see the boy’s so happy about their actual, legitimate success and not getting to enjoy it.
Seeing them still counting their chickens before they hatch is also stressful. But it’s also realistic for them to be so excited.
Blegh, this is a shit sandwich of a situation, but it’s good to see them pushing through.
Speaking of pushing through
One Step Forward
I’m weirdly relieved to see that the series has acknowledged just how goofy and chaste Saiko and Miho’s relationship is. At this point it’s becoming a legitimately funny gag seeing how much of a snail’s pace they’re moving with their relationship.
Buuuutttt it’s also fucking adorable to see them be so cute. And watching Miho fuck with Saiko was absolutely teehee worthy. Boy’s down so bad and it’s fun to watch.
Honestly, I’d love it if they could achieve their dreams already if only so we could move forward and watch their relationship actually, you know, blossom because it’s been so delightful when they are actually acting like a couple because they are good for each other and it is, broadly speaking, a healthy relationship.
But that’s also the impetus for the story to move forward, so of course, it’s not going to happen until the very end of the story.
Speaking of goddamn it.
Ok, I know Ohba and Obata are a duo who are unafraid to do things that are morally questionable and genuinely dark – it’s kinda their whole bread and butter – but this was a bit much, even by their standards at least in the context of this world.
Nakai’s turn was dark as fuck, for sure, but seeing Shizuka hit rock bottom – and particularly hard too – was simultaneously heartbreaking and frustrating.
I’m back on the hate train for Yamahisa, too, for this because as much as I appreciate his efforts to socialize Shizuka in a healthy way, that hostess club was a terrible idea.
If the dude doesn’t understand how to deal with PEOPLE, how the hell can he be expected to deal with the extra challenge of understanding the nuances of dealing with women who are paid to make you feel good? There is so much unspoken context that you need to go into with eyes wide open to engage with that stuff in a remotely healthy way.
That image of Shizuka drunkenly hugging a mannequin was so heartbreaking that I had to pause to take it in. That is some incel pipeline shit right there.
Goddamn, it Yamahisa.
All that aside, I’m moderately amused that the fictional readers are so bothered by the content of Shizuka’s heel turn that he’s dropping in popularity.
And to be pretty mean, as much as I love anime and manga, and a healthy portion of anime fans are normal, good people, I struggle to believe that this particular brand of misogyny would eat as much shit as the series is suggesting. Having seen the response to Jump not releasing two chapters of Ayakashi Triangle because it was bordering on C*** P***, at least in the West, the idea that Jump readers would take gumption with alien sex slave borders on comical.
Not to mention everyone overlooking the overt problems with Made in Abyss, well, color me shocked.
But I digress; in good news
Takahama, and Fukuda
Don’t get me wrong about this chapter, I am thriving right now because the conflict is centered on manga making, and one of the thrills of this chapter was the buildup of Fukuda and Takahama getting their own new series.
Having recently come off a spate of severe overwork, I got a major chuckle watching Fukuda dying to finish Kiyoshi Knight and working on his new series simultaneously.
But I’m really glad to see Takahama back in the game. I feel this sense of renewal – not only for the boys – but for everybody else is ripe for new conflicts to emerge and for the pressure to increase on the boys in a way that will force them to greater heights. Because once you get several named characters in competition, the stakes automatically get raised.
And then there’s Iwase.
Iwase finally getting that good character development
I am fucking thrilled – THRILLED – that Iwase finally gets some real development with Shujin that has nothing to do with her feelings of being jilted. I am breathing in that sweet, sweet character development oxygen unrelated to romance and relishing. Y’all, it feels so goddamn good.
Miura finally got through to her, but I needed Iwase to recognize her unhealthy behavior and do something about it because she has been one of the most potentially interesting characters in the series if properly utilized.
And she’s best as Shujin’s rival, which is what she’s doing now. A friendly, more than romantic relationship based on mutual respect and a desire to win.
I don’t even mind that she’s acting like a classic Tsundere to do it. The fact that she recognized that she enjoys the thrill of the fight – and a strong desire to win – was so refreshing after the continuous stream of bullshit she’s been putting up for the last several chapters.
And that call was exciting. Because it’s leading to something. Things are building on all fronts, and I am here for it.
Do I know where it’s going to go? No. And that’s what’s exciting.
I want to see what happens next,
And that’s the best thing I can hope for in a series.
Until next time,