Hey there fren, and welcome to my read-through of Chapter 95: Every Night and Collaboration, in which I gush a lot, about how great this chapter is.
If you’re not caught up, please use this sweet index here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter, so read easy.
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Every Night and Collaboration Summary
Lighting Nizuma’s Fires
Picking up from the previous chapter, Eiji declares that at the current rate, PCP will surpass +Natural and Crow, much to Yujiro’s alarm. Nizuma sees the change in style and how much better it looks. Yujiro asks if that’s why Eiji revised his chapter at the last minute: Yep, he was inspired by PCP’s eighth chapter.
While Yujiro remains anxious, Eiji is certain that he will push Ashirogi to the next plane of existence once his next chapter comes out. At that moment, the doorbell rings, and Yujiro wonders who is calling: no one Eiji is expecting.
Yujiro asks why she’s there. She explains she came to discuss +Natural. Alone. Nizuma banishes Yujiro, which sets off all sorts of alarm bells on Yujiro’s part.
While Yujiro is pretty sure they’re just collaborating – given Eiji’s…well, everything – he’s still concerned about Iwase being here alone. Yujiro warns Eiji to get his final draft in by Tuesday since he’s late for a change. Eiji gets lost in his own world while Iwase watches quietly.
Yujiro then remembers that Iwase hit on Hattori, resulting in the editors’ change-up. Yujiro wonders if Nizuma’s her new object of affection, although he also, surprisingly, realizes he may be reading into things, a skosh.
Surprising for this series. At least.
The Limits of Art
Shujin’s thrilled with the competitiveness of chapter 8, which was only six votes behind +Natural, although they were 50 votes away from Crow. He’s certain they’ll win with Chapters 9 and 10, which are the best. Saiko sees himself as better than Eiji in realism, but still not at his level. He wonders if exaggeration is key for the next phase of their growth.
Shujin is thrilled with Saiko’s growth as an artist, but Saiko downplays it as referencing other manga, so it’s basically just copying. He needs to be able to draw in his own “Natural Style” and also points out there are no rules in art which is the joy of it.
Meanwhile, Iwase watches Nizuma from behind as he works on Crow. She sees he’s really taking his time with the art. He is, for a change. She asks about +Natural’s chances, all things considered, specifically if it’ll lose to PCP. It will, at this rate.
Iwase, knowing Eiji’s prediction skills are broken, gets concerned before Eiji assures her that the Anime airing will give the series a bump, so it’ll be a close thing. Eiji also points out the art change, but that with Crow’s most recent chapter, he is sure to beat his rivals.
It’s so wholesome.
On April 15th, the early results come in and as Eiji Predicts, PCP is above +Natural, coming in at 4th, to +Natural’s 5th. While Miura’s concerned, Hattori is less certain. The anime will give it a boost, no matter what.
At 6:30 PM, the anime airs, and the assistants admire the beautiful animation, proclaiming it even superior to the manga and appealing to children. Saiko, Shujin, and Kaya are blown away. Saiko, in particular, thinks of how Miho could have been in this and vows to get an anime for PCP for her sake.
Nothing Sketchy to See Here
At Eiji Co. Ltd, Yujiro thinks Eiji is on point – as usual – but wants him to stick to the approved storyboards moving forward; no more surprise pages. Eiji agrees to it. At the same moment, Iwase rings the bell and Yujiro asks if she visits regularly: every night.
Yujiro tries to straddle the line of “Technically, that’s ok, but also this is definitely 100% not even remotely a little ok” when asking WHY she’s coming over late at night but Eiji tells him not to worry because he’s a kid at heart. He’s a shonen mangaka.
Yujiro is mollified a bit by that but remains concerned anyway. Iwase, meanwhile, is interested in her standing relative to Ashirogi. Eiji simply confirms that he was right again.
Miura, upon hearing the news, has a panic attack at the idea of the two “Living Together,” which elicits confusion from their coworkers. Yujiro shuts him up.
Miura quiets down and expresses confusion….and jealousy (Jesus Miura, come on) at them spending so much time together before realizing that this might not be a good thing.
Yujiro, relieved that Miura was unaware, reminds him they’re *technically* adults but that it could interfere with their work, so Miura has to run interference and play the good editor. Miura points out that Iwase barely listens to him anyway.
I’m so fucking sad now.
Hattori observes Miura and Yujiro tussling over going to Eiji Co. to hash it out and assumes Iwase is moving on to Nizuma, much to his concern. He switches focus back to his own issues, though.
At Eiji Co. Ltd (TM), Iwase sits on the floor while Eiji draws in the creepiest thing I’ve seen in a minute, and Iwase asks if he told them about her persuasion efforts.
Miura freaks out even more and criticizes himself for being totally fucking oblivious. The two try to start an “Adult” conversation.
Hattori returns to the studio with copies of Issue 24 and emphasizes the new chapter of Crow. Saiko takes a look.
The art is gorgeous, detailed, and totally without dialogue. Telling a story with art alone. Hattori sees that Nizuma saw Ashirogi’s gamble and upped the ante. Saiko realizes that’s when Iwase gave them her tip and pieces together the story. Eiji is baiting him to do better.
Shujin points out that this will cost him votes, and Hattori confirms that it’s extremely difficult to tell a story silently, so it might read as bland to the average consumer. It is likely to affect their ranking. Saiko, however, is shocked that Eiji would go so far just to provoke Saiko to do better.
Saiko curses at Eiji, curb-stomping him – figuratively – with his art. He vows to do better and do whatever it takes to win. Shujin points out PCP isn’t a battle manga. But Saiko means more generally: Eiji’s art is miles ahead of his.
Despite the boys‘ general wishes, Hattori brings up the early results: a slight lead over +Natural, likely to evaporate in the final due to the anime airing. Shujin wonders whether they only have to overtake one series to be safe. Still, Hattori thinks the editor-in-chief will be the ultimate arbiter of this decision. Crow will be impossible to beat, so they should focus on getting ahead of +Natural.
On April 18th, the final results arrive, and Miura is relieved to find +Natural in 4th place. Hattori, while disappointed, immediately strategizes: given the brand new anime for +Natural and the dialogue-less chapter of Crow and Iwase’s apparent obsession with Nizuma, now is the time to strike hard, fast, and merciless.
The next week everyone is shocked to learn that Crow’s silent chapter did even better than its usual haul. Even though you’d think it’d do poorly, readers were impressed by Nizuma pulling it off. Saiko has an existential crisis at the news, which prompts Hattori to bring up the silver lining:
+Natural while still retaining its lead, is only nine votes ahead of PCP. At the current rate, PCP is likely to do better over time, not worse. Three new series will start next week, but for Chapter 15, PCP is getting the color and cover pages for that issue. Hattori tells them to seize that moment to overtake +Natural and defeat it.
Hattori also takes a moment to be le sneaky and mention – off the record – Iwase and Nizuma’s recent liaisons on the assumption they want to start a relationship, sending both of the boys into total shock.
Shujin and Hattori discuss how quickly she seems to be bouncing from man to man, which even Hattori finds disconcerting. Shujin chalks it up to their rivalry: Shujin mostly correctly assumes that Iwase feels slighted by Shujin’s marriage and Saiko’s relationship, but her pride would not allow her to date anyone less than a genius.
Hattori makes the same connection and gives them the order to fuck Iwase’s shit up while she’s distracted. In so many words. They will put all their effort into making Issue 30 the bestest; Saiko will give up his vacation to make the art the absolute best.
They’re doing what?!
Sasaki confronts Miura and Yujiro on the situation with Nizuma and Iwase, who have explained that they’ve agreed to something unspecified. Yoshida and Yamahisa speculate on the amorous connection and Yamahisa is predictably scummy, but Yoshida is more circumspect.
Yujiro asks if Sasaki wants them to stop it. Sasaki wants to know if Nizuma is alright with it, more than anything. They both explain that while Iwase forced it on him, he’s pretty excited about “it” now.
Sasaki reasons that given Nizuma’s greater responsibility, he’s ok with “it” as long as it was agreed to mutually. Miura is grateful and lets Sasaki know they wish to continue.
On April 28th, three new series premiere in Jump. Takahama is first with Mikata of Justice, a story about a detective, prosecutor, and female attorney who engage in legal battles, which is novel for Shonen manga. The second is “Why?!” by Kyotaro Hibiki about a boy named Gon who wants to be the king of quizzes.
Their first chapters do respectably well, hitting third place in the rankings; Crow gets 4th, +Natural comes in fifth, and PCP gets sixth. But the third new series, Road Racer Giri by Shinta Fukuda makes it all the way to the top of the pops thanks in part to its wild success as a one-shot. Fukuda is thrilled.
The boys admire Fukuda and Takahama’s works, noting that their rivals also have momentum, keeping parity with their rankings. New threats. Meanwhile, “Why?!” is already down to 11th place. Saiko feels myopic about only wanting to beat Eiji, but Shujin reminds him Takahama and Fukuda were never part of the agreement. Besides, they’ve already turned in the color pages, so there’s no time to think about the past.
However, when the color page previews arrive, Hattori rushes to the office in frustration: Eiji and Iwase tricked them: They weren’t trying to hook up.
They were working on a cross-over between +Natural and Crow. And given their competition, it’s extremely well thought-out. The boys are in major danger.
On that cliffhanger, the chapter concludes.
Every Night and Collaboration Reaction
Panel of the Week
Briefly Reintroducing the long dead segment I gave up on because it was too much additional work; this week, we were absolutely spoiled for good panels. But obviously, this panel is the winner.
Firstly, it’s a major flex by Eiji, but it’s an even bigger flex by Obata. To be able to convincingly portray great art, by another artist in another manga, in a style reminiscent of D.Gray Man, implying an entirely different story, with no dialogue, and make it clear what’s going on in context of the scene we’re reading.
That is some next level shit.
It also helps that the art is clearly Obata going as hard as he possibly can so it looks beautiful. This is the kind of art you save for double page spreads where you have those emotionally potent images without dialogue. Something Bakuman is usually absent of.
I also love the design of the weird thing that looks like a world, but could be an angel, or akuma, or whatever the fuck it is. The action lines, the use of leading lines to draw the eye.
Speaking of almost perfect…
I LOVED THIS CHAPTER
Ok, so this be among my favorite chapters – if not my favorite chapters – of Bakuman to date. There have been some major contenders – like Chapter 30’s meta-kishoutenketsu, and Chapter 81 where the boys stalk Hattori, but this is probably my favorite because it manages to combine all the series’ major strengths while also purely focusing on the strongest central relationships of the story: the rivals.
We’ve gone over the importance of the rival dynamic ad nauseam in this read-through, so we won’t go over it again other than to point out that the chief value of a rival character is that, due to the structure of the relationship, battles between rivals are going to be the most emotionally potent, and the sequences where you often find the characters pulling out all the rhetorical and narrative stops to accomplish their goals.
There is a reason why Kishimoto saved Sasuke v. Naruto as the series’ final, most consequential battle. It’s why the fights between Deku and Bakugo are the most satisfying in MHA, and ultimately, when done right, will transcend the series’ limits to make something truly special.
And that’s exactly what this chapter accomplished but with manga.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty.
It’s Eiji’s world and we’re all living in it
Obviously, as a battle between Rivals that has been foreshadowed in chapter 6, Eiji – and also Iwase to a lesser extent – Eiji takes center stage in this chapter from pretty much every narrative level.
The antagonist always drives a story forward. And Eiji – in his semi-antagonistic role – is the chess master of this fight. From his predictions, which have become so famous for always being correct that Ohba felt compelled to lampshade them by Miura, to his liaisons with Iwase, to his lateness, which is unusual for him, Eiji is pushing everyone hard.
But it is, of course, a reflexive thing. The boys are fighting equally hard, and Hattori, as their advocate, is doing everything in his power to ensure they can leverage any bit of information to their advantage.
Of course, Eiji also has a splash of L from Death Note – obvs – so it should be no surprise that he’s pulling several 4D chess moves to counter the boys’ offensive.
In particular, the silent chapter – which works on both a meta-fictive and in-universe level – is peak as a 4D chess move because, and this is important, it’s plausible yet unexpected.
And that’s one of the beauties of this chapter.
Unlike the battle between L and Light, which often gets so convoluted it becomes actively annoying for all parties, these moves have clear character motivations from all involved parties. It is perfectly within Eiji’s character to reinvent the game through his will power and manga-making credentials, and he’s indifferent to public opinion, which means that while he might be aware of how Iwase’s presence in his studio might read, he is perfectly comfortable not correcting the record or altering public perception.
And while that may be because he’s playing 4D chess, it is equally plausible that he just doesn’t care, which makes the fact that he outfoxes Ashirogi so handily with it even more impressive. He makes it look like he’s not trying.
But, and this is also essential, he’s not being a dick. He’s playing a game. It’s existential, but it’s not dickish. He’s innovating his skills.
That’s like, crack, for me, man. Or maybe PCP given the series we’re discussing.
That joke was in poor taste.
Speaking of Poor Taste
I didn’t mind Iwase’s shenanigans in this chapter
While I found the frame of the “oh shit, do dey be fucking?” to be a little too cute in its setup and simultaneously scummy, I don’t mind it for several reasons.
First: while Editors and Mangaka dating is a problem because there is an explicit power dynamic in which the Editor is more powerful than the mangaka and can exert influence in harmful ways, co-workers who are on the same plane in terms of power dynamics dating is not inherently a problem (unless there are rules against it at one’s company). But theoretically, Iwase and Nizuma could have no problem dating – as the series itself grudgingly admits.
It’s still a fucking awful idea, but, y’know, it’s technically fine.
But given that Iwase’s grumpy because she can’t date Shujin, I’m inclined not to be annoyed by the implied skeeviness of it. Especially since Iwase is initiating and Nizuma is, at best, indifferent.
That said, I find the gossip surrounding it in more poor taste than their behavior. Mostly has been taking pot-shots at its own chastity lately, and although the behavior is somewhat sketchy, given Iwase and Nizuma’s relationship as functional equals, Yujiro’s concerns read less as genuine interest for the emotional well-being of his mangaka and more an act of petty self-preservation. I’d be more on board if it his mangaka were his first concern.
Although, I will say, given how hilariously gossipy this fictional Jump office is, it does not surprise me that this tea is being spilled.
That is to say; this chapter does kinda make a mountain of a molehill. Although the way it’s handled as part of the climax is the reason I’m inclined to give it a pass rather than actively rail against another element of Ohba’s problematic depictions of women and romance.
Also, Nizuma is in the vein of Luffy and Goku because he’s pure at heart and in love with
adventure manga, so he comes off as asexual under normal circumstances.
But even though it was a bit manufactured, I also don’t give a single solitary shit because
Cross over baby and New Challengers.
That twist was legit great. I loved it. The bait and switch of something romantic with something manga is a massive relief. Also, it’s kind of a brilliant idea. And one that has plenty of precedent in Jump already. Gintama and Sket Dance, Dragon Ball and One Piece, Toriko, and One Piece. Crossovers are a lot of fun and can give a little extra zhuzh for a series.
So to see it weaponized this way? *Chef’s kiss*
But even more than that, it will force the boys to step up past Saiko’s art and Shujin’s storytelling. It demands a response. This means that the boys will have to overcome this new attack with something equally inventive and compelling.
Honestly, I think this would be equally interesting without the time bomb element of potential cancellation because it’s so fresh to see art as a battlefield, and the unique means by which people overcome each other that doesn’t involve fists. But I’ll let it slide because it’s just so damn fun.
Plus, on a meta-textual level, Obata is pushing his art to the limit for these chapters, which gives that zhuzh even more..zhuzh. Or something. Fuck. I don’t know. That word’s lost all meaning.
The je ne sais quoi, this chapter’s got it.
And even better, the fact that we have additional challengers compromising the situation with Fukuda and Takahama finally joining the fray significantly means that, even if the boys beat Eiji and Iwase, they’re far from out of the woods yet.
And given the current nature of the story, it’s safe to assume that Racer and Mikata of Justice will be threats to the boys. But how that pans out remains to be seen.
God, I fucking love it. It’s just so delightful to see everyone firing on all cylinders.
What makes it equally exciting is that this mini-arc that Ohba excels at is hitting its crisis point, the moment where we transition from set-up to pay off.
And I gotta tell you, the payoff so far has been excellent.
I’m fucking pumped for next week.
Until next time,