In Bitter Tears and Happy Tears, We Hit the Beautiful Summit, and Bakuman Peaks (Chapter 99)

Hiya guys, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 99: Bitter Tears and Happy Tears in which I live in the afterglow.

If you’re not caught up, please use this handy-dandy index here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter.

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Bitter Tears and Happy Tears Summary

And the Winner is…

The final report comes in while Saiko reminds us of the “stakes” of being cut if they can’t surpass Nizuma or Iwase.

Hattori gives them the good news: they surpassed +Natural, which elicits delighted cheers and then the “bad” news. They were only two votes away from beating Crow. Dayummm.

Saiko wants to talk to Hattori and asks about whether PCP will live because of the initial conditions. Hattori mentions that even though they didn’t beat both series, they did beat one series by Eiji within 25 chapters.

While he celebrates, Sasaki stalks behind him and kills the vibe immediately by addressing him. Sasaki asks to speak to the boys. Saiko has a hilarious panic attack when Sasaki is put on the line.

The boys thank him for everything, while Sasaki apologizes for his lack of faith in the boys. He also apologizes for his harshness. They give him a pass: they assumed it was a motivational ploy.

After a brief silence, he congratulates them: the series is top-rated, and it would be foolish to cancel it. He congratulates the boys, Hattori and even Miura, for doing a job well done. He ends with a note: Keep supporting Jump with PCP from now on.

He returns the phone to Hattori.

The Dream Rival Team

Shujin asks how much they beat +Natural: it was a lot. +Natural fell to sixth place overall. Surprised, Shujin asks how that happened.

Takahama’s Mikata of Justice beat it by 11 votes, at 172, to +Natural’s 161. Roadracer Giri came in at 156 votes and seventh place. Then there’s a significant drop-off after that. Otter, True Human, Scoutman Josu, and Time of Greenery. After that, the seven below those are neck and neck at about 100 votes each.

Ironically, the ongoing crossover between Crow and +Natural is harming them. That said, they shouldn’t be complacent as they’ll probably rebound from this soon enough, even if PCP is no longer a cancellation risk. Shujin agrees.

Bitter Tears and Happy Tears: Mikata of Justice, Road Racer Giri

Shujin and Saiko express genuine relief that their livelihoods are no longer on the line. Saiko and Shujin hype each other up as the responsible party for their success before both collectively recognize that they put a lot of effort together. But, they don’t attribute PCP’s success to themselves alone.

Aww yiss, apportioning credit evenly bb.

Their rivals are as responsible for their success, specifically Mikata and Racer, who siphoned votes away from +Natural.

Shujin is hyped up at the danger their rivals pose: if they could beat +Natrual, they’re a threat to PCP as well. The boys recommit to doing their best to stay at the top no matter what chapter of an arc they’re in.

In even better news, PCP’s first volume sold out at all bookstores (dayum), but that’s partially because they printed fewer copies than Detective Trap’s first run, so it’d be bad if they didn’t sell out.

Womp womp.

Saiko has other things on his mind, related to some potential dreams that are Miho shaped.

Meanwhile with the rivals

At Takahama’s studio, his assistants observe Mikata of Justice’s success: they already have a second round of color pages within 15 chapters. Very impressive. Takahama isn’t swayed: four series beat him this week.

The assistants are hyped at getting fifth and ask if Takahama is going to another court proceeding. He will be in court, so he wants the assistants to finish up. By his estimation, Takahama has a long way to go: Beating Ashirogi.

At Fukuda’s, his chaotic energy reigns. He’s furious that he didn’t even make the top three. He thinks it’s just like Kiyoshi, and nothing is different. Fukuda resolves to come up with something cool – like a new bike trick or something crazy. He plans to win. Yasuoka is down like a clown, charlie brown.

The next day, MIura breaks the bad news to Iwase: they only got sixth, but she’s more concerned about Ashirogi’s Takagi’s rank. Fourth place.

Miura explains that crossovers tend to depreciate over time once the initial spark of surprise has passed. He suggests they stop using Crow before noticing Iwase isn’t listening.

Iwase explains that PCP can only win through story resolutions, and she’ll beat them again soon, a contented smile on her face.

Miura is relieved that she’s taking it so well. He expected she’d hit a slump; contrary to that, she’s more motivated to win than ever. Their meeting concludes, and Miura asks her to call once she finishes the latest chapter.

Bitter Tears and Happy Tears: Iwase shedding both bitter and happy tears for Shujin

Iwase is quiet, so Miura asks what’s wrong, but Iwase wants to sit and “think about how she’ll beat Ashirogi and become number 1”. Miura, either as dense as a neutron star or perfectly reading the situation, leaves her by herself.

As the waitress asks her for a refill, Iwase bursts into tears.

Aw

A Novel Adaptation and Drama?

Meanwhile, Hattori gets some great news from Sasaki: offers for a novel adaptation and a drama CD. Sasaki kept it to himself, given their precarious status, but the rights department is working on both adaptations. Sasaki still confirms the novelist’s bona fides, but Hattori can tell the boys the good news. Sasaki wants their approval and, if so, to get any specific requests.

Hattori, confident in their enthusiastic response, jumps to let them know. The boys are confused – Saiko’s not done with the final draft – but Hattori explains that he’s coming down to give them some good news.

Shujin presumes it’s possibly an anime, but Saiko thinks it’s too early for that. Shujin points out that +Natural got a request for an anime immediately. Their work is more popular than +Natural. Saiko salivates at the possibility of having a normal relationship with his girlfriend anime.

Shujin’s thrilled to hear about the Drama CD, but Saiko is slightly more disappointed at the news. Hattori notices Saiko’s diminished enthusiasm. Saiko explains that Crow, +Natural, and Otter never got a drama CD but jumped straight to an Anime.

Hattori explains that the content of PCP makes it more suitable for a drama CD, and this attention in six months is still fantastic. Saiko is still happy about the news and wants it to happen.

Hattori tells them that the drama CD wants to make an original story but wants the boy’s input on any specific requests. Saiko immediately sees an opening and asks if he can get anyone specific as the voice actress for Mai Annojo.

Bitter Tears and Happy Tears: Kaya's excitement

Hattori lets them know that that’s the kind of stuff he’s looking for and to be as specific as they’d like. Does Saiko have anyone in mind?

Saiko wonders if Miho voices for the drama CD if she could later join the anime. Hattori is concerned about the anime talk, but Saiko backtracks: he knows it’s early for that.

Hattori confirms that if she’s chosen for the drama CD and it’s successful, then she’ll likely be the top candidate, and if she’s specifically requested, she’ll be moved to the top of the pile for the role. Shujin realizes it was a good call stopping her from doing +Natural.

Hattori asks who it is, and Saiko, with absolutely zero chill, names Azuki. Hattori doesn’t know her but he’s sure her availability will be open enough for her to be involved.

Shujin plays Seiyuu’s wingman and explains she’s popular right now but that she’s still available and got hordes of fans as well.

Nice.

Hattori is surprised and offers to put a word in, but he can’t promise anything.

Saiko meanwhile contemplates how to turn PCP into an anime to guarantee that Miho will get up in there.

When asked about anything else, the boys don’t have anything specific and ask for more time to think. Hattori reminds them they’ll have to go over the rough draft for the CDs once the story is ready.

Kaya’s Excitement

The next day, Kaya flips out at the news about the Drama CD and Miho’s role as Mai. Shujin tries to keep her expectations measured: it’s only a drama CD, and it’ll take 3 or 4 months before it gets moving. Shujin tells Kaya to keep it on the DL for now. Kaya doesn’t understand, so Shujin clarifies that it’s not guaranteed, and they also want to surprise her.

Kaya blames Shujin for telling her cause she wants to spill – awww – and Shujin reminds Kaya that the agency will tell Miho about it, so keep quiet.

Kaya continues to celebrate – adorably – the fact that Miho’s going to voice an Ashirogi character and asks Saiko if that means their dreams have been achieved.

No. It’s not an anime.

Saiko explains their dream is to be in an anime together. She won’t accept that, and neither will he. Kaya comes back to earth to make the – accurate – point that the two dingbats should just be together already.

Check the chapter count. Nope. Not yet.

Shujin stays optimistic: if she gets the role, she’ll likely be Mai in the anime adaptation. Kaya’s thrilled by that news, and Shujin will make sure PCP gets an anime adaptation.

Kaya then asks when it will happen, to which Shujin doesn’t actually have an answer. He assumes two years is a reasonable timeline for it to come out. Kaya points out that at that point, Miho and Saiko will be 22 years old, a little early for marriage. Saiko points out – accurately – that Kaya got hitched at 19. A fact which Kaya, in her good humor, forgot, much to Shujin’s annoyance.

Miho’s Response

Ten days later, Miho gets the offer from her manager, who asks if she knows the property. He mentions the artists specifically requested her. She immediately agrees to do it, tears in her eyes.

D’awwwwwwww

Her enthusiasm confuses the manager since it’s a one-episode Drama CD and not an anime. She asks abotu the audition: no audition, her manager still confused.

She goes home, thrilled to be Mai Annojo in PCP by Muto Ashirogi. Her sister and mother asks why she’s in such good spirits, which she bats off and turns to her room to text Saiko.

She texts Saiko an adorable text message as if he didn’t request her. And they have a cute little text flirt sesh over the phone while Orihara and Shiratori wonder what’s got Saiko in such a good mood.

It’s the drama CD. duh.

They celebrate the good news. Moriya, however, is a little more unsure about it. Shiratori is irritated by Moriya’s attitude. But Moriya is nevertheless pleased, although he expresses it in a truly obnoxious way. Saiko is sure it’ll be great, and he gets to sketching Mai Annojo.

Meanwhile, at Shueisha, Sasaki is annoyed by the haste with which something has dropped into his lap.

Namely, two offers for a PCP anime.

Waaaaaattttt.

With that, the chapter concludes.

Bitter Tears and Happy Tears: Anime offers?

Bitter Tears and Happy Tears Reaction

Do you hear that?

Listen closely. It’s the sound of me enjoying this excellent resolution to this arc and reveling in that psychedelic afterglow of having finished that good shit. Man. Peace and love to my fellow man. I am riding high, baby.

Because that, my friends, was a good-ass resolution.

Now, that cliffhanger at the end was….a cocktease, and *checks the number of remaining chapters* either a total lie or a bait and switch. But man, we’re getting closer. We’re getting closer baybee. And I is excite. I haz excitement.

Because Saiko will finally date his girlfriend in a way that isn’t so goddamn weird and dysfunctional.

I kid, I kid (kinda), but also, this was just a rewarding chapter, but let’s start with the most critical moment, even if it is only a small part of the chapter.

Chapter Title

As we’ve seen, all the chapter titles – aside from their dualist gimmick – often refer to multiple thematic moments in a chapter. You can get a pretty good sense of where the story will go based on the title, although it is not perfect.

However, in this chapter, only one person cries at all. And that is Iwase.*

I really, really, really, really, really loved that sequence with Iwase’s tears because it captures the beauty of the rival dynamic with a single poetic panel of a girl crying.

Man, that sounds almost fetishistic toward girls tears. I don’t mean it like that.

Rather, I want to illustrate that her devastation has so many layers. On the one hand, she’s devastated by her loss to Shujin. And that makes sense, even though she’s very successful by almost every concieavable metric, the only metric matters is her competition with Shujin. She wants to win against him more than anything. She’s genuinely heartbroken that she lost, even though she put in her best effort.

But simultaneously, she’s relieved. She’s happy even because her competition with Shujin gets to continue – at least to some degree – and she has some confirmation that the game isn’t over.

Iwase really came in with the clutch this whole arc. And seeing her be the thematic capstone and resolution to it is just *chef’s kiss*.

But more than that, even though it’s such a small thing, I really felt Iawse’s tears at that moment. It gets me a little teary. Because whenever I feel relief, I often cry. I just let loose, and all I’ve been holding on to come out in a current. So to see Iwase having a similar reaction, albeit, flecked with other emotions, is very emotionally satisfying.

But onto the other elements

* Miho also cries happy tears, but this point is nice anyway. Eat me.

Bittersweet resolution

On the one hand, I’m thrilled by how everything was resolved. I especially love the fact that it wasn’t just PCP but the success of Fukuda and Takahama as major contributors to the success that Ashirogi gets to revel in by – in true Bakuman fashion – siphoning off votes incrementally to squeak a minor victor over +Natural.

But as with Iwase’s crossover, I know that the next arc is unlikely to be nearly as satisfying emotionally. Because rival battles, as satisfying as they are, only work in concentrated doses. After a certain point, they hit a point of diminishing returns because, as with any narrative beat, they lose their savor if they go on too long.

But man, I really don’t know how you can follow up something as thrilling as this area and have it be as compelling. I know it can be done. And I have every confidence in Ohba and Obata here, but it’s really going to be a challenge to do successfully.

I did like being reminded that Takahama and Fukuda exist, though. Throughout this arc, they’ve been on the backburner to the more obviously satisfying and obvious conflict of Iwaase vs. Shujin, but it was a rare treat to see them. I love, too, that Takahama is taking everything he learned and going above and beyond with it in his own way. It was also good to see that Obat hasn’t stopped dipping into different art styles to convey the characters, as seen in the brief panels of Road Racer and Mikata of Justice.

But I don’t know how much of a role they’ll play going forward. Obviously, more seeds have been planted for future arcs – the new assistants feel a little more pregnant than Oirhara – and we’re seeing the dangled anime offer at the end of this chapter, which I don’t believe is going to happen.

Which brings me toooo

Drama CDs and Sasaki

I feel very vindicated in the fact that I called out the fact that Sasaki was also being petty with his competition. It was pretty obvious once they shifted the goalposts from both Iwase and Eiji to just Iwase that they weren’t going to have everything resolved here, but it was also a neat way to give Sasaki and out for keeping PCP on board.

I admired the mea culpa call from Saasaki too. He’s demonstrated consistently that he’s a good editor-in-chief, even when his decisions are frustrating, but it’s also a good reminder that he’s human and makes mistakes. Which is something that gives him a nice bit o texture relative to the mangaka, who have gotten far richer characterization with their flaws in mind.

I don’t even mind that the way it ends is a bit of an anti-climax on their cancellation, especially with the more emotionally resonant parts featuring Iwase. But whatever.

But regardless, it is exhilarating to see the guys moving forward tangibly.

We’ve now crossed over to a part in the manga where it can really go either way, quality-wise. I’m hopeful because this manga has been consistently good. But we’re at a resolution point where things can really start to fall apart. And that’s because we’ve resolved one of the biggest struggles in the story.

The boys finally have a successful manga. And that means they might get an anime.

But, there are still 77 chapters left. So that means there are at least 7 different mini-conflicts that have to happen before Miho and Saiko can tie the knot.

And Honestly, I can only think of a few potential plotlines related to manga that would be narratively compelling.

And this is often why Manga falls apart over time. Once you’ve narratively resolved something once, just like crossovers, they hit a point of diminishing returns if you have to revisit them. So if we have to have another *sigh* Saiko in the hospital arc for overwork, it’d feel like a narrative retread of what has come before.

So now manga will shift focus to other conflicts, which I don’t love. But I don’t think I will be bad.

That said, seeing a concrete win is always super satisfying. and it feels good to see all the hard work pay off. But it also feels good to have the character grow so much. Everyone here has grown and adjusted in healthy ways. Which isn’t good for conflict, but it is nice to see anyway.

In any case, I’m super excited about what’s coming. And I hope it lives up to this incredible arc. Because this was top-tier Bakuman, I want others parts to be as good at this.

Stray Thoughts

–Seeing Miho accept the audition was freaking adorable. They’re close.

–Two years seems to be a standard time before anime adaptations are announced, but it’s not a hard rule. As anyone reading Mission Yozakura Family can attest, it can take much longer, or much shorter, if you’re aMe & Roboco stan.

-The same goes for Takahama’s second color page in fifteen chapters. This is a bit of a truism in the magna community, but often if you get multiple color pages early on in the release schedule, it’s a very good indication of your series health. But it is not a guarantee. It is nice to have this acknowledged, regardless.

–It’s also good to see that the media industry in Japan is aware of how genre and medium work in tandem, and it’s nice to have it emphasize that a good manga doesn’t necessarily make for a good anime. So, seeing the drama CD fit into this is actually a nice narrative kink, but it still feels like progress

–Also, we’re definitely not getting it any time soon. The initial goal of the series is that Saiko will get an anime and VA the series, and we’re so far from the end that it’s all but a guarantee. But I don’t like to see how the animes are proposed as early as chapter one. I really give an insight into the chaotic nature of this industry. And how speculative it really is.

Until next time.

Anyway, peace

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