In Leeway and Trap, Boring Plotlines and Annoying Cliffhangers Don’t Negate The Growth (Chapter 100)

Happy 100 Chapters, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 100: Leeway and Trap, in which an obvious cliffhanger and a new, mildly boring arc start doesn’t negate the fact that we’ve come so far.

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

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Leeway and Trap Summary

Anime Offer?!

Picking up immediately where the last chapter left off, Miura sees the anime offers for PCP on Sasaki’s desk and freaks out. He runs over to tell Hattori about it, acting as the series’ everyman.

Hattori and Aida burst his bubble: it’s commonplace for popular series to get anime offers within six months. It’s happened plenty of times before – including in this series – but it’s ultimately up to the Editor-in-Chief whether they get the go-ahead.

Leeway and Trap: Anime offers for PCP

Miura’s naivety about the situation earns a reproach from Yoshida: The choice depends on the proposal, the series’s popularity, and the timing. The artist will only learn of it if the Editor-in-Chief gives it the go-ahead.

Aida then points out the obvious: don’t leak this info to Ashirogi. Miura defends himself: he’s not that dumb.

*crickets* No comment.

Yamahisa doesn’t think PCP is suited to anime, although, surprisingly, he thinks Time of Greenery has a much better shot at things. Yoshida thinks it would do better as a TV Drama in the 9 or 10 o’clock slot. Hattori thinks Yoshida is in character with that suggestion.

Aida thinks it’s too early for PCP to get a media franchise, regardless and that the Drama CD is sufficient. Miura points out +Natural got an anime quickly.

Hattori remains silent.

Reminiscence

Saiko and Shujin run into each other on their way to the studio. It’s been a while since they came together. They both stop to get some drinks, then head to the park, where they made their big plans early, to relax. Shujin’s worried about Saiko’s deadlines, but Saiko explains he’s got PCP’s flow down, so he can spare some time.

The boys – now in their early 20s – reminisce about how they were so full of themselves back in the day. Shujin points out that that’s all kids. Saiko also recognizes this is the spot where Kaya and Shujin had their first kiss. Shujin has a conniption at the fact that Saiko somehow knows about his first kiss.

Saiko sees something in the distance.

There is a group of kids reenacting sequences from PCP, including digging a big hole and making references to Akechi, Mai Annojo, and other popular characters.

Shujin is scared. He feels like it’s almost too good to be true. They’ve been at it for six years, and it’s weird that their first goal was simply to get published in Jump. PCP is popular, now. They’ve overcome +Natural and have held steady at 4th place the last two weeks. They’ve got a drama CD, and Miho’s got a part in it. Shujin has a fountain of good ideas, and he’s always looking forward to the next one.

Saiko also relishes their good luck: he has time to spare, and things are also good for him. But….

They still don’t have an anime, and they haven’t caught up to Crow yet. They’re picking up speed, but this is the beginning. They’re in it for the long haul.

Kaya sees them and makes fun of them for going on a bro date. Shujin points out the children playacting PCP, which gets Kaya pumped. She then runs up to the kids and ruins the moment.

Career Goals and New Challenges

At the studio, Orihara, without work, asks Kaya to work on screentones, but she’s got it. Meanwhile, Moriya works on his own storyboard while Shiratori watches. Moriya makes a snide remark about his desire to have a series one day. Shiratori wants to learn more, but Moriya refuses to share and is protective of his ideas.

Shiratori promises he won’t steal his ideas and offers that another pair of eyes can be helpful. Moriya continues getting potshots about Shiratori’s lack of interest in becoming a mangaka. Surprisingly, Orihara yells at Moriya to calm down since everyone has their own journey. Both Shiratori and Moriya see their banter as normal conversation, though.

Saiko, however, wants to know why Shiratori doesn’t want to make a series. Shiratori’s confused about whether he has to. Saiko gently encourages him that his art is good, and he’s curious as to why Shiratori hasn’t given it a shot.

Shiratori is delightfully simple with his answer: he doesn’t know what to write about, though he likes drawing. Shujin suggests he write about something he likes. Shiratori only focuses on his enjoyment of drawing, which wouldn’t really work…

Apparently, he doesn’t know what series we’re in. A+ Ohba on that lampshade.

Kaya finishes the screentones when Hattori arrives for their evening meetings. The assistants scurry away since it’s 10:30, and Kaya takes too long.

Hattori approves the final draft, but before moving on to the current week’s chapter, brings the Drama CD script. The boys are excited that it’s here and surprised at the quick turnaround. Hattori thinks the writer nailed the characters. Shujin agrees but wants more dialogue with Mai.

However, Shujin thinks the perfect crime is lacking. Hattori explains that the author struggled to come up with perfect crimes like Shujin does. To be blunt, they want Shujin to come up with an idea if possible.

Ruh roh.

Hattori goes on to clarify that that’s too much of a burden, and the creator is not obligated to do that, so he told them not to expect anything. Shujin, however, is fine with it. Hattori is concerned about whether SHujin will have the time for it, but Shujin explains he already mapped out the next arc’s outline, so he has plenty of time.

Hattori lets it go and gets back to the business before Shujin offers to take the next arc a little more slowly. They’re going to use a similar setup to the previous arc, so they have to change things up, and they already have the crime mapped out. He goes on while Hattori and Saiko seem surprised at how fast he came up with the idea.

Shiratori’s Family

Shiratori arrives at his home in a literal fucking mansion to be greeted by his three adorable dogs. His mother is surprised he’s home so early and asks him to have dinner with his father. Shiratori explains he already ate.

His mother takes potshots at the low-quality food he probably ate before he explains that Kaya made stew. His mother still requests his presence.

At the dinner table, Shiratori’s sister thinks he should work at Dad’s company and doesn’t understand how he can live on such meager earnings. Shiratori doesn’t like makeup, his father’s industry.

His mother doesn’t mind his desire to be an artist but finds his decision to be a mangaka baffling. Shiratori looks to his dog – named Peace – for support. He leaves the dinner table and starts writing a storyboard.

Good times

At home, Kaya watches Shujin up late writing, even though he told her he could sleep early since he’s ahead on storyboards. He explains the drama CD, which is a cause for concern, before calming her down by explaining he’s just doing touchups. He likes having the quality control of it, too.

He wants to write something any animation studio would kill for. Kaya goes for the “you’re so cool Shujin” bit, which is, admittedly, adorable. Shujin wonders why she’s buttering him up before she points out that his ability to type without looking is cool. She asks when he learned it and makes a cute pouty face.

He offers to try it out on her, then settles the debate as to whether these two be fucking with some suggestive paneling.

It’s cute; they’re married. I have no problem with this.

Three days later, Hattori finds the drama CD’s stuff to be good enough to be put in the main series and wonders if it shouldn’t just be a manga chapter. Shujin explains that, while his wife thought the same thing, he wants the Drama CD to be on par with the series. If it can draw more people in, they might be able to get an anime.

Hattori dodges that statement gracelessly by asking about the next story arc. Shujin’s down to clown; they have some time before the assistants get there. Saiko offers to ink the final draft. Shujin offers that since Akechi has been the last few arcs, he wants to change things up a bit. Hattori thinks that’s good and is surprised he already has an idea for the next arc.

Shiratori’s Request

At 11:30, Saiko let’s the assistants go home, Orihara’s not entirely done with his work.

As they leave, Shiratori asks Saiko if Shujin will be in the office. Most likely, why? Shiratori wrote up a storyboard and wants him to take a look. Saiko is surprised. Moriya heads out, and Orihara’s surprised by the storyboard, feeling left in the dust. Shiratori downplays the accomplishment, but Saiko calls Shujin and tells him the good news.

Shiratori’s shocked, but Shujin’s so excited he offers to come down immediately. Saiko asks if that’s okay; Shiratori is okay with it.

Shujin praises Shiratori’s instinct for storyboarding; he also thinks it’s a good premise. Orihara asks to see it.

Shujin thinks that the idea of a main character – Loveta – an isolated loner who doesn’t trust anyone, and his mind-reading dog – Peace – is a great premise – spy x family, anyone? – Straightforward and simple. Shiratori explains the advice they gave him to work on something he liked, and he remembered the dogs at his house.

Shujin is impressed by Peace’s ability to sniff out good and bad people, the ability to hear people’s lies, and a tongue that makes people tell the truth.

Shujin does note, however, that the main character isn’t as interesting in comparison. The way it’s written now, peace looks like the lead, which also doesn’t work. Shujin then jumps into his short podcast called manganotes: we need to understand why the main character doesn’t trust people. What are his major goals for the series? Also, even though it’s good, there should be antagonists if Shiratori wants to run it in Jump.

Orihara thinks Shujin sounds like an editor. Shujin thinks he’s talking too much before Shiratori lets him continue. Orihara thinks Shiratori is lucky to have such a gifted mangaka review his work. Shujin then says he should have Hattori look over it before he gets started, but Shiratori is fine with Shujin giving him the okay.

Oirhara also wants his storyboard reviewed, which Shujin offers him to do. Shujin then starts giving more notes to Shiratori at his request. Saiko admires his reliable friend.

Bombshell

On September 24th, Friday, they get the final report, and they’re in fifth behind +Natural, which has gotten its place back. However, given it’s the beginning of a new arc, they expected fewer votes. They are also glad that fifth isn’t as bad as it used to be.

Hattori also mentions the novelization in addition to the drama CD. Shujin and Saiko are both shocked. The CD isn’t even out yet.

Hattori explains that a different company is handling the novel, and it’s common for popular manga to get several proposals like this. The writer will be Ikki Tanabe, the best Detective Genre light novel author. Shujin won’t need to do anything other than OK it. That said, Saiko will need to do ten illustrations for the novel, including the cover, which Saiko is fine with.

Hattori wonders if they’re okay with it. They are. The boys are excited by all the good news. Saiko thinks that all that’s left now is the Anime.

This is when Hattori, realizing they haven’t dropped it, drops the bomb:

PCP will likely never have an anime.

On that….legitimately surprising note, the chapter concludes. And we have gone through 100 chapters.

Leeway and Trap Reaction

100 chapters. WOOOOO

First off. Woooo, the little blog that could did it. We hit a hundred chapters. Yayyyy. It took four years, but whatever.

Also. OOOOFFFFFF.

That cliffhanger was such a comedown after this run. Total killjoy. But, as I’ve said, we’re still pretty far from the end of the series at this point – at least a year in publishing time – so it makes sense that there would be an obstacle to anime.

Because, and I hope I don’t have to explain this, but I’m going to be didactic anyway because it’s how I do: a story ends when the goal has been achieved. Full stop. If the goal hasn’t been achieved, the story is not over.

The goal the series started out with, stupid as it is, is that Saiko needs to get an anime, and Miho needs to voice the main character so they can get married.

So it was pretty clear they weren’t going to get an anime…yet.

However, I will say, I’m shocked that they might not get an anime period. That is….a problem.

It’s a gift narratively because it gives the writers an excuse to keep fucking with our hero’s lives in compelling ways that will eventually lead to anime, but right now, it feels pretty hopeless. I’m not sure how I feel about given the comedown from the latest and greatest arc. If I’m being honest, the fact that we went third into “never going to happen” made me roll my eyes a bit because it’s also so histrionic in a context that it kinda makes all the good feelings evaporate.

But I’m also not totally down for this development because I have a feeling our boys will negate their character development by doing something overworky and stupid, my least favorite part of the series.

I’m also gonna be blunt: this felt like a natural endpoint for the series. Just like Death Note was supposed to end at 50ish chapters, this series felt like it was gearing up, in a way, to conclude with the battle between Eiji, Iwase, Shujin, and Saiko. And now we’re….still going.

I may change my mind about this development at some point. But for now, consider me grumpy.

That said, there was plenty of other good stuff in this chapter, so let’s pivot.

Inside Baseball for anime production.

One of the best things about this series is the inside peek at manga production/anime production, and the idea that Jump gets blasted with anime offers like a girl on Tinder after just signing up is both hilarious but also such an obvious thing that I’m surprised i didn’t think of it.

I know that the industry is pretty much run on a machine-like structure, so it makes sense that anime offers and proposals – can you imagine being hired to work at Studio Madhouse and then having to write grant proposals? yeesh – would come in like clockwork. I also like that this made me realize that Jump is pretty active in choosing which studio is going to make the series. It just makes sense. A popular property would do big numbers for Tudio, so they’ll all wanna a piece of the pie.

And the more I think about it, the more sense it makes that it would be somewhere around 30 chapters, because assembling the key staff, creating the production committee, writing the scripts, budgeting, and hiring would probably take a year minimum, at which point a manga would be well on its way to 80ish chapters. Then there are the animators, e-conte, production designers, and foley. It would take a while.

See, I went to film school; I know what’s up.

But yeah, it makes sense to me that this would happen so early, even if I didn’t think about it beforehand.

It also revealed the calculus that goes into choosing which series becomes anime. Despite anime fandoms bitching and moaning for every series to be made, some are not necessarily conducive to anime production.

Cipher Academy (RIP) comes to mind, although I’m pretty sure that had a pretty devoted fanbase, so what do I know? But not every series deserves or needs an anime.

Which also makes the plot development with the animee make sense, even if it makes me le grumpy.

Speaking of plot developments.

Shiratori might get a series

Actually, scratch that; he will probably get a series. The series has been doing a lot of legwork to establish him as a prodigy, and he also has the character trope of not placing value on something important to the cast, so he automatically is so good at it he just gets the most coveted thing immediately.

I’m not sure I want to see that development because, honestly, I’m not super interested in Shiratori at this moment, and seeing him develop is not high on my list of interests. I’ll also be real wth you, I’m not suppperrr interested in seeing a richie rich type get estranged from his family to be an artist. I’m not saying it couldn’t be compelling, I’m just not super intestrested.

Although I will say that seeing Shiratori living in a literal mansion and coddled beyond belief was a hysterical choice to me. I guess rich kids who want to be artists can sign up to be assistants. In fairness, the series has done a good job of establishing his family as being the literal worst, which is that they’re rich. It makes sense, but this isn’t a plotline I’m super engaged with.

I do find his dogs adorable, and I also find the fact that Loveta & Peace is what appears to be an autobiographical story about a boy and his psychic dog cute, and on the nose, especially in this series that is an autobiography in so many ways.

Ehhhhh.

This also appears to be a Shujin plotline, meant to develop him as a character, but I’m not sure we need more development.

That said, I really liked

The moments of reflection

One of my favorite narrative beats is the moment when they look back on the long road they’ve taken. And having symbolic full-circle moments peppered throughout. It’s a nice reminder of how far we’ve come.

And in this series, we’ve come very far. The boys have grown a lot, as I’ve said ad nauseam, but now we’re seeing them taste real success. They’ve moved past the underdog stage and into something a little more mature. And I hope we get conflicts that reach the level of the newfound maturity, where they can look at the playground and reminisce on their youthful misadventures. And see a new generation of kids being inspired the same way they are inspired..

Same for me. When I started this blog in 2019, I wasn’t expecting much. It’s still not the most successful blog in history, but it’s still got some readers, and it has accompanied a grand journey in my life. I made the decision progressively to phase the more biographical parts out of my life, because I realized that I was detracting from responding to Bakuman. I, too, have grown and changed. And although it may not seem it, I am constantly working to ensure I finish this read-through. Because god willing, we will reach the end sooner or later. Thank you for reading.

I also wonder if the fact that the kids are pranking each other has an effect on the situation. Because I could see pranks not being appreciated by parents, and knowing a name is resulting in it is a big yikes.

This is also why I find this development with the anime so frustrating. it’s a symptom of a perpetual underdog, and it’s not a development of the conflict in a way that matches the character’s growth.

I know it’s necessary, now that we hit the point where the characters are strong, but man, I want some more nuanced struggles.

Hopefully, Ohba can deliver on those.

until next time

(Loveta) & Peace

Happy 100 chapters

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