In Interference and Trust, I am incredibly relieved, but I’m still going to scold this series (Chapter 111)

Good day old sport and and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 111: Interference and Trust, in which I am deeply relieved, I get way too excited about establishing shots, and I’m still grumpy.

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Interference and Trust Summary

Everyone is Miserable!

Interference and Trust: Kaya is le sad at Shujin's neglect.

Picking up right where the previous chapter left off, Saiko declares Shiratori his rival from now on. Shiratori understands since they might be competing in Jump. Saiko is sorry to lose him as an assistant, but urges Shiratori to get Loveta & Peace serialized at all costs.

The tension is immediately killed by more prosaic matters like the fact that the current chapter isn’t done, so Saiko needs Shiratori for two more days anyway.

Womp womp.

After completing their work, Shiratori wishes Saiko a good night and Kaya slumps and looks so sad. So sad. Saiko asks if Kaya’s okay given Shujin’s declaration that he’ll be away for a while.

Kaya admits she’s not doing amazing, but she just has to hold on until Shiratori is serialized; she’s not going to beg Shujin to return to her.

Poor girl *pat pat*.

Saiko offers to talk to him about it, but she’s aware that he’s working hard on Loveta because it’s his job. Saiko is similarly busy with the one-shot and PCP in addition to headhunting for a new assistant by next week. Saiko remembers he has to call Hattori for that piece.

And he does so in the next panel, explains that he doesn’t need a genius since Moriya and Orihara are now up to speed. Hattori privately scolds himself for not thinking of that sooner.

Meanwhile, at Shiratori’s apartment Shiratori gives Shujin the news about quitting, which Shujin pays no mind to, because he’s devoted to getting Loveta done in time for serialization.

Shiratori gets to work on the storyboard while Shujin scolds him for not properly transitioning between scenes in a delightful piece of meta-commentary on establishing shot paneling (which we will go over teeheehee). Shiratori realizes he needs to use something like a shot of the sky to announce a scene change.

Shiratori is confused by Shujin’s stage direction in his written storyboards; Shujin asks him to use his *spongebob hands* Imagination to think of things Peace does when he’s happy. Shiratori then asks about pages giving more general instructions on what Peace is doing. Same shit: think of visual ways to express the training.

Shiratori offers a possible version involving a handkerchief and Tokyo Dome Stadium: Shujin thinks it’s a bit too much, but he’s moving in the right direction. He also wants Shiratori to come up with his own ideas.

Kaya sulks out the door like a sad little blob, leaving Saiko confused and upset. He receives a fax of the next chapter for PCP. Kaya, who hasn’t left yet asks about that since Shiratori doesn’t have a fax machine. It was sent from a convenience store.

Kaya’s upset that Shujin couldn’t be bothered to take the three minute bike ride over to give it in person. She asks whether the chapter is worse than usual. Saiko thinks the quality hasn’t dipped unless you’re looking for things to nitpick.

Kaya goes on home, finally, and Saiko worries about her. But not for long because he has the one-shot to work on.

However, he struggles to come up with anything. He’s not the writer Shujin is, and feels frustrated by his inability to bring out the story that is in his head in a way that is satisfying onto the page. He wonders if he should ask for help, but he decides against it: he isn’t proud like Kaya (pfft), but still doesn’t feel comfortable doing it.

He falls asleep and dreams of PCP placing thirteenth and Loveta coming in first and wakes up in a hilarious, though abject, terror.

Girl Talk

At the Azuki household, Miho gets a call from Kaya. Kaya unloads her woes about Shujin “running away from home”. A shot of the stars. Time passes. Kaya explains she’s ok. Miho is still concerned since Shujin and Kaya have been close as hell for ages. Kaya’s lonely, but she knows it’s only temporary and can deal with it in the short term.

She’s more worried about Saiko and Shujin’s relationship. It’s not that there is open conflict, but more that Shujin seems to be pulling away and going on his own. Miho is a little more circumspect: it just sounds like they’re both working independently; it doesn’t sound like an argument is happening.

Kaya apologizes because Shujin is not cooperating. Miho thinks that they should intervene in this, if it is a fight. Kaya lets her knows that she’s been asked not to involve herself. Miho apologies to her, but Kaya wants to know if she’s worried for them too. it’s similar to that time they almost broke up in his school, but this time they’re already apart.

Miho is worried, but acting on that fear will only make things worse which is true, for the record. Kaya just wants the two of them to stay friends and work on PCP, but Shujin told her that PCP won’t get an anime, most likely.

Miho’s shocked by that news.

Kaya asks for advice on what to do, she wants everyone to be happy and achieve their dreams, but she’s lost.

Miho asserts her faith in their abilities. She’s convinced their dream will come true.They’ll get an anime and she’ll be the heroine. They made a promise and Shujin was there for it as a witness. She plans to do her damndest to fulfill that promise and has absolute faith it will happen. Kaya promises to believe in the boys too.

Old face and changes

That thursday, Shiratori quits. Moriya waxes poetic and Orihara is Orihara. It’s the 29th and the one-shot deadline is coming due. They’ll select the order of serialization on March 2nd. Saiko is worried that he’ll get picked first and stresses over not having the storyboards done. Kaya, concerned, asks if maybe, just maybe, Saiko should ask Shujin for help.

No. He doesn’t want to take time from Loveta.

Yeesh.

At a diner, Hattori reviews Loveta’s 2nd chapter storyboards. He approves it, thinks its good, especially the change in perspective. Just needs a few touch ups.

Shujin asks if it’ll pass serialization as is. Hattori is appropriately circumspect, but Shujin is insistent that it needs to happen. NOW. Shiratori is equally intense about doing anything to get serialized. Hattori is shocked by the behavior, and sees a different collaborative style between these two than with Ashirogi. He’s convinced that paired against Saiko, the two artists will only improve.

Meanwhile Hiramaru doesn’t bury the lede with his final chapter of Otter No. 11, and Yoshida is ecstatic to get the chapter, finally. Hiramaru doesn’t care, he wants the tea party script.

Good? that’s not the right word. Classic ol’ Hiramaru.

Yoshida reminds them of their actual bargain: a script for a script. He needs a quality one-shot storyboard.

Uncharacteristically, Hiramaru already has From Me Never to You a completed storyboard delivered at his feet. An anti-romance similar to Kimi Ni Todoke. Yoshida is pleased, and Hiramaru insists on getting the script.

It’s an enormous script, several hundred pages. Yoshida wanted to account for all permutations of potential conversation given how conversations are basically impossible to script. Hiramaru decides to take a look to Yoshida’s concern.

A blank page. Jesus.

Yoshida goes in for the lie: All books have a blank sheet before the real content of the story. Hiramaru “buys” the lie hook, line, and sinker. Yoshida asks for details on the time and date for the meeting. The script might need editing based on the relocation

As Hiramaru talks to Aoki, Yoshida pilfers the definitely written script, but it doesn’t;t matter since Aoki doesn’t want to have a tea party until after she draws her one-shot. Yoshida is thrilled at the unintentional save.

I laughed. I don’t care anymore.

Next Tuesday, the new assistant is….Kato!

I’m less excited about that than you would think.

The assistants introduce themselves and Kaya’s glad to see Kato’s face. The two muse over how “difficult” it can be to work in an all-female workplace and it’s a breath of fresh air that Aoki’s series got cancelled. Meanwhile, Saiko is dying with his current workload.

Oh good, more “veiled” sexism.

Kato notices that Shiratori is absent and asks why he’s not there. Kaya explains, leaving Kato bummed out.

Mannnn….Kato you suck.

Race to the Finish

At Shiratori’s Place, Shujin and Shiratori chaotically go back and forth on the storyboard for Chapter 3. Shujin gives furious instruction and offers to have them work on multiple different possibilities for chapter 3 to pick the best one for Hattori. However, the art is not serialization ready and needs to be neater and more distinct. Shiratori is a good lieutenant and offers to make any other necessary fixes for the meeting.

Shujin grills Shiratori like a drill sergeant: he’s motivated, but putting way too much dialogue in the chapter. Simultaneously, Shiratori is taking things too slow. Make the content dense and cut out the fat so it’s thicc like leanbeefpatty. Shiratori is understandably confused by these instructions. Shujin explains that manga is hard, but that they can do this. No, SHIRATORI CAN DO THIS. If he can’t, he’ll never get a series of his own.

The Serialization meeting is that day, and Kaya expresses her gratitude at Kato’s return as the assistants leave.

Saiko asks if Shujin has come home. Kaya thinks he won’t return until the serialization meeting is done. But that can’t be, because, as Saiko explains, the submissions are made a week before the meeting itself.

Kaya panics at the news that he hasn’t returned home after a week. But she forces herself not to stress out about it and reminds herself to trust the boys like Miho does. She also explains, embarrassed, that she explained everything to Miho.

Saiko is impressed by Miho’s faith in him.

Kaya asks whether Saiko will be meeting separately again. Yeah, today they’re going to get the publication schedule for the one-shots.

Order and Return

Hattori lets Saiko know that his one-shot will be running third. Saiko’s relieved to know he’ll have time to work on it. Hattori reviews the storyboard and thinks it’s imperfect. He likes the build up but he’s not doing well enough with portraying things. Saiko feels like he’s reached his limit: he can see things clearly in his head but he just doesn’t know how to express it in words. he’s going to cave and ask Shujin to help.

Saiko asks whether Shujin is still working on Loveta. He is, very hard at work. he asks if Shujin has submitted the serialization storyboards already?

Yes. It’s being considered for serialization. Hattori goes further: the two are pinning their hopes on the fact that Loveta is going to be serialized. They’re putting all their hopes into Loveta.

Saiko wonders, a bit sarcastically, if that means “they’ll” give it all they’ve got if Loveta gets serialized.

Not everything, Shujin still needs to work on PCP. Hattori sees the subtext here and explains that he and Shujin aren’t done by a longshot, but if it does turn into a series, They’ll have to make sure that PCP doesn’t fall behind.

The next day, Saiko chews on the previous day’s meeting. He thinks Hasttori has no faith in the One-shot and his sights are set on Loveta. Saiko thinks of his desire to beat Loveta, to beat Crow, and to beat Eiji’s one-shot with his.

The door opens, surprising Saiko, since it’s friday. He wonders who it is.

It’s Shujin!

Saiko asks why Shujin is at the studio since serializaiton is going on right now. Shujin explains Loveta got a series. Saiiko is heartbroken to hear the news, in person no less. He begins to congratulate Shujin

But Shujin cuts him short. That’s for Shiratori. Everything’s all set now. He made shiratori work on the stoaryborads for 2 and 3 by himself, and the ones for chapters 4 through 7 were entirely his. Saiko’s shocked to learn Shiratori did everything by himself.

Shujin explains further that Shiratori has always had the ability to tell a good story and manage on his own. Hattori and Shiratori have agreed to have Shiratori handle Loveta alone.

Saiko confirms that Shujin went to all this nonsense to train Shiratori. Shujin wasn’t confident it would work out, but is pleased with the results.

He asks how the one-shot is coming along. Saiko’s not happy with it, but Shujin offers to take a look. Shujin also explains that Saiko was right: Training Shiratori improved his own writing by leaps and bounds. He now has more tricks up his sleeve and he can handle settings and genre that he couldn’t before.

He thinks Saiko wants him to work on Loveta as well, but Shujin’s honest with himself: he can’t make that balance out, and besides, he only wants to write for Ashirogi. So he can finally focus just on the one-shot and winning the Super Leaders Love-fest.

On that relieving and heartwarming note, the chapter concludes.

Interference and Trust Reaction

Thank God, but Also Ugh

Look, I am a simple man, emotionally. When I get resolution to a fear of abandonment subplot, I get teary and relieved. And this made me teary and relieved.

But dear god talk about manufactured conflict.

I usually don’t give shit to author’s for “This could have been solved with a conversation” because it’s a copout criticism. Stories are conflict and you have to have it. And, for better or worse, people are complicated and sometimes don’t say things when they should say things because they are afraid of how the other person might respond, or they forget to do so because they’re tired, or countless, myriad reasons.

But yeahhhhh this was super manufactured.

Now, could I find my way to believing that Shujin would be so obsessed with getting Shiratori up to speed that he’d eventually abandon everything in his life just so he’d never have to do it again?

Maybe. A little bit.

But not to the extent we see here. This falls past a believable threshold for me. And that’s unfortunate because the climax is truly very satisfying. And it’s satisfying because so much tension has been built up.

I don’t think I can give it a pass, though, just because it’s a satisfying conclusion. In this case, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. I have been consistently frustrated by the development of this arc by almost every conceivable metric. From the way Shujin and Saiko have been forced apart, to the way Shiratori has little in the way of meaningful character development, to the focus on romance.

But….buttttt.

It’s still really satisfying because there is a part of me that is a scared little kid afraid of losing his friends who immediately gets flooded with dopamine and relaxation when someone close has returned after disappearing for a bit. And, again, I’m an adult – a busy one – and my life often includes me not being able to talk to friends for extended periods of time, and getting a little anxious about not hearing from them. But they’re busy, I’m busy. It is normal.

With that all said.

I’m glad this chapter *kinda* righted the ship

So while I don’t buy, necessarily, that Shujin would act this way, it is nice to see that the thing he’s been doing which has pushed everyone away is just to make sure Shiratori is ready to work on his own. And we know that’s kinda what he’s been doing the whole time. But now that it’s way more explicit, it makes what was kinda obvious way more obvious.

And I’m saying that like they haven’t been saying it for the last few chapters.

It does show, however, that not all training is done by students. I’ve learned over time that teaching others can teach you, and, Shujin teaching someone else how to do something so that he can write fantasy plotlines better is something that doesn’t get touched on very frequently, so that’s cool.

I felt for Saiko and Kaya, though. This whole arc has been brutal for them – which is narratively important – but it felt cruel and thoughtless on Shujin’s part that I still don’t believe he would usually engage in.

I’m so mixed. It makes me so frustrated because I odn’t like being mixed on this series.

In any event, seeing Saiko freaking out was genuinely hysterical, even if it’s mean of me to say that, I still got mad giggles out of it because the faces were hysterical. Obata’s reaction faces for humor have really stepped up over time and gotten much funnier.

And then poor innocent kaya. she should whip Shujin’s ass for all of this nonsense at some point.

In any event, while I found the thrust of this arc frustrating, there is plenty of good stuff in this chapter to go over that isn’t this patently frustrating part.

Namely:

Establishing Shot Panels or How to Read Manga Better

Alright, I’m not Scott McCloud and you won’t understand comics better after reading this, but I'”‘m going to blow your mind a bit. Because this chapter brought up something that Bakuman taught me about:

Establishing shot panels.

Now, if you read manga at a certain speed – something I’m very guilty of – these panels are blink and you miss them panels of certain piece of scenery. They’re usually quite small, and you might not understand what they are for.

Like this one:

Or this one:

Whenever you see me type “At Eiji’s studio” or “At Shueisha’s office” I am typing that out because I saw a reused panel of Eiji’s Address Plaque, Or the picture of Shueisha’s building listing. Rigth before we go to the boy’s studio, you see a shot of the studio from a low angle.

This serves the same function as an establishing shot in film. We’re going to x place, so we need a shot of it outside so that people understand the action is moving to a different locale.

The problem, if you’re reading fast, is that these can be hard to see, and they presume the reader is reading panel to panel. which I am sometimes not doing. I just read too fast.

But it’s an effective technique to establish place, and scene setting without making a whole hullabaloo about it. Not, if you start reading manga with a few regular settings, keep your eyes out for these establishing panels and see if you can start developing your manga rhythm sense today!

Ahem.

Anyway, it’s a small thing, but the fun thing about anytime they mention something, they’re also calling attention to its use in the chapter itself. In this case, tehy’re calling attention to the star transitions to indicate time passing during Miho and Kaya’s conversation. It’s a real reflection of how medium informs narrative development. Because time isn’t passing on the page, it’s in your head, so you have to infer how much time has passed by using these small narrative techniques.

Creativity. Mmmmm.

And a brief note about narrative time. These transitions can also be used to indicate narrative time – not narrated time – passing that we don’t have to watch because nothing narratively interesting or important is happening. A skill all writers should learn and master.

Also, I guess we have to have to Miho set something up

Two Series is not the Way

Yeah, need to reiterate this because I think it’s where the story is heading. But two series is not the way. Now that the secret is out among all the most important parties, I think Miho’s assertion is probably what’s ultimately going to save the day.

The boys are probably not going to go for a second series. Probably.

Thank goodness. I don’t know yet, but thank goodness if so.

The fact that Miho is hopeful about the series even in the face of basically impossible odds tells me that Ohba has been building to this fact for a while, even going longer than a single volume’s worth of chapters to make this point.

The second series would be the wrong direction. And if he’s actually playing 4D Keikaku Chess with his information, more’s the better, because that’s infinitely more interesting to me than him just rehashing plotpoints because he doesn’t know what to write.

*crickets*

Seriously though, this decision to get a second series, borne of their desperation, really reflects all the worst elements that would happen if they got a second series.

So will I accept a second series being used as a bait and switch for potentially better writing of PCP? Hell yeah. That’s fine. I’m cool with that.

What I’m less cool with is….

Kato’s Back

Yay. Kill me now.

I’m sure she won’t be super narratively relevant, but I’ve become quite….repulsed by Kato as a character on the whole, and this latest chapter really cemented my dislike for her.

And look, are there shallow, lonely girls who get crushes on co-workers because they’re not willing to go out and meet other people? Sure, they exist. Do men and women date at work? All the time.

But Kato’s defining character trait is that she wants a boyfriend, and she crushes on cute mangaka. That is it. She also was friendly towards Nakai (shudder) and that’s also awful.

And I think Ohba’s using her as a mouthpiece for his views on women. Especially now that Aoki’s manga is over, and she’s complaining about how bad it is to work with all women and how it doesn’t work. Fucking. Yikes.

The fact that she embodies all of Ohba’s worst writing tics make me dislike her a lot more than I might normally, because we finally have some reasonably good female characters like Iwase, and Kaya. Yes, Kaya’s a good female character, fight me, and Miho, to an extent. Aoki’s a great female character because she likes romance, but it’s not a defining feature.

And then Kato liked Saiko. Now she likes Shiratori. Gag.

That said, one thing about this chapter that did finally crack me up.

Hiramaru and Yoshida’s schtick got chuckles out of me

I know I’ve probably said this a million times now, but this gag is tired. But it’s gotten so tired that I’ve actually rounded the corner and it’s funny again. That’s how tired it is.

I found the panel of Otter shouting “I’m free at last” a perfect character as action beat and I legitimately cracked up during the entire sequence. The goofy faces were so on point.

Now, obligatorily, I have to mention that Yoshida’s carrot and stick approach to Hiramaru is contemptible and scummy as fuck. But it did get a laugh out of me.

The visual gag of a massive script to account for all permutations. Hysterical.

Yoshida clearly being full of shit and only being saved by Aoki’s timely intervention? I’m on the floor.

But yeah, it’s still super fucking gross that he’s exploiting a young man’s feelings, and treating Aoki like a toy and it’s fucked up.

But I lol’d.

I’m so fucking tired.

And that’s where we are with Bakuman. I’m relieved, but things do seem to be on the upswing, now. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum up and the next chapter are even better. And if they are even better, than that means we have some good shit coming up.

At least, a boy can dream.

Until next time,

Peace

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