Bakuman c4 – Parent and Child
After reaffirming his desire to obtain success on the path of a mangaka, Saiko (I guess from now on I’ll be referring to the main characters by the nicknames they’ve given each other: Moritaka = Saiko and Akito = Shujin) returns to the studio’s interior and joins Shujin in rummaging through Nobuhiro’s old materials. Digging through one of the closets yields a huge crop of rejected name and manuscripts, but eventually Saiko happens across a box of letters addressed to his uncle. Looks like he’s finally found hard proof of the girl, Miyuki Haruno, for whose sake that Nobuhiro worked so hard for!
Shujin looks over and notices that Saiko’s found something interesting and inquires about the discovery. Saiko fills him in about who the girl was and hands over one of the letters. Reading it out loud, Shujin notes the letter’s contents is just idle banter, normal conversation, and nothing out of the ordinary; in other words, a bit of a letdown. However, Saiko supplements his earlier explanation by adding that the girl was a bit of a motivating factor in Nobuhiro’s work as a mangaka. With the both of them now knowing the full picture, the pair proceed to organize the letters in the box according to date. Eventually they find and read the last letter written to Nobuhiro, the one that details Miyuki’s sudden marriage announcement and her subsequent heartfelt termination of their correspondence.
Curious as to how this may have affected Nobuhiro’s career, our main characters decide to look up the publication history of Chou Hero Densetsu, the most popular of his works. Apparently the manga didn’t start until two years after the final letter, with the eventual anime coming another two years down the road. This perseverance and committment to success that his uncle showed despite having been dealt such a discouraging blow brings a warm smile to Saiko’s face.
Suddenly Shujin spots something else at the very bottom of the letter box. As it turns out, the item in question is actually a yearbook for the local junior high. Haha, looks like Nobuhiro couldn’t even pull enough courage together to get Miyuki’s photo as a memento! And so Saiko and Shujin bolt through the book to see what Nobuhiro’s sweetheart looked like:
But when they finally land on the right page…
lol, Miyuki Haruno turns out to be none other than the mother of Miho Azuki, Saiko’s dream girl!
After taking in that revelation, Shujin bows down before the power of genetics; not only did Nobuhiro and Saiko fall in love with mother and daughter, but they both used really roundabout ways in forging a relationship! Shujin suggests that they head over to Miho’s and ask her mother if she really was Nobuhiro’s pen pal, much to Saiko’s chagrin. However before Saiko can protest further, he gets a call from home scolding him for staying out so late at the studio. With the time now past two in the morning, the two have missed the last trains and have to hoof it for an hour back home.
Thanks to their late-night adventures, Saiko’s unable to concentrate in class and ends up bombing a test the following day. He’s got nothing but the potential link between his uncle and Miho’s mother on his mind, so he announces his intention to avisit her to Shujin. The two hurry off to Miho’s house and wait for her to leave for dance class before buzzing in at the front gate. As expected, Miho’s mother answers and Shujin asks her if they can speak to her about Taro Kawaguchi, Nobuhiro’s pen name, as well as his and Saiko’s intentions to become mangaka. After short pause, she cheerfully unlocks the front gate and sits them down inside the large house.
After getting the initial shock out of their systems, Saiko and Shujin sit and listen to Miyuki over some coffee. Apparently she already knew of Saiko as being Nobuhiro’s brother’s son. Seems as if Saiko’s dad was quite the judo club member and that he was popular. After noting that Saiko’s choice of coffee was similar to Nobuhiro’s much-noted preference of having a cup of straight black, Shujin blurts out that the two of them knew that Nobuhiro was in love with her. Saiko rolls his eyes at Shujin’s untimely outburst and follows up by having the both of them apologize to Miyuki for having read her letters to his uncle.
Miyuki lets them off easy and acknowledges that she really did love Nobuhiro. However, the two of them were so shy that they never did get around to confessing outright to one another. Eventually a new love entered her life and by the time Miho turned three years old, she found out that Nobuhiro accomplished his goal of getting a hit manga animated. When she heard the good news, she started reading Chou Hero Densetsu on the spot!
Eventually Miyuki came across a particular portion of the manga covering the exploits of a hero ridiculously named Otoko no Ro-Man (漢の浪マン, Yeah I’m totally not familiar with how to use those two kanji, hence part of the reason why this post is being made a week after the chapter’s release. Scanlators have pegged it to being something akin to “Masculine Fantasy”). In that particular story, a hero went about trying to save the universe so that he could one day confess to his princess in style. However, the princess went ahead and confessed prematurely, ruining the hero’s plans. The hero told her off about her crappy timing and amusingly took a huge slap for his self-centeredness.
Miho acknowledges that the story was definitely a message from Nobuhiro to her and in turn asks whether Saiko or Shujin is the one pursuing Miho. Shujin points out Saiko’s the one that’s trying to win Miho’s hand, to which Miyuki approves of given how smart guys like Shujin don’t end up getting the girl anyway. Everyone agrees to keep Nobuhiro and Miyuki’s past relationship a secret from Miho and spend the rest of the day chatting away.
This chapter concludes with the Saiko and Shujin talking over the events of the day at a nearby playground. Considering how his grandfather kept his uncle’s studio in order and how his father wasn’t against him becoming a mangaka, Saiko takes it that it’s his destiny to finish what Nobuhiro couldn’t. And with that, he boldy declares that he’ll start work on the manga that very day!
Okay, well I have to admit that I, and most likely a lot of other readers, saw the whole Miyuki thing from a mile away. Since there was a lot of talk about fate and the various nods at how very similar Saiko is with his uncle, it would only make sense if their love interests were somehow related as well. In this case, they literally were! So, as I predicted in my thoughts following the third chapter, the pair did end up meeting Nobuhiro’s sweetheart and she may very well turn out to be a semi-regular character. There’s enough laughs to be had with Saiko and Shujin’s awkwardness around Miho’s mom, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohba and Obata turn to her to fill up a few panels every now and then. Anyway, I’m currently trying to find some time to read the latest chapter from last week, so I suppose I’ll reserve any more thoughts regarding recent developments in Bakuman till the next post. Hopefully though, with Saiko and Shujin starting up some drafts for their manga, we’ll see how the artwork stacks up with what Nobuhiro did for Chou Hero Densetsu!