Creative Pride of the Few in Bakuman. 3

“It’d be interesting if 2.0 surpassed the original, but unlike Ashirogi Mutou, I can’t see the author’s face!” (Niizuma Eiji, Bakuman. 3, “Confidence and Resolve”).

I find the ideal workshops–be they writing, music, or other–are the ones with lower seat counts. As valuable as an outsider’s opinion is, it’s important to never lose your sense of self. There’s a balance that must be struck between pleasing the audience and creating a piece unique to yourself that warrants the attention paid to it.  The current arc in Bakuman. 3 questions this argument, that a work created by the input of many deserves to stand on the same stage as a work produced by one.  And given the popularity and seeming perfection of the group work gathered by Nanamine, who’s to say that his methods and final product are not every bit as justified as the old standby collaboration of artist and editor?

Part of what supports Nanamine’s manner of work as a mangaka is his legitimate questioning of his fledgling editor, Kosugi.  When comparing the feedback given by Kosugi with those of Nanamine’s online friends, their past serialization and several years of experience in editing overshadow Kosugi’s lack of practical knowledge.  Were I to stand in Nanamine’s shoes, I, too, would feel apprehensive of an editor fresh out of college.  It’s no surprise that he chooses to take the advice of those with experience over that of Kosugi.

Yet there’s the troubling consideration of size and time: taking in the directions of fifty different opinions under short time constraints doesn’t leave much room for the mangaka’s contemplation on what should and shouldn’t be changed for the audience.  When I was first preparing for my audition for a college piano program, I chose a piece and listened to one artist’s recording of it repeatedly, even falling asleep to the music.  I molded my performance to his, hoping to achieve his level as a pro.  What resulted was a movement utterly devoid of my own personality and interpretation.

Similarly, I later taught introductory English composition courses and held writing workshops for the students’ preparations for various assignments.  One workshop divided them into 4-man groups.  Each student took home copies of his or her peers’ papers to comment on in a later class. The best groups took the time to carefully consider certain aspects of a paper that were good or had to be changed, while the worst attempted to assimilate every single suggestion thrown into the discussion.  Those who mindlessly incorporated feedback turned in papers lacking individuality.

When a work is presented as a whole under one name, I expect that single name to present itself.  If I wanted to hear the words of many, I’d visit a forum, or choose a compilation.  I want to see the performer’s face.

“Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about” (W.H. Auden, Anglo-American poet and writer).

Nanamine’s problem is his misunderstanding of the “pride” about which Ashirogi Muto speaks.  Ashirogi’s pride stems from their expectations of authenticity.  Their works represent them and they represent their works.  While the base ideas may not be original, the manner in which they present them is distinct to them.  It’s those very quirks that make me passionate about artists and encourage me to follow them.  I didn’t drop reading Jeanette Winterson after college, but explored some of her other texts, including Sexing the Cherry and The Passion, due to my own admiration for her particular style and themes.  Even editor Kosugi misses the ball by focusing on Nanamine’s lack of originality instead of on the true problem of identity.  Pride in a completely original work is a pipe dream; pride in conveying oneself is both desirable and attainable.

16 thoughts on “Creative Pride of the Few in Bakuman. 3

  1. Spot on analysis! I’d wondered why Nanamine was portrayed so antagonistically when /logically/ it seems like incorporating the ideas of others is necessary in the name of quality. But looking upon it deeper, that sense of pride and authenticity is something you’d definitely have to sacrifice.


    • Thanks! By no means do I think that Ashirogi Mutou are alone on their creation; they have their editors to thank, as well as the work of their assistants. Like any other public piece, many people work together to bring it to the light. But despite that, the Ashirogi is never gone from the work and can still proudly say that the majority of what’s presented does stem from them.


  2. I think you make a very good distinction between authenticity and originality, but I still wonder if Nanamine’s approach might be valid. For all of the obvious suggestions that he is an enemy to be brought down (instead of a collegial rival), it still seems to me that he isn’t doing anything particularly bad. It might not be the way everyone would want to work, but I don’t think that it should be ruled out.

    After all Ashirogi Muto has been shown getting feedback from fans, and editors and even assistants, so all Nanamine is changing there is that he is hiring professional reviewers. He is going further than the others in taking the advice, but he set up a method for deciding what advice he would take (something like a majority decision), and he decides which people get to offer advice, so he is creating conditions which make the creative decisions.

    In a way Nanamine is an individual who represents large corporations, like Disney.


    • Oh, I definitely have thought about the legitimacy of Nanamine’s methods. Like you said, it’s not like he’s doing anything overtly wrong (except announcing the competition results and releasing his submission to the public), and seems to really know how to promote himself in a system that could just as easily overlook him.

      I’m more questioning his decision to use only his name on his works; it seems with how much input he gets from others that the work is just as much theirs as it is his. Forty-eight some pages in just two weeks makes me wonder if he can honestly claim the majority of the final product as his, both in story and in art. He thinks that he’s got his online assistants in line by saying that he’ll cut them if it’s necessary, but I think that view naive–he’s still young and probably unaware of how far some people will go to take what they think is theirs. I’m worried that if he keeps going down his path with those methods, he’ll ruin his reputation as a mangaka. Unlike Disney, he doesn’t seem to be giving any credit where it’s due to the people who are shouldering a lot of his burdens.


      • I agree that saying the work is a collective effort would be quite a bit more honest, and also that his collaborators can turn on him in vicious ways.

        Regarding Disney, all the work that Disney produces is created by the Disney Corporation. The artwork is typically “work for hire”, meaning all rights belong to the corporation, and not with the individuals who are generally anonymous. I think they make exceptions for top-line positions, but most of the artists are anonymous. That is why I thought about them in connection to Nanamine. He has the same attitude: I paid for the work, so it belongs to me and the artists can be replaced at will.


        • I have little to no knowledge about how corporations like Disney work, so I appreciate your information on that. I find it interesting that they may not even have the artists-for-hire on some list with tiny print somewhere for people to look up if they are really curious. In Nanamine’s case, we haven’t even seen him in any of the creative processes. Was there an image of him somewhere doing any of the drawing or writing? I’m really looking forward to how his whole arc turns out since he’s the first seeming villain of Bakuman.


  3. Okay I haven’t watched this and admittedly I’m not really smart enough to really try and comment. I’m also loyal and dumb enough to try so here goes…

    I can see how both aspects have some plusses. In a large group there theoretically is more ideas available. The thing is in my mind there are far more negaitives. For one people tend to fall into a gang mentality in groups. They could easily all start just fitting in and just all go along the safe path. Which is the path of the alpha personality. Instead of coming up with their own unique ideas they may start just tossing out stuff they think the alpha will like. I mean how often have we seen large groups do heinous acts just because they were in a group? I know it’s not the same, but my point is they clearly didn’t think the same in a group. If people can change that much because they are in a group how can I believe they are just as creative in one as alone?

    Video games could be an excellent indicator of this. It’s widely accepted that the big companies pump out tons of similar games because the stakes are higher and the indie developers are allowed to be more creative because they have less to lose.

    When you think about it though isn’t it really quite the opposite? Those indie developers sometimes have everything they own on the line. EA ever in that situation? So doesn’t it make more sense that the indie developers are creative because they are more focused and more often one person’s or a small groups idea? That in the larger group setting people don’t throw out unique ideas because they wanna fit in and be accepted?

    Sorry Marina…Don’t even know if I’m on the subject. I really tried though.


    • I think this may be the second or third time that you’ve put yourself down intellectually before commenting on a post of mine; don’t be so down on yourself! I appreciate any and all feedback, and try to write my posts so they’re accessible to people of varying backgrounds. As for your thoughts here, they’re perfectly grounded in the topic!

      That group mentality you speak of is a common view. Remember the phrase, “A person is smart. People are dumb.”? Now, I’m not sure about the details of Nanamine’s collaboration with his people, but I’m assuming the ones whose opinions he really cares about message him privately. The episode showed a public chat window where multiple people communicated with him about his works, but I doubt he takes all the opinions that are spouted there. However, that doesn’t stop the others from seeing what one person says in open chat and being influence by it, then speaking one-on-one with Nanamine about that same issue.

      I also really like your gaming parallel. One of the recent games that springs to mind is Botanicula; have you heard of it? I was blown away by how enjoyable and unique the game was with its environment and point-and-click gameplay. I absolutely love the music! It was developed by Amanita Design, an independent Czech company.


  4. I have a bit of a problem how Bakuman portrays its characters. I mean, it’s basically black or white! There’s no gray. Ashirogi are the great traditional guys, while Nanamine is the evil person using modern methods! It feels silly, as if the intention behind this arc is to justify old methods.

    Now, Nanamine is pretty dumb and a jerk. 50 people is way to much in the first place. Besides, he doesn’t even have some proper “goal” of his series in mind, besides beating Ashirogi. He’s relying in others, he’s not using feedback.

    But what if this wasn’t the case? Imagine it only being him, with three others giving feedback. It would only be a natural extension of an editor, providing more perspectives. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s all about how you do it.


    • Well, I don’t know about that! There were quite a few characters who were portrayed both negatively and positively, like Iwase and Nakai. I also don’t really understand what you mean by Ashirogi being “great traditional guys”. Traditional in what way? And great in what way? Are you talking about personality, their view on manga, their romantic stories? Because both Takagi and Mashiro have their fair share of flaws that have been revealed through all three seasons.

      As for Nanamine, we don’t really know whether or not he’s using feedback since we can’t actually see the entire process that he goes through. All we know is that he’s amazingly fast with his revisions (keep in mind though that I’ve only seen to episode 9). How much his final work is actually the work of others is also a mystery right now. He might actually be very talented, but not allowing himself to try something dangerous but more personal.


  5. Yeah I have a habit of doing that, especially with you because I know how smart you are.

    lol That saying was actually my little saying on my own blogs at one point. I’m glad I managed to contribute a little. I really do try my best.

    No I haven’t heard of that game unfortunately. I used to follow indie games a bit so I’m kinda dissappointed I haven’t. I’ll have to look it up some time.

    And Joojoobees can take my head, but never my pride! Mainly because I’m not sure where it is…But still!


    • Since you replied today, I’m assuming the surgery, that you mentioned to me on MAL, was successful. I really, really hope you’re okay!

      If you ever get some free time and are in the mood for a fun, short little game, give Botanicula a try. I purchased it through the Steam store quite a while ago, and I think it was pretty cheap.


  6. Yeah I’m doing okay. I’m a tough cookie. I have impressed with my recovery thus far. I had surgery at about noon and was out six hours later. My first action was to try and walk to a friends house because I knew his girlfriend was pregnant and had sprained her ankle recently. I got punched in the arm for that lol. I’m too stubborn and stupid for my own good most of the time.

    Oh! If I ever get a chance I will. I like indie games in general. I followed The Unfinshed Swan for years even blogging about it. Unfortunately for me it became a PS3 exclusive…


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