Bakuman – Gambling on the Possibilities

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There are a lot of hard-boiled manga actions in Bakuman, in fact, it seem like it’s even nearing it’s end. I believe it’s a good opportunity to turn back time to the very earliest of episodes, and have a look at Mashiro’s rationale behind his occupation as a mangaka, and also how it reflects to my own.

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Mangakas are those who can live just by drawing manga. Even if they get a serialization on a weekly magazine, if the results from the weekly survey are bad, the series stops in 10 weeks. If they hit the bulls-eye or create a good series, no problem. But until they do it, they’re just gamblers. The ones who can live from it are about 0.001%, one in 100 thousand people.

To Mashiro, being a mangaka is a sort of a “repressed” dream. He wanted to be one, but he’s a realitist, he can make out the difficulty and instability of being one. It is indeed very hard to gain a steady income from it, and even if they do gain some fame and wealth, it is difficult to keep up with such success, unless your ability and recognition is akin to The Big Three’s authors, Masashi Kishimoto, Eiichiro Oda or Tite Kubo. He would rather choose an ordinary, stable job, like a salaryman.

Of cause, one’s own mindset comes into play as well. If they are treating drawing and illustrations only as a hobby, what would he feel when suddenly he had to use such hobby to earn money? As we can see from how abnormally devoted the characters from Bakuman are, a mangaka had to use something he only did for fun to extreme levels; drawing 20+ pages per week, thinking of names and storyboards, catching up deadlines, and he had to work with the assumption that he definitely won’t earn much (almost none even) until his works are serialized. Will he still feel fun under such intense stress and pressure? Some might still feel fun in it, others might not, everyone has different viewpoints. In that sense, it’s perfectly normal to find a bland but simple job. I guess this is one reason why there are second and third choices in all those career application forms high schools require us to fill. One might think, if you already had a decisive dream since childhood, why would you need a second and third choice? In reality of cause, it’s not as simple.

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Mashiro:In the Taro Kawaguchi school of thought. The three great conditions for becoming a manga artist, if you’re not a genius.
Takagi: T-teach me!
Mashiro: Number one, pride. Think that you’re way better than everyone else.
Takagi: Alright, I’ve got that one down already. And on top of that, it’s not just pride. It’s the truth.
Mashiro: That would be called pride.
Mashiro: Number two, effort.
Takagi: Oh, this time it’s something upstanding, Mr. Taro Kawaguchi.
Mashiro: And lastly, yes.. luck.

Later on in the anime, Takagi’s relentless convincing (with the “help” of Azuki) managed to divert Mashiro’s mindset, he finally has the courage to take the “gamble” too. It’s also not a choice made in a spur of a moment as well, before making such a heavy decision, he actually thinks long and hard, even though he didn’t really show it on the outside. After deciding to become a mangaka too, he already had mental preparations and had the perfect rationality of someone stepping into a new boundary; pride, effort and luck – the embodiment of Mashiro’s mentality. He has the confidence, or in his words, pride which is certainly a positive disposition. He is not over-confident as well and with his modesty, he understood that even if he’s skilled, he still need effort to improve his drawing quality. Besides, drawing manga and just plainly sketching with a pencil is two completely different thing. With his philosophy on the manga industry, he also claimed having luck is a crucial element, since according to his reasoning, Ashirogi Muto is practically a “gambler”. Indeed, this is realistically true as well, since even with talent and hard work, it’s still not a 100% certainty for success.

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Have you ever thought of becoming a superstar? How about a supermodel? I’m sure some of us should had written such embarrassing statements in our essays back in primary or kindergarten, and that’s part of being a kid. Being a kid means you are ignorant to the restrictions of the world, and with it comes endless possibilities. Growing up, one will gain the knowledge of common sense, and with, the power to separate reality and illusion. However, an “illusion” doesn’t really mean it will never exist. Humans may be weak but at the same time, they are also strong, intelligent creatures. Through sheer hard work, stubbornness and willpower, it might be even be possible to project these “illusions” into reality.

It’s all about having the courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and gamble on the vast possibilities. Of cause, one cannot achieve anything through luck alone, and even a talented person needs hard work to make themselves known. It is also important to have just the right amount of optimism and confidence. In Mashiro’s terms, it’s “pride”, “effort” and “luck”, the three key points for the generalization of success.

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Nature was a fantastic company to work at. It was the first Japanese working environment that I worked in which exposed me to many Japanese society terms, mannerisms and customs. I learned a lot about publishing, marketing and technology and was satisfied with the salary that provided me with a content life. I achieved many goals for the company too and launched many scientific journals in the region which was also rewarding.

But then I started to realize that I had fallen into one of the most dangerous situations that one can ever be in – in something that I call the Comfort Zone. Humans have basic needs such as food and shelter and being comfortable means that they are in a position where they can fulfill these needs. There are many folks out there who want to pursue their passion in life but end up not wanting to get out of the Comfort Zone because there is a risk associated that could take these basic fulfillment’s away. The Comfort Zone makes it very difficult to change.

Humans act on necessity and if there is no need to do something, humans generally don’t. If the basic human needs are fulfilled, there is generally no need to do anything.
~by esteemed blogger Danny Choo sharing one of his inspirational life stories.

For those of you who are interested, I recommend reading about the history of renowned blogger, Danny Choo. Danny Choo was a nobody at first, a nobody who loves watching Japanese anime and games. However, he is now one of the most famous individual in the world. He collaborates with CEOs of several big companies, gives speeches for various important occasions and possesses his own line of products. He was featured on CNN one time and at another time, he met the officials from METI (Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). He was even invited to meet the UK Prime Minister! With just his passions and courage alone, it drove him to success. The link above is a very inspirational story of how the fame of Danny Choo came about.

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In order to achieve our seemingly unrealistic dreams, one needs the courage to gamble his life. I do make a few “gambles” of mine but not on the level of Ashirogi Muto or Danny Choo. The willpower and courage to make such huge gambles in their life is awe-inspiring, something I really respect. It shows us that nothing is really impossible for us humans.

PS: I haven’t started watching Bakuman S3 yet as of this post.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

4 thoughts on “Bakuman – Gambling on the Possibilities

  1. Not letting go of the inner kid that had that dream probably is key to success.
    Danny Choo had many nice articles about what made him who he is today. Admirable person.

  2. I can only wish to be as great as Danny Choo
    Real good read
    I kind of toned down on Bakuman during its halfway point due to me..well seeing the same stuff. It’s still a good manga though, Fukuda ftw

    • Me too, lol.
      Indeed, that’s why I thought of reflecting on some earlier episodes though I’m not sure about S3, since I haven’t watch it yet.

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