The Mangaka saga in Hayate no Gotoku! has been almost as old as this blog – the saga started in Ch. 268, and my blog started at Ch. 267.
Of course, there had been other stories of other people as well, like Wataru, Yozora and Alice (Athena), but the main plot of the Mangaka saga is clear: Nagi had lost her astronomic inheritance, so she wanted to become a bestselling mangaka and earn huge by selling manga. Chiharu, now her tenant, introduced her to Suirenji Ruka, a very popular singer with a huge debt, whose ultimate dream was the same as Nagi’s.
They met, and had built up a certain kind of friendly rivalry. Ruka offered to assist with Nagi’s artwork, but she would still make her own doujinshi. As they would join Comisun on June 12 as two different circles, they would automatically be competing each other – even though neither of them suggested a competition.
As there was no formal suggestion of a competition, there was no clear terms of winning either, i.e. it was not clear how to decide the winner. Number of sales, percentage of sales, critical comments they receive (i.e. quality of the manga)… all are valid criteria, but they never settled on any one.
It turned out that the two of them picked different criteria to work on. Nagi set her goal to print and sell 1000 offset books, and in order to make sure it sells, she created a Maria site to try on stealth marketing. Ruka was more concerned about the quality of her manga, so she called Hayate for his (her?) honest feedback, and accidentally attracted Hina’s.
As such there was little common ground for them to compete. “Percentage of sales” could be one, but this would be very unfair to Nagi. Selling 1000 copies and selling 30 copies are two very different things. Perhaps the only thing they could compare fairly would be “the degree of success” – both reflect on their respective performance in Comisun, and gave herself a score. Of course, this is a rather vague and subjective criterion.
The vagueness of this criterion could be emphasized by the titled irony: Nagi could have sold all 1000 copies of her offset books (thus earned herself 100% in “the degree of success”), yet she would hit a complete failure as a mangaka.
The main duty of a mangaka is to draw manga, and in the end a mangaka would have to be judged on his or her quality of work. Thus far, Nagi’s effort on her manga quality has been disappointing. She understood that her work was not good enough, but after some reflections, she was still of the opinion that her work was in the correct direction. She would redo what she has previously drawn, with the addition of trivial things like H*ll* K*tt*. There would be no change in story and approach, so it would be highly unrealistic – as unrealistic as Nagi herself – to expect a huge improvement in the quality of her work.
That is to say, what Nagi would sell on June 12 Comisun would remain highly under-par. It means that, as a mangaka, Nagi would remain highly under-par.
It had little to do with the quality of her advisers. Of course, the whole “redo what you have done and put a H*ll* K*tt* in it” was Ayumu’s idea, but she threw this idea in after Nagi said that she was in the right direction. Unlike Ruka, Nagi did not think that there was serious trouble with her quality of work, and she did not persist on getting the truth when everyone was telling white lies to her. If she thought she was okay, she would not listen to criticisms even if they were from the High Spec Adviser.
As she thought that her quality of work was okay, Nagi wasn’t really working hard on it – at least, we haven’t seen her trying. Instead, she put her time on other matters like marketing. Her stealth marketing campaign was ingenious, and I think it would be working, but her plans demonstrated only her talent in business, not in drawing manga. Being a prodigy in one thing doesn’t mean you are a prodigy in other things.
Unless Nagi could show huge improvement in her quality of work, or that H*ll* K*tt* could mysteriously have excellent chemistry with “Important Detective Cop”, Nagi would have learnt little from this Comisun, no matter how many copies she sold and how much she earned.
Her “complete failure” lied at the misconception that she could consider her Comisun a success by selling all 1000 copies of her offset books. As a mangaka she should try to improve her quality of work by gaining experience in Comisun, but by focusing on sales numbers she completely missed the point.
What’s worse, if she managed to sell all 1000 copies, Nagi would have the impression that the manga world was about sales figures and profit after all, and would put even more efforts in marketing while even less on drawing. Find me a mangaka whose drawing skills would improve this way, and I will jump off from the top of Sunshine 60.
Good mangas usually sell a lot, but selling a lot doesn’t mean that it is a good manga. Nagi might be able to sell all 1000 copies of her offset books thanks to Maria, but that would not be proof that Nagi had become a better mangaka. Far from it.
Surely, I am going harsh on Nagi, but you could try to answer this question for her: When she grab the 90K yen profit in her hands, would she be happy? Is that all what she wanted from Comisun? Or would she feel, somehow, she was doing her career no good at all?