It is the 67th chapter since Ch. 268, and finally we reach June 12, the day in the FlashForward.
Over the past year, Hata has done much work setting up everything for this day:
- Hata introduced Ruka, a completely new character to the series. Set as a friend to Chiharu, Hata allowed Ruka to build up relationships with several characters while feeding us her back story from time to time. We might think differently about her, but we have to agree that yet another lively character is born.
- Hata gave a new challenge to Nagi, his main heroine, by inviting her to join the June 12 Comisun, thus giving new meanings and purposes to her already very big ambition.
- Hata set up a “conflict of manga theories” between Nagi’s side and Ruka’s side. The two girls now represent two different ideologies: Nagi concentrated on marketing and the number of sales, while Ruka focused on improving the quality – or at least readability – of her manga.
Slowly it might be, but Hata really has been working all the way to this promised day, and now we catch up with the day of the FlashForward. The past now connects with the present, and we head towards the future.
As suggested since the first day of it, the poll at my blog comes to an end, now the story has reached June 12, 2005. There is a total of 290 votes, 80 go to Nagi’s side, 202 go to Ruka’s side, and 8 go to Maizumi. In other words, the majority of you support Ruka. Thank you for voting!
On June 12, Nagi had her 1000 offset books ready. As she suggested in the last chapter, it wouldn’t just be her doujinshi, but also a Maria photo book. How Nagi managed to take these photos without Maria noticing is a mystery, but what was done was done, and there was nothing Maria could do to stop selling these books – or at least to stop herself from being exposed to the public. Thanks to Nagi’s websites, over 1 million people must have known Maria.
Seeing 1000 offset books, Nagi was in awe of how many they were. With her own eyes, she could see that “1000” doesn’t only mean a one followed by 3 zeros. It is hard enough for Nagi to sell all 1000 books, and let’s not forget that she had another competition…
If we are talking about her competition with Maizumi, then she had forgotten it already. It should have been obvious, since Nagi originally planned to print 50 offset books, only half the number she agreed to compete with Maizumi. If she went with her original plan, then the competition could not take place at all – unless, for some reason, Maizumi agreed to change the rules.
Fortunately, Maizumi turned out to be even worse than Nagi, since he did not even get his book out in time. We might laugh at him, but such things happen all the time. Doughnut Gunso always doesn’t get the Chapter Reviews out in time, so…
In any case, as he challenged Nagi to a competition but failed to put up his fight, Maizumi embarrassed himself. He must have expected himself to be teased mercilessly by Chiharu and Nagi, and it might be why he put up that drama. It was a diversion to draw Nagi and Chiharu’s attention away from the competition.
Personally I do not have anything to say on his drama, but his confession that he failed to make his new book in time makes me laugh. Boy, I am beginning to like him.
Maizumi was gone, and Nagi could face her real rival – Ruka. Where exactly did the rivalry lie? It might be Nagi’s desire to be as special as – or even more special than – Ruka. Nagi had always viewed Ruka as a girl very close to God, and if she could be on par with – or better than – Ruka, she could raise herself to the same level as – or a level above – her. To some people, an idol is a target for them to surpass, and it certainly was the case for Nagi.
Ruka herself arrived at Comisun in a Kyuubey costume, accompanied by Hayate and Hina, looking very unsure. Nobody questioned why Hina was there, so it might be safe to assume that Hayate had told Nagi and Chiharu about Hina’s involvement in Ruka’s manga.
Finally, Comisun began, and both Nagi and Hina said that their theory would hold true. Sometimes, you could just see that they were very, very similar. It was just that their opinion on what makes a good manga differ. In other words, this Comisun could also be seen as a clash of manga ideologies between Nagi and Hina.
Nagi’s circle made a very strong start. Her marketing was definitely working, and with Maria herself as the salesgirl, the circle attracted many customers – many of them Chiharu didn’t expect to turn up this early. A “doujinshi + photo book” set was sold at 500 yen, so if Nagi managed to sell all 1000 copies, she would have earned 500,000 yen, and thus make a handsome 290,000 yen profit.
People rushed in, and purposely looked for Maria. It was clear that the customers came only for Maria and her photo book, and it didn’t really matter if Nagi’s manga was there or not. If Nagi had wanted to sell Maria’s photo book, she did not have to draw her manga at all.
Also note that Ayumu, a recognized member of Nagi’s circle, did not turn up. Maybe she would later, for a specific purpose…
Ruka watched as Nagi’s manga sold, and became more and more worried. Unlike Nagi, her methodology of drawing and her marketing strategy (if existed) were not her own idea. She did what Hina had told her, and you can’t blame her for thinking that it might not work at all. Hina, on the other hand, remained calm and confident, and helped Ruka with inviting customers to read.
As she talked to their first customer, Hina took Ruka’s hand. This is an act not only surprised Ruka, but also me. Girls who are very close friends often take each other’s hands, so Hina showed friendship and support to Ruka with such a move. Besides, a teenage girl holding hands with a mascot looks very cute, and it certainly is very pleasant sight. I love this moment very, very much.
Also note that Hayate, a recognized member of Ruka’s circle, had disappeared since the start of Comisun, and only Hina was left to help Ruka.
Nagi also had disappeared from her counter, but at least we know that she was sitting behind it. She could hear that a lot of people came at her counter, and she was delighted that her manga was selling. The thing is that she quite missed the point: People came asking for the photo book set. The thing which really was selling was the side-product, not the main one.
As customers asked whether they could buy the photo book set only, Nagi suddenly felt that something went wrong. The thing she wanted to sell was her manga, but people did not care about it at all. She was clearly unhappy with it, but she kept telling herself that, as long as it was selling it would be fine, no matter what actually was on sale. You could see that it is the thought of a businessperson instead of a mangaka. Surely, a mangaka would make selling the manga as his or her top priority. The businessperson-mangaka conflict in her mind became her identity crisis: What did she want to become? What did she want to do in this Comisun?
Just then, Hayate arrived, and he looked as if he had nothing to do. In fact, he had nothing to do, as Ruka’s doujinshi had already sold out, so their circle could be dismissed. In the last chapter Hina was shown to be planning for something once Ruka achieved her sell out, but if they could dismiss their circle, could that mean that Hina’s plan wasn’t about Ruka? Or had she already taken Ruka to do whatever she wanted to do?
As Hayate told Nagi that Ruka had already sold out, Nagi was “shaken violently”, and we could only wonder why. After all, it was only 30 copies, a much easier goal to achieve than Nagi’s. By then, Nagi should have already sold over 30 copies, so numerically she had already won. If so, why was she shaking so violently?
Perhaps, it was the way Ruka achieved her sell out. It was done so quietly, so low-profile, yet very quickly and easily. It didn’t look as if she had to put any effort at all: No big spending, no large-scale marketing campaign, no side-product, but only 30 copy-bons. A special person is someone who makes hard tasks look easy, and maybe it came to Nagi’s mind once again that Ruka was special, and she was ordinary.
Anyway, we are likely to know what Nagi was thinking as she heard Ruka had sold out. How would Nagi do with her own doujinshi? Would she be able to sell out? People came for the photo book rather than Nagi’s manga, but what would be their feedback on the manga? Let’s look forward to answers in the coming chapters!