Just as Maria (and Athena) has expected, Nagi messes up badly by spilling ink all over her manuscript. Just as we have expected, Maria steps up to perform her “mother role”. What I have – honestly – not expected is that Chiharu would stop her, and take up the task of cheering Nagi up from her.
One might ask why Chiharu decides to do this. There might not be a definite answer to this question, but my guess is that Chiharu thinks this is not the occasion for Maria to do things the “mother way”. We know for sure that Maria would clear up the mess for Nagi, and to offer her comfort. Most likely she would tell Nagi that failure isn’t that horrible, because she would support the little mistress no matter what. What I foresee is that Nagi would accept Maria’s words, admit defeat and give up on the doujinshi competition. This, as Chiharu would tell you, is not what Nagi should take.
I don’t think Maria is offering the wrong thing to Nagi – I wouldn’t say offering comfort to your friend in sorrow is wrong. Yet while “comfort” could warm Nagi’s heart, it is not going to make her a better mangaka. In other words, Chiharu thinks that it is in Nagi’s best interest to block her from her comfort zone, her escape route. This is why Maria’s “mother way” is not needed now.
In four words: no pain, no gain.
So, what would Chiharu do? Instead of the “mother way”, Chiharu employs the “Otaku way”. By making references to anime, Chiharu talks about real-life (?) examples instead of empty advices. More importantly, Nagi needs some “heroes” to follow. We might not notice it, but if we admire some anime or manga characters, we would follow their examples: we think like they do, and we do like they do. Look no further than to the numerous attempts to perform “Kamehameha”.
What kind of heroes should Nagi follow? It would be the main protagonists who have a dream, who face difficulties which seem unable to overcome, but who never give up. They are great examples for Nagi to know that people do not give up so easily (we are actually living in paradise when compared to some main protagonists…), and their victory should inspire Nagi that, if you are the one with the toughest mind in the contest, victory will eventually be yours.
Some say you would have no enemy if you manage to live longer than all of them. Well..
Chiharu doesn’t only talk about hero stories, she also points out something very important: no one has ever forced Nagi into the doujinshi competition. Nagi was the one who decided to do it, and it means that she was – and still is – looking for something in this competition. Of course, the competition has been contaminated by her bet with Ruka, but let’s forget about that shit and go back to the basics: what was Nagi’s initial motivation to battle Ruka in the doujinshi competition? It was that after reading Ruka’s first doujinshi, she thought that she could make a better one, thus becoming “something special” by beating someone who was special!
In a sense, Nagi has not lost to anyone but herself. By agreeing to a stupid bet with Ruka, which in my opinion is an insult to manga-making, Nagi has forgotten about her own dream. When was the last time we heard Nagi talking about her ambition to sell trillions of her manga? It has been way too long, because Nagi has simply forgotten about that. That ambition – unrealistic but pure – has given way to a bet which has zero respect to the boy who has become a prize. This is why Nagi was thinking that the doujinshi competition has become meaningless – she has replaced her true ambition with a motivation of no true value.
Yes, we all know that Ruka has exactly the same “motivation”, but Ruka’s way of thinking shouldn’t be Nagi’s way of thinking. Let’s not forget that Ruka is almost certain that she would be giving up her mangaka dream – she is going back to the idol business. So in a sense she wouldn’t, shouldn’t and doesn’t care about the manga business any more. She has every right to insult the manga business by offering a stupid bet. Yet Nagi is not Ruka: she still has her manga dream, although she has forgotten about it. While Ruka is okay with insulting manga, Nagi shouldn’t be following!
Luckily, Nagi now remembers. She remembers that she was born into a family with everything, so she has been nothing. She remembers that she wanted to become “something special” because she wanted to be something different from her everything – if her family has the world, she would have to be another world in order to get something new. She remembers that in order to be “something special”, she should become a mangaka who sells trillions of copies. She would become a legend, and a legacy.
As she aims to be “something special”, she would need to do “something special”. As such, she has to forget about the below-par “nothing but scribbles”. She needs to do something of the (or at least, her) highest quality. She is not going to compromise because there is little time left. In fact, time is too short for garbages.
I… do not remember how long have I been complaining about Nagi’s wrong concept on the doujinshi events. Now that I have heard Nagi saying – or, in fact, thinking – “It wasn’t for Hayate, and it wasn’t to defeat Ruka. It was for me!”, my only response is an Emperor Palpatine quote:
Maria stands there, watching Chiharu gets Nagi on fire again. She suddenly realises that she has done nothing – or, to be fair, she has not been allowed to do anything. Athena’s words are the final nail on the coffin: “It looks like your mother role isn’t needed any more.”
Allow me to say no to this. I would say it is only that the “mother role” isn’t suitable for the current situation. No matter how great a mother is, there are certain things she would never be able to do for her child. This is why we need a bigger social circle than our family: certain roles can only be played by friends, teachers, lovers and our children.
Yet, when the time has come, Maria’s “mother role” would be needed again. When Nagi has got what she wanted from the doujinshi competition, she would want to report this good news to her family – and for that Nagi would certainly go to Maria. Nothing replaces the love and care of a mother, after all.
By the looks of it, we are going to skip a few days in the story, and arrive straight on 13 August, the day of the “final battle”. It looks like Hata doesn’t want to detail the final days of Nagi’s (and Ruka’s) work. In a world where anything that can go wrong would go wrong (Murphy’s Law), it seems that the printing houses – or at least, machines – could do no wrong.
The biggest challenge for Nagi is that she really has too little time to redo all her work. Normal ways would not allow her to finish her manga in time, so she must do something very innovative. As I cannot draw, I don’t know how Nagi could do it, but maybe drawing bigger and fewer panels per page could be a start…