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Manga / Shuukan Shounen Hachi

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Duking it out with ink and pen.

"You could call this the story of a side character who wanted to challenge the mains."
—Yasaka "Hachi" Hachiki

Yasaka Hachiki isn't a genius, and he's painfully aware of it. Yet, fresh out of high school, he decided to enter a special school for aspiring mangaka: Onigahama, also known as "The Tower of Ogres", along with his buddy Saru. Even at the end of the school's two-year course, it is said that only one or two students actually become pros.

One serious contender is Mikeya "Miké" Touma, a pretty boy with an obvious talent for manga but who has so far failed to impress his friend, a strange girl he calls Myaako. To his shock, though, Myaako actually gives praise to a seemingly mediocre storyboard drawn by Hachi on a notebook. This ticks him off and sparks a rivarly between the two. Thus begins the tale of Onigahama's students and their merciless struggle to achieve their common dream.

Shuukan Shounen Hachi ("Weekly Boys' Hachi") is a manga about manga by Masuda Eiji, of My Monster Secret famenote , which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Champion from January to November 2018. It features his famously detailed and versatile artstyle and mix of drama and wacky comedy, although the tone is less absurdist than in his previous work. It is a Masuda series though, so expect the average stupidity level of the cast to be pretty high.

Alas, in a sad irony poor sales led to the series' cancellation after 42 chapters. The author would return to supernatural (and slightly horrific) comedy two years later with Yumemigaoka Wonderland, this time a monthly publication.

For a similarly hot-blooded mangaka story more focused on the publishing world itself, you can check out Shounen Jump's Bakuman。

Tropes featured in the series

  • Absurdly Long Stairway: Onigahama Academy sits at the top of one. It is of course highly symbolic of the long and painful training the students will have to go through before making it to the pro world.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The series ends after the battle between Hachi and Mikeya for the Shonen Champ oneshot contest, leaving the rest of their ascension as mangaka mostly to the imagination of the readers (save for a few glimpses in the last pages and in the omake).
  • Animal Theme Naming: The characters' nicknames. "Hachi" is a common name for Japanese dogs, "Saru" means monkey, a "Mike-neko" is a calico cat, and Myaako's "myaa" is the seagull's cry in Japanese. "Kiji" means pheasant, which is the the third companion of Momotarou (with the dog and the monkey) in the old tale. Then there's Handa, whose name sounds like "Panda" (which is her motif).
  • Ascended Extra: Handa and Inohara started as background characters and were only properly introduced in volume 2, but then they quickly became main characters alongside Hachi during the "Like Battle" arc, after which they stuck around and got further development. Handa and Hachi even become a couple in chapter 40.
  • Bland-Name Product: Masuda is having fun with the lawyer-friendly brands, with social networks like Twidder, Focebook or Inste, and the messenger app LIME. The number of users given for "Twidder" matches the realy one's too. To top it, Mikeya's one-shot was published in the "Champ", which is supposedly an abreviation of "Champion"… but in Japanese sounds suspiciously close to "Jump".
  • Book Ends: The final chapter ends with the same line as chapter 1 ("This is the cruel yet gentle tale of those contenders"). With an extra dose of bitterness considering the series' fate.
  • Call-Back: Inohara pulling a bucket of water out of nowhere and splashing it over Hachi's head in chapter 25 is reminiscent of a Running Gag in Sakura Discord.
  • The Cameo: Kamase, the journalist from "Tegoma TV" who questions Enma in chapter 24, was a minor antagonist working for an occultism magazine in My Monster Secret. "Tegoma" was the name of her cameraman and college crush.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: As the series is set in a specialty school characters don't wear uniforms, and every character, including background characters, has a visually distinct appearance.
  • Central Theme: Other than Masuda's usual theme of "learning to love yourself", this series focuses on the idea that your failures can become your strengths. And to an extent, that you should always try to learn from people who have a different experience.
  • Coming of Age Story: According to the author himself, the story is less about manga than about Hachi's growth as a person. It applies not just to Hachi but also the people he interacts with like Handa and Inohara, as the characters learn from each other.
  • Cut Short: The series was luckier than others in that it was cut at the end of an important arc and on a semi-conclusive note, but it still ended way earlier than the author had planned, leaving a lot of characters undevelopped − most notably Myaako, who was introduced as an important and enigmatic character but only got to appear in a few scenes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Chapter 38 is focused on a long-distance confrontation between Mike and Hachi as they're in the heat of finishing their manuscripts for the one-shot contest. The chapter's pacing, the way Mikeya shouts near the end and the last few pages with everyone sleeping exhausted in the classroom, are reminiscent of… another kind of "climax", which many readers didn't fail to notice.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The series introduces the readers (along with Hachi and Saru) to Onigahima academy by showing multiple students with uncanny designs (including a guy with a goatee and a fedora, a girl with a bat backpack and another girl with a panda mask) and shortly after senior students looking down at them from to top of a tower with heavy shadowing and ominous expressions. All of that establishes the mix of goofiness and over-the-top drama that will be the series' bread and butter.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each chapter's title is taken from a line of dialogue in said chapter.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe − When a media scandal threatens to hurt Onigahama's image, the teachers hold a press conference… and Enma single-handedly turns the scandal into a publicity stunt to promote the school, ignoring the journalists' outrage.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: After listening to Miké's story of his debut, Hachi concluded that despite being on different starting points, their existing situations and frustrations are similar. Additionally, both of them ending up engaging in a Ham-to-Ham Combat just under a day of meeting each other.
  • Official Couple: Handa and Hachi become one in chapter 40, with a little push from Inohara.
  • Page-Turn Surprise: The manga largely keeps to this style. While the setting and tone aren't quite as zany, the Mood Whiplash and page turns are still used abundantly −-a notable example being in chapter 3 when, after exposing which girls they find cute (after a moment of hesitation), the boys all admit that the first name that came to their minds was Mikeya, with the main character Hachi facepalming out of sympathy.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Chapter 22 is mostly dedicated to this, when Inohara invites Hachi and Handa to a public bath house (soon followed by the boys of the class). It turns out Ran is very Genre Savvy and deliberately talks aloud to trick the boys into thinking there's a gender-mixed bath outside (there's none.) The author further nails the contrast between the boys and the girls by having two panels side by side of one character asking another to pass the soap. One one side, Inohara playfully goes for more groping, while on the other Hachi meekly passes the soap with a gloomy expression, with the girls' voices in the background.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A good chunk of the inner monologues and dialogue in the last two chapters, as well as their very bittersweet tone and the fact they happen at dusk, obviously result from Masuda's own feelings about the series' cancellation.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Two distinct examples.
    • Hachi is the red oni, passionate and emotional with a severe inferiority complex, while Miké is the blue oni, cool and more talented that he wants to admit but proud in his own way. It reflects in their hair colors too.
    • Inohara and Handa have this sort of dynamic too, which the former being a tall, extrovert, carefree and cheerful girl while the latter is short, extremely shy, afraid of criticism and pretty sarcastic. And while Inohara has bright pink hair, Handa has black hair with a tinge of green.
  • Reused Character Design: There are a few familiar faces, from My Monster Secret − an Akane lookalike, Miké who is basically a male Nagisa and Kijima who looks like Shimada − and from Sakura Discord − Saru looks like Kousuke's baseball senpai and the teacher is pretty much the same as in that series. Plus Ran, who looks like a fusion between Youko, Shiho and Nomiya.
  • Running Gag: Handa stretching and twisting her panda mask in increasingly uncanny ways when she's upset. It includes shooting flames from its eye-holes or stretching it vertically to whip Inohara. An omake even reveals she can use it as improvised tent. It's the kind of absurd comedy that wouldn't be out of place My Monster Secret, which makes the character stand out even more in an otherwise pretty grounded setting.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: In chapter 3, when the guys are discussing which girls in the class they find cute, everyone stops short of saying "Mikeya" before picking a girl. They all embarrassingly admitting it afterwards.
  • Stylistic Suck: Since a good chunk of the series focuses on aspiring mangaka with below-average skills, some in-universe characters are drawn with awkward or simplistic designs − especially those drawn by Hachi. Inverted with characters drawn by Mikeya or Handa, who have very stylish and sophisitcated looks that nonetheless look nothing like Masuda's own style.
  • Toast of Tardiness: Played for Laughs in an early panel, where among other goofy-looking students, you have a decolorized girl enacting the cliché.