Ah, Time Paradox Ghostwriter..
What else needs to be said about this “Once upon a time,” rising superstar manga. This studded juggernaut of a jewel that was to become part of the [NƎXT Generation] of Shonen Jump’s hall of fame. The manga to uphold the supremacy of Japanese dominated manga industry against the ever encroaching Manhwas and Manhuas.
The potential 4th Pillar had arrived at the nick of time to save this sinking ship called Shueisha from its lazy sub-par editors; [drunks and womanizers some may say] who left the helm of this Neo-Yamato flagship unattended, and leaving it to crash straight into the iceberg of mediocrity.
Let’s rewind time, and head back to the far far distant past of late 2020.
In the words of Jacob Seibers, [famously known as Chibi Reviews] in his recommendation video HERE.
“This series, Time Paradox Ghostwriter, is absolutely.. stunning, it’s been — been a long time, since I have been gripped by a new story. Like a story, that I had no idea about, no context, if it’ll be good or bad, just been a long time since a story really grabbed me, held onto me, and I had to sit there, start to finish..”
Possibly with some weeping included, apparently, it’s that good. If not, [SOO] good!
Granted Mr. Seibers was genuinely only sharing the same feeling we all had, when we first picked up this new super breed of manga, and flipped through this great tome’s pages, and while future generations, yet unborn, also blew the dusty cobwebs off their copies in their own journey of time-travel foolery at the same time we had embarked on ours. Confused yet? Perfect!
Let us dive right in, shall we?
IT ALL STARTS WITH A..
In chapter 1 we’re marinated with the backstory of our protagonist TEPPEI SASAKI, Age 24. [VIRGIN], and are allowed to peek through the many hardships of Teppei’s life [mostly manga related] which allows us to be graced with one of the greatest character traits that any writer can give their main character, and that is an endearing indomitable spirit.
We very soon find out Teppei’s own manga ideas are quite plain and mundane. I find this the most unrealistic part of the manga, because any JUMP editor both current and non-current would have gladly dropped their Asahi beer and leaped onto a ball like a seal and performed a myriad of tricks to acquire any story, anything that would pay for that next cold-cold chilled Asahi.
Okay, okay, joke.
Sadly for our hero here, Teppei’s career is a grim one that is pinned under the harsh reality of Japanese exceptionalism, and purified even further in the furnaces of JUMP’s strict editorial eyes. To really break through the doors toward serialization, he needs a ‘Breakout’ story.
(Probably the best panel throughout the whole manga.)
“Pedestrian premise. Flat characters. Boring. It’s not like any one part of it is especially bad. The problem is that nothing about it is good.” Teppei’s Editor, Kikuse.
(As Teppei mentions soon after, we all have to look at our work objectively.)
(And the expected result.)
THE BREAKDOWN FOR TEPPEI’S MANGA
TEPPEI SASAKI AGE 24 [PURE VIRGIN] CHARACTER BREAKDOWN – PART 1
Harsh advice, but any honest advice, no matter how ‘fe-fe hurting’ it may be is worth its gold in some marginal measure. Here Teppei is getting professional input, it carries more value than some schmoe walking down the street, indefinitely it should be taken, especially after so many failures.
Any craft worth doing is a labor of love, and usually a lifetime of learning with countless improvements along the way. However, there’s an underlying issue here that’s never addressed. What has Teppei missed along the way up to this point in this story to garner such terrible results?
From my perspective looking in as a writer and artist, I’d say, it’s a lack of exposure to many other ideas. Teppei most likely has only been exposed to manga all his life, and not just manga in general, but mainstream successful manga, all of them probably sharing the same running themes, character and scene beats. The man probably doesn’t even understand what a character arc is. If his editor has to be this blunt with him, it’s because he has a narrow view of writing and drawing.
A real-life disconnect between TEPPEI’s idea of what a good manga is, and the forming of that thought, leads to an idea simply being good enough without needing to know the steps, or understanding the craft, or worry about how the things he likes had been painstakingly made at all, and often at times, creators will surround themselves with actual talented people that will sadly make some vision come true, but by themselves normally, they would be doomed to fail.
TEPPEI SASAKI AGE 24 [PURE VIRGIN] CHARACTER BREAKDOWN – PART 2
This analysis only plunges deeper into the woolie hole.
Let’s switch gears for one moment, I’m going to talk about repertoire which every one who is in the business of creating imaginary silly things that hop around in our minds which we entertain with made-up scenes that keep us up all night. An actor for instance has a toolbox, but what’s in this toolbox you say? Well, acting techniques, or jutsus without the hand signs, unless you’re part of Hollyweird. Over the years, actors build up this toolbox to meet every possible character issue that may come up in a scene that needs to be improved upon or help execute an emotional beat in flawless precision all while living under imaginary circumstances. Of course, we have some people like TEPPEI DOWNY JR. who hams it up hamlet style, and we get something without substance or soul, literally soul vs soulless.
(Here’s what I call the prerequisites from an editor from another famous Shueisha series.)
The same application applies to artists in regards to tools used, and techniques applied, rendering, inking, composition, and ultimately a repertoire toolbox that is filled with every possible imaginary thing that has excited and sculpted their style, helping perfect it and leaving it beyond outside influence.
This applies to writing too. You want to be a better writer? Read novels, read scripts, write novels, write scripts, and I don’t mean stage scripts, I mean, screenplays! Explore different genres, read them all and also write them, horror, scifi, fantasy, sub-genres, noir, steampunk, time-travel. What, you don’t like romance? Tough sh*t, you need to learn how to do it all, or else you’re not going to cut it.
Don’t just read the hot stuff, read the classics, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, historical fiction, heck, all great writers have read the Bible cover to cover. It’s all part of the toolbox.
Plus don’t stick to one format forever, stretch out and do other things; novel format, script format, comic format, short story. Because formats don’t overlap in writing, you’ll end up being a ‘one note’ kind of guy, keep learning and growing. Even for a writer there’s a toolbox too, everything mentioned above is it, including character arcs, story act structures, three acts, four acts. Did you know each format has its own rules, some very strict, some with underline tropes to avoid, and guess what? These rules, if you’re a good enough writer, you’ll know how to utilize them altogether and hopefully make something amazing. Now is all of this a recipe for guaranteed success? Well ———- No.
However, like everything worth doing right in life, it constitutes a whole lot of preparation with every little bit of hustle, including a little bit of craziness, too.
The lesson here is that unless one has a deep enough well to draw a pail of creativity from, people will only be able to pull from the very surface of mediocre and scrap the very bottom of their self-imposed limits set on themselves, either out of pride, or sheer fear. Now in saying all this, it leaves us with only one thing that’s left for our hero TEPPEI SASAKI AGE 24 [MAIDEN] to do.
IT’S TIME TO RIP OFF SOMEONE ELSE’S HARDWORK!
(A manga from the year 2030 is teleported from the future and into the hands of our great hero plagiarist.)
This is where the story of Time Paradox Ghostwriter triumphs, and also falls into a ravine of wasted potential. The story hook is finally introduced which leads to an immense divergence, and continues diverging into deep depths filled with many deadends, have-nots, and loopty-loops. This leaves many readers wishing for a system restore point to its original campy, hopeful opening. I wish there was more to be said, but that’s as far as my review for this series goes.
With exploring only chapter 1, I hope you dear treasured readers undertake this journey personally to see what happens next and deduce your own conclusion why this stellar series was eventually AXED, and left to future scholars to ponder its ‘What ifs?’ left behind in its wake.