It’s time to start looking at some of the Shonen Jump titles that were cancelled early. The Ghostwriter is a good place to start since it ended extremely quick with only 14 chapters. The author does a good job of still closing it out in a normal way though. You could easily read this like a normal one shot and it actually flows together pretty easily. You could definitely make this into a movie so long as the audience can get around the main character’s plagiarism.
The series starts by introducing us to the hapless Sasaki. Sasaki has always wanted to be a great manga author/artist and he actually started out well when he was a kid. He won the rookie award and everything but since then his editor has shot down every idea he has thought of. The problem is that Sasaki wants to make a manga that everyone will enjoy and as a result his manga has no soul. Just when he is about to give up, a bolt of lightning strikes his microwave and it spits out a copy of Shonen Jump from 10 years in the future. Now Sasaki finally knows exactly what he has to do in order to claim victory in the rankings. Still, is it really okay to became an amazing manga writer by stealing someone else’s work?
Now, we do get a half hearted excuse for Sasaki at first since he actually thinks it was all an hallucination since he loses track of where the magazine was. Once he finds it though, then he is still going through with the plan. His rationale is that if he doesn’t draw the manga, then he’s effectively removed it from this universe’s timeline since the true author will never get to write it now. It’s definitely an excuse to be sure but Sasaki is running with it.
Complicating the issue is that a girl named Itsuki appears and she is the one who would have created the title in 10 years. Fortunately for Sasaki it’s impossible for anyone to guess what is going on with the time travel so while she does think it’s a huge coincidence, they do become friends. She aims to create an even better manga than what Sasaki has created as her true goal is also to make a manga that everyone can enjoy but that still seems like an impossible task. How can you possibly make something that everyone will enjoy?
The first half of the manga is really setting all of this up and it’s a fun slice of life title. Right away the art jumps out at you for being really advanced. This is not the kind of art you would expect for a brand new series. There is a lot of detail throughout and it helps the whole adventure flow really well. It’s also fun to have a manga based on the overall writing process since there aren’t a lot like that.
Perhaps the author figured that would be too low key though because the second half ups the stakes. It turns out that this wasn’t a random lightning bolt that hit Sasaki’s house. It was actually created by a time travelling robot who claims he is a being from another universe’s story. (The story hints that he may be Itsuki’s father or something though) He explains that his mission is to prevent her death but in every timeline he travels to, she dies anyway. Fortunately he has not lost his drive to try and save her anyway unlike a certain speedster..
Sasaki is his last hope. The only way to save Itsuki is to defeat her upcoming manga (Anima) with his current blue knight series. This will be difficult though because she is a complete genius who succeeds in drawing the best manga in every timeline. Why would this prevent her death? There are no time for questions and now Sasaki just has to try his absolute best!
Later on we get the reason for her death but that’s definitely more of a spoiler kind of area. Needless to say the series definitely gets a lot more emotional at this point and also gets rather out there. The time travel aspect plays a big role in the climax and it was all pretty interesting. Sasaki had to go through a whole lot of trials here. Now, I assume if the series wasn’t axed then some events would have gone a little differently but I do wonder how different the plot would have been. The whole story arc about saving Itsuki starts out rather early.
My main guess is that if this was a long ongoing Sasaki would have tried to save her in many different timelines before ultimately being defeated and going for the final trick we see in the ending here. Sort of like an Edge of Tomorrow kind of plot. It definitely could have been interesting although at this point we are far removed from the original plot of the manga. The whole process of becoming a big author felt like a big deal for a few chapters and then vanished as we got time skip after time skip.
Maybe the author saw the low ratings and just decided to go for a big genre shift? It’s another interesting aspect of reading a manga that got axed as you try to just piece together what is going on here. From the start the cast seems extremely small as the duo are the only big characters. You have Sasaki’s two editors and his assistants I suppose who could have been big but they’re pretty much non factors here.
So how is Sasaki himself? Well, he’s not one of the more likable leads but he’s okay I guess. He does start out as a really earnest guy with a solid dream. It’s nice that he wants to make the best manga ever and he does have a lot of drive and dedication. That being said, he definitely should have walked away from the microwave instead of starting that series. I do cut him some slack for the one shot since he somehow thought it wasn’t real but starting the ongoing was the point of no return for him.
Sasaki is immediately guilty but he’s constantly bashing himself which isn’t really an endearing trait in a main character. He is also as obvious as he can be that something is wrong about how he is making the manga. People may not be able to guess time travel but this gives them a reason to suspect something is up for no real reason. Sasaki either needed to stop drawing or just keep going with confidence, but his half hearted attempts can be annoying.
Meanwhile Itsuki is a solid heroine even if she isn’t always very reasonable. When we find out the cause of death for her, it’s tragic but you’re also shaking your head quite a bit. Obsession is definitely a dangerous trait to have and that’s unfortunately a word that fits her quite a bit. While I don’t believe the robot tried nearly enough if she couldn’t be saved in any timeline, it also shows that she won’t give up.
I would say she definitely does beat Sasaki as a character but it would have been good if she was a little nicer towards the end. She started out as a very cheerful person who was always nice to everyone so her transformation into someone who is rude to everyone was very sudden. It also doesn’t mesh well with her dream of creating a manga that everyone will love. Wouldn’t that mean she should be nice in real life as well?
As for the editors, well Sasaki’s first editor was definitely rather mean spirited. Telling the main character that he would never be good and that he should go home was definitely out of bounds. No wonder he didn’t last long. The second editor was a lot better. He doesn’t know the context of why Sasaki doesn’t want to draw so it makes sense that he would take such a hard stance on why the series must go on. This guy was earnest so he was a fun enough character. He definitely tried his best to help all the authors under him.
As for Sasaki’s assistants, they seriously didn’t appear enough to get much of a personality. One of them seemed rather hyper while the other was the calm and collected type. I’m sure at some point they could have become rivals like in Bakuman but it was too late. I think part of the issue here is that the series was rushing a lot compared to Bakuman. You can’t skip ahead months to years so quickly without ruining the chances of having some great opening rivalries. Part of the fun in these series is seeing how things go early on since that’s when the main character will be learning the ropes.
Still, we got some fun concepts here. I certainly will never turn down a good time travel element either. The ending is very satisfying and is really a good way of escaping this time loop. When you’re given a chance to change the past then you’ve definitely got to go for it as soon as possible. It’s too bad the series was cancelled since I don’t really see the plagiarism angle as being such a big deal. Yeah the main character made a mistake and continues to double down on it but there are a lot of ways it could have developed around that. Maybe have a new main character enter later who will be the real hero of the story if need be or have Sasaki see the error of his ways. Time travel and defeat himself with a better story.
So, what are some things I’d have changed to hopefully keep the series from being cancelled? Well, I guess the biggest way to address the plagiarism angle would have been to have Sasaki continue thinking that he was hallucinating. Have him see the magazine in his dreams every night as the robot beams the chapters directly into his brain. That way when Itsuki shows up, Sasaki has some doubts but has no reason to believe that he is stealing her work. You can still keep in his self doubt and lack of confidence so it doesn’t dramatically change the story but it would make him less unambiguously antagonistic.
Next, I think you can’t just change Itsuki’s personality completely. There’s no reason why she should go from being the nicest character in the series to the meanest. It just doesn’t make sense and you could still handle her whole character arc including the death without having to go this far. Now if you want the personality shift, then I think the way to do that would be to have her find out that Sasaki is stealing her ideas. Have her find the robot and happen to see when it blasts the magazine into his mind or if we still go with the paper versions, have her see it at his house.
That would at least solve some of the weaker areas in the series. Beyond that, I did think it was quite good so it’s not like I would change a whole lot. Not every series can be the next big thing so more often than not you just have to be ready to part with any of the titles. Who knows, maybe the series will come back someday, you never know when something will get a revival after all.
Overall, Time Paradox Ghostwriter is a good series. It’s one that moves at a very rapid pace but when you have to end this quickly it makes sense why that would be the case. There are a lot of good concepts in here and while it isn’t a battle manga, it was a good addition to Jump. The writing and art were on point and this was a true page turner. I blasted through all of the chapters in a single day after all. I’d definitely recommend this one if you want to read a rather low key title about the dedication you need in order to save a life.