What started as a rather low-key episode turned out to be something much better than I could have hoped for…

Thanks to the sudden crossover between Crow and +NATURAL, Mashiro and Takagi’s secret weapon – the colour spread cover – fails to improve PCP‘s position. Therefore the duo makes a bold decision – they will attempt a story arc! With 6 more chapters left until the Editor-in-Chief’s deadline, this means that they will have only one shot at this. We’ve already learned that Ashirogi Muto works best when they are under pressure, however this time it is Takagi who’s in spotlight.

Rival appears! <que Pokemon Rival Theme>

Takagi’s ace in the sleeve is a rival. Akechi is yet another super smart elementary schooler who notices the perfect crimes of the PCP trio and tries to reveal them. The plot conceived by Takagi is rather interesting, especially that it is inspired by the actual rivalry between Ashirogi Muto and the other Shounen Jack authors. Also, I really liked the plot devices here, such as the mysterious e-mail that had not one, but two hidden messages in it. Ah, the wonders of the Japanese language and all their alphabets :P

DAT ENDING

While the original concept created by Shiujin was already very good, it was that final polish that made it into a masterpiece. The hidden messages and the final confrontation just made these scenes so much better. And that ED playing in the background, it was a perfect fit. Really impressed with how the managed to finish this episode. Mashiro’s awesome art and Takagi’s amazing skills at writing plot – *this* is Ashirogi Muto at their best. Really, it makes me want to actually read this fictional manga of theirs, and that’s quite telling.

You just know it’s gonna be good if Takagi uses his trademark smile

With so much emphasis put on side characters and Mashiro in the past, it is refreshing to see Takagi get some screen time. Mashiro’s improved his artwork by leaps and bounds, and so now the fate of PCP rests on the writer’s shoulders. His bold suggestion of a story arc and how he managed to actually pull one off once again prove that almost nobody can match Takagi in the field of writing. And still, despite all this talent, he remains a friendly chap – as witnessed in his chat with Iwase. Despite some bad blood between these two, he still sees her as a colleague and doesn’t hold a grudge against her. A fellow human being, fellow writer/rival, a friend, eh?

HUMANZONED! RIVALZONED! FRIENDZONED! Triple hit KO!

Surprisingly, Iwase loses her cool demeanour and acts all tsundere – and the magic word “suki” (though not used in a romantic context here) stun her to the point she doesn’t seem to mind having been just friendzoned, rivalzoned and humanzoned.

All in all, I expected a slow and uneventful episode – instead, I got an instant solution to the duo’s problem (I hate it when they stretch it too much) and an excellent ending. More than enough to satisfy my weekly Bakuman need.

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