Animegataris

March 11, 2018

Another anime about clubs? I suppose we have sports clubs and video game programming clubs so I guess now it is anime’s turn to have its anime club series this season. So what else is there in Animegataris about a bunch of people in a club who talk, discuss and do stuffs all related to the otaku world? Anime fans should love this as it is going to be filled with lots of trivia. See how many you can spot them. Will your pause button be destroyed first before you finish this series?! Anime is such a horrifying destroyer of life…

Episode 1
Minoa Asagaya can’t remember if she watched anime when she was young. Asking her older sister, Maaya, she did mention a few of them but none rings a bell. We are introduced to a few characters in Minoa’s class. Her athletic tomboyish friend, Yui Obata. Miko Kouenji who is an anime lover and currently reading a very complicated anime title. Rich girl Arisu Kamiigusa whose snap of the finger can have prompt service from her butler, Sebastian. If only real life service was this freaking fast and awesome. Tooru Roppongi the very effeminate homeroom teacher. Later, Minoa is being called by Arisu to meet in a room. To her surprise, Arisu is an anime fan as she starts ranting her love for anime. She thinks Minoa is one too as she noticed she talked to Miko about one this morning. She tries to find common ground by listing animes she probably likes but Minoa is already so lost. When Arisu loses her enthusiasm, it’s Minoa’s turn to have that fervour. But it is more of because she has always thought Arisu as unapproachable and never knew she was into this sort of thing. Minoa seeks her help to identify an anime she watched she was young. She only remember a handful of scenes and sometimes dream about it. Arisu searches for a few but they aren’t it. I guess the only place left to ask is where there are lots of anime fans. Yes, the anime club. Unfortunately it has been inactive for quite a while as you can see how messy the clubroom is. But because it is a treasure trove of a few anime magazines, they get this idea to form an anime club. The minimum number of members is 6. Minoa didn’t want to join initially but Arisu didn’t give her an option so I guess she has to. Yeah, here’s a bunch of her anime collection for her to watch and catch up. After summoning her butler and maids to clean up the place in no time (I really wish I had this sort of service), Arisu finds a locked door. She thought of asking the student council for the key but when Minoa tries to open it, it feels like somebody is trying to hold it close. She forcefully opens it and what’s inside are a cat and a beret. When she touches the beret, it’s like she entered a trance for a while. Oh well, nothing suspicious. Let’s go home. On her way home, Minoa enters a short trance before losing the beret. The wind blows it to some depressed guy. She realizes her handphone is missing and goes back to the clubroom to get it only to be shocked it is in the hands of the cat. And he is talking!

Episode 2
Minoa has a dream of that unidentified anime. Only, replace the main character with Arisu! I guess that entire night of binge watching anime must be the cause. She’ll experience her first early morning embarrassment when Arisu dresses her up in a bunny outfit to hand out flyers and recruit more members to their club. They manage to get Masato Gomon as their supervising teacher but I guess he doesn’t really care or mind and lets them do what they want. In the clubroom, they are surprised that Miko is here. Looks like she is joining them. Because Miko reads original light novel works and Arisu only watches the anime adaptation, this has them clash in a lot of aspects like cut out scenes and rewatching. So deep. Minoa must be so lost. Senior Erika Aoyama decides to join them and upon their request, she becomes the club president. She has another person she wants to recommend joining this club. Folks, meet Kai Musashisakai. Basically, still in chuunibyou mode. The anime club discusses about several stuffs but as usual, Minoa is lost. When everyone leaves, the cat (Neko) talks to Minoa about not forcing a conversation if she doesn’t like it. He asks about the beret in the room and since she doesn’t remember what happened to it, he tells her to keep 2 promises: Let no one know he can talk and always close that room’s door. Later as the club members discuss about activities and put forth suggestions, each time Minoa does so, it is so unrelated that it makes her feel out of place. So they ‘re-educate’ her about what makes anime interesting and a classic. Seems that everything can be constitute as interesting and a classic. Really. Can porn scenes make an anime interesting and classic? But this sets up yet another argument between Arisu and Miko regarding omission of a chapter in anime. It got so bad that Arisu tells her to quit and Miko takes up on that offer. Minoa stops it all by passionately expressing how everyone has their own preferences. To each their own. Anime won’t be much if we keep rejecting each other over different preferences. This well said speech has senior Kouki Nakano impressed as he decides to join the club. He is a popular guy in school with his own fan club (damn his good looks) but of course Minoa is clueless of who he is. And yeah, he is a hardcore anime fan. With that, Miko revises her decision and decides to stay. Just when things are looking good, suddenly the student council barges in with a warrant that bars the anime club from using the clubroom effective immediately.

Episode 3
As the club is not approved by the student council despite having the required number of members, that is the basis for them being kicked out. Gomon isn’t even trying to help them and so that’s it for our anime club? Erika decides to bring everyone to Akiba and Minoa is like a country bumpkin being here for the first time. She introduces Minoa to cosplay before the rest head to a store selling various anime merchandises. Kai is surprised that Minoa is paying attention to all his chuunibyou ranting. Because she finds it interesting. At the end of their trip, the gang discusses about the ‘sacrilege’ and how common it is for viewers to drop watching an anime after the third episode if there is no twist or reason to make them want to stay and watch. Next day in school, there is a notice for a meeting to abolish the anime club. Well, it was Gomon’s idea since they pleaded for him to try and think of something. So he thought of proposing if the anime club can’t debate why they have to exist, the only next best reason is for it to be shut down. Erika isn’t so keen on voicing her opinion. If they really want to fight and keep the anime club, she’ll support them since she prefers to keep the club to more of an out-of-school activity like the Akiba trip. For some odd reason (maybe bad decision), Minoa is chosen to go out on stage to give a speech. I guess with Arisu and Miko writing the script… As expected, she is like a robot and being nervous. All over the place and even saying stuffs like she doesn’t know anything about anime. Crowd must be confused. Because the student council has already given their fiery speech of bashing anime of how worthless and a waste of everything. Enough to make all anime fans boil. Just when it seems like the end of Minoa, Kai gets up and takes over. He makes his passionate speech and likens this to a battle anime whereby the heroes’ side with the weak to defeat the tyranny and the oppressors. At the end of the speech, Kai is a bit wobbly so Nakano helps him out and this gay scene ‘woke’ a lot of people up. So in the end, I guess that must be the clincher as the anime club is overwhelmingly voted to be kept running since half the males and a very great number of females voted for it. Minoa is so happy that she now has a clubroom and they can talk about anime longer. But she starts regretting since she is dumped a new heap of anime collection to watch. Anime 24/7! And now we have a clubroom for it.

Episode 4
The student council president, Tsubaki Akabane seems to have a grudge against the anime club as she is still bent on shutting them down. So she sends her underlings, Ayame Osaki and Matsuri Toda to dig up dirt on them. Arisu orders a stack of anime discs as they discuss how animes aired on TV won’t make money and hence products and events to cover the costs as well as the collaboration of companies for a production committee to budget anime. And there’s also a talk of multiple of the same copies anime diehards will buy. Suddenly here comes the student council to rain on their parade. They have discovered an expensive spending of club funds in a single receipt. Arisu accepts this is her own money but still the rules state a newly founded club cannot spend that much. Erika decides to take responsibility to Tsubaki throws her a challenge they will help other clubs for a week without compensation. Of course she is not expecting anything from them as she views them as useless. Disagree? Then prove it. Depressed Minoa gets her hopes up talking to Nakano why he entered anime. He drew inspiration from an anime depicting high school students fighting their own student council body to save their school. Sounds familiar… Erika cosplays and hands out flyers to offer help to other clubs. This has other club members helping her out. We see them helping out other clubs but they screw up somehow. All of them. Finally Nakano comes in with a request from the drama club to make outfits for their play. Erika becomes stumped and disheartened after her failed sketches. It reminds her of her time studying overseas alone. With Nakano saving the day again with his motivation via some idol anime, Erika gets back on her feet and delegates the duties. On the day of the play, the student council is sure the anime club would have failed. But they are dumbfounded to see how well everything was done. Eat your words. Even so, Tsubaki still won’t approve! Shifting the goal post? Now Erika lashes back that anime isn’t as worthless as she thinks. It saved her during her lonely years overseas and doesn’t Tsubaki remember their anime childhood together? With other clubs thanking the anime club for their help, Tsubaki lets this slide. But of course there is a hidden hand and higher authority working in the shadow as Tsubaki makes a call regarding her failure to shut down the anime club. It’s out of her hands now.

Episode 5
The anime club will be attending the Summer Comiket. Minoa thought it would be a breeze in the park. Well, reality is going to hit her real hard when she finds the train more packed than usual. That’s nothing, though. After meeting up with her pals, now they have to wait in the long queue. Before that, they have to go stock water to stay dehydrated. That is even a long line. And if you want to go to the toilet, there’s also a long queue. Thankfully Minoa and Arisu did their business but find themselves lost. Luckily this Chinese girl, Yang Beibei help guide them back. Do they know each other? She is the girl standing behind them in the line. Soon they become very good friends. The day is getting hotter and when the line starts moving, looks like it is going to take another hour to enter the hall! They finally manage to get in as all split up for their own respective interests. Minoa and Arisu have a field day buying merchandises. Erika dresses up in a cosplay and meets an old cosplay buddy manning a booth here. Her friend introduces a fellow colleague, Mutsuki who is also from the anime club. He has this impression that Erika’s school’s anime club is very impressive as heard from a graduate there but this surprises Erika a little. At the end of the day, the girls part ways with Beibei who wants to hang out a little longer. Minoa realizes too late they forgot to exchange contacts but Erika assures her as long as they are anime fans, they will definitely meet again here. The girls take a refreshing boat ride and very much enjoyed the day. Except for Kai. The beloved limited merchandise he wanted to buy has sold out. His Unchained Golden Wallet remains unused…

Episode 6
The anime club members are going for their first anime pilgrimage tour around Japan. A short discussion on such several places in Japan due to the booming popularity of the anime industry. While on the train, the sudden jerk causes Miko to accidentally trip and her boobs fall over Kai’s dick!!! This has Kai start overthinking the hidden message behind this. Even while during the tour, Minoa could notice Kai is acting differently. So much so it scares her and the other girls had to tell him to stop ‘fighting the other world’. The girls are disheartened when their lodging has no TV or DVD player. I guess with the limited funds, this is the best Gomon could do. Kai asks Nakano about his problems and the latter knows it is the matters of the heart and advises accordingly. This makes Kai believe what Miko did was deliberate instead of an accident. Even more so when he receives a text from her asking the guys to come over to discuss about Minoa. And a heart mark left at the end of the message. The rest talk about Minoa being depressed and how she is an important member. They realize she is not around. That’s because she is lost on her way to the outdoor bath. A search is conducted by you wonder why Sebastian had to mobilize the entire army to go look for her. Kai continues to overreact his delusion that Miko likes him. But WTF?! Screaming and running around naked???!!! Nakano eventually finds Minoa. Even if she is sorry for screwing up the trip, Nakano lets her know how they were just talking about her. In no time the other girls come running and are relieved she is okay. This is ruined when they see Kai in his birthday suit. Scariest kimodameshi ever? Give thanks to the ‘God rays’ blocking the necessary parts… In the aftermath, Kai sums up his courage to confess to Miko. But why does he have to say it to Nakano?! Because of that, Miko gets the wrong idea and has truly awakened! See how excited she is? So much so she wants to build a church dedicated to them! Now everything they do together will automatically give rise to whatever yaoi fantasies she has. Some win big, some lose big…

Episode 7
The anime club is going to do an anime screening for the cultural festival. Of course the student council is there to shut it down and reject the plan. And a reminder if they don’t do something impressive, they’ll be shut down. As they ponder what to do, Minoa suggests they do their own anime. At first the rest brush it off over the amount of work it takes. But don’t worry, with a snap of a finger, Arisu can have Sebastian do everything! Of course for the good of everyone, they better do something themselves. So each come up with their own proposal on what kind of anime they want to do based on their preferences. Miko then suggests to do an anime short that lass 3-5 minutes. Although Miko writes its script, the rest keep revising it till she gets fed up and wants to quit! While trying to calm her down, Minoa accidentally opens the forbidden door. Inside she sees storyboards. It is all over the place and it has all of their preferences. Then Minoa remembers this is that anime that she once watched. Minoa has an idea everyone should come up with their own idea and voice it. But Miko is done doing the scriptwriting. Leave it to Erika the producer to smooth talk her way to convince her to do it. Minoa as the director does the storyboard after she is done. They also ask other clubs to help out and the production is making great progress. Then everyone does their dubbing and we get a little insight on how it is done. But if you’ve watched Shirabako, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Even Neko gets a few meow lines but is told to sound more like a cat. Insult? In the end, they get a cake as one of those rewards of post-dubbing. As the anime is near complete, Tsubaki puts forth her evil plan. She orders all clubs to cease cooperation with the anime club or else their club will be shut down! Evil… Soon all the clubs cease their support and it gets worse when Tsubaki has prepared a special place for the anime club at the festival. A special stage will be built on the track field and they must fill it up or their presentation is deemed a failure. Pure evil…

Episode 8
With lots of stuffs still not finished, it is impossible for them to finish on time. Plus, everyone is already so tired. Minoa is in a pinch, she can’t give up yet and wants a day to think things through. Back home, dad gives her a mini recording set that allows her to do small time recording. The daughters wonder why he is so passionate about this as mom reveals he is an otaku. Shocking at first but even more shocking is that dad was at the Summer Comiket too as a human traffic controller. After Minoa leaves a message for everyone, she worries when none of them replied. Neko thinks they have given up as they really think they couldn’t make it. Minoa punches his face (like a sponge?) and tells him off how everyone has worked so hard despite all the snags they’ve hit. She doesn’t give up and does what she can. To her surprise, everyone else comes in with their respective completed work. They were too busy to read her message as they were focusing on the task at hand. The anime club also recruits other students to come up to the stage to talk about their clubs. On the day of the anime screening, looks like the student council is starting to worry as the capacity is already filled at 80%. Among the crowd is Beibei. Apparently she is Maaya’s classmate and heard about it. The screening is ready to go but the only things unfinished are the ending song and art. Nevertheless, Minoa thanks them from the bottom of her heart but Nakano has an idea. The anime starts its run. Uhm… Low quality as expected but how come it looks like it was done using MS Paint? I’m not sure many of these people have never seen anime before because they are cheering how good it is! You kidding me!? Okay, maybe for first time amateurs it is good (barely) but to get this emotional? I can understand for family and friends but total strangers? Man, they’ll be blown away if they see the real deal. Yeah, they should open their eyes more often about their surroundings because anime is literally everywhere in Japan. Anyway, what will they do for the ending? Minoa, Arisu and Miko go out on stage in their pretty idol outfits and start singing and dancing! Now, this is the better and best part of it all that is worth moving to tears.

Episode 9
The anime club members celebrate their success. We aren’t hearing anything from Tsubaki since she is out from a cold. Thank goodness? Soon, there are other clubs streaming in to seek their advice on how to make their club better. Because you know, anime do have that exaggerated bit in making sports ‘better’, right? And so the anime club members happily dish out their ridiculous recommendations. From exploding baseballs to mallets in basketballs, who needs to do high jump anymore when you have those boots boosters! Truly the clubs in school are now looking like over the top anime exaggerations. Minoa is shocked that Nakano can converse with Neko like normal. With their growing popularity, Gomon relays the good news that they will be interviewed by the TV station. Everyone starts dreaming and getting ahead of themselves. All but Minoa who feels there isn’t something right. Nakano talks to her about the power of anime and how it makes everyone happy. Hence what she did together with them wasn’t a mistake. After the interview, it seems the crew gives Gomon some gratitude money. At first he refuses but Nakano whispers to him to take it as he can use to get a new VHD deck. Erika receives a warning from Tsubaki to be careful but doesn’t give much thought about it. The next day, the student council barge in to declare the anime club shut down. Nobody is surprised. Another false alarm maybe. However they say the directive this time comes from the principal himself. Nobody recognizes this William Shakespeare clone because his bust looks more handsome… It seems the anime club has violated one of the school’s code to not receive funds from outside. Nakano vouches he saw Gomon taking it. And looks like he already spent it on a new VHD deck. With that, the principal suspends the club and relieves Gomon from his duties. Everyone is in shock and mad that Nakano sold them out. WHY???!!!

Episode 10
With the club losing their room and everyone depressed, Minoa gets a great example advice from her dad. Even if their house is gone, they are still family. Next day, the gang are in for a surprise as all the students are protesting over the anime club’s closure. Worse, the principal threatens he will close the school down. The students try to confront him in his office but it is tightly shut with hi-tech door. Neko leads Minoa through a secret passage that takes her directly to the principal’s office. The others outside can only eavesdrop what they’re saying. First, the principal calls their anime production low quality (which is very true) but Minoa takes it as a compliment. She proclaims her love for anime especially that one she saw. As best as she tries to describe it to him and he suggesting titles, it seems they are all not the anime she is looking for. The rest outside do a little research on the principal. It seems he was part of the anime club and those drawing in that room was his. Nakano makes a shocking return when he prostrates and apologizes for his ‘betrayal’. The truth is that he has many siblings (clones?) and is working hard to support them. The principal often patrons his stall and that’s why he can’t go against his order. And with that, they forgive him and are back in good terms. It seems the principal was also an anime director. It hits him hard when Minoa wants to create a second episode. Because now he goes berserk claiming everything is over once your first episode is cancelled. He blames the fans and the nit-picking of the internet. It got so bad that his office is now a thunderstorm! As he has shut off his heart, looks like anime can only save him. So the rest go far and wide to seek help from everyone around the world for the name of that elusive anime. Nobody knows. Their topic has gone viral and trending (with lots of trolling too). With so much people on the subject, you are bound to hit one. Finally that anime’s name is known: Ultra Katharsis Koritsi Eternal Symphony. The principal admits he is the director of that anime which got canned after the first episode. Although he is still depressed, Minoa sings praises of it and loves it very much till this day. Outside his office aren’t chants of protests. People are holding up posters and merchandises of Eternal Symphony! Wow. Suddenly they are everywhere? Such a crappy an obscure anime? In the aftermath, the anime club gets their clubroom back and the principal leaves. To end with a twist, when Minoa revisits the office, she sees the principal’s yearbook. To her shock, Nakano was part of his anime team!

Episode 11
Minoa experiences a few strange anime-like occurrences. Faces of people turn into that old retro anime style, there is that 4:3 visual strip, Sebastian is now a maid and can talk, people have sparkly eyes and more. Everyone thinks Minoa is weird as they don’t know what she is talking about. Heck, they even rewind to the opening to check if everything is okay. Then they discuss about what genre they should put for this anime. For some reason, Neko decides to explode several times. So this is what is called comedy? Neko explodes so much that he ‘dies’ as a real cat for realism. Thankfully, he survives. Later Minoa asks Nakano if he has an older sibling by 20 years. Nope. Hmm… More anime weirdness for Minoa because her family members are now black and white old retro anime style and animation! With more crazy stuffs at school, finally Arisu confronts her. Perhaps the reason she is acting weird is because she is rejecting anime! What?! Minoa can’t help feel so sad. In her room she starts going crazy and crying uncontrollably. Maaya could only hug and comfort her and tell her to hang in there. Because the ending is soon… Next day in school, everyone is starring at her like as though she is the enemy of the state because they believe she hates anime. Luckily Minoa finds some refuge in Nakano as he is the only one who believes what she has seen. He hints the cause of it all so Minoa goes back to the anime clubroom and accuses Neko as the cause. He is a talking cat, right? She then opens the forbidden door to solve this. But then a large flash. The door goes missing and outside is chaotic with all the anime clichés. Oh no. Is this all part of Nakano’s plan? Who is this Observer that is missing and what does he mean that order will be gone now? Neko accuses Nakano to be from the other side: The anime side. Nakano claims this world will soon be engulfed in anime. With the arrival of some guy in beret, Nakano gives Minoa wear some glasses that sees everyone’s true form as sketch lines!

Episode 12
There’s some dramatic narration about ‘revelations’ that sound a whole load of crap. What’s this about the real and parallel anime world existing side by side? Something about anime created into this world and spread? The narration kills off the beret guy that could have changed things. Minoa wakes up back in class. Her friends are normal. Was everything a dream? She senses something amiss and heads down to the anime club. The door is still missing. Indeed she is still trap. Then she goes home. Her family talking and looking normal. However they ignore her like as though she doesn’t exist. Going into her room, strange mushrooms trying to coax her to come to the anime side. Even her hologram clone is doing the same. However she rejects all that and rejoins Neko outside. He tells her they need the beret back to the other side of the door and bring back order. Nakano has found it and puts it on in hopes things have changed. Nothing. He is distraught he is still called Aurora (a name everyone calls him since he came back to them after the ‘betrayal’). The world starts disappearing, a sign it is going to be erased. Minoa thinks everyone is against her but she has some allies in a couple of characters from the animes she cherished. She rides a mecha to drill through some barrier. Before the door is Nakano and the beret. Still worried about his name as he passes it to her in hopes it will change. The other friends stop her and try to tempt her to join them. She refuses and explains how each of them helped make her love anime. It seemed she hit them right but too late they disappear. When she opens the door, a barrier still blocks the door. She falls through the abyss but her friends pull her back up. They have come back to their senses but still need to do something about that barrier. Remember that crappy mecha they designed for the cultural festival? Yup, use that. Run out of money? Don’t feed it more money! Feed it with passion! With that, the barrier gone, Nakano and Neko take the beret and return to the other side. Too bad Minoa gave him the wrong name… In the aftermath, it seems time has restarted to when Minoa hasn’t joined the anime club. She loves talking about it and gets to know Arisu who also loves doing the same. Surprisingly they are recommended by Tsubaki to join the anime club. All her usual friends are there but who the f*ck is that new member, a cat girl?! Kai is designing a new character that looks a lot like Nakano. They are curious to see what is behind that door and when they open it, a treasure trove of anime merchandises and goodies!

Anime Catalyst! This Is Not A Sh*t Anime!!!
So are they living in which anime world now? How many anime worlds are there again? I’m confused. Well, we basically don’t care since we get a typical cliché good ending that all our friends are back together happily in the anime club doing what they love. Because they refuse to believe this is a crappy series and I too personally believe this isn’t a crappy cliché anime, therefore anime is saved! Hooray!

Even if the overall plot doesn’t seem all that spectacular and nothing extraordinary, this series doesn’t take itself seriously in the first place. In fact, it is a parody of its own self. A parody and cliché with everything that has to do with the otaku world for otaku fans. Therefore veteran anime and manga fans would definitely appreciate the tons of trivia peppered throughout the entire series. In almost every scene, there is guaranteed to be such references if you pay close attention. Or more accurately, if you know your anime and manga stuffs well enough.

Thus the most obvious of all trivia that one like yours truly who is the simplest of all otaku forms can appreciate are the blatant parodies of anime titles. And boy, there are really tons of them in every episode. Sometimes when the characters start discussing or suggesting anime titles, they sometimes go into this streak of naming those parodies. Call it that copyright thingy but the way they ‘creatively’ parody those titles makes it really hilarious. For example the more obvious one include PreFae (PreCure), Slash Dunk (Slam Dunk), Tarako’s Basketball (Kuroko No Basket), Ace Of Bench (Ace Of Diamond), Autumn Wars (Summer Wars), AnoSuba (KonoSuba), Girls & Tank (Girls Und Panzer), Nakimushi Saddle (Yowamushi Pedal), Akibako (Shirobako), What’s Up Girl Zoo (Wake Up, Girl Zoo), The Girl Who Slept Through Time (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Previous Genesis Everstrike (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Bakusou (Bakuon), Gaka Stray Dogs (Bungou Stray Dogs), Amaama To Yokozuna (Amaama To Inazuma), Dezumon (Digimon), Ange Visual (Ange Vierge) and Cinnamon Roll Z (Dragonball Z) just to name a few that I recognized. There are more I recognized and smirked at but I would have filled up an entire page of it.

What happens when The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air decided to take up tennis and win the Wimbledon championship? You get Fresh Prince of Tennis! OMG! This is one of the most hilarious and creative ones I’ve heard. Thankfully, they didn’t go with Teekyuu… Sword Art Online was so popular that it was Sold Out Offline! Haha! It is such an irony that a vuvuzela could be joyful and yet so sad in The Melancholy Of A Happy Vuvuzela. Played any New Game recently? Nah. They’ve become Old Game! What happens when you switched genders of the protagonist in Time Travel Shoujo? You get Time Travel Shounen! What happens when you have hedgehogs instead of hamsters as stars? Haritaro desu! Sorry Sonic… Some of the spoofs I find aren’t that creative like Hero School (Boku No Hero Academia) and Ru: Zero (Re: Zero) and as they strike me as a bit bland. But the one that takes the cake with its freaking long ass name is, take a deep breath, A Certain Report On The Irresponsible And Depressing Chronicles Of Me And A Certain Eccentric Childhood Friend! Yeah, the Toaru series just got even more complicated with its title.

Some of the parodies are not very obvious and it takes a while to discover which ones. For example when they spoofed Thousand. Such a vague and general word there. Unless you’ve seen that (disappointing) harem anime, Hundred, you won’t be able to find its connection. There is also Dub Tone which is very much a parody to Love Live and if you don’t pay attention to what the characters are saying while they describe this, you won’t be able to make the connection either. Even for Toramiko, I thought it was Tora & Ushio before realizing Kuma Miko was the one. Others that took me a while to get it include Gachiemon (Doraemon), Replica (Paprika), Shikabari (Koutetsujou No Kabaneri) and Shake (Saki). Even obscure anime shorts are not spared and are referenced like Yasuda & Iwakura (Ishida & Asakura) as well as Immun-kun (Ketsuekigata-kun). Don’t forget Malcom Gakuen which is a parody of Falcom Gakuen which is a parody of the Falcom video games.

Parodying anime and manga titles aren’t the only trivia around. If you listen closer, many characters talk and parody synopsis of other titles too like that Dub Tone AKA Love Live. They will describe a certain situation that very much makes you wonder how similar it is to that anime. Of course they are making a reference to it. The series also takes a dig at its own industry, the peculiarity and quirks that you can only find in the otaku world like the unofficial rule of thumb in dropping watching an anime after the third episode. It doesn’t apply to me because I watched it till the end! Also, such references make good awareness of the industry though not in an in-depth manner but still it is nice to know that something that quirky like that often happens in the industry.

For those who are even more experts and veteran in the area, the other references can reach as far as seiyuus of a character saying a certain line of a character they played in another anime. For instance if you noticed Yui at one point was helping doing her recording lines for the anime club’s crappy animation, one of her dubbing lines include “Explosion!”. Sounds familiar? Yui’s seiyuu is the same one who voiced that explosion maniac wizard in KonoSuba. Pretty neat, huh? There are also visual parodies too so instead of keeping your ears busy, now you have to multi-task and keep your eyes busy and watch out for them. It’s like blink or you’ll miss. For instance, Erika wearing a butterfly hair accessory that resembles the one from Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai’s Sena. There are way more trivia and references than I can point out here (because my knowledge is so limited) so happy hunting those of you who wish to go back and find more Easter eggs.

The characters in the series themselves aren’t anything special. They fall into that cliché line of what mainly anime characters are. You have the typical main character Minoa who is pretty much clueless in the field that everyone else is an expert but stands out because of her different viewpoints (also applies to shonen battle animes where the protagonists are like the Luffy, Naruto and Natsu type). You have the chuunibyou in Kai, you have the BL lover in Miko, the rich oujo-sama in Arisu (a silent butler thrown in for added bonus), the kind-hearted big sister type in Erika and the double-crosser-cum-character-with-complicated-circumstances-and-history in Nakano (or was it Aurora. Or Grovel Boy now?). Oh right, we have a talking animal pet mascot too. Because Yui doesn’t have much screen time, in many episodes her screen time is mostly devoted to see short clips of her doing something random or for blatant mild fanservice purposes. It has nothing to do with whatsoever the anime club members are doing. Since this is the high school setting, the ‘antagonists’ are usually set aside for the student council members (Kakegurui, Prison School, Kill La Kill) so we have Tsubaki as the b*tch type and her underlings as her typical underlings.

Don’t think too much of the plot because most are probably just distraction. For example that forbidden door that Neko told Minoa never to leave open. You kept wondering in the back of your head about its implications and from time to time the series does tease you to remind you, or rather troll you that there could be something really important, like the most important revolution and plot twist ever in the history of anime that something of that magnitude might happen. What do we get at the end? Okay, it was something of a ‘big deal’ that links the anime world within this anime world. At least it didn’t end up being a red herring that many would hate. Even with the principal as the misguided antagonist who came to terms via words because he once shares the same passion as Minoa feels cliché in terms of swaying the villain via power of words. Either that you could just beat the crap out of him in other ‘violent’ ‘action’ series. What about Nakano’s ‘betrayal’. Twice. He acts like the bad guy and not too sure his litter of pigs siblings is true or not. Feels like the perfect cover up story and escape route… Too convenient… Oh wait, he came from the other side. Yeah, I guess it’s hard to tell which anime he came from since an anime inside an anime looks pretty much the same. Remember that Erika’s senior about her impressive anime club thingy? No. Neither do I. Probably this is one of the red herrings to lead us astray when it just meant nothing.

Art and animation are nicely done with everything looking so bright and colourful. Some character designs felt like I have seen them from somewhere before like Miko whom instantly strike me as a watered down Date A Live’s Kurumi. I was waiting for the day she would troll us and burst out into this psychotic character. Didn’t. Then there’s Minoa reminding me of Sakura from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Nakano looking like Kodaka from Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai’s Sena and the principal himself as an evil version of William Shakespeare. There is something about Kai looking all too familiar too but at this point I can’t pinpoint from where. CGI is also used but most notably for that idol dance sequence. It looks a bit odd but I guess they want to parody the Love Live, Wake Up Girls and AKB0048 animation style when they’re up singing and dancing on stage. Animated by WAO World who did Time Travel Shoujo and Shouwa Monogatari. Despite being an old company, they don’t usually make much series on their own and are usually involved in 2nd key animations of many other series.

Voice acting sounds pretty decent as everyone does feel like they are really into their roles. I only recognized Kana Hanazawa as Beibei. The rest of the casts are Kaede Hondo as Minoa (Kon in Urara Meirocho), Sayaka Senbongi as Arisu (Mumei in Koutetsujou No Kabaneri), Hisako Toujou as Miko (Chiaki in Hinako Note), Anju Inami as Erika (Chika in Love Live! Sunshine), Setsuo Ito as Kai (Mob in Mob Psycho 100), Junta Terashima as Nakano (Mamoru Fujimura in TsukiPro), Hironori Kondou as Neko, Asuka Nishi as Tsubaki (Shinobu in Kiniro Mosaic), Makoto Furukawa as Gomon (Banri in Golden Time), Rie Takahashi as Yui (Emilia in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) and Inori Minase as Maaya (Noel in Sora No Method). I like the opening theme, Ai Kotoba by Garnidelia. It is quite catchy as it has the funky techno beat that makes you want to get up and dance to its tune. The ending theme is Good Luck Lilac by Gatalis (Minoa, Arisu and Miko) in a typical idol-like style.

Overall, this is a fun and entertaining series for otakus to enjoy. It might be a cliché of everything because it is. Anime parodying anime is like life parodying art. Uhm… Close enough, I think. The more you know about the otaku industry, the better off you are enjoying this series. Therefore if you are an amateur and newbie who just got into anime like a month ago, you are going to have a tough time trying to understand and appreciate its deeper aspects. But then again, it is also the perfect anime for beginners to much because of how much it parodies itself and hence new anime lovers can expect what it is like if they want to ‘love’ this industry. Maybe Neko and the forbidden door are like the Schrodinger Cat of this series. Everything is possible until you open the door. But once you have opened it, there is no turning back (like yours truly). Enter anime at your own risk. You have been warned. Unless the whole industry just collapses because reasons. That won’t happen ever, RIGHT???!!!

Shirobako

January 10, 2016

Everybody is a critic. Sure, it is our right to have our opinions on just about everything. And when we start criticizing and putting down something, most of the time we are guilty for not thinking for a second the effort and hard work put in behind it. And that is why people, despite there are so many movies, TV series, games and animes out there that suck and do not meet our standards and expectations, we often fail to realize that there has been a lot (if not some) effort put into those works behind the scenes. Yes people. It is time for us to realize that making anime is no child’s play. We need to realize and be educated of the long painstaking process it takes to animate your favourite character. And the best way to know all about that without going through the same hellish experience like those who did is to watch a decent ‘documentary’. Right?

Therefore, if Bakuman has taught us the harsh deadlines of writing manga, Love Get Chu and recently Sore Ga Seiyuu taught us that being a voice actress isn’t a bed of roses, how about an anime that tells us what an anime studio goes through to produce that anime so we otaku fans get to watch it same time every week? That’s right. If you’re interested in the process and the behind the scenes of making an anime series, Shirobako gives a very good understanding and awareness on how it is all done. Despite the fictitious company, characters and everything else, I can assure the process in doing so is as real as it can get. Get ready for a trip and free your conscience! You will be changed once you are ‘enlightened’.

Episode 1
Aoi Miyamori and her high school animation club friends make a doughnut vow to make an original anime. The quintet put in a lot of time and effort to finish their anime The Divines so that it can be shown in time for the cultural festival. Soon, Aoi, Ema Yasuhara and Shizuka Sakaki graduate and they hope all of them will be together in the anime production line. 2.5 years down the road, Aoi is one tired girl. Working the late hours a production assistant for Musashino Animation (Musani). She gets excited to hear on the radio about Musani’s upcoming anime, Exodus. I’m not sure if this relieves stress because she starts racing and drifting with a rival company and beats him to collect the work done by animation director, Misato Segawa at her house. Returning to office, she notices nobody at their stations. It is because they are all in the meeting room ready to watch the first episode of Exodus which is debuting at midnight. And now we are bombed with all the names of all the staffs in Musani. I don’t think I can remember them all… The airing of the first episode is great and there are lots of rave reviews already right after it ends. Yeah, episode 2 next week. So soon? Well, ganbatte ne! So we see the staffs in getting their usual hectic work before the next episode. Tarou Takanashi seems to have been slacking in his keyframes department which threatens to have a domino effect on the rest of the production line. Sorry isn’t going to cut it. So everybody is cracking their heads in trying to get the right animator to do the keyframes and with no other alternatives left, Aoi suggests Segawa. Despite already working on another episode, she agrees to do it although she seems to be in clashing mode with another animation director, Ryousuke Endou. Everyone is following a tight schedule because if you delay something, it will also delay everything else after it. Segawa finishes in time and Aoi goes to collect it. No wonder Aoi’s drifting has been so good. If the train breaks down, just ask her to drive you there. Like how she did for the dubbing team. First class drifting. When Aoi goes to visit Segawa to get the work for the next episode, there is no answer when she knocks on her door. She sees her collapsed on the floor.

Episode 2
Segawa is down with fever after working too hard. As Aoi is in charge of episode 4 production, she’ll see to it that it gets done somehow. She has been so busy with this that she hasn’t got the time to spare with her friends. Not even noticing a simple hello. During the dubbing, Musani’s director, Seiichi Kinoshita feels something is not right for a particular scene. The voice acting is great but it seems the animation for that scene just doesn’t match the animation. Needs more emotion? This has him clash with fellow animation director, Masashi Yamada. Yeah well, they talk a lot about on the back story of the character. It’s too deep. I don’t understand. The point now is if they should redo the entire animation for that scene. As you know, time is of essence. Aoi suggests before they fix anything, they should call a meeting to confirm about the characters and everything else on Exodus. So Kinoshita and a handful of staffs are discussing about the main characters of Exodus, their traits, likes, characteristics, everything! I suppose it is to understand and get a feel of the character better. So after all that discussion, I’m not sure if you can call this hallucination after that long deliberation, because now everyone can see and give shape to this main character how she is supposed to be. So real, right? Even if it is decided to do a retake of that scene, do they have enough time to redesign the character and scene? No problem for Rinko Ogasawara and Yumi Iguchi.

Episode 3
Aoi is swamped with work, tight schedules and deadlines. Fellow production assistant and veteran Erika Yano dispenses lots of great advice to her. Especially a certain animator who always claims no problem and will be in before the deadline but fails to live up to his words. Yeah, better start calling him. No answer. That dude is sleeping… I suppose his work hasn’t finished yet. Don’t panic yet, Aoi. More stress for her when chubby production desk manager, Yutaka Honda keeps breathing down her neck about what she has completed. We see Aoi rushing from department to department to get the necessary job done before the deadline for episode 4’s submission. She is on the verge of breakdown so Yano gives her some candy to stimulate the brain and also wants her to tell are the problems facing her. Because Aoi is the one who knows episode 4 the best and if she breaks down, that episode is done for. More woes when the FTP server is down so they can’t download the necessary contents. Luckily somebody still saved the work on a local hard drive although it will be hours’ drive away. Aoi again panics over her schedule so Yano reminds her that producing anime is all about teamwork. She can’t do this all by herself. More surprising when Yuka Okitsu from general affairs decide to help her out this one time (unlike the rest, she normally refuses to do overtime work). In the end, everything worked out fine and episode 4 is submitted in time for airing. Aoi thanks everybody for their hard work and effort. Aoi and Ema watch the retake of that scene. It definitely puts in a lot more emotion and fits the superb voice acting like a glove.

Episode 4
Shizuka is off to a voice acting audition. She’s practising her lines in a train and the crowd must be feeling weird if she’s reading some erotic novel or something. Seems there are like 120 hopefuls auditioning for this character and even the famous seiyuu, Rena Souma is here. During Shizuka’s turn, she starts getting nervous and fumbles some of her lines. Although it doesn’t amount to a big screw up, but I guess it was enough to leave her feeling dejected. Meanwhile back at Musani, Kinoshita is arguing with Hironori Madoka about turning on or off the air-cond while working. Aoi gets her day off and she gets a call from her parents who are ecstatic of seeing Aoi’s name appearing in the credits. They’re not sure what the anime is about but they keep playing over and over the credits section. Very proud parents. Aoi meets up with her old high school friends. They watch a movie and then discuss about it (even getting a little technical discussing how many frames were used for it all). The friends still remember their vow and are motivated to carry on to achieve their dreams. They can tell things did not go too well for Shizuka’s audition when she feels reluctant to tell but did anyway. The friends cheer her up and continue to give their unwavering support. The nice outing is disrupted when Tarou calls Aoi for something urgent. But from the sound of it, he seems like fooling around instead of getting to the point of the issue. She just hangs up. Shizuka gets a little drunk after a beer and the friends hope they could make their The Divines into a real feature movie one day. After they part and Aoi walks her way home, she gets another annoying call from Tarou. The same freaking annoyance. Hang up. Don’t let that ruin your night. Next day as Aoi returns to work, she sees Honda not pleased that Kinoshita has not completed the storyboards. Blaming it on the air-cond not being on? Then there is Tarou who is begging to Endou to listen but the latter has had it and if he wants another animation director for episode 8, find somebody else.

Episode 5
Endou has quit for good! Aoi suggests Tarou tell Honda about this but he won’t. Why? It seems Honda has run out of ideas after telling everyone about Kinoshita’s failure in getting his part done. As suggested by Okitsu, Honda lures Kinoshita into the storeroom and locks him up in a mini cell where he must finish it if he wants to get out! Kinoshita remembers 11 years ago he won an award for a hit anime. But his subsequent anime flopped badly and he went under the radar. So with Honda having so much stress and a ‘prison warden’ over Kinoshita, there is no way Tarou could tell him. Aoi hears what really happened. It seems there was a deliberation to use CG effects for episode 8. Endou was against this because he felt this scene is his big break to show off his hand drawn skills. So with Tarou just playing messenger boy and passing messages around, he thought he mediated the situation when he says he loves hand drawn anime but supports CG since it is the new age and hand drawn is outdated. That made Endou furious. Yeah, it’s Tarou’s fault. So now he is trying to get Aoi to help him out? Solve it yourself! Endou is out drinking with fellow animator, Saburou Kitano. After Endou badmouths about CG, it seems Kitano is teaching 3D animators about the tricks of Japanimation. Endou didn’t like he is on the other side and views 3D animators as stealing hand drawn animators’ job but Kitano argues that they should use both techniques to produce the best works. Don’t be too quick to reject it. Tarou tries to call other animators to fill Endou’s place (he thinks it is easier than convincing him) but no luck. Aoi is surprised when Endou seeks her help. They watch the CG demo of the scene when Aoi gets a call from Hikaru Hotta who just finished the cut scenes for episode 9 using hand drawn. Because this scene is related to the scene that Endou was doing, they need to use his keyframes. Can’t replace it with CG, right? Sh*t just hit the fan. Why does Tarou look so happy that Aoi is now his accomplice?

Episode 6
We all know it’s Tarou’s fault and he’s got the cheek to tell Aoi not to play the blame game!!! I guess she has had it so she tells everything to Honda. Oh dear. That guy is so freaking stressed up and panicking. He is going to ask Kinoshita for advice but that fat guy somehow climbed out of his cell! Amazing! He is at the dubbing studio and the staffs thought he amazingly finished his storyboard. Till they get a call from Honda about the truth… But after it finishes, Kinoshita returns to his ‘prison’ and is motivated to finish it. Tarou continues to bug Endou by ringing his doorbell many times. Quit it! He said he is done with it. Aoi talks to Yano about hand drawn animators being replaced by CG animators. She also talks with 3D animator, Misa Toudou and she views hand drawn is still necessary as there are some things that cannot be expressed clearly via CG. Shizuka is surprised her voice acting tutor, Mari Tateo visits her at her part time work place. Shizuka explains the recent audition she went. Tateo can tell she has failed since she has been waiting for a call that never came. She invites her to watch a play that they are putting up. From this play, Shizuka gets to learn a valuable lesson that doing nothing in between while waiting won’t get her anywhere. As Aoi collects Segawa’s work, she gives to her remaining tickets of Idepon exhibition as given by Okitsu. However she says to give it to Endou instead as that anime was the one that sparked his interest in drawing. Aoi didn’t get to see Endou in person but she handed it to his wife. He came alone (obviously his wife wasn’t interested) but Aoi is also there. He thought she set him up because Tarou and rival 3D artist, Yuuichirou Shimoyanagi are also there. At first they were like being cold to each other but after they both rebut the young ones on their misinterpretation of Idepon, they started talking about their shared passion. It’s like as though they’re brothers! In the end, Endou decides to do the episode 8’s hand drawn scenes. He works all night and manages to finish it. Tarou is of course impressed at his work and even claims it was worth being so persistent! Endou and Shimoyanagi praise each other’s work and would like to learn hand drawn or 3D techniques from the other. Kinoshita is finally free but that is only short-lived because Honda reminds him he only completed part A!

Episode 7
Aoi has to rush to work when her sister, Kaori calls to say she is coming over. Aoi leaves the key to her high school friend and neighbour, Midori Imai. During the meeting, fellow production assistant, Tatsuya Ochiai announces that he is leaving by the end of the week for personal reasons. This comes to a shock to some. This means some of the schedules he handles we be passed on to others and Aoi has the ‘honour’ in handling the final episode 13. As Aoi talks to Yamada, she learns Ochiai is leaving for another animation company, Canaan. Ochiai wanted to leave after Exodus but his old acquaintance called and he can’t turn him down. The anime that Canaan is currently doing has even tighter schedules as Yamada relates the hell production of Kinoshita’s last work that had animation meltdown and everything. And now Aoi has the responsibility to make Kinoshita do his storyboards. Yeah, he is sleeping and nothing is done yet. Good luck. Ema is stressed in her keyframe work so a veteran old key animator, Shigeru Sugie gives her good advice about building up speed and experience during her youth. Aoi goes home after work to see Kaori using her place like her own home. Wearing her clothes, opened her beer cans and even used her shampoo… When Aoi gets a stern rebuking call from Segawa regarding Ema’s disappointing rush job that just wouldn’t cut it, Aoi goes to talk to her. However you can see that it is very obvious that Ema is tired and losing hope fast. She has already resigned to calling herself as a failure. No matter how pretty Aoi paints her optimism and positivism, Ema’s negativism is so much greater. How could she not be dejected seeing that she had to do retakes of not 1 or 2 but 4 cuts! No time to talk about motivation. She needs to get back to work. Working with tears in her eyes? Pitiful :’(. Meanwhile some people like Kaori and Midori have all the fun shopping…

Episode 8
You can’t blame Kaori for letting her hair down. Flashback shows her stressful office life. So Midori is being pampered as Kaori goes on a spending spree to buy her what she wants. Feels good, right? Ema continues to be stressed in her drawing. It’s not a good sign so Sugie talks to her about her reason and goal in drawing. Speaking of which, Tarou is talking about his big dreams to become a director or producer but without doing the hard work. You can’t blame Yano for wanting to beat this guy up. But the most surprising dream is Honda because he wanted to be a confectioner. Yano’s mental image of him just got worse. Aoi goes to hand some work to Segawa who also learnt about Ochiai’s departure. She learnt it from Canaan who also called her to help out with their anime but she turned them down as she already has her hands full with Exodus. Segawa is worried about Ema because she may break down. Speaking of which, looks like she is on the verge of it so Sugie has Iguchi talk to her. Iguchi has Ema take a walk with her to refresh her mind and broaden her horizon. Coincidentally they stumble upon a cat (Ema is having trouble drawing a cat and the reason of her stress) so they examine it till the cat feels disgusted being molested! But Ema gets the idea of what to do now. Lifting her spirits is Iguchi’s story when she first worked here and used to examine and copy her senior’s work. In fact all learning starts out as copying. How else would you improve? Many of the staffs are surprised to see Ema and Iguchi talking because many think the former is more of the introvert type. Aoi couldn’t bear to disturb Ema when she sees her really focusing on her work. After work, Aoi joins Midori, Shizuka and Kaori for a drink. No harm about talking of their big dream to make their own anime. At least they have the spirit. For now. Next morning, Kaori leaves for home and she doesn’t want to bother Aoi to walk her to the station since she is working.

Episode 9
The schedule for Exodus is going well. Except for episode 13 of course. The director still hasn’t come up with the storyboard yet. Will they have enough time to make it even if he miraculously completes it tomorrow? More stress for Aoi… Shizuka is going to make her voice acting debut. But it is only part of the background crowd voice (cheering in a baseball game). Shizuka is looking forward to it although this role goes uncredited. At first she was overdoing it so they took another take and this time she sounds so meek and toned down that you wonder if her voice would be even heard. Musani goes to talk to a book author in hopes of adapting 3rd Girls’ Fighter Wing into anime. At first he isn’t sure after hearing Kinoshita would be directing but Exodus is seemingly doing better. He needs time to discuss with his superiors. Midori and Misa join Shizuka for dinner. They talk about their work and if they would ever make their anime dream come true. Because Misa’s current role is just to design CG for tyres. And because the company has been requested to make a racing game, she might be just designing tyres for 3 years! She is very sick of it! She talks to the company president if there would be any chance for her to design anything else. Depending on her talent and her goals, it is possible. If she can’t picture her future, she won’t be able to start getting there. Honda goes to see Kinoshita’s progress. Almost there. But there is a problem. He feels there is something wrong with the ending. He can’t accept it! So now he wants to change it?! No choice, Honda calls scenario writer, Shimeji Maitake to help out. So with a little nudging, Kinoshita suddenly can picture what he wants as he passionately discloses the scenes as it starts popping in his head. Let the creative passion flow! I know some parts sound silly but if this is how he wants to end it, then so be it. And so Kinoshita now disciplines himself by locking in the cell and starts working on it.

Episode 10
The storyboards are finally going to get done and although the deadline for the final episode is 5 weeks, it isn’t enough time because on average an episode takes about 2 months! As Aoi is tasked to send some traditional central Asian music instrument to the sound recording studio, she is pulled in by a sound engineer to record several sound effects. It was a good diversion as Aoi learnt many things especially about this guy who has been doing this job for 30 years! When Aoi meets up with her friends, they learn Misa wants to quit the company although she has been there for less than a year. Misa hands in her resignation to the president early next morning and tells him of her goal to make stories with CG. Although she doesn’t have a particular place to go yet, she needs to keep trying. The president wants her to finish up her work first before leaving. Honda is so freaking relieved that Kinoshita has finished the storyboards that it is disgusting to see chubby men hug each other. Honda is happy that he can resign now. Wait. What?! And the fat guys do sumo pushing in that little cell… Later others find out about Honda’s plan. It seems he is going to follow his dream of opening a confectionary down the street. Aoi talks to Shimoyanagi about her friend who just quit a company and if there are any friends of his hiring. Aoi and Kinoshita attend the final recording session for Exodus. The voice actresses give him a flower bouquet as thanks and he is overcome with emotion. He joins in their party session and although he is only supposed to be there for an hour, he overstayed and kept ordering beers. Each time Aoi says it is time to go, it is always the last one. Finally she just pulls him away to return back to work where he should be hours ago. Yeah, you should see how many miscalls he got from Honda. Like a stalker… And Kinoshita is obviously drunk…

Episode 11
Aoi is in great mood is she gets the people to do the keyframes for the final episode. However there are a bunch of cuts needed to be completed and since they’re short on staff, she is going to make use of all the contacts and call up other animators for her. She’s going to need all the luck she can get because so far many (if not all) has turned her down due to busy, conflicting or some other reasons. While Aoi is waiting outside the house of an animator, she spots the president of an anime studio she once went for interview. Let’s say it didn’t go to well because the president used hard words to all interviewees. Like in her case, he asked about her passion in anime during high school but yet graduated from college in economics. Backup plan? Aoi was willing to do anything but he replied he hates that kind of answer the most because it shows one has no specific goal in mind. You can’t blame Aoi for getting dispirited. Thankfully the president doesn’t recognize her although she still panics upon seeing him. When she returns to HQ, Okitsu tells Aoi that she will be joining in an interview to recruit new staffs. Why her? Several staffs including Yano recommended her. So she could see all kinds of characters during the interview. Some passionate, some intense, some focused and some just plain weird. But this doesn’t bring good memories to her too since it reminds her of being in their shoes once. And what’s this? Tarou is testing their driving skills? I guess this is part of the job. But the old staffs know whoever they hire, they cannot be worse than Tarou! Spot on! Late that night, Yano suddenly sinks lifeless. The president knows something has happened to her father and tells her to go to him. As she lives quite far and the trains are not operating this late, I guess Tarou will have to send her. Don’t expect a depressed girl to drive herself, can’t you? Can’t be choosy now. Aoi endeavours in her keyframe recruiting spree so much so she interrupts on line producer Jun Watanabe’s mahjong game to ask him to recommend more people to her! His friend is willing to introduce the legendary Mitsuaki Kanno. She would love to and heads over to see him.

Episode 12
Watanabe and his friends continue to discuss about the arrangements for Musani to handle 3rd Girls’ Fighter Wing. The author has been approached by many great studios but is willing to put them on hold and bet on them. So bring the project plan ASAP. Aoi sees Kanno as he looks at the storyboards. He knows those remaining scenes are hardest to do. Watanabe calls for a staff meeting especially about Exodus’ final episode. Thanks to the limited time and manpower they have, he wants Kinoshita to change the storyboards or they will not make it. Honda is most vocal he is against this since this is what they’ve been working towards. Kinoshita is unsure when Aoi makes a suggestion. Kanno told her that Sugie could do it. Aoi learnt that Sugie was the one who animated her favourite anime, Andes Chucky. Aoi goes to Sugie’s home to request his help. After looking at the storyboard, he agrees to do it. Meeting with the animators, thanks to his vast experience, he can tell how long it takes to do the frames. But since they are rushing for time, he can do faster with rough keyframes. The other animators would gladly help do cleanup work. And so all the animators get to work and even take valuable notes from Sugie’s animating wisdom. Aoi is shocked when Sugie thanks her because had he not asked him to help, he would have ended his career as a dead weight. It makes him happy that he can still be of use and even happier that Aoi loves Andes Chucky. He thinks of holding a weekly workshop in the meeting room for younger animators. On the day of the deadline, it is a final round of checks and fixing. The most anxious one is the producer. Very anxious… Can they make it or not? And every redo or minor interruption sends his heart jumping out from his mouth. Finally everything passes after the preview and the staffs rejoice. To celebrate their hard work, everybody heads down to the pub. To add icing to the cake, Watanabe has the final product of the final episode for everyone to watch.

Episode 13
It is confirmed Musani will take on 3rd Wing as their next project. To Aoi’s surprise, she is being made production manager. This means she has to handle just about everything especially the schedules and character designs. She’s taking down all that needs to be done as said by Watanabe. And he just covered the basics! Gosh! It’s going to get busy! Tarou thought he got to be the director but Kinoshita is maintained as the director as many of the staffs that worked on Exodus will be retained. Aoi goes to talk to Kinoshita to put her foot down and lay down the rules. You don’t want the entire team to suffer thanks to his flip flop, eh? Kinoshita thought Ogasawara would be perfect for character design but she turns it down and claims she wants to refine her animating skills. She nominates Iguchi who feels this is too big a job for her to shoulder. But with Aoi pressing the right buttons, Iguchi takes up the challenge. Then they go see Yuuji Atsumi for art but this guy is so deep about clouds that Kinoshita is just lost. Shizuka gets selected for 3rd Wing’s audition and this boosts her morale. Aoi may need to go back to the drawing board because Watanabe reminds her that since the same staffs on Exodus are going to do 3rd Wing, she can’t just change the production team like that and they might get their rights cancelled. Watanabe then meets Shinsuke Chazawa, a publishing editor who is running 3rd Wing. The original author can’t be here since he is busy but Chazawa okays everything and believes it will be fine to go ahead without further discussion. He didn’t even take a look at the drafts and leaves as fast as he came (he was late too, by the way). And Kinoshita didn’t get to say a word… Aoi with Kinoshita and Maitake go to research some fighter jets as well as pilot terms that may differ in different countries. Kinoshita suggests putting off work for the last 2 episodes of this 1 cour series to wait on the source material as long as they can.

Episode 14
Kinoshita is at the voice audition for 3rd Wing and then later joins Aoi to request Atsumi for his help. Kinoshita isn’t optimistic about their chances but Atsumi surprisingly agrees to lend his talents after thinking about Aoi’s question she posed for him the last time. Daisuke Hiraoka joins Musani as the new production assistant and has been in the showbiz for 5 years in different studios. Meanwhile Kinoshita, Watanabe and a bunch of guys from other agencies are in a meeting to discuss the voice actresses for the regular roles. They start off with the main character and by votes it should go to Kyouko Suzuki. However the agency guys become vocal in what they want. One wants a veteran instead of an unknown, another wants one who has singing capabilities and the other is just judging from physical looks (what does butts have to do with voice acting skills?!). I don’t know. The way they argue for their picks seem to be turning this series into a comedy gold! You guys are funny! Read sarcasm, please. And don’t you think they just want their voice actresses based on their own interests? Anyway the role goes to Kyouko. Moving on to the next role… Oh God… Not again… Yeah, 14 damn hours discussing this! For the last role, Kinoshita noticed about Shizuka and convey his thoughts but eventually the team just went with somebody else. And yeah… The meeting finally ended in 2 in the morning!!! As Aoi is tasked to find out more about aircrafts, she thinks Midori who loves looking up things might help them again (she did a fantastic job with the diesel research for Exodus). The president suggests they call her over so they can talk. She is being informed about the information she needs to look up when scenarios are written and Midori can’t wait to start working part time here. When Aoi and her friends meet up, they are sad to learn Shizuka auditioned for a part in 3rd Wing but didn’t get the part. Because Aoi, Midori and Misa are all working on the 3rd Wing project. (Misa is now in a CG company designing crafts for the said anime). Aoi has come up with the production schedule. In-house they can handle 11 episodes but 2 needs to be outsourced. Hiraoka can introduce a studio who can take up the job. Aoi goes to Studio Taitanic and the place seems messy.

Episode 15
Musani is having a party to welcome newbies. Next year they’ll be celebrating their 40th anniversary so that is all the reason to do their best with 3rd Wing. This episode is mainly about the various brief meetings that the director and production manager must attend to see through the series. All are important and they do it like a ritual till the series ends. From the scenario meeting (which includes going out to the field and location because there is only how much you can get from books and internet – it gets even more intense since Atsumi is here and thus the discussion of what kind of sky and clouds are suitable), storyboard meeting (to set the direction and guidelines for the rest of the series – surprisingly Kinoshita finishes the first episode’s storyboard fast), animators meeting (how the ‘scribbles’ turn into proper drawings – Ai Kunogi is so tongue tied whenever Kinoshita asks her something and somehow Ema could ‘translate’ for her, Was it the bug no Kinoshita’s sleeve?), animation meet (to see how each episode will look), colour design meet (to see what colours best suit the characters and the scenes), CG meet (the planes will be animated in CG) and soundtrack meet (songs for the series and it is decided to play music to match the emotions and not the scenes). Tarou takes Tsubaki Andou and Sara Satou on the routes they need to go to collect work from keyframe animators who work from home. Aoi also briefs them about the charts and schedules that they have to update and keep in check daily. Yano is still on leave to tend to her father and just mentioning that name strikes fear to Tarou… Aoi leaves him hanging by not telling him when she’s coming back. Everything seems to be going fine and at full force till Watanabe receives a very bad news. He tells Aoi to stop all work immediately because the author wants a retake for every character. Everything needs to be redone again.

Episode 16
The author disagrees with the character design. Looks like Chazawa lied about getting his approval. Since the author is vague in what he wants, they’ll have to redo the designs but themselves. Rejected again. Even calling Chazawa doesn’t yield anything better. He just tells them it is their job to figure it out. But the more Iguchi redesigns the characters, the more it gets worse from the author’s perception. Naturally it gets to her but she isn’t totally giving up as she is starting to like the characters and that she can’t disappoint Ogasawara who entrusted this to her. As Kinoshita wants to focus on flashy visuals, he tells every department in what they do as the lead. Isn’t that like being a playboy flirting with multiple girls? But Iguchi’s morale deteriorates as he can’t see how to go about it anymore. This is when Ogasawara steps in to lecture Kinoshita, Watanabe and Aoi for abandoning Iguchi and leaving her to deal with everything. Sure, the author didn’t make it clear but they aren’t supporting her and putting the pressure load on her. It’s like they’re being lazy and leaving everything to her. And if the guys think of inviting her out for lunch, that’s not their job! Their job is to facilitate an environment where she can work without burden, determine what the author really wants and help Iguchi figure out how to adjust to designs. Ogasawara then takes Iguchi, Aoi and Ema to a batting centre, her place to relief stress. While the girls miss everything, Ogasawara perfectly bats and pitches every shot with precision and style! So much so Aoi might be breaking the fourth wall thinking this can be turn into some sort of anime! Ogasawara then tells her ironic background. She’s not from a baseball club but the Go club. She used to wear t-shirts and jeans. Her character designs always get rejected and she thought she was strong enough to weather through it. Apparently not. Like any other human being especially an artist, she has a sensitive and vulnerable heart. So she changed her image and donned this goth loli outfit as her ‘battle armour’. So happen this outfit design was from the heroine she drew. This change made her stronger. Going back to the root of the problem why the author rejected them, they believe his definition of cuteness may differ. Kinoshita admits they were trying to design a more moe character. Iguchi cosplays as the character and starts her redesigning. Now they need the editor’s approval. As usual, busy. Playing golf. His stroke gave him away so Watanabe knows where he is and drags him to get direct feedback from the author. And the great news we’ve all been waiting: Approved!!!

Episode 17
3rd Wing’s anime has finally been announced public. Honda visits Musani and he has slimmed down! So all the stress made him fat and not the cake?! I’m sure Kinoshita is jealous about their ‘chubby alliance’. More bad news for Musani. Chazawa suddenly calls about the author wanting a PV for the Manga Festival. He is sure he told them but I can tell you nobody heard about it. This means time is running out for them to do the PV. Satou and Andou go around the departments seeking their help to finish their part for the PV. But since they’re being blunt, they rather talk to Aoi. Kunogi is quite attached to Ema and learns a lot from her. Still can’t eke out a decent sentence? Shizuka is supposed to only be the voice over for some piggy mascot at a children’s live event. But the person behind the mascot is sick so Shizuka does a daring try to act and voice at the same time. It works out very well and a hit among the kids. Because Hiraoka doesn’t join morning meetings and comes in whenever he wants, Aoi talks to him about the need to do so or else he’ll keep missing on updated stuffs. Later Aoi gets a call from Satou that she got lost on some highway after picking up keyframes. She’s panicking since her handphone battery died. After describing the landmarks, Aoi uses Google Map to guide her back. Subsequently Andou calls. What’s the problem this time? Looks like she fell asleep in the train and missed her stop! Don’t worry, both girls come back in time and intact and learn a valuable lesson. Musani finishes the PV in time and have their traditional party to view it. Looking good.

Episode 18
Aoi is in the recording session meeting the seiyuus for the first time. With Kinoshita and producer, Koutarou Katsuragi, they introduce themselves and say a word or two for motivation. Suzuki who voices the main character has to stay back and retake her lines since she sounded so different from the audition. Aoi tries to help and give her encouragement but it is the sound engineer producer that has her into the groove by talking to her normally and then using those words and expressions to say in her lines. Aoi goes to look for Masahiro Ookura in some bar to hire his talent to draw a certain scene. He is drunk of course and on a whim accepts the job. So the next day with Atsumi (who is an admirer of Ookura) go to see him, that guy doesn’t remember who she is! After much reminder and the name card she gave him yesterday, finally he does. But now he declines the job! He is trying to give excuses that nobody wants an old geezer doing hand drawn animation as they are now using CGI. He even tries to pass on the job to Atsumi to do it himself if his goal is to surpass him. When Aoi gives him dorayaki souvenirs from Musani president, Masato Marukawa, Ookura gets excited and eats them. He finds out too late and accuses her of baiting him that the snacks were from Marukawa without telling him first. Who opened it without asking? I suppose the nostalgia factor has Ookura reconsider his decision so he agrees to accept the job. Aoi gets all the cuts that Taitanic has delayed for Kinoshita to check. That guy isn’t going to have a break… But they were all so awful and requests ignored, they had to call them and the episode director just to redo it. All seems fine when he does. But soon the problems for Aoi start compounding. Ookura has gone ‘missing’ (assuming to be on a break) and can’t be reached by his handphone, that episode director suddenly quits and some other problems that you can be sure that Tarou has a hand in screwing up one of them. Aoi is close to breaking down. Panic setting in. Of course she can take things one step at a time but there is a limit to that too. All that is left is to get an episode director replacement. She is running out of ideas and names for help. Who? WHO?! Tell her, please! And then… Yano returns! Lastly, we see Ookura in the rural countryside beginning his scenic sketch.

Episode 19
Yano can see Aoi is in a mess and is desperate for a switch. But she tells her to go home and rest. The sleep helps especially with the scented candle souvenir Yano bought for her. But the production problem remains. Don’t worry. Yano has got a plan. She has Hiraoka drive her to Taitanic where she becomes their temporary production assistant to lay out the schedules. If they don’t do it, somebody will, right? Seems Yano and Hiraoka know each other. Hiraoka’s clashing personality has made him change several jobs. Although he calls Aoi an amateur and still has that passion, for him that sort of charm died out less than a year. Yano later goes to convince Hiroshi Iketani to be their episode director. This guy is a hermit and jobless but before he knows it, Yano already leaves him the storyboard for him to check and says Kinoshita is counting on him. Marukawa and Aoi head over to the old abandoned Musashino Studios to pick up something. Looks like time stopped there after the studio closed down after it went bankrupt. Aoi sees all the cell work and how animation was done in the old days. She is delighted to see a cell of Andes Chucky. She feels sad that if today’s anime has improved because she seems to be focused on the minor problems instead of making the anime great. Marukawa also mentions anime back then had its fair share of problems. Aoi is like blasted back to the past as she sees the studio in its heydays. Marukawa is a hipster?! There is Sugie in the team too and Ookura as the newbie who caused a stir when he designed the blizzard scene for Andes Chucky differently. After much deliberation, the entire team redo all their settings for this scene. Aoi is brought to tears seeing an old episode of her favourite anime. Marukawa talks a little about how everyone broke up after the studio went bust and how time just flew by. How does Aoi feel about anime today? She’s having fun and is going to make great animes. That’s the spirit. So I suppose this means becoming Ema’s model as she tries to sketch facial expressions when one eats something sour. Yeah well, keep eating those sour plums… Yano brings Iketani to meet Kinoshita. And here comes all the workload as an episode director… Feeling afraid? When Aoi learns Ookura has returned, she goes to see him and sees all the beautiful sceneries he painted. He must have gathered a lot of materials. Ookura briefly tells her about his wandering life and how he ended up in the art job of the anime industry. Before he knew it, 40 years has passed. Aoi is reduced to tears seeing his beautiful work.

Episode 20
Iketani tries to escape but Yano is waiting! Don’t worry. She won’t scold you. Just a gentle reminder to complete your work. With a smile. Later he does it again but Yano sure knows where to wait! Aoi and the rest are discussing the plot for the final episode considering the direction of the penultimate episode. This doesn’t sit well with Maitake since it would mean a strict deadline for him. They got distracted talking about why they make anime. Aoi is puzzled that Midori is taking assignments from Maitake. At first Midori wanted to become his apprentice to train to become a writer but since that is not his policy, he gave her assignments instead. Later when Midori passes by Hiraoka, he starts chiding her just because she is a girl and starts flashing a smile, she gets the job. How to take out her depression? Poor girl adlibs people’s conversation on the train. Of course we know she takes her job seriously. When Hiraoka sees Madoka for the layout checks and cuts, Madoka wants everything to be redone again despite this would only put more work on himself. Madoka couldn’t be happier if those who drew this quit. Then everything spirals downwards. Madoka reprimands Hiraoka that everyone he recommends does a sloppy job and they think they’re like king of the office. Shouting turns violent as they start throwing things. Tarou as usual who just walked in without a care almost hot hit by a metal rod had not Okitsu strike it away! They got reprimanded by her and later Marukawa talks to Hiraoka that despite his personality, he still cares because why get so worked up if Madoka said something off the mark? Subsequently Hiraoka apologizes to Madoka. Kunogi now knows where Ema lives! Oh God! Leecher for life?! Well, Aoi told her so she’s here to give some sweet potatoes as thanks. Still can’t eke out a decent sentence? Another round for Aoi and the rest to discuss the final episode’s plot and using emotions to convey it.

Episode 21
Iketani is trying to be the great escapist but whatever he does, Yano is always waiting. There is even this mini underground shaft escape. No light of hope waiting at the end. Only Yano of despair! Hisamitsu Isokawa, the CEO of his own anime production company, AC Tsuchinoko drops by Musani personally to hand Aoi cuts from an episode. This guy is a real joker. Joking-cum-shocking Andou and Satou that he is Aoi’s girlfriend and trying to get Andou to work for his understaffed company. He knows Hiraoka and Yano as they went to the same school. Hiraoka isn’t too thrilled to see him. Perhaps one of the best perks of the job is sometimes how fun it can be. Like Misa who is tasked to design the movements of a pilot in the cockpit, she calls Shizuka and Ema to ride the roller coaster with her to see their reactions. They have to sit the ride a few times. Scary or fun? Care for another run? On the night 3rd Wing debuts on TV, most of the Musani staffs gather as usual to watch it. Tarou brags his first episode hard work, blood sweat and tears. Nobody wants to listen to you. Aoi hits a major problem when Segawa complains about Hiraoka. She wants him off the episodes she works on because the keyframes he sends in are sloppy and he tends to pile up all the work and give it to her at one go. She is serious about this that she’s starting to think Tarou might be the better alternative!!! Aoi talks to Hiraoka about focusing on the quality instead of rushing to complete it but Hiraoka argues back about animators taking their sweet time and thus affecting the schedule. When this happens it is always the production assistant’s fault. He even threatens to replace him if she wishes. Aoi talks to Yano about Hiraoka. They were all passionate about making anime. But surprisingly Isokawa was the slacker and Hiraoka the hard working passionate guy. What happened? Yeah. Reality sucks, right? Can you blame him for turning out like that? Later Aoi goes to talk to Isokawa. He finds out Honda has gone to start his confectionery in which he feels a bit sad because Honda helped him in starting out this company and gave a few contracts as start. Maybe just like everyone else, their enthusiasm wanes. Isokawa continues about the reason he created this company as well as the importance of the production and creative staff finding a common goal they can share. Aoi tells Hiraoka to continue working while she tries to convince Segawa. And please talk to the keyframe animators and communicate with them better. But there’s a big piece of good news. Kinoshita finishes his storyboard for the final episode in just 3 weeks! But the deadline is just there. Just that they’re motivated to head straight for the finish.

Episode 22
Aoi hopes Iguchi can also be the animation director for the final episode but since she is also swamped with other work, an assistant would be much welcomed. At first Aoi wanted to suggest Ogasawara but surprisingly Iguchi suggests Ema seeing how much she has improved. However she is still suffering from low self confidence so Aoi wants her to think hard about this. Aoi still needs to come up with a backup plan if Ema refuses. Would Segawa take the job? Asking her, Segawa asks back if Aoi is able to take all the responsibility. After assuring all that sloppiness that Hiraoka brought in won’t happen again, Segawa who initially wanted to refuse, accepts it since Aoi convinced her. Ema sees Midori scripting sound effects for the storyboard. Instead of being overwhelmed, she is excited as it is so much fun. Then there is this odd scene of Tarou and Hiraoka going out to drink together. The former is all set for it but Hiraoka has that I-wish-I-wasn’t-here look. But we find out how Hiraoka got this bitter personality. He worked so hard and with all the delays and retakes, he is just caught in between everything. Tarou is touched by his story. Hiraoka wants to quit after this but Tarou won’t let him. Aren’t they buddies who will rule the world?! Says who?! Misa talks to Ema about some keyframe animations between hand drawn and CGI. You jealous, Kunogi? As Ema is still having low self esteem problems and in a dilemma whether to become Iguchi’s assistant, Sugie tells her to go for it because it is an opportunity to learn. With that, Ema accepts the job. This also somewhat has a domino effect on Kunogi. For the first time, Kunogi is called to the meeting for the final episode. All by herself! Can she finally say something? Can she?! YES! Finally! Even if it’s a short sentence about panties, the guys are freaking surprised and even respond in a dramatic way as her! After the final recording session for the last episode is finished, it is supposed to be a teary happy ending when suddenly a call from Chazawa saying the author is totally upset with the final storyboard and has scrapped everything!!! FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 23
Gloom and doom. Better break it to Kinoshita who is happily partying away. Thankfully he gets tricked to go back to work. Katsuragi and Watanabe go to renegotiate with Chazawa but he twists every word he could and a no means no. Musani has to face the dark reality of redoing it everything again with very limited time and compromising quality. As the author wants the final episode to follow his original storyline whereby the main character doesn’t fly again after her comrade dies, it was the opposite in their original anime ending. Hiraoka mentions that this isn’t the first time this author’s works got adapted. There was one anime that was, it was just so crazy and didn’t follow the original faithfully even the author got panned. Honda visits to give Kinoshita some hope (that big cake helps). Then Kinoshita sees the author’s direct email address and sends one. Surprisingly he gets an instant reply to meet up. And so here Kinoshita is outside the publishing office. He is taking this final battle literally, isn’t he? That cowboy getup… With Chazawa and the other editors trying to stop him from seeing the author, Kinoshita’s other allies also help out to keep them at bay. Sometimes it is good to be chubby because Kinoshita used his flabby belly as a power tool to get past everyone to the final boss, the author Takezou Nogame. He of course instantly rejects Kinoshita’s idea and wants it redone. Both sides argue their points. At some point, they start to converge their ideas and work together to where the plot should head next. Finally they reach a conclusion that the main character should fly again with a reason of the deceased character’s little sister. Nogame will send him more details about this later and admits he never had so much fun with a company adapting his work. When his editors finally enter, Nogame is furious at Chazawa for keeping him in the dark. Yeah, we have already guessed it he didn’t consult Nogame after all. Don’t give excuses. You’re fired! With Kinoshita relaying the good news to his production team, they iron out a few tweaks. But for the voice acting part for the little sister, who should they get? Kinoshita hears the audition tapes again. Guess who gets the part? Shizuka! Boy, is Aoi surprised to see her. She plays her short part to perfection that it brings Aoi to tears! No kidding!

Episode 24
Despite only 3 weeks to the final episode, they are rushing for final checks and tweaking. Some of the highlights include Segawa moving in to work at Musani office till the end of the project, Ema takes her team on a field trip to a cow farm to animate the final cow scenes and a typo in during a dubbing take but the recording master easily fixes it. Despite the staffs rejoice that the editing completes the entire project, the last stretch is most daunting. Because it is the delivery of the tapes to the broadcasting stations. The staffs divide themselves to which station they will deliver. In the last mad dash to make it before the deadline, we see them taking all sorts of automobiles and transport to reach their destination. Katsuragi is panicking all the way and it makes him look funny. Okitsu volunteers to take the tape to the furthest station and her drifting has a line of police hot on her tail! Luckily she knows the police chief! Bad weather and traffic jam hinder Aoi’s journey so she makes the final stretch on foot. Run, girl. Run! And yes! She makes it! On the way back, she contemplates her next step. Since she loves anime, she will continue to make them. Musani is having an elaborate party with almost everyone involved in the project attending. Kinoshita is suddenly made to give his speech but with Aoi tumbling in late, he passes the microphone to her. She thanks everybody for making this happen and hopes to continue bringing more anime into people’s lives. Now bottom’s up everybody! Watanabe talks to Katsuragi that they have secured 2 animes for next season. One of them being the very popular, wait for it… Two Piece! Oh, you crack me up! Aoi is with her all friends for the first time since high school. With their increased knowledge and ‘power up’, they feel they have what it takes to make The Divines even better. They can even imagine it like real. Just like old times, they make a doughnut vow on it.

OVA 1
If you have an anime about an anime studio making animes, how much more fun would it be to see an episode that they animated? This is what the first OVA is about and takes a look at the first full episode of Exodus. Akane, Aya and Arupin are members of the small idol unit, Tracy. You know that they’re not famous as they’re singing to empty seats at an amusement park and their changing room is the toilet! Serious! Their social media followers are so paltry that you might think they might have just mistakenly stumbled onto their videos or something. They talk about stuffs and their future, especially their manager, Taguchi who wasn’t even at their show. Maybe it is because he is busy handling the other idol unit, Ginger who is more famous and has more followers. And Tracy is stuck with going to promote some supermarket store in their maid outfit as their next gig. Akane has decided that she is going to do it and leaves. Arupin worries that she might quit Tracy and Aya too feels that if she does that, she will also follow. When Arupin goes to find Akane, she asks a janitor lady who finds it funny that a similar girl also asked to same question. She thinks they’re involved in some love triangle with Taguchi. Arupin sees Akane running about ahead. When she catches up, she sees Taguchi’s dead body! OMG! Why did she pick up the knife?! Taguchi did leave his blood clue but the initial ‘A’ could mean anyone of them. Did Akane mean to kill him on what she has decided? Aya sees this and gets the wrong idea. Same case when Akane comes into the picture. Then a staff sees this and panics. The alarm is sounded. So what do the girls do? Take a deep breath and calm down… Taguchi’s handphone rings. Akane answers and it seems it is her sister (who is also part of the production team). They explain what is going on and can confirm that they didn’t kill Taguchi. Sister’s idea is for them to run away and then formulate a strategy to catch the culprit.

As they escape and rest outside the nearby park, they see their social media followers spiking through the roof! They have become hot topic on the internet and trending right now! All for the wrong reasons? Akane clears the air that what she has decided to do was to talk to Taguchi to give them better jobs or transfer them to a different manager. Otherwise they quit. As they talk of their dream to sing in this dome, the crowd starts to recognize them. Sister guides them to the underground where she has prepared a bike and a secured phone for them to escape. Inspector Miho Koigakubo is confident this will be her case that will make her shine is on the hot trail of Tracy. The trio ride out into the streets as the police are not far behind. They block the bridge but they get scared and gave them way when Aya points a gun and fires a warning shot (earlier on stolen from a bungling policeman). Then they hope off the bridge and onto a dump tugboat. They missed their mark a little and fell into the sea. For the first time they see each other without makeup and hardly recognize each other! The janitor lady is revealed to be the culprit behind the setup and although things didn’t go well as planned, this is not the end yet. And so the Tracy trio continue their worldwide run till they can clear their name with Koigakubo hot on their ass.

OVA 2
This time it is the first episode of 3rd Wing’s turn. We start off with a few technical terms of comparisons between the few fighter jets of our main casts. If they sound like high school girls’ talk, please be informed that they are the (in)famous 307 Aerial Squad of the Chofu Base. The squad AKA Hell Alice that contains the (in)famous pilot ace known as Ice Doll. Along with the multi-national fighter squads from around the world, they approach a huge towering top-like structure made by the mysterious Builders for their next mission. Lots of cool CGI jet fighter dog fights here. Especially from Aria Hitotose AKA Ice Doll who is such a pro in taking out her enemies like as though she’s a machine. The main team is supposed to retrieve some girl in this towering base but they were all wiped out in an ambush. This tragedy unfolding before Aria reminds her of a similar tragedy in her past. Recklessly, she decides to complete the retrieval mission. She manages to do so but the enemy is hot on her tail in trying to take her down and take back the girl. Her superior sacrifices herself to protect her from the enemy’s firing path. With the retrieval mission a success, the fighters leave and return to base. Some comrades commented on Aria’s icy personality because she continued to act normal and didn’t shed tears for her superior’s death, hence her nickname. However the retrieved girl didn’t think so because Aria was in pain, crying all the time. She thanks her for saving her, causing Aria to cry harder. She will always remember her saviour’s name. However she doesn’t remember hers. Holy cow. Amnesiac?! It is briefly explained about Builders who mysteriously built those ever growing towers around the world that jams all form of electronics. This is perhaps why only jet fighters from the 70’s can have a fighting chance against them as they lack all those electronics in today’s fighter jets. Back at base, the boss of 307 Aerial Squad introduces them to a new member: Catherine “Cathy” Weller. That amnesiac girl? So did she get her memories back? Not quite. The only thing she remembers is how to pilot a plane and thus she wanted to join this squad. Since it will be troublesome not to have a name, she took the liberty to call herself by this name. She is also instructed to live with Aria. Lots of teasing from this American girl and you can see Aria putting a myriad of blushing faces that you would normally never see. Then the alert sounds. The enemy is approaching so our girls make a sortie to engage the enemy.

Running On Passion!
Well, it was quite an interesting insight indeed and well done. Unless you are not into the industry or your curiosity isn’t there, you might find this a boring watch but personally for me who has been watching anime for around a decade, this brings a lot of enlightenment. It is good to know that producing a weekly anime can be this tough sh*t. Everything from A to Z needs to be think of and the slight delay along the line can actually hinder and jeopardize a single episode. Now I’m so ‘scared’ of even thinking of working in the anime industry! No kidding! I don’t think I have enough time to spare if I end up working like that! I may need to extend my life. No, clone myself! Argh! Oh anime production, why do you have to be this ‘scary’? But at least I know all the sh*t that has been gone through. And now I am ‘forced’ to appreciate or at least think for a second the hard work put into every anime no matter how crappy they are. That’s a good thing, right?

It is very eye opening to see all the process down the line in making just a single episode. Although it is not shown in chronological order or a systematic way, seeing the way that a production assistant goes through daily to check the schedules and following up on every department is a really one truly respectable and great feat. The schedule could be worse than a personal assistant of a CEO of an international conglomerate! Some departments explain more in detail their process and some just breezes through but the important thing is that each of the departments is essential in making just that one episode. If they really want to go into the deep process of every section, I think this anime would be expanded to a couple of more seasons. It might be a good and bad thing because you get to learn more about the process behind the scenes but when you are watching such for so long, it makes you feel like you’re watching a documentary instead of an anime that is supposed to be both educational and fun at the same time. So I think that having certain departments just making brief and simple cameos are just the right tonic and pace for this series. While many of the process are realistic, there are some scenes which I feel are exaggerated like the drifting driving (don’t ever do this no matter how tight your deadline is!) and Kinoshita’s ‘battle’ to see Nogame. All this is of course for comedic effect and make the series less boring.

Despite the overwhelming characters, it is unfair for me to say that some of them lack the deserved screen time. The way they spammed all the staffs in the first episode was already ‘scary’. And as the series progresses, you’ll meet even more people from inside and outside the production line. It makes you wonder if you could ever remember them all. Heck, I don’t think I managed to. In fact, I think everyone in the line from top to bottom are just amazing doing their stuffs and then everybody putting it all together. All of the characters feel like somebody in the workforce we can related to. There is always the big mouth and show off. The joker kind is always there too. The lazy slacker who is always missing from work. Then there is the quiet and reserved person. Not to mention those that are very good mentors and very good at what they and you respect them for it. And of course the kind of colleagues that we hate most are those with such arrogant, nasty and f*cked up attitudes. You don’t see it here in this anime but Hiraoka’s unfriendly behaviour comes close to that. Essentially with a diversified work force with so many personalities, the bottom line is that everybody needs to work together to get things done and I believe this is what this anime and this Musani is trying to show us. It is not godly miracles or anything. It is solely the hard work, dedication and passion of these people who made it possible. So once again, let me say hats off to these people with nerves of steel doing something that I would never ever find myself doing.

Many of the characters in this anime you will find likeable. Like Aoi as the main character is a pretty steadfast girl. Like many of us being put in such a demanding and important position, instead of complaining or having negativity (on several occasions she might find things impossible but that is just temporary till she finds her motivation back up again), you see her take on the challenge. Helming that post at such a young age, I believe she’ll gain lots of valuable experience and if this was a game, she’ll level up in no time and do greater stuffs and reach greater heights in no time. There are many points where Aoi is on the verge of breaking down and thoughts of giving up are too tempting. What doesn’t kill her makes her stronger. She is living proof of that. Sometimes I think her stress and thoughts are personified as a couple of imaginary characters, Lolo the white bear and Mimsy the pirate goth girl. They make more appearance in the second half of the series and while mostly playing the role in explaining certain processes and all. Sometimes they give Aoi the much needed motivation to push ahead. Well, I think most of us have this kind of inner thoughts that make us go further when we’re about to give up.

It is also great to see that her high school anime buddies are also now working towards their common goal and making their dream come true. Slowly but surely. Ema who started out with very low self esteem has now improved a lot especially in her drawing and even has her own style (and an apprentice who sticks to her like a leech!). Misa has gotten better in her CG expertise while Midori’s knowledge and writing skills are increasing at an alarming rate. Shizuka might seem to be not heading anywhere due to the lack of roles and the unsuccessful auditions she attends. But she never gives up nor loses sight of her goal. And could this minor role in 3rd Wing be the big break? Despite you may notice the repetitiveness of the character development (mainly trying to hone better their skills), it never gets boring because it showcases that the character has some room for improvements.

If you look at the bunch of staffs at Musani, you can surely see that they are a motley crew of misfits banding together to produce a show. Tarou is a good person for laughs (and one of the few reasons preventing this series to be a bore) because he talks big and even if something is his fault (which usually is), he still slacks and continues to be nonchalant. I suppose that this guy does get his job done. Otherwise why would he still be around instead of getting fired? Still he is the kind of joker that even laughs in the face and times of danger. The only person who can put him down is Yano. She has given Aoi lots of handy tips to stay top of her game. She’s pretty cool and calm when it comes down to it. If she wasn’t in the anime industry, she could be a motivation speaker or stress relief advisor. Lots of us can be categorized as Hiraoka. Most of us started out as passionate with big goals but throughout the years, the stress and everything could have burnt us out. So you can’t really blame him when he puts up that sourpuss attitude and just doing the bare minimum to get things done. Luckily for him, his colleagues are understanding enough and he is sensible enough to change his ways. Nothing that drastic but at least something tolerable.

Then there are those big guys like Kinoshita, the kind of person who needs lots of motivation and easily loses them. This guy is the king of procrastinating if somebody doesn’t put his foot down and put him back in line. So many times Musani could have fallen in danger thanks to him putting off his work but eventually even guys like him can turn around. Most companies would also have ‘the guy with the connections’, Watanabe. This is the kind of person you need to get your deals done with cool and suave PR tactics. And then Katsuragi, this guy is like living on the edge. He has got this panicky attitude that any bad news could send this guy into heart attack. Please don’t scare this guy. Colleagues come and go and some like Honda would sometimes pay his respects by visiting the company from time to time. Some you’ll never heard of again like Ochiai but since he is still working around in the same industry, you’ll hear about him from time to time.

Cool veterans like Sugie provide valuable advices from their years of experience. Iguchi and Ogasawara are also very good in what they do so learn as much as possible. Kunogi is funny because of her inability to string decent proper sentences so much so it feels like Ema knows her so well that she could read her mind and finish her sentences. It’s like she’s her mom! Even if she still stammers and could say a few words of her own, at least she’s trying. Argh! There are so many nice and memorable characters that I can’t list them all here. Sorry about that. I got a writer’s block just trying to think about it.

If you noticed that Musani’s president, Marukawa may look like a senile old doofus (that eternal grin of his may make him look like a silly old fool) who does nothing ‘stressful’ around the office except cooking for the staff. But I think he is as important as all the animators and production staffs as well. No doubt he is the head of this studio but he takes care of them well. Don’t think that cooking is something trivial. When the staffs are stressed and having emergency meetings to figure things out, nothing like a little home cooked snacks to freshen up and stimulate the brain once again. Don’t write off Okitsu as just someone who works from the typical 9 to 5. She is in fact the most resourceful person being able to help out in the 11th hour. It’s good to have such people by your side. If I may point out the only ‘antagonist’ in the series goes to Chazawa as his high and mighty attitude has been the source of lots of trouble for Musani. Good thing he got fired.

As an anime that produces anime, the art style and the animation are reasonably good. It shows that being simplistic can still bring out the vibrant feel and you don’t need to resort to flashy exaggerated visuals to catch your attention. There might not be very fast action scenes or even elaborate backgrounds but I believe that there are lots of detail and important minor visual stuffs that they put in during some scenes like when we see the artists animating on paper or part of the computer effects. It would be very ironic if an anime about making animes didn’t put enough decent quality into the production whereas in the anime, the studio tries its best to strive for quality. This might be trivial put I just want to point out that somehow I feel that the character designs differ between male and female. What I mean is that while most of the females have that wide eyed bishoujo anime look, many of the guys in the production look more ‘real’. Take a look at guys like Kinoshita, Katsuragi and Yamada have this ‘realism’ look. Big. Chubby. Otaku-like. Whereas many of the females like Aoi and her friends do look pretty enough even though they’re under a lot of stress. Of course there are pretty guys like Watanabe and even Hiraoka himself.

I wonder if the in-anime like Exodus and 3rd Wing will get their own anime adaptation because watching their first episode seems interesting and quite promising. Especially with 3rd Wing as it has all that nail biting action as well as cool CGI effects. Not to mention a main character maid! Yahoo! Ahem… If they do, it won’t be the first time that an anime has turned its in-anime into its own series. Genshiken did it before with its Kujibiki Unbalance. Maybe if that ever happens, it will be quite some time in the future as I believe those animes are not based on any actual manga and were just created inside the anime for the plot and setting of the main one. Personally, I think if they want to make another sequel to Shirobako, they should make these animes instead because another season of watching Musani stressing out over the same thing may get boring since we are already aware of the ‘vicious cycle’.

With so many characters, some come and go, the cast list is a very extensive one. And I mean a very long list. Though, there are a handful of seiyuus that voice multiple roles. Especially some that starred as themselves. Well, not exactly. Their names are slightly modified in the anime but you can tell it is them (and then give out a little grin) and that they sound familiar. For instance, Mai Nakahara, Shizuka Itou and Ai Kayano other than voicing some of the staffs in Musani, also make their cameo as ‘themselves’. Generally, the voice acting is as good as the art and they fit the characters very well and give them their unique personality. The opening and ending themes are pretty decent too. Colorful Box by Yoko Ishida is the first opening theme while Animetic Love Letter by the trio of Juri Kimura, Haruka Yoshimura and Haruka Chisuga is the second. Masami Okui sings Treasure Box as the first ending theme and Aoi and friends get to sing Platinum Jet as Donut@Quintet for the second ending theme which is pretty cute with lines that go, ”Neru na luna~”. Some of the other special themes for the in-anime are also fun to listen like the Andes Chucky theme song as well as the Exodus’ cutesy idol lyrics and 3rd Wing’s anime rock based outfits.

Overall, this anime is very well done and a very good insight and eye opener to the world of producing anime. One thing good about this series is that it doesn’t glorify or idolize the anime production line and all that we have seen. You really need pure raw passion to get through this kind of work. Though, I get the feeling that in real life, the stress and hardship is much more severe than this. Because despite all the hardships that we have seen Musani gone through, there is still a feel good ending to it all. After all, this is still an anime so it doesn’t hurt to have a little satisfying feel to it. In the real world, I am assuming that many would have gone crazy or losing that spark after putting in such long demanding hours as opposed to see everyone smiling here! Making this series even more interesting is the fact that it is not based on any manga/novel like Bakuman or Sore Ga Seiyuu or game like Love Get Chu. An original anime about making anime and it does keep things fresh. Of course there are some little trivia to spot from other parodies of other animes like Kill La Kill, Gundam, Crayon Shin Chan and Space Runaway Ideon.

This anime serves as a good wakeup call and reminder with the ever expanding influence of anime around the world. This show is good for all anime enthusiast as well as those who want to get into similar industries. And then you decide if this is really what you want and willing to sacrifice before you jump onto the bandwagon. While you can still criticize any animes you see and deem they are not up to par by your standards, the most important thing is to appreciate what has been done to bring those animations to life. It is the equivalent of saying grace before every meal. It is without a doubt that all kinds of anime, great or crappy, epic or fail, it proves that the industry is capable of creating and making dreams come true. Therefore I salute to all those in making animes and persevering through it all. But still, a crappy anime is still a crappy anime no matter how many justifications you give. An excuse for me to go back criticizing sh*tty animes and skip this ‘appreciation’ process. Heh. I’m human after all.

Bakuman S3

December 14, 2013

This is it. The final stretch. Can they finally do it and achieve their dream? Yes, after watching them grow and overcoming trials after trials just to become better and better, the final third season of Bakuman is at hand. It might seem like a long time ever since I started watching the first season (released way back in October 2010) and now here I am, concluding the trilogy which was aired back in October 2012. Wow. How time flies when you’re having fun. You start to realize where all the time has gone to when you reflect back that you’ve been spending your entire life doing nothing but your passion. If it brings them one step closer in achieving their dream, then I can say that none of those efforts they put in were wasted in any sort. I may not be their number one fan, but I love to see people who work hard and give it their all. That’s why I’m going full steam ahead in supporting them regardless of the outcome that awaits them at the end of this long journey.

Episode 1
We’re starting off with the good news. The first chapter of Perfect Crime Party (PCP) is ranked first! Wohoo!!! Miura talks to Iwase about +NATURAL’s anime adaptation and the seiyuu candidates. She notices one of them being Azuki and learns she is Mashiro’s girlfriend. Instantly she could see how the name Ashirogi Muto came about. Miura calls Mashiro to inform him that Azuki is one of the candidates of +NATURAL. He is in a dilemma. It is great she is rising up in her industry but what does this spell about their promise? Does he really want her to do it? After all, it is an anime adapted from one of their rivals. Takagi and Miyoshi go to personally go to talk to Azuki and it seems it was her manager who sent in her application on his own and was passed. Although Mashiro said it is up to her decision, Takagi personally feels she should not take up this offer. Because +NATURAL is not the only anime out there. Of course it is still up to her but they don’t want her to accept the role just because Mashiro didn’t stop her. PCP’s ranking drops a place in the following week but it still ranks higher than CROW and +NATURAL. Mashiro is still spacing out that it is affecting his art so Takagi talks to him about his talk with Azuki. On the day of the audition, Niizuma and Iwase arrive at the studio to see Azuki waiting. Iwase wastes no time in asking her the meaning of Ashirogi Muto and she replies to her about their dream. That’s why she is here to turn down the offer. Iwase won’t let her go. After hearing this story, she is determined to use her and won’t allow her to turn it down because of her love life. Suddenly Mashiro barges in and takes Azuki to run away. Niizuma views him as super cool and will use all his authority to reject Azuki! Mashiro and Azuki talk about how they were stubborn. How many times they have broken their promise? She feels he is quite reliable today. She accompanies him at the train station and when he gets off, she suggests kissing next time. Is there something wrong with her today? Well, she believes the next time they meet, their dream will have come true. And so Mashiro is so over the moon. His happy face is so obvious. But Miyoshi seems disappointed that all they did was hold hands. Iwase is one mad girl. She vows to bring down Ashirogi and destroy Azuki’s career. She blames him for siding them since he was the one who started PCP with them. So Miura for once had to put his foot down and tell her that he is +NATURAL’s editor and the only way they are going to compete is with each other’s works. Okay. So give her some ideas for the next chapter! Although PCP’s third chapter ranks fifth, normally this would be good but Hattori knows it is not in Ashirogi’s case. Because Sasaki told him if their ratings are too low by the seventh chapter, he will not hesitate to cancel them.

Episode 2
PCP continues to slip to sixth place. This is not good. So Hattori tells them about their special case. They remember about their condition when they ended Tanto. They need to buck up or else the inevitable. Iwase also learns about this and is shocked. Does she like competing with Ashirogi? Well, to her it is important Takagi be there so she can stand above him! So upset that Iwase calls Takagi himself to tell him that the way they are, they can’t even beat her. Even Niizuma doesn’t view PCP as his challenge. She wants them to use everything they’ve got or else they can only blame themselves for lack of talent. Meanwhile Hiramaru is at his limits. He wants his break! But Yoshida… Can he give up his tea date with Aoki? Yeah, sign a contract while he is at it. This should lay his excuse off for another 6 months… Ashirogi put on their thinking on how to make PCP better and at the same time cater to the main demographic and theme of Jack. Mashiro makes the art lighter and this has their rankings climb back up. Iwase makes frequent night visits to Niizuma and this causes Yuujirou to worry. However they are already adults so he thinks they can do what they please. +NATURAL’s anime make its debut and you can say everyone is impressed. It’s damn good. As predicated by Niizuma too, the manga lost its ranking to PCP. Hiramaru is enjoying his tea date with Aoki. He thought he knew the kind of tea she likes but she points out a different one. So he calls Yoshida and Yamahisa into the room and f*cks them properly for the wrong info!!! Hattori shows Ashirogi the draft of next week’s Jack. Ever since they changed their art style, Niizuma has done his for CROW too. They are surprised to see his chapter without any dialogue! Even more surprising, the readers love it and he garnered more votes when such risky move should have made him lost some. His artwork and storytelling managed to convince the readers that it was an amazing and novel idea. Though PCP still ranks below +NATURAL, PCP will have a full colour cover spread on the 26th issue and they will bet everything on that. Takahama’s court case manga, Seigi No Mikata and Fukuda’s motorcycle racing, Road Racer GIRI make their serialization debut and hit top spot for the first week. Ashirogi feels that they’ve been too focused on taking on +NATURAL that they forgot they have other rivals too. They’re going to do their best when Hattori comes rushing in. He seems out of breath. He shows them next week’s draft for Jack. There is a crossover of CROW in +NATURAL!

Episode 3
Although +NATURAL ranks fourth, PCP is a rank below them on their front page spread. Hattori is worried that at this rate, PCP will be fighting with lower ranked series. He talks to them about how readers pick their top 3 choices and PCP barely made it to third for many readers. There must be more who picked it as their fourth choice. So the challenge now is to raise that to their third choice. They need to make an impact. Takagi suggests running a story arc for 5 chapters. It might be risky to do a storyline that long because once their ranking falls very far, it is hard to get it back up. Also, it requires readers to follow weekly so if they miss an issue, they miss out on the plot. Ashirogi is adamant to take on this challenge. So Takagi comes up with a storyline for PCP hat has them going head to head with a big rival. Slowly, Takagi comes up with a brilliant plot for the climax. As PCP begins their story arc, it drops a few places but this is a gamble they are willing to take. Takagi still has doubts of the ending that PCP emerges victorious. It feels not enough. Even so, he still has time to change his storyboard. One day, Iwase confronts Takagi. She heard about his conditions but vows her manga won’t lose. If PCP gets cancelled, it is their lost. She is so confident that she makes a bet that in the event if she loses, she will walk naked around the building on her hands! Takagi wonders why she is always hostile to him. Reminding her about their confrontation with Miyoshi back at his house, if he had to choose if he likes or hates her, he would choose the former. His feelings are still the same. He likes her as a fellow human being and rival storyteller. They shake hands and he hopes this will inspire them to do their best. And so Takagi changes his storyboard. Even though the rival is beaten and offered a chance to see who they are, the rival prefers to do that when he beats them with his own skill. The arc ends when PCP tells what the final P stands for. Party.

Episode 4
It is D-Day. Will PCP sink or swim. All Ashirogi knows is that they have done their best. Hattori calls. They did it! They are in fourth place above Seigi No Mikata and +NATURAL. They only lost to CROW by 2 votes. They even get a personal call from Sasaki to congratulate them. Ashirogi is in high spirits though Hattori brings them good news that they will get a drama CD, the duo were hoping for it to be turned into an anime. But let’s not rush things. They have the privilege to select which seiyuu they want for the character on the drama CD. Guess who comes first to mind? Azuki immediately takes up the offer. Ashirogi’s assistants congratulate them. Shiratori is asking his fellow colleagues about their own series they are drawing so Mashiro advises him to draw his own and something he likes. However it seems his mom is against him being a manga artist’s assistant and even the concept of manga itself. Takagi has lots of spare time that he can come up with lots of contents for the drama CD. So free that he has time to take a look at Shiratori’s storyboard. He finds it good. Rabuta And Peace is about a boy named Rabuta who can’t trust anyone and his dog, Peace who can tell whether people are telling the truth or not. This story is based on himself and his pet dog. Hattori relays more good news that PCP will get a novel after that but he is perplexed that they are still asking for an anime. He tells them straight PCP will not get one. In addition to enormous costs and manpower, the realism of the series is the main reason why they won’t get it. They’ve got complaints from people about kids imitating them. It is appealing that’s why it could happen. However they can’t make their perfect crimes that cannot be imitated since it will lose its appeal. This will mess up their formula too. Hattori says having a popular manga is already good enough so Takagi tells him about their dream why they want an anime so bad. Hattori replies he is the calculative type. If so, he should have included in that calculation for a series to be adapted into anime from the start. Manga isn’t created with anime adaptation into mind. Takagi laments he didn’t think that far but Mashiro commends him on making PCP very popular and that is good enough. Since Hattori is here, Moriya and Shiratori take their chance to have him comment on their storyboard. Hattori views Moriya’s work as too complicated to understand. Yeah. Nobody understands him. But he likes Shiratori’s manga. Yeah. Life’s unfair. Shiratori doesn’t think he wants to submit because he had Takagi look at it and revised it 3 times. Hattori looks at the original work and thinks if this gets serialized, the story will be credit to Takagi and the artwork and idea to Shiratori. Mashiro gets worried that he is doing the story for another manga. Of course Takagi won’t accept it unless Mashiro says it is okay. With that panicky face, he says as long as it doesn’t interfere with PCP, he is okay.

Episode 5
Hattori thinks of submitting Rabuta for a one-shot. They have 20 days to the deadline to polish up everything. Shiratori goes home and his sister talks to him about his manga job. He feels the irony. A painting their grandpa bought for millions sits alone in their home alone for their own enjoyment whereas manga can be read by many anywhere with just little money. Rabuta improved so much that it is scheduled to be published in the main issue of Jack instead of Treasure it was initially supposed to (since Takagi is the author, it would be against the rules). Takagi uses a different pen name for this work but even Niizuma can figure it out it is him. More surprising news that Rabuta debuts at fifth, a spot below PCP. This alarms Takagi because his priority is PCP. Mashiro doesn’t want him to worry about him. Shiratori thinks this is a bad idea to inconvenience Takagi. He also reveals his parents are against this and want him to study abroad if he is wants to draw. Of course he wants to draw manga so Mashiro tells him not to give up because many people don’t have this chance to get serialized. While Takagi challenges himself in writing 2 stories, Mashiro challenges himself to draw faster and improve quality. Shiratori runs into more trouble. His mom insists he give up manga but he is adamant he wants to walk that path. He shows his seriousness when he runs away from home. So much so Ashirogi starts to smell something wrong. Smell, yes. Because he stinks and hasn’t had his bath for many days! He is sleeping outdoors. Ashirogi doesn’t think it’ a good idea so Miyoshi offers him to stay at her parents’ place till he can find his own. One night when Shiratori is working at Ashirogi, his family barges him to bring him back. Mommy insists he will study abroad in an art school if he wants to draw. She also runs down mangaka that they are playing so the rest jump to his defence that they aren’t. Because mommy thinks it is still better for her son to become an unpopular painter than a popular mangaka, the rest realize they can never convince her. Even the passionate Moriya gets shot down. Nobody understands him. Till Shiratori’s sister and dad stood up for him. They think he should be given a chance since they have read his work and find it good. However she warns that even if has cut ties with the family, he must not give up. Otherwise it is game over. Mommy gives in and tells him to do what he wants. Mashiro continues to learn from Shiratori on simplifying his rough sketches. Hiramaru is happy his Otter 11 anime has ended and he will be on eternal break. But Yoshida points out an event called Super Leaders Fest whereby popular authors will be publishing one-shots. So? Aoki’s Time Of Blue Leaves is doing poorly and is getting canned. He can use this excuse of getting a new serialization to get together. That did the trick. He calls her and is very happy she accepts his invitation to go out to tea. Yeah. Now get to work on that one-shot! Hattori tells Ashirogi about the fest too. Mashiro wants to do it but Hattori thinks they’ve got PCP and Rabuta. Mashiro will do it himself if it burdens Takagi. Takagi feels it would be unfair if Mashiro couldn’t participate because of him. They are Ashirogi till the very end. And so, they’re entering it.

Episode 6
Mashiro still thinks he wants to do this alone. This is to expand their horizon. He doesn’t want PCP to suffer because of this one-shot or Rabuta. Of course he is not a story man and can’t come up with a decent story. Thinking about his relationship with Azuki, he decides to do a love story. But still, the ideas aren’t coming. He can understand from a guy’s perspective but hasn’t got a clue on a girl’s view. Maybe he should ask someone? The duo take a break and head for the New Year’s party. They see Fukuda enraged because he too wants to enter the fest. Iwase, Aoki and Niizuma are the other participants in the fest. Fukuda wants Sasaki to rank them now so he will put a survey for the one-shot fest. Because Aoki and Iwase are doing love stories, Niizuma also wants to do one. Not you too Hiramaru. Oh God. Even Fukuda himself. And the other participant for the fest, Arai will also do a love story since he did love comedies before. And so this fest has become Super Leaders Love Fest. May the best love story wins. Mashiro calls Azuki to ask about the meaning of love. Realizing the one-shot he is doing, she doesn’t hesitate to describe in detail the first time she fell in love with him. It was love at first sight. While Mashiro’s love story is getting good reviews from Hattori, Takagi’s Rabuta isn’t since Peace isn’t acting like a dog anymore. He needs to rework it. Also, they will get a colour spread for their PCP’s 50th chapter to commemorate its one year anniversary. Wow. Time flies, eh? This means increase in pay and will due to the popularity of the drama CD, they’ll be getting a second one. Thanks to that, Azuki’s popularity has also shot up. However Mashiro and Takagi had a slight quarrel about the series that they are focusing. What if Rabuta becomes an anime? If they wanted an anime adaptation, what they’re doing now is strange. Takagi calls Shiratori to stay at his place so that he can observe how dogs act. For the next few days, Ashirogi did their work apart. Miyoshi wants to tell off her husband but Mashiro thinks it is fine and not to get involve. Shiratori talks to Mashiro that he wants to quit being his assistant since it might clash if Takagi is serious about this serialization. Miyoshi is shocked that she didn’t know Takagi is staying at Shiratori’s place. Mashiro tells Shiratori to let Takagi do what he wants and to worry about himself. They are going to be rivals after all. Mashiro finds himself in another block. He has this image in his head but doesn’t know how to express it through dialogue. All the one-shot participants have submitted their work except for him and Fukuda. Suddenly Takagi comes back and wants to start work with Mashiro. He reveals Rabuta’s third chapter and onwards were from Shiratori himself. Takagi was staying at his place to give him some serious training camp to make him independent. Rabuta is definitely a series by Shiratori himself. Mashiro said he could do Rabuta but he realized he wasn’t skilled enough. Now he can concentrate on PCP and the one-shot. Mashiro wants him to punch him. Miyoshi thinks Ashirogi is done for when she sees them punching each other at the park. In actual fact, they were just experiencing youth. This is what youth is all about? They were trying to cover for each other but end up wasting time and effort going in weird directions. Now back to the studio for work. In the end, Aoki won the fest. The ranking of others in descending order: Hiramaru, Arai, Ashirogi, Niizuma, Fukuda and Iwase. Well, at least Ashirogi beat Niizuma. In addition, Mashiro’s drawing speed goes up and they got to expand their horizon. Now they can fully concentrate on PCP.

Episode 7
Ashirogi receives their congratulatory award for PCP’s 50th chapter. Hiramaru tries to give excuse he won’t be doing any series for serialization since he didn’t win the fest. But will Yoshida allow it? Yeah. Aoki tea dates again… Fukuda is also not impressed with his ranking but Yuujirou has good news for him. GIRI will be adapted into anime. Ashirogi gets news of this but they aren’t as shocked as they should like before. They want to concentrate on PCP and beat CROW first. Though, they still haven’t dropped their anime dream. Ashirogi is given additional duties to be a judge since authors who are serialized for over a year will take turns with that. Takagi tells Mashiro his idea of unorthodox battle manga but hasn’t flesh out the details yet. Hiramaru gets ready to pick up lovely Aoki. He thinks she must be in cohorts with Yoshida and Yamahisa since they are supposed to meet them and encourage him to get another serialization. Hiramaru wonders if she wants to just have tea with him. Just the 2 of them. But turn off her handphone first. So when it is time for their editors to meet, Yamahisa couldn’t get through Aoki. Yoshida smells something fishy and calls Hiramaru but can’t get through. Then he realizes he has played them out. Worse, they think he has kidnapped Aoki! Yamahisa doesn’t really see what all the big fuss is if Hiramaru marries Aoki. Yoshida knows he is the kind of man that will never draw and will push all the work to Aoki! Yoshida even has a GPS tracer on Hiramaru’s car! You can’t escape this guy! He thinks he has caught up to him but is shocked to see Fukuda and his assistant. Seems Hiramaru has outsmarted him. He paid them to drive around today and bought a new car! Wow. Hiramaru is so different today. Fukuda calls Ashirogi about the situation. But where can they be now? They think they might be at some café based on their series in the one-shot. Yoshida fears there will be double suicide if Aoki turns him down since both their serializations just ended. Ashirogi is in a dilemma because they feel they want to root for Hiramaru. At the café, Hiramaru is about to confess when Yoshida has found them! Hiramaru takes Aoki and run. Knowing his bike can catch up to their car, he takes her on foot up the pedestrian bridge. Hiramaru is tired of being a mangaka and wants his rest. Yoshida admits all his sneaky plan! He didn’t even pretend to lie! Hiramaru is near breaking point about his job. The pressure and frustration he has just to meet deadlines. But Yoshida tells him because of that, he was able to meet Aoki. All those sufferings were for this day. The happiest day of his life. If he continues, he will have more days like this. Hiramaru admits it is true but wants to tell something to Aoki. Yoshida tries to stop him and warns about being rejected. Hiramaru tells him off not to use Aoki and mix up his love and work life. They hear the support of Ashirogi, Miyoshi and Fukuda. They’re cheering on Hiramaru. Hiramaru becomes a man and asks Aoki to go out with him. Since she had so much fun, she agrees. Yeah. Happy ending. Now this will spur him to do a better manga. Hattori lets Ashirogi judge the finalists for Treasure. There is one applicant who is going to be a ‘problem’. His work is so good that he may get serialized right now. He even sent in a full 10 chapters. Although the work is very similar to Ashirogi, it may be much better than them.

Episode 8
The Classroom of Truth is about a class suddenly finding themselves trapped in a deadly survival game. You do the wrong thing, you lose and disappear. Only the last person standing is allowed to leave. The twist, turn and unexpected nature make this a very interesting plot. Before we forget we are watching Bakuman, we are abruptly disrupted to see Ashirogi having high opinion of this work. But they note the manga content is not Jack-like. The author is Tooru Nanamine. That name rings a bell to Mashiro. He is one of their many fans and has sent many fan letters to them before. Jack’s serializing committee are going over Nanamine’s work and though they find it good, it still boils down that it is not a good content for Jack. Since he has very good potential, Sasaki appoints newbie Kosugi as his editor. Hattori talks to Ashirogi and he tells them Nanamine’s manga didn’t even get an honourable mention and remains of a finalist due to its content. He warns them that his manga is story-driven and can be a tough opponent in terms of settings. Kosugi meets Nanamine and he seems to be the very talkative and positive kid. Nanamine claims he is Ashirogi’s biggest fan and wants to meet them. He also takes his loss very well and it doesn’t put him down as he looks forward to his next work. But… Soon Jack receives lots of complain calls. Seems Nanamine has uploaded his work on the internet for feedback. Although official results aren’t out, this seems to be fishing for sympathy telling others he didn’t win first place. Kosugi apologizes to Sasaki for the blunder but he thinks they can use this as a chance since he ‘advertised’ for them. Sasaki wants to meet him. Nanamine is brought in and is repenting his actions. Realizing that now his work is useless after uploading, he has written a brand new one and wants Sasaki to take a look. Everyone is surprised the chief editor approves it as he finds it interesting. It is also a content very much for Jack. Nanamine gets his dream of meeting Ashirogi at their work place. Such an eager beaver. Such an excited fan. After Kosugi leaves for an important work, suddenly Nanamine’s character change. He becomes arrogant and cocky. He reveals everything he did was planned from the uploading and writing a new work. He knows some of the moves he made were unethical but Ashirogi is no angel themselves for they did some experiments too. Like having 2 one-shots published back to back and even getting permission for Tanto’s cancellation. Nanamine has no confidence in editors and views Kosugi as useless. He badmouths them for having no talent in story. Compared to their suggestion, he had those of thousands of people over the internet and pinpoints around 50 who gave credible opinions. Thanks to their ideas, he is able to take the short cut and get published for a one-shot. He views Ashirogi better than Niizuma because the latter doesn’t think when he draws. The ultimate revelation: The manga he writes is not his own idea but a compilation of ideas from many people over the internet. Even though it may seem like cheating, he was the one who pieced it together and thus it is his work. He vows to climb to the top of Jack.

Episode 9
Ashirogi doesn’t approve his method since it shows he isn’t pro and doesn’t have pride. But Nanamine counters that they rely on editors also show they are amateurs and have no confidence in themselves. Mashiro tells him to do what he wants but warns sooner or later he will get exposed. Ashirogi knows what he is doing is wrong but won’t tell on him. The only way is to do better than him. In the event he gets serialized, it is important they not let him overtake them. Aida is having problems of selecting a good one-shot manga for the August issue and thought of asking Nanamine. He is delighted to be selected and will do his best to do it. He will even speed up his work in addition to the one he is discussing with Kosugi. He has tons of friends who can help him out in 2 weeks. And so Nanamine gets ideas from his internet ‘friends’. To Kosugi’s surprise, his revisions are completely different from his suggestions but Nanamine is confident he made them better and if he doesn’t agree, he can show it to the other editors. If it doesn’t make the cut, he’ll give up in getting published in the one-shot. The editors find it good and praise Kosugi for having a talented genius. But he doesn’t feel good about this. Even Hattori suspects something amiss. Despite being an 18 year old, the youthfulness is missing from his story. Nanamine even refines the artwork to make it better than Classroom Truth. Meanwhile Katou becomes Ashirogi’s assistant once more as Shiratori’s replacement.

Elsewhere, Yoshida once more hatches his scheme for Hiramaru. Because Nanamine is a serious threat (their work and Aoki’s are gunning for August serialization), he plays up his relationship with Aoki to work harder. Since their relationship didn’t go anywhere after his confession, it is just the right tonic for Yoshida to get his ass moving by giving excuse he is no more than Aoki’s tea buddy. Effective. Flashback reveals when Nanamine was still in school, he read Ashirogi’s Money And Intelligence. He became thrilled with the idea and asked his father for money. He then used it to buy friends (he was always a loner) proving their theory was right. Ashirogi sees news of Nanamine over the internet again. Though they admit it is great publicity, this means he has raised the bar higher himself and must work harder to satisfy those inflated hopes. However, if successful, he can get serialized within 6 months of his first submission. As expected, Nanamine’s one-shot, Nervousness And The Farts That Come With It becomes a hit. Ashirogi give high points for his art and story. They note he works well around the one-idea concept (example: you lie, you die; you nervous, you fart) and builds and expands the story around this single simple idea. They also realize his characters aren’t well developed so if they’re going to create an unorthodox standard battle manga, they are going to build a story around the character first. Of course they need to make it with anime adaptation in mind. The editors sing praises for Nanamine as he even got the first chapter of his serialization story, A Necessity For A Meaningful College Lifestyle finished. Kosugi doesn’t seem happy as usual but what bugs Hattori the most is that this series overlaps quite a bit with PCP. Kosugi calls Nanamine and is surprised he already finished chapters 2 and 3. He wants to pay a visit to his home since if he gets serialized, this will happen very often.

Kosugi goes over his storyboard but is not satisfied with the protagonist. He suggests some changes but Nanamine says that everyone else said differently. Everyone else? Oops. Nanamine tells him the truth of his advice he got from his internet ‘friends’. Kosugi is shocked his manga isn’t original work but Nanamine insists it is. He did not steal ideas from other mangas, right? As for his artwork, he hired very good artists over the internet. That’s how he got it done so quickly. This is a big problem for Kosugi because if it becomes a hit, there will be a tussle for the money. Nanamine has told them about this and will kick them out and get new help if they come asking. If his methods are exposed, he’ll freely acknowledge it. He then labels Kosugi as useless and not good enough of him. Some of his 50 friends have experience in editing and serialized experience. So can Kosugi say his opinion is better than them? So if his chapters 2 and 3 get approved, he wants Kosugi to follow his lead. Though he won’t force him to do anything and tries to get psychological with him. Knowing Kosugi is in his first year in this business, he is under pressure to make a good impact. Otherwise he will be transferred. This method will get him good results otherwise Nanamine will go to another manga magazine company. And if that happens, Kosugi will be in trouble for letting a genius go to a competitor, right? He is hot commodity after Classroom of Truth being a hit. Kosugi has no choice but to do it his way. Yuujirou talks to Niizuma about upcoming Nanamine but he is not showing his usual enthusiasm like he always did for Ashirogi. Sure, he maybe version 2 of Ashirogi but he thinks the original one is still better. Besides, he has never seen his face. How can he? He never meets him, right? Hattori tells Ashirogi about Nanamine’s submission for August’s serialization. He is in competition with Hiramaru and Aoki. But he is worried since Nanamine’s work is very much like PCP’s setting. Ashirogi won’t lose to him and if he really does get serialized, they will take responsibility for it and crush him with PCP.

Episode 10
The committee decides Aoki and Nanamine’s work will be serialized. Hattori can tell something is wrong with Kosugi because even if Nanamine got serialized, he doesn’t look happy and he murmurs something about waking his eyes up. Meanwhile Yoshida calls Hiramaru to relay him the bad news he didn’t get serialized. Hiramaru goes into shock and thinks Aoki will soon dump him. He tries to make a call but since she is busy with her editor, she shuts her phone. He thinks it’s all over. Taking it the wrong way, huh? Hattori sees Shiratori but that kid is not sad that Rabuta And Peace has been cancelled. He finds this manga experience very exciting and wants to work on his next hit. One that will make his mom acknowledge. Hattori visits Ashirogi nearby so he asks them what is wrong with Kosugi since it is written all over his face that something is bugging him. They reluctantly tell him the underhanded tactics Nanamine is doing. Hattori is in disgust but understands the picture better why there are lots of inconsistencies. Ashirogi feels responsible for this because he was one of their fans. Takagi gets a call from Nanamine as he brags about his serialization. Takagi gets permission from Hattori to send a challenge warning that they will crush him. They will not lose to a manga that is cobbled together with mishmash of ideas. Unlike other manga artists who push their own limit, his work is without soul. Takagi vows to get his manga cancelled in 10 weeks. Since it is useless quarrelling over the phone, they’ll let their work do the talking. So Ashirogi brainstorms how they could beat Nanamine. In short, just do a better manga. Nanamine seeks the advice of his 50 internet ‘friends’. Though some of them put down Ashirogi, a couple of them want out because they know better than to go up against established manga artists. Nanamine may be panicking a little but is still confident he has lots more opinions coming in. They discuss his next course of action that includes leaving his first chapter untouched and speculating the real battle begins in the second chapter.

Hattori talks to Kosugi so he comes clean. All Hattori needed to know if Kosugi feels it is okay to let Nanamine become popular with such methods. Of course not. Hattori lets him know that an editor only needs the skill to tell whether a manga is good or not. Kosugi laments how he studied manga so much and wanted to work hand in hand with Nanamine but feels he is rejecting him. Of course he has real talent but that’s because of his youthful arrogance that young authors have. Yoshida tried to call Hiramaru but he didn’t pick up. Fearing the worse that he may have committed suicide, he rushes all the way there, incessantly ringing his bell and banging on his door. I think he was just drowning his sorrows in alcohol thinking he has been dumped by Aoki. However Yoshida tells him that Aoki personally requested him to be her assistant and that is no lie. Instantly Hiramaru revives! Like as there was no depression in the first place. So shall we get to work? Aoki’s other female assistant are friendly with Hiramaru, thinking he is very close to Aoki. I’m sure he likes that a lot. Ashirogi discusses their strategy to beat Nanamine. Because they are doing a story arc, Takagi feels of hitting him hard with their climax in their third chapter. But Mashiro wants to pit the climax in Nanamine’s second chapter. Because the greatest damage can be seen if his ranking from his first chapter drops dramatically in the next. Kosugi still gives Nanamine feedback on his manga. He knows this one will not win against Ashirogi because of the imbalance of the background in which Nanamine has no experience with and also the lack of the individual’s ability. Nanamine blames his ragtag crew for the overall imbalance but has a secret weapon. He has found a super assistant that will fix that. OMG! Is that super assistant Nakai?! He’s back?! But so much fatter…

Episode 11
Nakai is bumming around in his hometown with no work. What’s with the cranky attitude too? Till he gets a call from Nanamine to work as his super assistant. Nanamine will cover all his living expenses and even has the privilege to let him know which assistants he can’t get along so he can fire them! The only condition is that he must be better than Ashirogi and Aoki. Since Nakai still has a grudge on Aoki, he’ll gladly do it. We clearly see Nakai’s double standards treatment. With women, he is all nice but when it comes to men, he is rude. Nakai accidentally stumbles into Nanamine’s room and learn he has been getting ideas from 50 people around the internet. Nakai somewhat accepts his revolutionary idea. When Nanamine’s work debuts, it ranks in second place. Above PCP who is fourth and CROW in third. Aoki’s work got first. Kosugi warns it is not too late to change as he is cramming lots of ideas and making it hard for readers to understand. However Nanamine won’t be cowed by the ranking. He somewhat blames the readers for not understanding and will lower his story so they can understand. He will not hear more from Kosugi and tells him to leave. Ashirogi sees the draft for next week’s Jack’s issue and notice the ramp up in art quality for Nanamine’s second chapter. Mashiro feels the art is somewhat familiar. Next week’s results come out. Nanamine maintains second as well as PCP in fourth while Aoki drops to seventh. Nakai is happy that there is a considerable rank gap with their work and Aoki. Ashirogi is depressed because they failed to beat Nanamine with their climax. Getting him cancelled in 10 weeks seems tougher now. However Nanamine’s third chapter drops like a rock to ninth place. Kosugi advises because his plot is so similar to PCP, many of those who read felt PCP is better. He still won’t listen to his editor but looks like he is starting to panic. Seeking advice from his ‘friends’, each give their own opinion resulting in some in-fighting and some start feeling this was a bad idea so Nanamine tells those against him to leave. Next week, his work continues to drop to 13th. Kosugi’s advice about simplifying his story continues to fall on deaf ears. At this time, many of his ‘friends’ are blaming Nanamine for not including their ideas and thus resulting in the drop. Guess what? Those who do not agree can leave. How many ‘friends’ has he got left? One of them has the idea of copying Ashirogi’s work and to do that, send in a spy.

Nakai visits the park outside Aoki’s home. Brings in lots of memories, eh? At least he still has a little conscious. Then he sees Aoki being driven home in Hiramaru’s sports car. They even do a pinky swear that Hiramaru will get serialized. Shocking? So why is Nakai holing himself up in his room acting all so depressed? I thought he was through with her? Apparently not. Nanamine’s work sinks to 15th and he is desperate enough to call Ashirogi to compete with the same story to see who is better. But they know better than to fall for his provocation because it will be a problem if 2 very similar stories pop up in Jack. They will work steadily on PCP like they always have. Nanamine is close to pushing the panic button. I think he already did. Aida and Miura see comments in the forum about Nanamine getting ideas from 50 people. They confirm this with Kosugi and are shocked he kept quiet. This could be a problem because they have credited the story as a single author. Kosugi hands over his transfer request but Aida puts it away. Since he is holding that request out, Kosugi hopes he could do the same not to tell on Nanamine’s tactic in the committee to get him cancelled. He knows Nanamine is talented and can do it by his own but is being manipulated by others and destroying his own manga. Even if he gets cancelled, he wants to build a proper editor-author relationship with him. He will take full responsibility. Meanwhile Yoshida relays to good news to Hiramaru that his next work is going to be serialized. By why the sad face? He can be with Aoki, right? Ah… Remembering all those hellish hard work moments… Kosugi visits Nanamine but sees him breaking down. Seems his ‘friends’ are backstabbing him because he didn’t use their ideas, they posted logs of their chats as revenge. Since his work is 15th in the preliminary rankings, Nanamine snaps and gets desperate. He wants Kosugi to steal Ashirogi’s storyboard. Kosugi realizes he is not reflecting and is only thinking of beating Ashirogi. So is Kosugi abandoning him? He makes a surprise visit to Ashirogi to plead them to do a same story as Nanamine and will take responsibility. He tells what is going on and laments he doesn’t realize his method is wrong and has no future. Kosugi has called Sasaki and Hattori and they gave him approval. Hattori is most supportive because he wants Ashirogi to show Nanamine their difference. They agree to do it.

Episode 12
Nanamine sounds somewhat relived that he’ll make a comeback after hearing Kosugi has convinced Ashirogi to do the same story. Looks like he hasn’t reflected. Takagi explains why PCP will be better because in Nanamine’s case it is too many cooks spoil the broth. He is sure that with many people giving ideas, some ideas won’t be used and they will feel bitter of being left out. Eventually they will leave. It is already beginning to show in Nanamine’s manga that there is a steady decline. Nakai fears that if Nanamine’s manga gets cancelled, his luxurious life will be ruined and feels he needs to do something about those storytellers to come up with a better story. So one fateful night, Nakai purposely jams the copier machine so that when Nanamine goes to fix it, Nakai will hijack his computer and tell those ‘friends’ to come up with a better story. However it backfired when they learn the truth that Nanamine has been lying about the rankings and they all quit. Nobody’s around. And Nakai got busted. Kosugi relays the bad news that they dropped even further to 19th while PCP is in third. Nanamine goes crazy. He admits he has lost. He also lost his motivation to carry on and wants to cut his losses and seen as a pathetic loser. Kosugi is adamant to continue despite knowing they are candidates to be cancelled. Nanamine doesn’t care and badmouths he will make his work worst. Still, Kosugi believes that they should fight to the end. Because Nanamine takes it lightly about those manga artists who try so hard and never got serialized (thinking his withdrawal will open an extra spot and ‘bail’ one of them out), Kosugi punches him! Although he hates him, he admired his way of attaining victory, though his methods are questionable. He wants to work with him till the end. Nanamine did The Classroom of Truth by himself because he had so much free time then. That is what Kosugi is here for as his editor. To give advice and help him out. He won’t leave till he agrees as promised that he’ll work with him. He’s serious. And so Kosugi stays (and falls asleep) so Nanamine thought he would wait till the right time to ditch this guy. But remembering those spiteful words from his ‘friends’, he changes his mind. Next morning, Kosugi thought he had fled. But he just went to get a cup of coffee and has finished his storyboard. He will work on his own from now on till the series gets cancelled.

Ashirogi attends the New Year’s party. They see Iwase still the same (pestering Miura she still wants to do a romance story), Fukuda is happy GIRI is getting an anime adaption, even Takahama’s Seigi No Mikata is getting a TV drama adaptation. They finally meet Nanamine face to face. His manga eventually got cancelled but he admits he has completely lost to them. Now he and Kosugi are working on a new one and he vows to beat them. Ashirogi promises to stay top of their game so he has a clear goal. Ashirogi is supposed to attend a reunion with their old school friends but Miyoshi came down with a flu so Mashiro only went. Everyone praise Mashiro for being a famous manga artist and love his work. Mashiro feels he couldn’t fit in despite everyone being nice. Though everyone had an after party, Mashiro leaves to complete his manuscript. He bumps into Takagi along the way. I guess he couldn’t make it to the party. Mashiro tells him he realized how they are different from everyone. It is not that he regrets having a different normal life, he is who he is now because he didn’t choose that path and thinks it is time well spent. They have poured their youth into this dream of theirs which they are still trying to achieve. It’s a long road ahead, that’s why they can’t hang out with everyone else. When they return, they see a news report on a bank robbery. What has it got to do with them? Because the crime seems to mimic PCP and the police officer is blaming this manga as encouraging committing perfect crimes. Big trouble is brewing…

Episode 13
Even if Mashiro stays strong, can Takagi remain the same because he is the one who writes the stories. Sasaki and Hattori meet to discuss if they should tell Ashirogi what is happening. Hattori assures Ashirogi will be alright. Bringing this up would only show they are nervous about this and if they do bring it up, just laugh it off. However, their mental state must be considered above all else. Hattori meets Ashirogi and tells them to continue as usual. He has told them that they have received protest calls before but it was brushed off and now it is a popular manga. Also, it was once stated that PCP wasn’t intended to promote crime but to enjoy their schemes, strategies and tricks devised. However Mashiro and Hattori can tell Takagi is affected by the incident because his subsequent stories lack the oomph. They will let this continue and see how this goes and if this downward trend continues, they’ll think about it. We take a side distraction for a while as we see Nakai trying to sell his drawings in the streets. Fukuda recognizes him and wants him to be his assistant to make a fresh start as his manga will be adapted into anime. However he rejects him and wants to be left alone. So be it. But why does this guy have to be drunk outside Aoki’s house and yelling for her to come out? She is in the midst of a phone conversation with Hiramaru when this happened. So Hiramaru rushes over to protect Aoki. I don’t know if he is trying to be some hero because he is dressed in Bruce Lee’s trademark yellow jumper suit! This is going to get ugly. Skinny Bruce Lee guy gets owned in one punch by fatty sumo guy. Big joke. Hiramaru tells him off it is his own fault to blame because he wasn’t dedicated enough. He shouldn’t take it out on Aoki and will be his punching bag. But Aoki intervenes and says to hit her instead because that is what he is here for. Nakai breaks down, thinking his entire life he staked on manga is over. He lost everything and had nothing left. Hiramaru sympathizes with him and knows how he feels. He offers him to be his assistant. I get this feeling he wants to dump all the work on him. Before you know it, they become great friends and Nakai becomes his assistant. Big guy takes up the entire bed so skinny guy sleeps on the floor… Big joke…

PCP is sliding down the ranks and in double digits. Hattori and Mashiro tell him straight the change in his script is affecting PCP him unconsciously so Takagi agrees to revise them and write something people won’t imitate. He asks Miyoshi’s opinion if they had a kid and he imitated PCP, would they agree with it? She is confident she’ll raise their kid to decide themselves what is okay to be imitated or not. When Niizuma asks Yuujirou about CROW’s ranking and the number of votes difference between first place and second, Niizuma is eager to do something rare and get his CROW to number one spot. Yuujirou fears he is serious in invoking that claim. The one he gets to end a manga he hates if he becomes popular. Yuujirou tells this secret to Hattori. He is surprised of this arrangement. Although becoming first doesn’t necessarily mean he is the best Jack author, they fear he might use this authority to end PCP. In another meeting, Mashiro tells the truth to Takagi that his story is not good. He points out he is just rehashing ideas of stories he rejected. It shows he is at his wits end. Takagi vows to rewrite them. Despite the looming deadline, Mashiro has faith and will wait for him. Because if he can pull all nighters for 3 straight days, he can do it too. They are Ashirogi Muto after all. However another bank robbery shocks the nation. This time the same copycat crime but it left a note it is done by PCP from Jack. The editorial department gets lots of calls and Takagi is breaking down. All he can think of is to write a better story and wants to be left alone. So crazy that Miyoshi finds him scary. He won’t answer any calls so Miyoshi had to call Mashiro about his mental state. Blaming the robber for everything, Mashiro asserts PCP would never do such a thing. Then it hit him. Mashiro runs over to Takagi’s home. The next PCP manga shows how PCP’s rival showed the real copycat criminal that doing crime is wrong. Because they don’t steal ordinary people’s things. If you break the law, you’re just a criminal. Anyone can break the law, but nobody can copy them. Readers find this week’s story or copycat criminals and rejecting crime to be very cool and amusing so PCP jumps back up the third and the incident is blown over. Many fans wrote in to express relief. Ashirogi regains their confidence and composure again. Also, CROW takes top spot for this week.

Episode 14
CROW has been taking top spot for several consecutive weeks and Ashirogi thinks he is purposely doing it so that they are motivated to do better. Miura hopes Niizuma would do something about +NATURAL too since its manga is dropping ever since the anime ended. However Niizuma bluntly points out he is not the writer and the stories are getting more boring. Hiramaru can’t breathe easy with Nakai occupying such a big space. Literally. They’re like frenemies over Aoki. With Yoshida arriving, Hiramaru thought Nakai could ask advice from him how to get a girlfriend. Yoshida has come up with a scheme. He gives super motivation to Nakai to slim down and be some super manga author that will get any babe he wants. He needs to jog 10km every day. This plan is to have Hiramaru’s negativity flowing so he’ll do better. And if he can corrupt Nakai too, it will be killing two birds with a stone. CROW continues to be number one so Yuujirou thinks he is just over thinking about Niizuma’s deal. He even tells Fukuda and co about that arrangement and speculates +NATURAL might be the one Niizuma wants to end. But Yuujirou is confident this deal won’t be brought up again since he thinks this is just to motivate Ashirogi. One day, Niizuma shocks Yuujirou by walking straight into the editorial department to see Sasaki. He already has gotten prior approval. Oh no. Is he here to exercise that right? So when Yuujirou visits Fukuda again to collect his manuscript, it is so obvious that depression is written all over his face. Fukuda can guess what is happening so Yuujirou clumsily leaves in a huff. While Iwase is having a meeting with Miura, she gets a call from Aoki to come to Fukuda’s place to discuss the possible ending of +NATURAL. Hiramaru lights up because he thinks it is his manga that Niizuma wants to end! Iwase thinks this meeting is rubbish and suggests meeting Niizuma himself. He confirms he has been given the right to end a manga. However another condition is that he must be ranked first for 10 consecutive weeks. And he is already halfway there. As for the manga he wants to end… CROW! Sorry Hiramaru, it’s not yours. Does he hate this manga that is doing well? He hates it for not being able to end something the way he wants. Being a popular manga, he understands why the editors want to keep it going. That’s why he made a resolved he wants to end his manga at the height of its popularity when it is at its coolest. But it won’t end right away after 10 weeks. He’ll be given another 10 weeks to wrap up the story. But if he doesn’t achieve 10 consecutive firsts, his manga cannot end. He will continue again until he achieves that or gets cancelled. Although everyone else is not against how he wants to end it, they are against it ending it now. Because they feel it is like he is quitting while he is ahead of them. The only way is to overtake him and do better. Everyone is motivated (except Hiramaru) to knock Niizuma off their perch but Niizuma is serious they can’t win because he has been revising his manuscripts diligently not to lose to their likes. Everyone is so fired up that Niizuma says if anyone of them manages to beat him once before he finishes his final manuscript, he won’t end CROW. They’re on. That’s 7 weeks left, right?

Episode 15
With the change in conditions, Yuujirou wants Niizuma’s permission to let the others editors know so that they will motivate their authors to do better and stop the ending of CROW. Niizuma agrees since this will make it more interesting. The editors express shock about Niizuma ending Jack’s most famous manga and of course they don’t want it to end. Ashirogi discuss how to beat Niizuma. Since breaking into story arcs didn’t do them good in topping him, this time they’re going to make their unorthodox style even more unorthodox. Fukuda and Takahama are fired up to beat Niizuma but Aoki prefers to maintain her ranking. The one who has got it tough is of course Hiramaru. I suppose he has got to do the impossible again with Yoshida trying to brainwash him and all. Making Nakai’s negativity as a head start, he puts word in Aoki’s mouth that she will grant Hiramaru a request if that happens. And so the simple minded person is all fired up to get first place. What does he want to do? Get Aoki to call him Kazu-tan. Seriously. That is what he wants? Ashirogi decides to introduce a new character that is neither friend nor foe as their bet against Niizuma. CROW continues to take top spot although GIRI has introduced a new character too, Hiramaru’s art changed and Takahama has done more research for his court cases. The official results have CROW still in first place while PCP is at fourth despite the new character introduction. However the vote difference is shrinking because there are split votes from CROW’s votes and thus decreasing the gap.

The topic of which manga will knock CROW off its top is also a hot discussion among the editors and their favourites is Seigi No Mikata since the final chapter will have a shocking plot twist and overturned verdict. Also, he will get a front cover feature. Hattori vouches for Ashirogi and manages to get a centre colour spread after Fukuda’s front cover spread. Ashirogi wonders if they are in Niizuma’s way of ending his manga because CROW has been in first place for over 10 weeks and originally this is already enough for him to start his final chapter. Hattori mentions that when Niizuma was told of this, he is glad everyone is getting more votes since everyone is motivated. If he can continue to get first place in this situation, he will end this in the coolest possible way. On the week Takahama places his bet on Seigi No Mikata to topple CROW, it ended in second place. CROW still flies high. But he is happy because this is the first time in his life he got second. Fukuda is also glad it turned out this way because now it is his turn to overthrow CROW. And what will be the results? Second. Disappointed? Looks like he has put the champagne on hold. Now it all boils down to Ashirogi. Mashiro wants to do something different for the centre spread and something PCP-like. Takagi is at his wits end trying to come up with an idea. Till Miyoshi saw the rainbow and suggested to put in some code, Takagi hit an idea about time. Ashirogi draw the centre spread and show it to Hattori. They know their plan is going well since he didn’t sense anything amiss. When Hattori comes over to collect their manuscript, he realizes he has been had by the centre spread’s trick and commends them for a job well done of using the colour page to their advantage. Now all that’s left is to wait for the official results.

Episode 16
Yuujirou realizes Niizuma is trying to give his readers the perfect ending and decides to support him to end CROW. He tells this to the other editors because he wants to see this historic moment that they don’t often get to see. We get a glimpse of Ashirogi’s superb story using the colour spread (since I’m not a brainy person, I guess there are some hints that I didn’t understand). Even the editors and authors are impressed with this. On the day in which the early results come out, PCP is tied with second place with GIRI. CROW is still top but the difference is only 17 votes. At this rate, they know CROW will be on its way to its final chapter. Ashirogi naturally feels down that their final bet still wasn’t good enough despite Miyoshi trying to cheer them up this is their best result and they’ve narrowed the gap from over 100. Ashirogi are thankful because of Niizuma, they get to go this far and become one of the greatest manga authors. Though they are sad they never bested CROW despite Niizuma agreeing to their terms to wait for them to catch up. And now, it will end not by cancellation but a perfect ending. Yuujirou thanks Niizuma for being able to work with him and thinks he will have more free time with CROW’s ending although he still has +NATURAL to work on. He realizes Niizuma working on a new manga creating heroes based on elements of the periodic table. He has written several chapters of it when he had free time between CROW and +NATURAL! Niizuma shows him a room filled with other manga works of his that he has never read! All of them are as good as CROW or even better! How good is this kid?! Fukuda calls Niizuma to personally congratulate him on his last chapter since he forgot to write his comment in Jack’s congratulatory comments page. He sees Ashirogi’s comment of thanking him for answering their final challenge. He surprises Ashirogi by heading to their work place himself just to thank them (he also personally went to other authors’ home to thank them). Because of them, he was fired up and able to make it even better. Ashirogi admits they have lost to CROW but their battle isn’t over yet. Certainly it isn’t. When the other authors declared they won’t let him end CROW, he was happy because they put their pride on the line and competed with all they had. That is what a true rival and friend is. The true battle of men. Before he came to Tokyo, he was always drawing manga alone. Now he is not. And that makes him very happy. Niizuma lets them know that he is working on his next manga and won’t let Ashirogi beat them. Because it is not only going to be the best manga in Jack, but the best manga ever written.

Episode 17
CROW has officially ended and everyone thinks it was cool although they wanted it to continue forever. However trouble is brewing for Iwase. She is depressed. Her manga is struggling and if not for Niizuma’s artwork, it would’ve been cancelled long ago. Even hearing comments from ordinary people how this week’s episode is boring really got to her. She tried calling Aoki but realizes she is with Hiramaru and doesn’t want to bother. While Ashirogi discusses their best and favourite manga with their assistants, Takagi gets a call from Aoki. She feels something is wrong with Iwase. It has been a week since she has locked herself up in her room and not answering Miura. She thought she called Takagi thinking he is the closest person to Iwase. The problem? She heard she wants to stop writing. Takagi wants to go encourage her but I guess their relationship makes it complicating so Mashiro goes instead. After managing to get her attention, outside the door he tells her to quit if she wants to but through proper procedures. He also mentions Takagi is grateful for being his rival and it gave him motivation and them to improve. Of course they don’t want her to quit but the final decision rests in her hands. When Mashiro requests just to take a look at her to see if she’s alright, she opens the door and is surprised the entire gang outside. Aoki apologizes for not realizing her feelings while Takagi says he already lost his strongest rival in CROW and doesn’t want to lose his greatest author rival. This gives Iwase lots of motivation so she is back to her stuck up attitude that she will defeat them by herself. I guess she won’t be joining Team Fukuda. Meanwhile Sasaki and Heishi are being called by the executives. The editors are abuzz that they are going to be replaced which means one of them will get promoted. Turns out Sasaki will transfer to another department that handles Hisshou Jack while Heishi takes over his place as chief editor for Weekly Shonen Jack. Good news for Aida because he is promoted to vice chief editor while Yuujirou becomes the team leader.

Before Sasaki transfers out, he arranges to meet all the authors in Jack. He starts out with Niizuma. When he first met him, he thought he was just a brat but after seeing his achievement in CROW, he can rest easily that he has established himself as a prominent author of Jack. Of course Niizuma doesn’t feel he is the best in the world and this is his next goal. Next, Sasaki visits Ashirogi and they think he is here to reprimand them after all the trouble they have brought. Better apologize. To their surprise, he apologizes. He thinks back about the time he was Tarou’s editor and they talked about Mashiro who was still an elementary kid. Tarou knew he had lots of manga talent and hoped Sasaki would take care of him if he becomes a professional. So when Ashirogi first came under Hattori’s wing, he was surprised and pleased. He admits all the conditions he brought upon them were too strict but they turned those restrictions right back at him. Ashirogi thanks him it is because of that they are able to improve. Sasaki also admits because they are related to Tarou, he would’ve treated them differently in a not so nice way. But that’s all over seeing they are prolific authors of Jack. Shifting the topic to Niizuma, Sasaki feels that they are the only ones who can surpass him. Although it might sound like favouritism but Ashirogi will prove that it won’t be like that. Sasaki reveals Niizuma told him he has already created his new manga and will release it before Sasaki’s transfer. Ashirogi thinks up of a new character. They come up with a high school good bequeath with demonic powers who can enforce his thoughts on others. He thinks his ideals are justice and brainwashing people is the right thing to do. Something like a dark hero. Meanwhile Niizuma has created his own dark hero in the form of a zombie! Yuujirou reads his storyboard and finds the intensity in the simple story and has human drama that CROW lacks. This might be the best manga in the world. Mashiro gets an idea from his past manga, The World Is Money And Intelligence to create another protagonist. Because of their unorthodox ways that can never beat mainstream, he wants to introduce a new mainstream character of justice. There will be 2 main characters. Another is a young man using his demonic powers for good. With this justice mix, it’s like turning their unorthodox into standard battle manga. A battle of ideals in which true justice wins in the end. After coming this far, they are fired up to do a standard battle manga their style.

Episode 18
The editors find the one-shot submission of Ashirogi’s Reversi and Niizuma’s Zombie Gun very interesting. Better than their previous or current work. They’ve even have a hard time debating which one is better. Mashiro gets mail from Azuki that she has landed a major role in an anime adapted from a popular football manga of another magazine. Zombie Gun is released first and the results are mind blowing. It broke the record of any one-shot series with 692 votes. Enough to call for its serialization. But why isn’t Niizuma happy about it? Reversi’s turn is next week and guess what? For the first time in their lives, it got top spot with 694 votes! Another record breaking feat! Congratulations Ashirogi! PCP is in fourth. For once, Niizuma is gloomy. Because of that, he wants to put his Zombie Gun serialization on hold and this puts Yuujirou in a spot. Hattori has vouched for Ashirogi to get a serialization for Reversi and they already have done a storyboard for it. Hattori and Yuujirou get into a little argument because Yuujirou as the team leader is putting Niizuma’s manga first since he is the main stay of Jack. It might look bias since he is his editor. Also, won’t it be a burden if Ashirogi does 2 mangas? Heishi seeks Sasaki’s advice but was told the decision is his to make. It is decided that Reversi will be serialized in Hisshou since it is monthly and would be less taxing on Ashirogi. Of course this means they would be getting a new editor for Reversi from Hisshou. Hattori looks sad. Later he drowns his sorrows with Yuujirou at the bar. He wanted to be Reversi’s editor since he has known Ashirogi for a long time. But they can’t do anything since they’re at the bottom of the pecking order. Niizuma learns of this and admits his rival is not the world but Ashirogi. Noting that Reversi is Zombie Gun’s rival and better than PCP.

Ashirogi is brought to meet Nakano who will be their editor for Reversi. At the same time, Heishi and the other editors are in the midst of discussing of new series to serialize. None are particularly good and they want to hammer out Zombie Gun. Till Yuujirou suggests doing Reversi. His point is, put Reversi in Jack while transfer PCP to Hisshou. Because Hisshou has a broader readership and can cover greater range of material, with Reversi as weekly, it allows them to bring out more potential. Also, it allows Reversi to battle directly with Zombie Gun. Heishi calls Hattori and Ashirogi over to seek their opinion. At first they are reluctant but Yuujirou asks them if this is what they really want. So the trio give their earnest opinion that they want Reversi in Jack. And so it is decided. Sasaki congratulates Heishi for doing a fine job as the new chief editor and Hattori thanks Yuujirou for helping out. They renew their rivalry that their authors will be the better one. Niizuma also gets his motivation back and is going full steam ahead. As Ashirogi has picked up 2 mangas, they need to have an additional assistant. Ogawa is returning to them since one of his works is ending. Though this studio might seem small, Mashiro doesn’t want to move out and plans on buying this place from his grandpa. Back home, grandpa asks if he is still going out with Azuki. Since he still is, he gives him Taro’s diary that lists down his feelings for his love. Read it and he’ll find it interesting. So Mashiro goes over his uncle’s diary on all kinds of things he thought about. It wasn’t just his imagination, it was what he was trying to do. Mashiro realizes the entry ends about the time he received a letter stating the girl he loved is about to marry someone else. He also realizes the things his uncle couldn’t do and wanted to do. He will do them and become the main stay of Jack.

Episode 19
With their new manga and switch coming up, Ashirogi has got lots of pages to complete before the deadline. It’s going to be tight but Mashiro is confident he can pull it off. With Ogawa back, he sees the schedule and finds it will be tough on the assistants. Mashiro requests them to stay overtime and though Ogawa is troubled because he has other plans (he also works for an assistant for another manga artist), the other assistants are okay with it. Ogawa is made the chief to manage the assistants. However Ogawa notices Mashiro is lagging due to his redrawing of scenes and characters. He is worried that at this rate things will be delayed and true enough he is starting to fall behind. Mashiro is still confident he can do it. If it goes down the wire, he will work through without sleep. The other assistants also work late with him while Ogawa leaves. He returns next morning and is shocked that everyone stayed awake all through the night and are still continuing to draw. Even so, the deadline is tomorrow and even if they make it, there is not enough time for Reversi. Except for Ogawa, everybody is now a zombie pulling all-nighters to get it done. He surprises everyone when he returns with 2 more skilled assistants. He was using his time off to look for them to help out. Ogawa will also come straight here once his other job finishes. Thanks to everybody’s hard efforts, they made it and Hattori is pleased with their quality as well. Hattori shows them a sample of Zombie Gun’s debut. Seems Niizuma has done double protagonists in the form of twins. The result of his debut earns him first place raking in 767 votes. But Niizuma doesn’t seem pleased. He is reading Reversi’s sample debut. And when it comes out, it takes first place!!! Though they garnered only 526 votes. At least they beat Niizuma. Now the real challenge begins. For 3 weeks in a row, Reversi occupies top spot! Is this the start of good things to come? Don’t rest on your laurels yet because something feels wrong. I know hard work after all these years paid off but we’re talking about Niizuma here. It’s like being number 1 for 3 straight weeks against the genius feels too easy. So easy that it’s not right. More good news when Miyoshi shows the guys of Azuki’s front cover debut of another manga magazine due to the popularity of her anime character. Mashiro didn’t even know it. Well, he was busy, right?

First signs of worry start when Hattori rushes over to Ashirogi to show them next week’s sample print. Niizuma has killed off the main antagonist and replaced him with another. And he does it like as if it was nothing. Although there were no complaints, he still did it. All to snatch top spot because he realized his antagonist was weaker than Reversi’s. Soon, Reversi drops to third place (GIRI overtook them in second). But why the huge margin in votes? Mashiro realizes Reversi’s weakness when Niizuma swapped rivals. Because they use double protagonist, they can’t swap out enemies if they become unpopular like in what many standard battle manga does. Takagi continues to work on his story but Reversi slides to fifth. They can’t change the setting or characters yet as it’s too early. Mashiro lets Hattori read a future chapter. Just like Mashiro, he thinks the story feels thin since the story progressed too quickly and this chapter is too slow. It proves Takagi’s specialty is in psychological warfare and tactics. Takagi remembers Hattori telling them to make a manga that is the mainstay for Jack but Mashiro disagrees on one of his point. He never said he wanted a manga to be long running. As long as it’s good, he doesn’t mind ending it earlier than Zombie Gun. A manga that runs through all its content at once is fine. So it’s not how long a manga runs but the quality of their work. The reason why they wanted to do Reversi as a weekly series was because they wanted to become number one. So they should aim for the top, dash forward and come up with the best possible ending. If it means the manga will be short, so be it. Mashiro listens to Azuki’s radio programme but was interrupted by a call from Takagi. Nice timing, buddy. He wants to talk about the length of Reversi. He already has decided how the protagonists’ conflict will end. If he is going to make it interesting at full steam, it probably would last a year and the most 2 years. Mashiro agrees with him and is okay with whatever he writes because he is the author. Just write what he thinks is interesting and end the way he wants it. It may be short but if it’s a masterpiece, people will acknowledge it. He knows he can do it and leaves it in his hands for his and Azuki’s sake.

Episode 20
Ashirogi lets Hattori know their intentions they want to work on a satisfying manga rather than a long one. Which means, a climaxing fight all in one go. Hattori agrees since he doesn’t want the series to become boring if they’re forced to prolong it. Also, Reversi have regained top spot. We take a little detour as we see Yoshida telling Hiramaru the good news his series is getting animated. So happy he wants to propose to Aoki. Hold your horses. Yoshida advises this is not a good time. Because Aoki’s series just got cancelled, doing so may backfire. So put his proposal on hold after she has think up of a new series. Hiramaru is devastated and calls Aoki to ask her out to the amusement park. Knowing he wants to cheer her up, she agrees. Yoshida knows about this and thinks too much about it. He fears Hiramaru will be rejected and fall into depression, thus he won’t be able to work anymore. However he thinks about himself. Hiramaru has always delivered the goods. What has he done for him? Yoshida returns back to ask how much Hiramaru loves Aoki. So much that he wants to marry her right now. So it’s decided. Yoshida will support Hiramaru all the way and on that date, he will propose to her! Aoki sure had fun but I’m too sure about Hiramaru who is just feeling sick after all the rides and scare. Before the park closes, he is supposed to propose to her in the Ferris Wheel. He is nervous but when the moment comes, he realizes he lost his ring! The ride ends without him saying anything and he’s just depressed. When Aoki spots Yoshida spying on them, she understands the big picture. She requests to go on the ride again. She even cheers him on to say it! Hiramaru is nervous and fumbles his lines at first but manages to propose to her. She accepts. He is so happy that he rushed to hug his love advisor who is equally as happy as him.

Ashirogi is told about Hiramaru and Aoki’s engagement since it’s the talk of the department. But they have another talk going around. It’s the volume sales between Reversi and Zombie Gun. CROW achieved 1.5 million copies and it’s just a small figure to Niizuma. Reversi and Zombie Gun are flying off the shelves that a reprint is needed. Ashirogi thought having 2 reprints in 10 days of 380,000 copies is totally cool, way faster than TRAP or PCP. However their joy is subdued when they learn Zombie Gun’s reprint stands at 900,000 more copies! Hattori discuses the survey results of Reversi. The average reader age is higher than Zombie Gun. Also, females are not fond of it since it has too much dialogue and perhaps not easy to understand. Mashiro thinks of introducing a mascot character and put in some relaxing chapters in between so others can easily pick it up. Although Reversi outranks Zombie Gun, they are selling less than Zombie Gun because of Niizuma’s name. His name has become a mainstay in Jack and those who do not buy the magazine will buy his manga due to it. Mashiro thinks back of all the things Niizuma said to them and feels they have failed to live up to his expectations. Ashirogi and their assistants attend the Tezuka-Akatsuka Double Prize party in which Niizuma is one of the judges. Katou introduces her friend, Ririka Kitami who is a rookie voice actress. She asks if Mashiro has a girlfriend. They are surprised to know it is Azuki. Ririka feels unmotivated. I guess she got the hint she’s got no chance. Ashirogi sees Niizuma being surrounded by many people. There are anime companies fighting over him to get the rights to get Zombie Gun animated. That’s how good this guy is. Can they even surpass him? Niizuma is happy to see Ashirogi again and praises Reversi for being very good. Though, he vows to go higher than them in the rankings and beat them in number of copies sold. This gives Ashirogi motivation to do their weekly story better. They are then approached by a guy who hands them his name card. He is from an anime company. Is their dream finally coming true?

Episode 21
Although Ashirogi is excited that Reversi may become adapted, Mashiro doesn’t want Miyoshi to let Azuki know first. Takagi decides to take Mashiro to the hotspring with Miyoshi for New Year’s Day since this is the only time he gets to rest. Won’t he be intruding? Takagi calls it a company trip. While the hotspring feels good, Miyoshi becomes the boss because she’s drunk. Don’t ever turn her down. The guys discuss it has been a freaking long 9.5 years since they went on this adventure and all that nostalgia just seemed like yesterday. Time flies, huh? Meeting Takagi was the luckiest thing that happened to Mashiro and he hopes they can keep going and fulfil his dream of marrying Azuki. So back from the hotspring, Ashirogi is ever more motivated to continue their work. Their sales continue to increase too. Meanwhile Heishi is in discussion with Aida and another director. Since CROW will be ending its run by fall, they need to decide either Zombie Gun or Reversi to fill that slot. They have their reasons why both animes should get it so Heishi tells them to go ask their editors first. Aida tells Hattori about this and though he is happy, he starts thinking if it’s the right thing. Because although CROW ran for almost 7 years, at the rate Ashirogi is writing Reversi, it will end before the anime starts. An anime company would want to keep on producing it as long as they can so the short nature of Reversi might have them retract their offer. Since he has a hard time deciding by himself, he goes to talk to Ashirogi. He is so nervous that you can’t blame them for thinking he is here with some bad news. Of course the duo jump in absolute joy upon hearing that despite Hattori constantly reminding them nothing is decided yet. However he tells them the dilemma to at least continue their manga till the anime ends around a year. Of course Ashirogi knows this is somewhat possible. To do that, their manga quality will suffer. Are they willing to risk it? Takagi wants to take up this offer. They can’t miss this chance but Mashiro is worried that the quality will drop if they prolong it. Mashiro says by the time if the anime airs in fall, Reversi will be a year old and they should have enough material to work on. But if that’s the case, it’s best to wait till their manga end and pass it up. By then if there are any anime offers, they can take it.

Takagi still wants to take this up and promises his quality will drop. Hattori is baffled because he feels this isn’t like them. He expected them to say that they want an anime but not at the expense of their work quality. That’s when Mashiro tells Hattori about his school days promise to marry Azuki, the reason why they entered this industry. That’s why Takagi is trying to help him fulfil his dream. That’s why Mashiro doesn’t want their manga to get boring just for the sake of his personal dream. Because they can’t still decide, Hattori gives out a laugh and now understands why they are obsessed in wanting an anime. He thinks their dream is cool and will support them all the way to get an anime. Ashirogi is so happy that they are creeping Miyoshi out. Are they the guys she knows? Hattori sees Aida to say yes for the Reversi adaptation when suddenly Yuujirou barges in with many original scripts for Zombie Gun’s anime! Initially Niizuma thought it was too early for Zombie Gun to be adapted and wasn’t interested. Till he heard Yuujirou mentioning about Reversi replacing CROW’s slot. And look at how this turned out? Because Zombie Gun’s manga story will catch up quickly with the anime, there will be no problem if Niizuma draws a bunch of original stories for the anime. And they look pretty good too. And so the problem of which one to be chosen escalates and Heishi has a headache because he never told the editors they could say this to their authors. Maybe he didn’t specify clearer enough. Hattori and Yuujirou are passionately vouching for their respective authors to get the anime deal so Heishi will make his decision by the end of the day. It’s no surprise that Ashirogi turned into zombies not because they became Zombie Gun’s fans, but they learn that Zombie Gun too is in tussle to become adapted. It’s Niizuma once more they have to fight with. So unmotivated that Miyoshi feels it’s creepy. Not the guys she really knows, eh? That’s what you get for getting your hopes up when nothing is decided. Hattori rushes to see Ashirogi personally about the anime decision.

Episode 22
Looks like Reversi will be getting the anime adaptation! So happy that Mashiro could die! But don’t! How can he marry Azuki if he’s dead? Hattori tells them the reason why Heishi chose Reversi over Zombie Gun was because he believed in them becoming the future flagship of Jack. Niizuma is drawing in the dark. He must have heard the news. He gets a personal call from Heishi. He admits Ashirogi is not as good as him yet and that’s why he chose Reversi so that they can both compete and grow. Niizuma gets even more motivated to draw. Mashiro texts Azuki about this. Instead of a fast text reply, she calls him to personally congratulate him. She perfectly narrates the lines of his manga to let him know she is also working towards their dream. Because of that, she holds off any voice acting jobs for summer, baffling her boss. Takagi notes Ririka as an upcoming voice actress and goes to check out her blog. He is surprised to find that she has put up the events at the New Year’s party about meeting the Ashirogi duo although she did not mention names. Alarmed, they call Katou so that they could tell her to delete that post. This is because if her fans get wind of this and Azuki ends up with the leading role, they may be accused of favouritism. Unfortunately somebody read her blog and posted on the internet. Now the rumours have spread like wild fire. It’s even now in the papers and Jack has received lots of calls. On another meeting with Hattori, he assures they didn’t do anything wrong so there is nothing to worry. Ririka and her manager apologize to Azuki and hers. Azuki’s manager is blowing his top but Azuki doesn’t want him to yell anymore. She knows Ririka is a good person and didn’t intend of this to happen.

The anime director, producer and screenplay writers see Ashirogi and Hattori to discuss about the anime. Mashiro lets them know he wants Azuki to play the leading female and admits they are dating. They are cautious that this might lead to accusations of favouritism. Nevertheless, the role will still be decided via audition and they will pick the one whom they think fits the role best. The producer and director are also split about respecting Ashirogi’s wishes. Azuki’s mom talks to her and she is surprised her daughter knew a long time about her failed relationship with Mashiro’s uncle. She will gladly cheer on her wonderful romance. Azuki prepares herself for her radio programme and her boss vehemently wants her to deny the relationship. When she goes on air, she does not follow the script and went on talking about dreams. She admits she is in a relationship with Mashiro and explains about their dream that started since middle school. She is saying all this because she doesn’t want to lie to her fans. She doesn’t want to run away either. During commercial break, surprisingly lots of people call in to express their support. Azuki continues with the programme to answer some of their phone calls. The first one is a male fan who suddenly turns against her. It is very demoralizing but Azuki puts on a brave front to continue. Some calls were less insulting but there were lots of concerns. Azuki addresses them all by telling the truth. The final caller turns out to be Mashiro. After hearing all the comments, he can’t sit there doing nothing. He tells everyone that Azuki is trying so hard and to believe in her voice. He believes she will pass the audition based on her skills alone. And Azuki’s reply is that she will pass the audition.

Episode 23
Mashiro and Azuki’s confession is all over the morning TV news. Mashiro is embarrassed when his mom and grandpa say in advance they won’t object to their marriage. Thanks to the news, Azuki’s popularity has risen and is ranked third of the most popular current voice actress. Also, Reversi has received lots of attention now. When Hattori has a meeting with the anime guys, he shocked to hear a proposal. Of course they still need to get Ashirogi’s input. The director suggests they hold a live public audition for the role of Naho in TV and internet. They will narrow it down to 20 candidates and allow people to vote who will play that role. Takagi is against it because it’s like a popularity contest and won’t be based on skill. Despite Azuki being famous, there are more hardcore fans who won’t vote for her. The director thinks this is even more necessary due to the radio broadcast. If Azuki did win the role through her skills via audition, it will only show the public it’s just a formality. Mashiro believes in Azuki and has what it takes to play Naho based on her skills alone. If the audition is based on this, he won’t mind agreeing to it. Either way, it is better than people saying she got it via connections. The night before the audition, Ashirogi is worried but still maintain their faith. Azuki’s mother cooks up lots of ‘victory’ dishes. Finishing it might be a different story. Next day Azuki leaves for the studio. Her fans are divided. Some support her while some consider her a traitor. At the back stage, the other voice actresses ignore her. The main contenders include the currently most popular voice actress, Nanba, veteran voice actresses Gouda and Nanami. Even if they trade light barb wires, they hope everyone can play fair.

So all the voice actresses have their turn on stage till it’s Azuki’s turn. She doesn’t even need to use the script. She is perfect and convincing (using a different side of her voice nobody has heard before) till what everyone believes she said a wrong line. After her turn ends, the director interrupts and makes an announcement. The line she said wasn’t wrong. Because the script was taken from Jack, it was misprinted but corrected in the compilation volume (which she based her lines on). Azuki will not be penalized since she followed the original work and those who have read the ‘wrong’ line won’t be either. Voting begins for an hour after all 20 candidates are done. Gouda heard some voice actresses badmouthing Azuki, thinking she has been given a hint by her boyfriend. That’s why there were no notes in her script copy and been told which parts to read ahead of time. Gouda tells them off that Azuki can read any page of any volume by heart and she can still perform at that level of performance. In the end, the candidate who will play Naho is… AZUKI!!! She leads by a very wide margin and second place is even blown away! No competition you could say! You don’t know who happy Azuki and Mashiro are. One step closer to their dream. When Azuki returns to the backstage, all the voice actresses congratulate her and feel she deserves to play that role. There is no doubt that she won based on her skill’s strength.

Episode 24
Back to work for Ashirogi, Hattori asks them the question: Can Reversi last till October when their anime starts airing? If Takagi is to end it perfectly, it will be by early July. Since it has come to this, Hattori will try to convince his higher ups. Mashiro contacts and talks to Azuki about their dream. Later Mashiro wonders if he could borrow some money from Takagi and he would gladly lend him any amount. He needs to start thinking of a wedding gift. Heishi rejects Ashirogi’s notion to end their manga and wants Hattori to go talk with them again to extend it. Hattori expected this reaction and goes back to Ashirogi to discuss. They still maintain of wanting to end it early and Takagi doesn’t think he can come up with a better story than this. After Hattori leaves, Takagi goes after him to talk to him personally. He feels there is no reason to extend the manga just to boost the anime. They have 8 more chapters before it ends and will surpass Zombie Gun’s number of printed copies. He hopes Mashiro can be the number author in Jack when he gets married. Hattori gives the green light and will support him all the way. Heishi is not pleased that Hattori didn’t do as he was told. Hattori argues on Ashirogi’s behalf on their working style. If he doesn’t approve, he will quit the editing department. Because Torishima once told him, if editor and company are at odds, a real editor sticks by his author. Heishi also remember Torishima once told him that so he gets up and is going to deal with the rest.

Telling this to the anime guys, the director thinks this is a good idea because it gives them an idea of the entire breadth of the work while making it. They agree to this and will do the manga justice. With Ashirogi given the green light to end it, they have to really work so that their ending won’t seem half baked. They tell their assistants and though they are surprised, they can’t help feel excited. People on the streets who read Reversi are giving it good reviews. Some couldn’t believe the rate this manga is going would be its last and is going to be another story. Hattori comes to collect their final manuscript. Then he shows them their usual fan letters. Along with it is a small stack of protest letters against Azuki and Mashiro. But there is a heap of them expressing their support. The reason she won big was because she had the support of Ashirogi fans. Thanks to them, Reversi sales are at 1.02 million (Zombie Gun stands at 1.2 million). When the final chapter comes out, many are awed and then taken by surprise by its ending. Before they knew it, it has already ended. Some even get the motivation to buy the final volumes of the series. When the last volumes are released, it is sold out in a day. They have surpassed Niizuma’s total with 1.22 million copies. Takagi is happy now Mashiro can marry Azuki as number one Jack author. This is his wedding gift to him. Ashirogi later head to Jack because Heishi wants to see them after ending Reversi. They stumble upon Niizuma and they renew their rivalry they will sell more volumes than the other.

Episode 25
Production of the anime proceeds smoothly. It is only a few more hours till the first episode airs. Mashiro plans to propose to Azuki after that episode ends. He thanks Miyoshi for everything and the nickname she suggested had always encouraged him. Azuki tells her mom about her first date tomorrow after the Reversi anime. She is happy for her. Yoshida is worried about Hiramaru. He is so happy that he doesn’t have that negative influence to spur him on. Is that a bad thing? So worried about Hiramaru that he forgot that Nakai existed! So what happened to that super manga author plan? Oops. He forgot about it! Anyway, go shed 40 more kilos! Reversi the anime airs and all interested and related parties watch with much enthusiasm. After it ends, Mashiro is outside Azuki’s house to pick her up in a foreign sports car. This is part of what his uncle dreamt but never got to accomplish so he is fulfilling it for him. He drives her to her old house (her mom is still keeping it because she thought the family might move back there one day). They can still remember the important conversations they had at this spot. That’s because they weren’t many to begin with ;p. But each of them is important nevertheless. Mashiro is nervous and the words couldn’t naturally come. When Azuki says she is glad he has never changed for the past 10 years, that’s when Mashiro naturally pops the question to marry him. She wonders if he still remembers the other promise. Refresh my memory please. She kisses him and vows to always be by his side. But we won’t get to see them get married so soon because the ones walking down the aisle are Hiramaru and Aoki! Congratulations! Azuki is the one who caught the bouquet. In the aftermath, Kosugi becomes Iwase’s editor, Miura relays the good news to Takahama that Seigi No Mikata will get a movie adaptation, Shiratori continues to submit his storyboards and Nanamine continues to work hard as a manga author the honest way. PCP is also growing to be more popular and Ashirogi’s new challenge is to make a living as an author. If their new work gets serialized, Mashiro and Azuki will have their wedding ceremony. Let’s pray to that. Mashiro remembers his uncle never told him to become a manga artist. He draws manga because he wants to. A dream isn’t something that someone tells you to achieve. It’s something you fulfil on your own.

The Long And Winding Road…
There is no other better word than to describe this final season: Freaking awesome! Maybe that is even an understatement. I totally loved the first season and was even awed with the second. But the third one gets even better and better. Quite entertaining. It blows me away and it’s hats off to the producers of this anime for managing to make me interested and glued to the screen in every episode. It is rare for an anime that lacks any action to do that but for me, this is one of the better animes overall. It goes to show you don’t really need punches, kicks and any sort of real villain to make a story interesting. True to the success story in Bakuman itself, I can definitely say that this series is also a success itself. At least from my point of view.

Of course with this anime, it is definitely some sort of fairytale ending. I know it would suck big time if we didn’t get to see Ashirogi achieve their dream after 3 long seasons. If I may compare their success story to reality, Ashirogi is a very lucky two-man team. How many manga authors get to achieve their dream? Despite all the trials and tribulations they went through, they have a popular manga under their belt, have another one being animated and best of all, they get to marry the girl in the end. Sounds very much like a dream come true, no? In reality, I have a feeling that life in reality is so much tougher for manga authors. Things don’t really go your way all the time. So that’s why in comparison, Ashirogi even though is just fictional, it seems lady luck has been shining on them ever since day one. All they need to do was just persevere and everything else would fall into place.

Although it has been a decade long battle since Ashirogi started this dream, perhaps it is due to the interesting bits that kept me from seeing any difference in their age. Heck, it’s like they hardly aged at all! They look like the same high school kids now as they were back then. One thing is clearly visible now. You can really see the ink smear all over Mashiro’s right hand. Like as though it has become a permanent body mark. A good sign that he has matured and grown into a very respectable manga artist. I was wondering about the big gap between Mashiro and Azuki’s romance in this season. It’s like when they start this final season off, we get to see that they are still true to each other and are still holding on to their dream. That’s very nice and sweet. Suddenly for the rest of the season, Azuki went ‘missing’. Or rather didn’t make any significant appearances till Reversi became scheduled for an anime adaptation. Either they want to surprise us (I doubt it) or didn’t want love to get in the way of Ashirogi’s growth (which I feel it is).

Speaking of romance, it was refreshing to see that there is romance blossoming between Hiramaru and Aoki. I never would have guessed that they would really become a pair, get engaged and then finally married. That was a pleasant surprise. Hiramaru has been the butt of jokes and he is like some sort of resident joker and clown (negativity makes him one funny man). For him to get the girl in the end, that is one very big achievement. Congratulations once more. I think he deserves such happiness after being tormented for so long by Yoshida. At least this shows his editor is not completely a cold hearted person. After weighing in all the things that Hiramaru had done for him, no matter how despicable his schemes were, it’s time he did something for him back. When they reintroduced Nakai back this season, I was wondering how his role is going to play out. Too bad I feel it was just for formality, since he was part of the old gang in the previous season and since this is the final season, it is ‘not nice’ to leave all those characters out. Except for one: KOOGY! Somehow he is totally missing from this season. Good riddance. So with Nakai back in the manga industry, he didn’t make much impact after all. I believe we don’t see him and Ashirogi formally meeting. Although they were at Hiramaru and Aoki’s wedding, no signs were shown if they ever meet so we won’t really know if Mashiro really knows he is back for good. Note: Fat Nakai still looks horrible than he was before he left in the previous season.

It was also nice that they introduced a new genius talent in the name of Nanamine to challenge Ashirogi. But the duo being the more experienced and calmer veterans, they easily overcome what the genius rookie and made him fall in his own game. It was really interesting to see a potential new rival for Ashirogi but unfortunately Nanamine was only prominent for a short time in this particular arc and he could have add to the competition had not been for his own misguidance and downfall in which he brought it upon himself. When Niizuma was a runaway hit with CROW, it felt he was totally invincible. Nobody could stop this runaway train. There were even doubts if his closest rival, Ashirogi would be able to catch up. But when CROW ended, it seems that is where Niizuma doesn’t feel that invincible anymore. I guess we have been so accustomed that CROW is always number one and when it ends, people are just surprised despite it being the perfect ending. Imagine if One Piece suddenly ends. Get what I mean? Despite Zombie Gun may be better than CROW, somehow the tide turned into Ashirogi’s favour. Maybe it’s because we’re running out of episodes but seriously, after trailing Niizuma for so long, I have to say that their hard work has finally paid off with Reversi. It goes to show that Niizuma isn’t always eternally number one and there will always be someone to knock you off your perch one day. Ever since Reversi, Niizuma wasn’t as ‘mad’ as he usually would act. He is more serious and takes notice when it concerns Ashirogi. Maybe he really woke up when he lost top spot to them. Of course with Reversi the manga ending right before the anime starts, Zombie Gun has taken back top spot ever since but where is the fun when you have no rival to sit below you, right? Till the next time, as long as Niizuma and Ashirogi are competing at healthy levels, not only Jack but the manga industry will be thriving with creativity and ideas for a long time to come.

Because this season pretty much focuses on the last stretch of Ashirogi in attaining their dreams, I feel some of the other side characters don’t make a significant impact. For instance, Iwase. At the beginning, she seems like another major force and rival to Ashirogi. But after +NATURAL starts to fizzle out, so is Iwase’s screen time. We could have long forgotten about her if they had not put that little side distraction of her being depressed, her lowest point in life in this industry. And even though she is still in the industry, you don’t really feel that she is that prominent as before. Is besting Takagi still her goal? That guy already married last season so what else should be her motivation? Also, Iwase wasn’t as fiery as I remember her to be. Maybe just like Aoki, once you get to know her better, she isn’t that all bad. Fukuda also feels slightly insignificant. He’s usually seen working on his GIRI since both the manga and anime are ongoing. You won’t really hear about Team Fukuda much. Takahama is still around but not that prominent either. Shiratori more like a little distraction because after he goes off on his own and quit being Ashirogi’s assistant, you won’t hear from him again till the final scenes just to remind us of some of the characters. Ashirogi’s assistants are still their loyal assistants till the very end. Unless you want to see them pulling off a Shiratori that each one of them start their own manga. I don’t think another season would suffice. Even some of the editors too like Miura and Yamahisa are toned down since Hattori as Ashirogi’s editor takes up most of the screen time. Best editor is still Yoshida for his evil scheming plans for Hiramaru. This guy could be a politician’s secretary. Despite Sasaki being shifted to another department and Heishi taking over his position, it goes to show that even if you’re out of the picture, you are still relevant in many ways. In this type of industry, you don’t really retire.

There is one thing that I would like to give my 2 cents worth of opinion and piece of mind. It’s about this idol industry thingy. I admit that I know nothing about idols and about being obsessed fans to certain idols or celebrities (this includes knowing right down to how many strands of hair they have on their head). When Azuki made an official announcement about her relationship, many of her true fans became disappointed. To me, this is really WTF moment. I don’t know if there is some unwritten rule to say that idols cannot date, have a boyfriend/girlfriend or get married. If you are a true fan, you should be happy when your idol is in a relationship or get married because that is the happiest moment in his/her life! You should support your idol when he/she is at his/her happiest. What’s this? Idols should stay pure? Is that some sort of delusion you made up in your own sick head? Ruined whose dream you say? Come on. Idols are humans too. It is true because of the support of many, they are up there shining brightly. But let me get this straight. Idols ARE NOT YOUR PROPERTY! They do not belong to anybody or anyone but themselves. They are human too and need love. So I don’t really understand the big fuss if an idol gets married or what. I know if one day my favourite voice actress one day ties the knot, I will definitely be very happy her for. It is not a sad day. It is not Apocalypse. It is not the end of the world. It’s simple. The best way you can show your idol your love is to respect their love life and privacy. They’re entitled to that too. So for those people who start turning their backs on Azuki just because of this no brainer, I can tell to go f*ck off and you’re not really a true fan to begin with.

I remember the first season’s opening theme sounded so gay. We have no gay-sounding ones here. However it’s that drunken voice of Nano Ripe that greets us as the first opening theme for the third season, Moshimo No Hanashi. I thought it reminded me very much of her render of Sankarea’s opening theme. The first ending theme sounds like an all-girl group. That’s because Pride On Everyday is sung by Sphere. The second ending theme is rock paced, 23:40 by Hyadain featuring Base Ball Bear. Yume Sketch by JAM Project and feels like a slow rock ballad. It’s odd hearing this group whom I am accustomed in singing rock songs to sing something this slow. The animation for this second ending animation feels like nostalgia as it shows scenes from the previous seasons. Nothing to whip up your nostalgia by showing some of the important and defining moments in this series, eh?

You know this saying? Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This is what this series is trying to tell us. Ashirogi is not born genius and it took them years of hard work to get where they are now and even so, this doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. The battle continues. Even if Niizuma was labelled to be a genius, if you really think about it, he isn’t one. Just that he came out with an idea that lots of people love. If he was a genius, he doesn’t need to put in so much effort like we see. Of course, we see him coming up with ideas so easily and drawing without thinking like as though God is transmitting all the creative juices live into his head. In reality, he comes up and draws them all on his own. That still takes quite a feat, right? So being labelled a genius is just a matter of perspective.

Although Ashirogi and the rest of the people will continue their fight, just like everything in life, one day everything has to come to an end. We just don’t know when. So it is best to keep doing what you believe and love most till you can’t go on anymore. I might love anime so much now and claim I would want to watch every anime there is produced in the world. Who knows? Tomorrow might be a different story and I could suddenly find myself losing interest and move on to other stuffs. Would life turn out to be very different for me had I not get to know anime? You bet. For better or worse, whether you are successful or not, it is important to always start out with a dream. It’s not easy making it come true but we can always dream, can we?