Comic Girls

August 11, 2018

It’s time to take a look into the lives of manga artists once more. What’s that you say? Need something light hearted and not so serious like Bakuman? Because that was giving lots of tension and pressure on how stressful the lives of manga artists are? Also, Mangaka-san To Assistant-san To feels more pervy than anything. We also need a bunch of girls doing it instead of guys. More power to girls! And that is how Comic Girls came to be. A group of girls living in a dorm specifically for manga artists as they help each other draw and grow closer and bond. Oh wait. Doesn’t this sound like another one of those generic cute girls doing cute things but manga artist version?

Episode 1
Kaoruko Moeta AKA Kaos has been told by her editor, Mayu Amisawa that her manga sucks! Oh my. More accurately all the feedback says it is crappy and unrealistic! Please don’t kill yourself… Amisawa has an idea to improve her predicament. As the manga dorm for girls is looking for tenants, Kaos applies to be a resident. Along the way, she gets spooked by the landlady, Ririka Hanazono who thinks she is a lost girl. More spooking for her when she discovers her roommate who also recently moved in today, Koyume Koizuka is such a lively personality. Once everything calms down, they both tell each other their shortfalls and hence their reason here. Kaos’ weakness is she is unable to draw proper body proportion because of her petite status while Koyume despite being able to draw cute and lovely girls, she sucks at drawing boys. They start crying over their future when their next door neighbour and manga senpai, Ruki Irokawa and Tsubasa Katsuki walk in. They think they are their saviour and embrace them! Tsubasa advises them to keep drawing until they get close to their ideal and not be too focused in just getting popular. Later the newbies would like to check out the rooms of their senpai and are ushered in. First thing they look for is for dirty porn materials from Ruki since they heard she specializes in drawing porn! Heck, Koyume even gropes her boobs to check if she has the biggest bust but she is only A-Cup???!!! The cat is out of the bag that despite being a ‘washboard’, she is good in drawing big boobs. It all started when she intentionally drew for younger audiences but Amisawa find it mature and sent her to another department in which that editor loves those erotic style and now she is known under her penname as Big Boobs Himeko. With Tsubasa meeting her deadline, the rest help her out. Koyume could figure out Tsubasa’s coded language and know what needs to be done! Kaos worst fear comes true as she makes several mistakes blotching the panels. Is she preparing to die? Don’t worry, nothing like Tsubasa in her character mode could do to fix it. They work round the clock to finish it, though it feels like Tsubasa has been the one doing the most work as she also fixes their mistake. Kaos notes she is strong and kind like her shonen manga’s protagonist, that’s why she is able to draw such fun manga. Kaos still feels sad she won’t make friends at any rate but you know, the dorm girls already consider her as friends. So happy she wants to tell her mom about it. Man, she really had no friends. Although her manga continues to receive stinging comments, Kaos doesn’t lose motivation and is spurred to draw more.

Episode 2
The girls go out shopping together. Kaos and Koyume experience the terrifying crowded train network. Why don’t Tokyo businessmen give a sh*t about cute girls? After surviving, they head to the manga store to buy manga and then the stationery building to get supplies. Tsubasa spots a couple of young and new mangaka wannabe. She advises them the kind of pen they should buy. They think Kaos is also the same amateur as them and give her the same encouragement. Not sure if Kaos is offended or not. Koyume doesn’t have enough to cover the items she bought so Tsubasa pays some for her as repayment for helping with her manga. It’s back to school and Koyume and Kaos are new transfer students. While Tsubasa is very popular among the girls, Ruki prefers to keep her mangaka job a secret for fear of others knowing what she draws. But because of that, rumours spread that she does shady jobs as she usually distance herself. Maybe her cover is already blown? Too bad Koyume will be in a different class from the rest. The homeroom teacher is Miharu Nijino. She might look cute but she is strict as hell. Kaos wants to be scolded by her? During her introduction, Kaos panics. Heck, she hasn’t used her real name for so long she is unsure on how to pronounce it!!! You kidding me?! More panicking ensues when she sees the class staring at her. But with support from Ruki and Tsubasa, it goes smoothly. Later when other girls talk to her, they ask her simple questions but it gets too much for her to handle. Favourite celebrities? Do seiyuus count? Favourite fashion? Is cosplay fashion? Favourite hobbies? Are collecting figurines valid? So much so she couldn’t answer and passes out. After recovering, Kaos still feels uneasy to be surrounded by so many strangers. Tsubasa advises she should use this opportunity to observe people and create manga. Kaos might feel left behind in terms of friends because Koyume has already made a couple of them at the end of the day. But Kaos wants to make lots of memories here and is glad she came to this dorm. The rest see her ability to make friends with animals. But there is a stray kitten afraid of her. They notice the similarity between them. So afraid, so cute.

Episode 3
Kaos incorporates her high school life in her manga and lets Amisawa look at it. All seems fine until she notices there are lots of eating and weird eating sound effects. Please reconsider everything! Kaos has her friends analyse and it seems they too can find all sorts of shortcomings. One of them being her bad fashion sense. But it becomes a sob story after she tells them she can’t throw away the clothes she has because they’re all from grandma. They give her a makeover and after doing her hair, I think they purposely put her in a kindergarten uniform for laughs and something to fawn over. The stray kitten is now a resident of the dorm. Folks, meet Nyaos. Anyway Kaos misinterprets thinking Ruki is trying to make Koyume have sex with her. Turns out she is just her model for her manga. Ruki then has Kaos pose as Koyume’s lover but doesn’t quite fit it. When she thinks of getting Tsubasa, Koyume starts flustering. That’s the look she wants for her inspiration. Kaos finds it troubling her art sucks so Ruki notices she draws more straight lines. She has her observe Koyume and her curves everywhere. Is she trying to imply she is fat? Breast size becomes the argument but Kaos disagrees with Ruki’s idea that all love big boobs. It is rather about the girl looking embarrassed about her chest size. Kaos doesn’t consider herself in the same boat as Ruki because she has given up on her tiny boobs growing anymore! How about Tsubasa? They notice her slightly toned body. Looks like her ideal body is to have lots of muscles! Like a body builder? Not sure if I should be impressed or freak out. Because Kaos continues to work on her manga, she forgets to eat and passes out. Even with Ririka cooking for her, she doesn’t like all the food she cooks. I don’t think just putting it all in her mouth proves she has eaten them. Because of that, Kaos falls ill. But Ririka manages to call home and finds out what food she likes and cooks it for her. With her better now, Kaos resubmits her manga to Amisawa. Everything looks fine and dandy until a panel that shows a crepe eating her! Is this what she was thinking about a crepe melting in your mouth? Rejected!

Episode 4
Ruki is trying to finish her manga deadline that she has not slept for 2 days! As she doesn’t want to skip school, her weariness is obvious. But she looks and sounds so erotic when tired?! Also, Tsubasa reveals she can’t sleep without her favourite pillow so she tosses Kaos as a substitute. Sleeping like a baby. The girls offer to help her but with Kaos and Koyume even freaking out at kissing scenes, I wonder what will their reaction will be when they get to the real pervy scenes. Yeah… And Tsubasa is not one bit the least ashamed. Because the female protagonist is modelled after Koyume, this makes her embarrassed and she won’t let others do those parts. Can you handle them all? If you’re wondering why Ruki doesn’t use a computer as help, that’s because she sucks at using electronics. Heck, she doesn’t even know what a PC unit is! Even after Kaos helps fix it up and being a pro at showing her how to use the software, old fashion habits from Ruki die hard. Ruki manages to finish and her manga is an instant hit. If being in a dilemma her perversion is being spread throughout the world, her editor has set her up for a book signing event. It’s not that her family will find out that scares her. It’s that she will not live up to her penname! What does her penname describe again? She thinks of using Koyume as her substitute but her outlandish character would make it even worse. On the day of her book signing, Ririka helps put makeup on her. She looks stunningly mature! A long queue at the event but thank goodness all her fans are females, right? At first she is nervous but after seeing how everyone praises and loves her, Ruki is full of confidence. Heck, she is now like a counsellor giving advice to women who have troubles in their relationship?! Arigatou sensei! At the end of the event, Ruki is in tears over how happy she is today. She remembers the harsh days she slogged through even when she is sick or tragedy back home struck, she thought she was walking down the wrong path. But it all pays off now and she will never feel embarrassed about what she does again. But maybe she still will for her penname because there’s the afternoon session, Big Boobs Himeko sensei.

Episode 5
It is summer and the girls head to the beach. Only Koyume is prepared to have fun in a swimsuit since the rest never really expected it. That means they don’t have much confidence in flaunting their body like Koyume. She takes them to rent swimsuits so they could have some fun in the sand. Ruki might have some confidence issues with her body. Is it more insulting to note the growth in her height than her boobs? Kaos and Tsubasa bum around in the dorm while the duo go out shopping for clothes. Ruki could read Koyume’s mind that she wants to date Tsubasa although the latter gives excuse she is a girl. She assures that she isn’t the first since there are many girls who have done so asking Tsubasa on a date. Koyume flusters even more when Ruki suggests they both go on a date. Back at the dorm, Koyume has cold feet doing so but since Ririka has tickets to the amusement park, that broke the ice. Koyume and Tsubasa begin their date there as the other busybodies spy them from afar. They then stumble into a cosplay area whereby some cosplayers are Kaos’ old friends. They run away in embarrassment after seeing her. They continue tailing the lovebirds and there were a few times the atmosphere was so close in giving off some romantic spark. In the Ferris Wheel, Koyume relays her fears about not making any improvements in her manga unlike the rest. Tsubasa assures her to continue as she is because being able to have fun while she is drawing is what’s best about her. In the end when the rest are eager to know if there is any ‘development’ between them, well, it isn’t wrong for Koyume to say that they made some development and progress in manga.

Episode 6
Kaos thinks there is a ghost watching her! Koyume checks around but doesn’t find any. After that we see a creepy female figure in the background!!! HOLY SH*T!!! Is this turning into a horror genre?! When the figure pops up again, Kaos loses her head. Screaming, that is. Ghost girl turns out to be Suzu Fuura, a former resident of the dorm. Oh, she specializes in horror manga. Over the next few scenes, Fuura continues to haunt Kaos! She loves her scream because she is able to draw!!! OMFG! Kaos is going to die young!!! At this rate, Kaos will not be able to draw so the rest protect her one night from Fuura. Why does it have to be stormy too? Scream fest begins with Fuura trying to get in because she is scared of lightning but Kaos is more afraid of her! But when Fuura says how lonely she is, this strikes a chord with Kaos as she lets her in. Upon closer look, Kaos realizes Fuura is quite a pretty girl. Then it’s back to more screaming. Man, there has never been an episode with so much screaming!!! I believe they’re normal friends now but is Fuura going back to haunt Ruki? It seems that Nijino was one of the cosplayers that the quartet stumbled into then. She is worried if they found out about her secret passion. This keeps bugging her so her first chance to find out is to call out Tsubasa for napping in her class (she was tired from working on her manga all night). She tries to ask subtle questions while Tsubasa tries not to get herself exposed. ‘Interrogation’ ends when Koyume pities her and comes to her defence. On another occasion, Tsubasa once again gets caught by her doodling during her class. Tsubasa thought this is it for her when Nijino asks if she is a fan of this series. It seems she is a big fan of it. Then when it is revealed that Tsubasa is that author of the said series, Nijino cannot believe it. A student of hers as a successful author she worships? No way. As proof, Tsubasa shows the manuscript she was working on and to be submitted. Nijino bows down to the almighty sensei. Tsubasa says many of her fans think she is male and hence she doesn’t appear in public. She hopes Nijino could keep this a secret too. After Nijino learns the quartet do the same thing and live in the same dorm, she realizes it is run by her friend Ririka. She is not pleased she is not told about this. Kaos submits to Amisawa about the perfect characters she created based on Fuura and Nijino. Cool. But, where’s the story? Rejected!

Episode 7
Kaos hears Koyume’s manga will be serialized. She begs not to be forgotten as a background character. WTF. Kaos gets another scare from Fuura. But she learns she has a deadline approaching and can’t get any assistants due to her unpopularity. Don’t worry. Kaos will help. Until she sees her room in the attic with lots of skeletons and creepy dolls. Oh boy. Scream fest part 2. But Kaos either has no experience in the jobs Fuura gives her or it’s just too scary. She learns they are from the same region and while it might seem like they might become best friends, Fuura’s unintentional creepy hug has her screaming again. Loud enough for Ruki to come to her rescue. At first she didn’t believe Kaos helped in some of the art because she thinks Kaos cannot draw that well! Once the confusion is over, Kaos feels Fuura isn’t such a bad person and her hug in some ways did calm her down. With Kaos pondering about the appeal of mature women, Ruki suggests she wears glasses. The thought of wearing one seems to freak her out because of the burden of becoming a mature woman. Huh? One morning, Koyume is frantically looking for something she lost. Guess what? Kaos! WTF?! She left a note saying she has gone out alone to do errands for the first time. Yeah, she got ‘molested’ by old grannies thinking how cute this grandkid is. I think she got pampered too. Kaos is able to shop and buy things at the anime store. However a policewoman thinks she is a lost child so panic Kaos runs away. Hiding inside a box did the trick? Miraculously her friends manage to find her. Like an abandoned kitten? Apparently they know where to find her because of the panicky posts she posted online. Glad to be back in the company of her friends, now they visit the glasses shop. Trying out all sorts of glasses, Kaos thinks she looks weird in all of them. Nijino and her friend are also here to try out some glasses. Kaos gets her advice since she is in a dilemma over wearing glasses just for the sake of wearing them. Kaos eventually decides to get one when it is suggested she can watch anime in HD. Yeah, now Kaos sees reality in HD! Everything so clear and beautiful! And then when she tries to draw, she sees how clear the lines and hence how much she sucks! Time to put away the glasses. And that was the most short-lived glasses girl story ever.

Episode 8
Another day, another rejected manga. Man, this one really hit Kaos hard. You can tell and feel for her when she starts saying how useless she is in the manga industry. Everyone gives their best advice but eventually there is another problem cropping up: The exams. Kaos and Koyume suck in studying on their own so they get their senpai to help on their history. I can understand why this subject is so hard to understand… In class when Tsubasa asks Nijino for help, ever since she knows her identity, she always thinks it is help for manga instead of actual school work. During the exam, Nijino observes the quartet. Ruki seems fine. Kaos’ face shows she is obviously going to explode from the stress. Tsubasa outright sleeping! WTF is Koyume posing?! I suppose she forgot whatever that is supposed to mean. The adults go drinking and I guess this is where Amisawa gets to rant how bad she feels putting down Kaos every time. They also think back about their times together in high school as they were from the same manga club. Nijino and Amisawa get further drunk when Ririka brings them back to her place for drinking. They love her hospitality so much so they don’t mind if they never get married and will just have her take care of them for the rest of their life. Nijino is excited as she ponders if she can go bug Tsubasa for some artwork. Speaking of the devil (angel, rather), here she comes in looking for some screen tones. She is restrained so that our manga sensei could get the supplies she needs before this rabid fan girl gets her. And then Fuura comes in to ask for horror advice. Time for scream fest. Amisawa peeks at Kaos working in her room. It breaks her heart to see her breaking down that her work will never be accepted and how low her self-confidence has plunged. Hence Amisawa sends her a very strong and nice message of advice to lift her spirits. She does not want Kaos to stop drawing. When Kaos texts back about doing her best, Amisawa calls her and gets tough on her. Back to square one? Is she tsundere? In the end when Kaos submits her next work, despite changing her style to grading like a school test, unfortunately this means Kaos still fails big time. She’ll need a lot more than motivation now…

Episode 9
Everyone celebrates Koyume’s manga getting colour pages. Of course this has Kaos trying to use her as a model for motivation but she ends up making herself anxious when Koyume’s style doesn’t fit hers. Does this mean she is doomed to never done a storyboard? The girls go out shopping together and Koyume takes the lead in helping Tsubasa find her fashion sense. Roles reversal for once. Koyume has been so happy with her serialization that the rest finally noticed and pointed out to her: Is she getting fat? Horror! True enough, she gains weight. Every girl’s nightmare. So worried she can’t even draw. She seeks ways to lose weight but it often backfires. Like asking Ruki for advice, she instead became Ruki’s model for her porn work thanks to her nice boobs. Jogging with Tsubasa has her tired so Tsubasa appreciates the extra workout load of carrying her back. Therefore Koyume decides to just be herself. Screw it all because she is going to order her favourite sweets otherwise she will regret it for the rest of her life. During school’s recess, Tsubasa is looking panicky. It seems the manuscript she was drawing this morning in class (not paying attention, huh?) is missing. It would be bad if it is leaked before publication and thus putting her identity at risk. The quartet go search and retrace their steps but nothing. They talk to Nijino about it and she like an adult make mature decisions like splitting the group to find the manuscript faster. Of course her ulterior motive is to read it before others. When Kaos finds an old briefcase stuck behind the library shelves, this isn’t Tsubasa’s briefcase. Yeah, it wouldn’t make sense for her to put it there. But Nijino starts to panic. This is actually her manuscript from her days in the manga club. She quickly snatches it back while giving some excuses. Tsubasa is depressed at the end of the day because they put in so much effort to find it but no results. As the friends give their support, a girl then hands it back to her. It was found in the science lab but when she tried to give it back to her, she wasn’t there. Everyone is grateful to her but who is this chick? You mean you don’t recognize her? Not her voice? Okay. So as she lets her hair loose, everyone recognizes this beautiful chick turned horror girl Fuura! Let the scream fest begin! Yeah, Fuura loves hearing those screams too. Music to her ears.

Episode 10
Christmas is around the corner and Ruki hates it! Why?! It’s that time of the year where she gets jealous watching others as a couple but she is still single and alone. To take her mind off, she works on her manga. However she gets jealous her character gets more love than her! Maybe help with Tsubasa’s work? Too bad she is doing a love story for a change! She seeks solace in Fuura despite her creepiness. Despite Fuura wanting to curse couples, thankfully Ruki doesn’t intend to go that far. When she returns to her room, the rest surprise her with a birthday surprise. Christmas Eve is her birthday. Yeah, she totally forgot about it. They celebrate and praise her a lot. Keep those praises coming. The girls are going back to their hometown for the New Year holiday stretch but when Kaos calls home, mom has gone on a holiday with dad! Aloha! Not wanted? Poor Kaos… Hence Tsubasa brings her along to her home. At first Kaos is puzzled to Tsubasa suddenly becoming feminine. She’ll know why soon… Her family lives in a huge mansion with maids! And they’re so elegant! They welcome back Tsubasa like as though she’s the world’s most precious thing! It seems when Tsubasa cannot keep up with the elegance anymore, Ruki comes by in time to help her out. She also has (poor) Photoshop of Tsubasa ‘studying’. Kaos is so lost in the refinement culture… It is revealed that there are lots of conditions for Tsubasa staying at the dorm. Ruki has managed to convince them that Tsubasa is studying and doing her best otherwise they’ll drag her back here thinking she is neglecting everything to draw manga! The more Tsubasa spends time here, the more she becomes refined until she doesn’t even know what manga is and lost motivation to do it! Until Kaos threatens to show this elegant side of Tsubasa to Koyume… Welcome back. The friends visit the shrine on New Year. It’s that usual Kaos panic again as she draws bad luck. Ririka has the girls help bake sweet potatoes. But they use Tsubasa’s old manuscripts for the fire. This is also to help clear out her stockpile that is clogging her room. She feels sad for parting with them but has to come to terms with it. Ruki has no regrets parting with hers. Only if people could forget it from their minds. Koyume? She easily would forgo hers just for the food! Fuura trolls everyone by screaming, making everyone think the papers are burning in pain! So real. Because Kaos feels it is a waste to further burn Tsubasa’s old works, she decides to use her old rejected ones. Man, there are bags of them… And thanks to them, now they can enjoy their hot sweet potato meal. Thank the failures…

Episode 11
The girls have to fill in a career survey form. Manga artist seems their first choice but surprisingly Ruki puts nursery school teacher. She loves kids and the thought of drawing manga as a living might not be enough to put food on the table. But the rest disagree if she should draw together with the kids… Tsubasa seems to have nightmares just thinking her career choice would be what her mom says. That horrible, huh? Fuura joins in the discussion and wants to be something that scares people? I think she is just doing it for kicks. Kaos believes she is more useless than Tsubasa as she hasn’t done anything right. Time for Ririka to help out with her advice. She lets them know she also drew manga like them during her student days. She had her fans but were unable to meet their expectations. Unlike them, they are all manga professionals. As a year has passed, it will soon be time for the girls to move out. So Ririka has them head down to the basement storage and clean out some of the treasures. It’s tempting to read what they can find. But Kaos sees lots of motivational messages and is pumped up to do her best. Hence the next time she sees Amisawa, she hands her 4 manuscripts! Wow. She is really going for broke. The first one is a romantic comedy. However, Kaos ideal male seems to be weird. Uhm, chopping wood? Is that what being manly is all about? Sorry, it’s based on her father. Oops. The next one is about porn! How did Kaos draw this if she is so embarrassed herself? Guess what? The male too has that same weird characteristics from the first one like wood chopping. It’s like she copy and paste? The third one is some adventure RPG. I’ll cut it short: It has wood chopping too. Oh boy. The last one is a slice of life story of a girl. Hmm… Hey, this looks pretty decent. This might actually work! The irony is that she didn’t have any story in mind and just drew what came to mind. Later back home, Kaos receives a call from Amisawa asking if she could do a few consecutive guest spots. If this is well received, it might lead to a comic serial! OMG! Kaos finally makes it! Yeah, she couldn’t even believe it either. Her friends rejoice upon hearing this great news. Tsubasa and Kaos are in great spirits, putting mangaka as their first career choice. The former writing nothing in the second and the latter writing some long winded message why there is nothing else that beats being a mangaka.

Episode 12
Kaos receives the good news that her first part was well received. However, now that she thinks about it, it is because all her friends helped out. So it passed because of their part? This means she has nightmares about completing the second part. Amisawa as a fire breathing smoker as threat?! Worst, Kaos’ friends have to leave the dorm earlier due to family commitments, leaving Kaos alone. Oh boy. You’re on your own. When Amisawa calls to check on her, you can tell Kaos is breaking down and talking about loneliness and crying. Yeah, at least she has an experience of what being a real mangaka is: Trying to beat the deadline! More tears when Ririka plays both the dorm lady and mother. Maybe Kaos’ just confused with all the kindness. Kaos gets a surprise visit from her real mom. Looks like she messed up the date to pick her up. Mom brought the entire collection of embarrassing Kaos photos. Always crying… Except when it comes to drawing. Mom really puts her drawing on a high pedestal! More embarrassment when she bought lots of manga magazine Kaos’ work is featured in and gave it for free for those who bought stuffs from her! Kaos might sound lost but she knows she has to be strong and finish her manuscript. Hence she can’t come home with mom now. Still having writer’s block, she looks at her first part for inspiration but only serves to bring more tears. Would this girl stop crying already? When her friends text motivational messages, that’s when she got her pen moving. The day comes for Kaos to eventually move out. And she also submitted her manuscript right on the deadline! Amisawa then calls to praise how her second part is so good it is her best work yet. I think those tears are justified. That’s not the end of it. More free flowing tears seeing messages from her friends and believing how a lucky girl she is. Next spring, all the friends reunite again at the dorm. You know things are back to normal when Kaos says her works continue to be rejected. Nothing fixes that by drawing some more?

Mangirl: Comical Party
Wait a minute. So all of them get to continue to live back at the dorm? Although there are no rules to say how long one can stay, but if all of them are coming back to live here again for the next year, why the drama and sadness of leaving the dorm? I mean, it’s going to be just a few weeks, right? They make it sound like they’re never coming back again but here they are. Not because their manga work sucks (maybe for Kaos) and hence the irony all of them get sent back to live here again. Because I thought those who don’t leave end up like Fuura as the ‘ghost’ who ‘haunts’ the dorm. She’s a former dorm resident, right? And she has a whole ‘base’ in the attic and Ririka allows it? I’m also not sure how big the dorm is but if the quartet are going to continue staying here, would there be more space for new mangaka wannabe tenants? Oh right. Not taking any for the moment. It would be utter chaos (pun not intended) if more girls are added to the fray.

Is it me or does this series have some sort of uncanny resemblance to Hidamari Sketch? In that series, a group of art students live together in a dorm doing fun stuffs together. Here, we have a group of mangaka wannabe girls dwelling in a dorm especially for them while doing fun stuffs together till the end.

Like shows in this genre without any real serious plot, the onus falls heavily on the cast of characters. Therefore characters in a series can really make or break a series depending on how likeable or relatable they are to the viewers. For me, after watching countless of such cute girls doing cute things genre, I have established this neutral stance in recent shows of this category. While the characters here are certainly not copy and paste from other characters in other similar genres, they are nothing extraordinary and if you look at them from a general point of view, they have some of that general similarity. Like the insecure and low self-confidence girl, the shy girl, the social outcast, the my-own-pace girl and the tomboy. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all glove but it is still a glove nevertheless.

Thus the characters are almost likeable thanks to their flaws and the struggles they face. Like Kaos who has self-confidence perhaps smaller than her stature and her running joke is that she is unable to write a decent manga. She is the master of being rejected if I should say. So once she manages to do and accomplish something that simple, it becomes a big celebratory event. I know not every idea can be accepted but coming up with a decent plot and artwork should be the norm for every manga artists from all walks of life and level. So for Kaos to not be able to do something simple like that makes you wonder if she is fit to be a manga artist in the first place. Passion is one thing but can she survive on that alone in this cutthroat industry? Since she is cute and lovable, I guess she’ll pass. Somehow. Keep on persevering, Kaos. Besides, she is the only character I know who can’t even remember her own name despite not being amnesiac of nature! That’s really bringing your uselessness level to something.

The other part that Kaos is good at is being a master of weeping. With such low self-confidence I can see why. Maybe she should have made this her second career. Don’t laugh. There is a profession of professional criers. At least in China. Time and time again as we see from Kaos struggling to be a decent manga artist, it makes me wonder if this is a sign from God to tell her she should switch to another career. I mean, with Kaos continuing to draw, it tells us she is persevering and continuing to believe in her dream. But if she is going to keep on sucking and being terrible, this is something she has to put some serious thought in. Even if it is going to cost her more buckets of tears. So for her being successful that one time makes it look like a big fluke instead of her talent finally blooming. Sure, you can say it will take a few more years but with all the up and coming talented ones, she’ll be in the dust by the time she settles in. Then she can continue crying all she wants… The greatest potential manga artist that has never been… If Kaos is struggling this much already, imagine what she will be if she was in the world of Bakuman… Can’t even imagine.

Of all the members in the dorm, Koyume seems the least stressed up as she is mostly doing things at her own pace. Perhaps the weight gain experience was the most stressful event in her life ever since she came to the dorm. Ruki sometimes mirrors life’s irony. The thing you are very good at in life could be the thing that you hate doing most in life. You keep doing it simply because it brings food to the table. It is not uncommon for female to do porn that resembles male fantasy but many would never think that a female would be the one behind such erotic works. Tsubasa might be cool thanks to her chuunibyou-like behaviour sometimes but it is interesting when her background comes to the limelight. It would be more interesting to see more of her past and how she ended up in this situation. A rich girl fooling her parents to live out her dream manga artist life. This has got to be some real deception since we see hints how mom could be the scary type if made mad or disappointed. You don’t want to disappoint her, do you? No wonder she sees mom as a demon. Is this where her chuunibyou stems from? At least it gives her inspiration.

Completing this dorm is the ‘scary’ resident Fuura whom I believe has a better luck in making horror movies that she herself should star in rather than drawing horror manga. Heck, even if she becomes one of those living attractions in haunted houses at amusement parks, she would definitely pull off a good job. Besides, doesn’t she love to hear people scream? Isn’t that why she keeps on scaring the dorm residents especially Kaos whose shrieking brings so much pleasure and joy? Life is a series of connections as the adults who were once friends and doing manga in their high school days are now some playing some sort of guidance to our young ones. They might have not been successful in their time so it feels like they are living their legacy through them if they make it big.

Although the art and animation leans more towards the cute and kawaii style, there was something bugging me at first when I looked at the characters. They look kinda familiar… Then it hit me. Oh my! Why do our main quartet have this uncanny resemblance to the characters in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica???!!! Kaos looks like a petite version of Madoka while Ruki takes on Akemi’s resemblance. But the ‘scarier’ ones are Tsubasa and Koyume because they look like almost exact replicas of Sayaka and Mami respectively! Is this what those magical girls do when their series’ run is over? Instead of becoming witches, they become manga artists instead. Haha! Oops. Having said that their resemblance is uncannily similar to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, this means that I also see shades of Hidamari Sketch character designs in them. But this is mainly only in Kaos and Koyume who generally look more like Yuno and Miyako respectively. Animated by Nexus, this is their first solo animation production having only done shorts like Wakaba Girl or movies like Santa Company. They also did Rakudai Kishi No Cavalry but that was joint with Silver Link.

Voice acting sounds pretty decent with main casts including Hikaru Akao as Kaos (also doubling as Nyaos), Kaede Hondo as Koyume (Hitomi in Hinamatsuri), Rie Takahashi as Tsubasa (Emilia in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) and Saori Oonishi as Ruki (Ais in DanMachi). I believe it is one of the few animes where hearing them scream is so much fun. Really. Thanks to Fuura becoming the scare staple of the series, you can bet this series can be technically classified as a scream fest despite not even remotely close to a horror genre. It was a delighted for me to have spot Mamiko Noto as Kaos’ mom even if it was just cameo. Aloha! I really feel the industry is using less and less of my numero uno these days… Sighs… Also making her cameo is Ayako Kawasumi is Tsubasa’s mom. Other casts are Reina Ueda as Fuura (Aishela in Grancrest Senki), Aya Endo as Ririka (Tchaikovsky in ClassicaLoid), Ayaka Nanase as Nijino (Yoshino in Sakura Quest) and Minami Tsuda as Amisawa (Yui in YuruYuri).

The opening and ending themes are sung by the main quartet (aptly named after the series’ name as well). Memories as the opener sound like your typical lively upbeat anime pop while Namida Wa Misenai as the ending theme goes to a slower beat. Surprisingly I didn’t expect myself to like the ending theme. Not to say it is a masterpiece or best in the world but I somehow enjoy listening to it. It could be the nice beat or tempo that makes it enjoyable to hear.

Overall, not really a bad series and one of the genre of cute girls doing cute things. However nothing really that extraordinary in my books either. It is fun and enjoyable for the season it premiered but anything more than that, nothing really memorable. Maybe the scream fest… If you are expecting this series to be one where it tells you the ins and outs of the industry, you would be disappointed since Bakuman and Shirobako already set that standard high. Sorry if the title and synopsis sounds a bit misleading but we could have guessed when we saw a poster of a group of cute girls together. These girls should at least decently make it big as they have the support and the right surroundings to help improve their manga unlike others who are not so fortunate. Otherwise… It’ll be just sad if they don’t. Too revise and modify a famous quote, it’s not the part of rejecting manga that makes you a failure. It’s the part of no trying again and giving up. 100 rejected ideas don’t mean they are bad. Maybe it just means other people just have bad taste in your stuffs ;p.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

January 25, 2015

Have you ever admired or liked someone so much that you are willing to do what it takes to be next to that person? So you don’t mind being a lackey or some sort of an assistant just to be close to that special one despite he/she doesn’t realize your true feelings? I guess for some that is just enough for the moment, maintaining status quo rather than rush things in. And so that is the case for our main heroine in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. There is this tall guy whom she has a crush on and I am very sure she would love for them to be a couple more than anything else. However with her poor choice of words and his density combined, she ends up being his manga assistant instead. I suppose the payment of being next to him is more than enough. Twisted rational if I should say. Maybe sometimes love don’t make you think straight…

Episode 1
Chiyo Sakura has always been in love with Umetarou Nozaki. After summing up all that courage, the most she can eke out to his face is that she is his fan. This calls for appropriate measures. He gives her his autograph! She tries again but this time could only manage to say she always wants to be with him. Then? He brings her back to his home. That easy? He makes her do inking on his manga and it is only till 4 hours later and after pages after pages that she realizes he is a mangaka! His signature that reads ‘Sakiko Yumeno’ sounds pretty familiar. Of course it is. It is the name of a popular shoujo manga called Let’s Fall In Love! This is a popular shoujo romance manga among girls as it depicts a young girl’s heart. However observing Nozaki, Sakura feels like it is a complete opposite. He lacks tact. A lot of them. She calls him by his pen name but he doesn’t want her to do so. It seems not many people in school know about this. Because they don’t believe him even when told. To a point they told him to stop lying! Nozaki says he has been keeping an eye on her. He is glad to have picked her since she is the best person who could colour a poster so cleanly and do a nice work. So she is just loved by her talent? Continuing to help him ink his manga (so as to get close to him), she tries contributing her ideas but finds it hard since they have to comply with the laws in real life too. You can’t really have your characters smoke and drink alcohol, right? Even riding a bicycle, you can’t draw riding in tandem. So this leads to a discussion on how to go about a romantic scene involving going home on a bicycle.

Next day, Nozaki asks Sakura to come cycle home with him. She is going to love this romantic encounter but turns out he brought a double seater bicycle. Feels so odd… Look at all the people staring… Can any love situation arise out from this? They try out more scenarios which are just plain embarrassing to Sakura. Finally he employs this double seater bicycle in his manga and resolves the tense romance situation by having its seats stolen in the end. Is this guy serious? Of course his editor told him to be serious so he changes it to one whereby the couple walked home along with the bicycle. That’s better. I’m not sure if Sakura is bitten by the bicycle bug because now she’s bugging Nozaki to ride the double seater with her. Sakura asks why he draws shoujo manga. It was a hobby at first and then he went with the flow. He assures that he has never been in love before! However he has given a bit of love advice to girls when they ask. He wonders if there is anyone she likes. Of course she flusters. Without naming hint, she tries to hint his personality, the good and the bad. However he is too dense to realize she was talking about him and wonders what is so good liking that guy. As Sakura ponders if things should remain the way as they are, next day she sees Nozaki lifting a fallen cat. It reminds her of something similar Nozaki did to her during the school’s entrance ceremony. That’s right. She can’t let it go on like that and needs to tell him how she feels. After summing up a year’s worth of courage, history repeats itself because the best she could say is she is his fan. She gets a second autograph. I don’t think those are tears of joy. Try again next time? Later Nozaki tells her that another assistant of his will come to help out with his manga. The way he paints Mikoto Mikoshiba as if he is such a nice guy. But the first time she sees him, he is like a total delinquent!

Episode 2
Mikoshiba not only demands respect as her senior, but he flirts with the other girls like a playboy. Then he gets embarrassed by it. Despite Mikoshiba not wanting Sakura to ask him anything, the way he is acting is obvious. He is itching for her just to ask. Just ask… Then when they try to follow a drawing game show, Mikoshiba doesn’t draw well in all categories! So what is he good for? Nozaki puts it this way. Nozaki will first draw the character. Sakura will then at the inking before Mikoshiba adds the beautiful effects! It’s his specialty to bring out the character’s charm to its finest. Annoying? Later Nozaki tells Sakura that Mikoshiba is actually the model for his heroine, Mamiko. Now that she reads it, her character is exactly like his! As Nozaki wants to introduce a new character, he needs to go observe people. He needs a model because if he doesn’t, all the characters end up looking the same! Asking Sakura if she has any friends she knows who would be a good model, she believes Yuzuki Seo would fit the bill as she is always being chased by someone. Oh, there she is now. Being chased by teachers! She’s fast! Oh God. I think I know what kind of girl she is. When Sakura introduces them, Seo thinks Nozaki is a lolicon for sticking around Sakura. Nozaki makes more observations on Seo. Seems she has a habit of lacking tact and doesn’t realize what she says that annoys that person. She also helps out in sports clubs but actually she lacks sportsmanship and does lots of fouls for her selfish play.

One day the teacher punishes her to take notes back to the science room as penalty, Nozaki became the unlucky chap to help her just because he was passing by. While she brags about herself, she unwittingly ruins the activities of others by cutting in between. That photo shot is now ruined. That love confession is now ruined! Then she wants to play a penalty game with him to see who will carry all the books. But it is a ploy to dump totally everything on him and run away. Then the teacher spots her. The way Seo tells Nozaki to take care of things for her feels like some manga scenario so Nozaki believes in her. In the end, she never turned up as promised and Sakura is the one who helped him finish. He finally concludes the kind of person Seo is: Oblivious! Damn right. But the damning verdict about Seo is when Nozaki catches her in the act of what she does best: She is singing like an opera singer!!! That angelic voice!!! Lorelei is her nickname! OMG! Can you believe it?! Nozaki believes that a lot of things happened between them that eventually made them friends and know each other so well. Some sort of rivalry battle perhaps. In actual fact it is because they sit close to each other in class. And so Nozaki creates a new character based on Seo and Mikoshiba could tell. He tries one of his cool lines that he is the perfect fit to be a model but Sakura just feels disgusted and annoyed. You embarrassed yet, Mikoshiba?

Episode 3
Mikoshiba wants to introduce Sakura to a friend of his who can be a new character model. However her thoughts on him as the heroine model is still on her mind so she freaks out he is cheating on the manga boyfriend. Yuu Kashima may be the Prince of the School and charms the hearts of every girl. However this person is a girl! Just the mere flirt with them sends their hearts aflutter. Kashima is a bit shocked that Sakura doesn’t know her. Sakura gets uneasy standing beside Nozaki and Kashima so to ease her heart, she stands next to Mikoshiba. Can’t take the pressure from 2 beautiful people, eh? I guess Mikoshiba isn’t. Kashima continues to flirt with girls when the president of the drama club, Masayuki Hori jumps in to beat her up! His way of reminding her to come to club? When Sakura does her inking, she notices several cute markings as a way to mark a section of inking. Nozaki notes she has not met that person before that person always come by late at night to help. Sakura gets worried thinking it is another girl. Nozaki couldn’t say because the person requested to be anonymous. But how come one of the marks looks like an underwear… She asks Seo about which mark she would pick and she picks the underwear! Easier to draw! Disappointed? Yeah, she doesn’t mind being called an underwear. Kashima requests Sakura’s help to finish the props for the play since her usual flirting has made Hori mad and beat her up resulting in more destruction. Sakura then sees a familiar marking on the board. Could he be the late night inker? She confronts him and she put it the wrong way that if he likes underwear! And the discussion turns into a friendly one over underwear… Kashima gets the wrong idea and when she asks, she gets beaten up for sexual harassment! When Sakura goes to Nozaki to do her inking, Nozaki knows she has already met him for he left a thank you note in the inking part. She is relieved this person is a guy and leaves a message back for him. Uhm, how is she going to ink that part then?

In exchange for Hori to help mark the inking spots, Nozaki also helps Hori out with a script for the play. Because he has met Kashima, Nozaki’s version of an ideal prince is ruined. Kashima wonders why Hori and Nozaki are so close so Sakura doesn’t want to give away much and says Nozaki is repaying Hori with his body. I think it just got worse. This causes Kashima to feel she is no longer needed. Because she is always the one Hori hits first, right? She confronts Hori to ask who is cuter but he doesn’t hesitate to answer Nozaki. Sakura also gives the same answer. No room for cheering up. Sakura asks Kashima what she wants from Hori. Marriage. Seriously?! Telling this to Hori, now he is more inclined not to tell her anything even if he has a girlfriend or get married because she will steal away the girls! Nozaki is stumped in his script so he has Sakura and Hori read the part of the heroine and hero part respectively. Since Hori is quite passionate and serious, Sakura won’t lose out. Mikoshiba gets the wrong idea that they are in some lover’s quarrel. Wow. They’re really into it like it’s the real deal. Since when did it turn into some sort of competition? Eventually he too gets drafted to read out the part of the maid. But since he is so timid and shy, Hori becomes the drill sergeant to tell him to do it properly. Say it right! Let the voice out from your stomach! Nozaki gets inspiration to complete the script but unknowingly made Mikoshiba the heroine. I guess that part always suits him best. Nozaki then goes to see Kashima act in the play in hopes his perception of her will change. Surprisingly or not, she plays the part very well. Nozaki asks Hori if he wants to act too but he is more than satisfied watching Kashima on stage.

Episode 4
Mikoshiba stays at Nozaki’s place because he wants to ask advice on love! Well, he writes shoujo manga, right? So what is it that he wants to ask? The decisions to make in playing a dating simulation! Flashback reveals Mikoshiba isn’t good with girls so he tried ‘researching’ via playing such games. However he was really frustrated at their kind of character. He persevered and eventually graduated from 2D to 3D. Figurines, that is. He lets Nozaki play and try out. At first he puts the name of his manga hero and then turns down or chooses options that hurts/ignores the heroines! Because his character has only eyes for his manga heroine! Restarting again and putting his name this time, he chooses a girl to conquer that resembles a lot like Sakura. It’s because the internet says she is the best route. Nozaki becomes depressed when the reaction of that girl differs than what he expected. So Mikoshiba suggests he calls Sakura for some help. It’s late at night. And Sakura is getting the wrong idea about it. In such games, there is always a character who is the hero’s friend and will do anything to help. At first Nozaki is sceptical and believes this type will backstab you. But after playing throughout the game, they realize he is such a good guy and even feel for him that he wasted his schooling years just to help the hero out! So sad that they want to draw a manga to dedicate to him. They try to think of the love interest this friend would have but realize from his actions, could it be he loves the protagonist?! If you think about it, why go to great lengths to help him out? Sakura stops by early next morning but nobody answers the door. It seems the duo have pulled an all-nighter finishing this manga dedicated to this friend. Sounds gay… Sakura believes Mikoshiba doesn’t talk much to girls so he insists he’ll show it to her. From what it looks like he is having a blast with girls, suddenly he texts Sakura desperate calling for help. Where’s the pride?

Mikoshiba’s friends enlist his help to even up the gender ratio at a mixer. Thanks to his pride, he accepts. Now what? So he practises attending a mixer with Nozaki. I’m not sure if this guy is joking around or has never attended one before. Or both. Uh huh. Nozaki even puts on a pair of bunny ears to pretend he is a girl. Not working. With Sakura coming by, he enlists her help to join him. She thinks this is the perfect chance to appeal her feminine but it seems he cooks way better than her. The mixer practice farce continues with Nozaki always calling Sakura to the toilet to comment after every line Mikoshiba says, Sakura ranting on her ideal guy (which is basically Nozaki and that means she needs no other guys, which means why the heck would she attend a mixer in the first place). Mikoshiba fears of being paired so Sakura suggests sitting alone but with a cake before him, which makes it look like some sort of birthday party. Since Nozaki is just being negative and Sakura talkative, Mikoshiba has had it and bans them never to go to any mixer. Another toilet commenting trip? Mikoshiba wants to join too! Eventually Mikoshiba doesn’t turn up and has Kashima replace him. The friends feel bad for trying to force him till they hear Kashima’s relayed message that he wouldn’t come unless they were all girls. They take it as an insult he wanted a harem. So they’re glad Kashima is coming along because despite the uneven gender ratio, less men more share, right? Well, no. Because all the girls are all over Kashima. She’s the centre of attention! The guys are the biggest losers. Kashima the big winner. When Nozaki learns his editor is coming to visit, he makes haste to clean up his place. Sakura comments he doesn’t need to rush like that and only reserve such for his girlfriend but he replies that he wouldn’t be this stressed if that person would be his girlfriend. Oh sh*t! Editor more important than girlfriend?! Oh Sakura…

Episode 5
Nozaki considers his editor as cool and mature so this sends bells ringing to Sakura that the editor must be a mature woman. But Ken Miyamae turns out to be a fat grumpy guy. Relieved? He leaves as quickly after he takes his manuscript and even turns down all the great hospitality Nozaki offers. Although Nozaki admires him to the max, Sakura can clearly see that Miyamae somewhat hates him. But as he continues explaining, we’ll soon learn why Miyamae is the best. Because his previous editor, Mitsuya Maeno is a nightmare. He has a penchant for claiming/bragging an idea is his. Also, you can tell if a manga is under him because he has a fetish for tanuki. Yup. Every manga has this tanuki in it! It’s like this little creature transcends space, time and dimension or something. Just when there is a new mystery genre manga came out and although it still involved a tanuki, the premise seems interesting till the next chapter review which reveals the culprit ruined it all! That’s Maeno for you. Sakura also meets Yukari Miyako who is also Nozaki’s neighbour and fellow mangaka. Sakura is so thrilled to meet her but all she could ever eke out of her mouth is tanuki… In her place, she discusses about Maeno’s current fetishes like idols (because their skirts are short enough to have you see their panties) and elephants (they’re too big to be put in the background or fit in the panel anyway). Heck, she shows him a website of the manga magazine in which it is absolutely nothing but him! You might even think it is his personal blog or something. And there’s the part where he ‘defiles’ the manuscript… Then here comes the person in the flesh. Nozaki is pissed upon seeing him and even more when Maeno claims Nozaki is here because he missed his advice. Cool down! But he calms down when Maeno gives him photos of the amusement park that he wanted. Unfortunately it might reach boiling point once more because all the photos contain his face. So you see, the big reason why Nozaki is grateful for a guy like Miyamae? Yeah. He even texts him to convey his feelings. His reply is offensive but he takes it as a positive note. Creepy…

Miyamae calls Nozaki that he couldn’t understand his heroine Mamiko’s feelings because all he sees is her calling out the protagonist’s name. So he tries to hint to that dense Nozaki (to him, not his characters) that this would be a problem if readers can’t really understand all that. Taking up his advice, Nozaki is going to become Mamiko for the entire day. This creep you out, Sakura? Yeah… He has made lots of bentos to see their reaction. He gets disappointed when he realizes the difference between fantasy and reality when Seo complains. Mikoshiba even gets one and although he feels odd, he finds it delicious and this makes Nozaki happy. Could this be how Mamiko feels? Later he sees several girls fighting over Kashima and realizes Mamiko also has rivals. Then this scene… Nozaki kidnaps Kashima away on a cart! A bevy of angry girls just chasing them down! After a while, Nozaki begins to realize there are no special feelings at all because Mamiko only had eyes on the protagonist. Kashima feels insulted because it’s like as though she got dumped. Sakura returns the lunch box to Nozaki. She shows him she made his bento into her handphone wallpaper. He is impressed enough to want to continue being Mamiko. Okay, I think that will be enough. That night he calls Miyamae and believes he understands how Mamiko feels now. However after reflecting what he did for the day as Mamiko (Sakura keep pointing out what he is doing wrong), he retracts that he needs to study more. The end result leaves Miyamae more frustrated and with a potential big headache…

Episode 6
Sakura brought some calming opera-like music to listen while they work. This voice sounds familiar? Yeah. It’s Seo’s! Nozaki immediately turns it off! Speaking of her, here she is causing her usual rampage during the boys’ basketball game again. Everyone gets pounded in the face? There’s no stopping her. Nozaki’s former basketball member, Hirotaka Wakamatsu meets up and talks how Nozaki has changed ever since he went into shoujo manga (Nozaki believes he is much cooler now) and also complains about Seo’s habits since she is the assistant for the girls’ basketball team. He feels like he is being target lately and has trouble sleeping. In exchange for hearing out his troubles, Wakamatsu will help with his manga. Nozaki accidentally plays the song from Lorelei and instantly falls asleep! He wakes up next morning and although apologizing for not getting any work done, he pleads he needs to have that song for he has never slept so good for a long time. Nozaki is in a dilemma to tell him the truth behind that voice. Maybe not. After all, Seo is the reason behind his stress and relaxing. With yet another rampaging by Seo, Wakamatsu again seeks comfort in Nozaki. Maybe he should really get mad at her but since he doesn’t know how, he wants to borrow his work to study. Seriously? Study shoujo manga? It gets off to a worse start when Seo finds a love letter in her shoe locker. It’s supposed to be a challenge letter. And when they finally meet at the rooftop, all what Wakamatsu had to say (he didn’t say much by the way) goes to waste since she was thinking of what kind of nickname she wants to give him. He blows his top and starts complaining (to the point of tears) about her behaviour. But from the way he ‘complains’ about her making up after that, doesn’t it sound suspicious that she may actually like him? And then this… Wakamatsu mentions about Lorelei! He starts praising her angelic voice and all the good qualities and how this person he never met is such a goddess! Seo’s reply? Please repeat that again! Utter defeat for Wakamatsu… The only thing left to do… What is he going to do with those gloves? Throw down a challenge? Nope. Just give it to her. Well, at least she has some use for it. Squash flies… So what’s the point of Wakamatsu complaining his ‘loss’ to Nozaki? Where did he go wrong? Well, he shouldn’t have studied shoujo manga in the first place.

Sakura receives an SOS message from Nozaki. She rushes down to his place thinking this time she will get in his good books by helping out with his work. Turns out he is sick. How can an ink she bought help him out? Apparently he mistakenly SMS to Wakamatsu and Hori too. Nozaki’s concern is that the doctor wants him to stay in bed but he wants somebody to stay in bed for him while he finishes his manuscript as the deadline is tomorrow. He tries to show off his professionalism by drawing with closed eyes since the body remembers. Let’s say Picasso is much better. Just rest. So the trio have the task of completing it for him. But this is the first time they have to cut and set screen tones! Although Hori and Sakura have more experience as assistants, Wakamatsu seems to be doing better so they pretend they know it all. As for what the characters are trying to say, Hori seeks Nozaki’s advice but since he won’t stop ranting (he is really going into details of the feelings of a girl!), I guess they just have to add the speeches themselves. Sakura checks on him and her heart beats like mad when she hears him murmur her name in her sleep. Could it be? Then it follows a few names of other girls before he decides on one that will be the name of his new character! So disappointed! When he is well, he checks on the work progress. The verdict? He will have to ask for a deadline extension! Wrongly applied screen tones! Wakamatsu is glad to receive new songs from Lorelei and wonders how Nozaki got them. That facial contortion that he got them by exchanging his pride has Wakamatsu believing of some underground connection. In actual fact he had to suck up his pride that he likes them and ask for more from Sakura (who is probably getting the wrong idea).

Episode 7
Nozaki finished his manuscript early and realizes he has no other hobby! Sakura must be dreaming of this day because Nozaki asking her to accompany him out is like a date! This is what happens when you put your hopes too high up. Because Nozaki can’t get work out of his mind. Whether it is the movie he picks or the food he eats, the reason he chooses them is because for reference for his manga! Even at the clothes shop, he wonders if the sailor uniform would look good on Mamiko. Would Sakura care to try it on? Heck, he even tries to put it on himself! No luck! At the figurines section, guess who they saw there? Mikoshiba. WTF… Nozaki thinks those figurines can provide some good model reference… At first Sakura’s heart is pounding of what kind of bishoujo he is going to pick. Then it turns out he picked a handsome guy. Disappointed! Then they head to the stationery shop to get some supplies. The day ends with Nozaki asking Sakura to come to his place. Could this finally be it? Again… This is what happens when you put your hopes high. She is made to finish the cooking he made too much. Eat your heart out! Eat away your misery! Don’t despair. After all that trouble, Nozaki has got a nice present for her. Gee, what could it be? A sailor uniform… Disappointed… And he wants to take pictures of her in it now!

Sakura asks Mikoshiba to be her art club’s model. He turns her down. But when some other girl asks, his charm automatically sets and accepts it like a cool guy. Regret? Sakura won’t even help him decline this one. Back home he tries to practice poses. Mostly weird ones. The only ones he is good at are bishoujo figurine poses. Just sad… Mikoshiba arrives at the art club. Some of the members have him pose in certain poses as they wish. That girlfriend breaking up pose… Sakura has him pose like working on a manuscript. Although Mikoshiba gets to boss Sakura around during break time, when she leaves to buy him some drink, he panics and scolds her for leaving him alone! Mikoshiba feels more tired despite the periodic breaks. Then comes in Nozaki and he hopes this guy could help whisk him away. Nozaki did ask for permission to take Mikoshiba away. However he is willing to wait till the club session ends. Damn. Nozaki sees some of the students sketching and their sketch are great model references. He wants to join! Not recruiting. Nozaki is also given a chance to pose Mikoshiba. But he starts posing all the other club members into one big group pose. At the end, the art club members thank him. One of them asks if he wants to model for them again. I guess his instinctive charm kicks in. He is glad to do it nude next time. Wowee! He just dug his own grave. Can Nozaki help him out? When he does that nude modelling, Nozaki wants to come and see. Yeah…

Episode 8
Hori carries around Nozaki’s shoujo manga in his bag. He is not worried of losing it and let people have the wrong idea since he always clutches on to his bag. When Kashima is seen running away from club activities, he throws the bag at her! The manga drops out as Kashima takes a peek. To her horror she gets the wrong idea on the kind of books he reads. Before she can go further, Hori takes her out. Eventually she gets a copy and Mikoshiba says he too has one. He surprises her by reciting a line perfectly from a chapter. She too acts her part out but this freaks Mikoshiba out. She then happens to bump into Nozaki and ask his thoughts on it. His comments are all professional but it sounded ambiguous that Kashima thinks it is all so complicated. When Kashima practises her play lines with Hori, she notices he is a bit different. A bit happy. Actually he is glad that for once she is taking serious interest in her work. When the other fan girls come in to bug Kashima if there is anyone who is playing the princess role, Kashima mistakes Hori’s angry face that he might want to play the princess part! Hori thought Kashima has her feminine side when she asks his opinion to choose between a long or mini skirt. Turns out she borrowed his clothes and left the skirt as his substitute. The following days, Kashima always leave female clothing and accessories in his locker. Is this some kind of harassment? Hori notes that they are all well coordinated actually.

Because Nozaki is hopeless drawing backgrounds, that is why Hori is around. Even he has a hard time trying to decipher where the characters are supposed to be. They are surprised Nozaki can debut with his horrible background drawings. I guess the mangas he drew doesn’t have much background in them. Hori trains Nozaki to draw backgrounds but it is so obvious that the characters seem like floating. How to fix this? Draw them standing on a box! His perspective of depth and distance is also off. Nothing like the box to fix it, huh? And he puts a note that boxes are the in thing now. Sakura suggests they should take some photos and draw. She flusters when she is supposed to play Mamiko and Nozaki the heroine. However she is too short that she can’t be seen in the camera. Since Hori has the same height with the protagonist, he takes over. Despite the perfect angle and everything, Nozaki feels something is missing. Boxes! Quit it already! Kashima sees Hori referring to the manga and even seeks Nozaki’s guidance about it. She gets the wrong idea he wants to be carried like a princess. As Hori is going to stay at Nozaki’s place for the night, Sakura fears something gay might happen and will also stay with pretence she wants to learn more about drawing backgrounds. Hori lacks sleep in his club and can’t help doze off. But when he sees Kashima standing on a box trying to reach for something, it pisses him off and does a slide tackle. It knocks him out. Kashima wants to bring him to the infirmary. Dressed like a prince and carrying him like a princess? Eventually she thinks if she can’t be his prince, the horse will do. But she put on a bull’s mask instead and runs straight there. Everyone thinks this must be some sort of rodeo. Hori is surprised to see the person behind that mask. In the end, Hori decides to draw all of Nozaki’s backgrounds but in exchange his next story must be about a prince who was turned into a bull. Sakura asks Hori has he mistake Kashima to be a guy the first time. Well, he never noticed her skirt and only when she entered the female toilet.

Episode 9
On a rainy day, Sakura forgot to bring her umbrella. Is this the chance she has been waiting for to share an umbrella with Nozaki? Well… He forgot to bring his too. Oh God, why are you screwing with her! He gets this idea of rolling up his sleeves and longs and hides under his jacket. Lame… Want to get in? Eventually they have to turn back since they got pretty drenched. As they wait, Nozaki thinks of writing out some scenarios. He starts telling of what seems to be a romantic story but turns into a ghost story. They see lots of girls competing with each other to share an umbrella with Kashima. It looks like some mushroom field. Seo then dumps her umbrella at Sakura because she prefers to run in the rain. Sakura starts flustering that she is finally sharing an umbrella with him but since she is fantasizing too much, she didn’t realize she got his head stuck in the umbrella. Such a tall guy… Now Nozaki holds the umbrella. Rain water keeps pouring on her head… Then the car splashes puddle over them. Bad day… Sakura wants to go on like this for a while. Nozaki too. Really? He just remembered he left the laundry outside and wants to escape reality! Back at his home, since they are soaked, he tells her to take off her clothes! WTF?! She has no clothes to change! Don’t worry. That sailor uniform. There are some poses he wants to capture. No way!!! Nozaki no baka!!! Next day Nozaki shows Sakura the rainy day scenario story. It seems he put in Seo’s scene and Sakura felt she really lost out to her.

Miyako’s college friends thinks it is weird she writes her love letters in point form. What is with this tanuki business too? They go eavesdrop her on the phone thinking she’s talking to her boyfriend. They get the wrong idea she got into trouble with some debt collectors since she is assuring she’ll get her work done. Nozaki and Sakura go see Miyako to confirm something. Hearing her off the phone with Maeno makes Nozaki feel he is such a blessed guy to have Miyamae. Miyako tries to solve her tanuki problems but it’s not going too well. She relates how she tried to stand up for her title to be published but from the way they hear it, she lost since it became a second title. Nozaki remembers Maeno has a habit of changing words on his own and thus the ‘misprint’ seen in the final printed version. Miyako also had many of such experience but it seems to make the dialogue very erotic. They suggest she complain and when she calls, surprisingly he apologizes at first but soon blames her manga has too many kanji and hard for him to read. Now she has to apologize! They suggest putting an indirect message of complaint in the manga but I don’t think Miyako knows how to do it. Another suggestion is to overload the tanuki factor so she draws a guy in full body costume of a tanuki and faxes it over to Maeno. He loves it! Backfired. When Miyako makes that character more boring, it seems Sakura takes a liking for it. Nozaki sees Miyamae and suggests of adding some spice to his next manga. An alien who looks like a human but only more handsome and popular? Isn’t he just a handsome guy? Miyamae thinks this was just a waste of time but Maeno totally loves this idea! Nozaki is irked that Sakura is more excited with a drawing from Miyako than he gave his autograph. He is willing to trade it by drawing his characters and even in tanuki suits. Big lecture from Sakura: Please treat your characters with more care. Oh sh*t!

Episode 10
His rainy day sketch surprisingly received positive reactions so Miyamae told him to write a side story for his side characters. However Nozaki is in a dilemma because those characters are modelled after Wakamatsu and Seo. When Wakamatsu comes over seeking his advice as he is deeply in a dilemma about going out with Seo who handed him a movie ticket, Nozaki didn’t hesitate to tell him to go. And then tell him all about it. So Wakamatsu dresses his best while Seo is just casual to go watch this so called alien B-grade movie. I don’t know what the big fuss was trying to fight over the dominance of the armrest space but eventually it is Seo who won since Wakamatsu is so meek. When the movie starts, Seo starts laughing at parts normal people wouldn’t. She loves the killings, doesn’t she? Towards the end, she seemingly falls asleep on him and he wants to find out her reaction when she wakes up but actually she’s just relaxing in that pose. As they leave, they talk about the movie but it’s like they are watching different movies because Seo is like talking about stuffs that didn’t happen in it. She’s talking about the killing and gore so much that he can’t take it anymore and tells her to shut it! Sakura reads the side story and is impressed. She likes it. However Nozaki only has negative comments about it. Wakamatsu spies outside the music club to find out who Lorelei is. Hori comes by and the best way to find out is to walk in and ask. He does so but when he comes out, he is excited to turn his next play into a musical! Nozaki and Sakura see Kashima depressed. Because Hori wants to turn the next play into a musical, she is required to do lots of acrobatic flips and somersaults. Is that a musical? However Kashima can do all that (?!) except one: Singing. Yup, she’s tone deaf. Sakura requests Seo’s help to train her but you can tell she’s not really into the mood. But since her best friend is asking… First she has Kashima sing to gauge her. You can tell from Nozaki and Sakura’s reaction they’re about to be dragged to hell the moment she opens her mouth. Seo? She had ear plugs on! Seeing their reaction was just enough to gauge her?! Her options to train her are harsh so the rest figure it’s easier to do something about Hori. Make him hate musicals or erase his memories. Wakamatsu sees Seo entering the music club. As she trains Kashima to sing, Wakamatsu mistakes this is her horrible voice and feels so bad for her that he starts crying out his woes to Nozaki.

Thank goodness Hori won’t be doing a musical play next but since an actor is out due to a broken bone, he has to replace him. Of course this makes Kashima happy as she gets to act on stage with him. In the play, her character is supposed to beat him but she couldn’t. His character is supposed to lose but he won’t. They just don’t match… Hori thinks of finding a stand in and who better to play it than Nozaki since he wrote this story so he should understand the character better. But Nozaki doesn’t realize he had this character… Nozaki is such an amateur in acting that it’s obvious. He wants to change since it’s hard to act in his school uniform. Sakura relishes seeing him in a costume when he comes out in a bear suit… So disappointed! Can’t even see his face! Well, it’s the only suit that fits him. Hori thinks he needs to get a guy who loves to stand out. The rest can’t think of one. Then how about a guy easily deceived to take this part. Everyone had the same idea: Mikoshiba! At first he won’t be tricked into it but with the constant praising, he’s in! Seeing Mikoshiba acts somewhat reminds Hori of a very familiar character: Mamiko! During Kashima and Mikoshiba’s fight scene, Hori cheered on the latter to crush the former! This makes Kashima sulk and she gets the wrong idea that Hori likes him more! Gay?! He even starts calling his name wrongly over and over. Mamikoshiba… Hori thought he has secured Mikoshiba as an actor but the next day he returns back to his timid self. Looks like Hori has to play the character himself. Want something done, do it yourself. Wakamatsu spies on Seo to try and catch her good points but all she does is give ill but in-your-face-honest advices to her friends. Wakamatsu’s friends think he is starting to fall for Seo.

Episode 11
Nozaki seems to know a lot about Miyamae. And he knows all of it via Miyako. It’s like information leak. Flashback reveals when they first met. Miyamae was to take over as Nozaki’s editor from Maeno but that guy didn’t show up. Miyamae finds Nozaki to be annoying because it’s like he fears Miyamae wants to butt in writing his story or win over him by flattering his characters. But when he manages to name several minor characters, Nozaki becomes impressed and that’s when they got ‘closer’. When Sakura mentions she would like to see an element of surprise in his manga, he starts sketching a few sketchy and absurd surprising moments. Though she is surprised, but it is not the kind of surprise she is hoping for. Nozaki suggests he’ll set up some excitement for her tomorrow. This doesn’t sound good. But Sakura can’t help look forward to it. First excitement: He becomes her chair! WTF?! Did anybody order some S&M play?! Surprised? Next he gives her some flowers. Ah, good surprise. Then his hand falls off. Surprised?! More of like shock. Then he helps her to bring some books to the faculty room but retracts on his statement. So uncool. So heartbreaking. She doesn’t hesitate to take up his offer to eat his lunch. All rice only? But wait. There is curry underneath. Surprise? She even gets tea, seconds and dessert. So much so she can’t take any more of such surprises and could explode! When he wants to walk home with her, by that time I’m sure Sakura is already suspicious. On her guard. Everything he does, she will be looking over her shoulders, getting ready for what may come. Nothing much happens. So what’s the surprise? None. He just wanted to walk home with her. That surprise. Surprised? Dumbfounded… Later Nozaki hands in his next manuscript to Miyamae employing this surprise element (especially that curry under the rice trick). He doesn’t look impressed and thinks it has turned into some food manga.

Thanks to the heavy rain, coincidentally all the guys stop by Nozaki’s place. This is the first time Mikoshiba meets Hori and Wakamatsu. At first Mikoshiba didn’t like how cool and athletic Wakamatsu is but when the latter praises him, they become friends. Hori doesn’t like the idea Mikoshiba is here because he might blurt out the secret that he does Nozaki’s backgrounds. If Kashima finds out, she would want to help out too and inadvertently bring all the fan girls and crowd in this place. Such vivid imagination. As Nozaki makes dinner, the rest decide to watch TV and unconsciously whip out their drawing tools at the same time! Whoops! Hide it back! Mikoshiba tries to start a conversation. Especially about girls. He hints to Nozaki for some ‘magazine with lots of girls’ but was given the manga magazine. Okay, let’s be more specific. Real girls. He hands him his graduation album. WTF. Oh well, this will do. Mikoshiba wonders what kind of girls they like so they start ranting away their ideals without looking at the pictures. As the train service has stopped due to the storm, looks like they will have to stay for the night here. Hori notices Nozaki’s notes that he is planning to make some pyjamas party for his next chapter. Yeah, see him taking down notes and turning their guys talk into girls talk? Nozaki can’t believe the guys want to go to bed this early. He’ll watch over them. No excitement. He mentions his intention of writing sleepover scenarios so the guys try to talk about relationships. When they are curious about Sakura’s relationship with Nozaki and are going to ask him, that dude is already deep asleep! The trio have fun arm wrestling well into the dead of the night. Meanwhile Sakura thinks a lot about Nozaki. She has a Valentine’s chocolate for him and a note of confession in the fridge.

Episode 12
The girls are talking the chances of going out with a guy based on the gift given. When Sakura mentions about that autograph, they feel it’s better for her to stay away from him. She gives them her Valentine’s Day chocolates. Five months ago, she forgot to give it to the guy she likes (guess who) or rather she couldn’t find the guts to do it and it stayed dormant in her fridge since then. Don’t worry, it’s not expired yet. She’s still sore she wasn’t able to get a hold of him on that day since he was busy ‘running around’ being a busybody when he heard other people were being given chocolates. But Valentine’s Day for Nozaki didn’t go too well too. Because he opines there is no need for White Day, the girls misunderstood his intention and cancelled him from their list. He got no chocolates. He was unfazed. He didn’t even realize it. Sakura talks to Seo about the last time a boy gave her chocolates. It was like when she was 3 years old… As for Kashima, because Hori said he didn’t like handmade chocolates, she went to the store and bought a chocolate, copied it and hand this imitation to him. So he unknowingly ate her homemade chocolate he hated so much. Sakura has been suggested to give Nozaki eat the chocolates since he might eat it naturally as Valentine’s Day is over. Unfortunately Nozaki bumps into her and her 5 months of love scattered on the floor. Nozaki gets the wrong idea that she is mad and wants him to pick up and eat them. Although she is happy, he further mistakes that happiness that she totally loves to see him pick and eat them up from the floor. He really wants to make it up to her and since she mentions she wants some candy to make him happy, he gets more wrong idea about what it means. Later Seo and Sakura compliment Kashima’s improving singing skills. But why do they cover their ears when they say that?

Sakura and Seo meet up with Mikoshiba and Kashima for the fireworks festival. They see a group of girls trying to resist asking them out. They look like zombies… Mikoshiba and Sakura exchange praises and clearly despite how plain they dress, Mikoshiba really wants to keep the praises coming. Nozaki and Wakamatsu are also here to observe the couples. But Wakamatsu’s misery begins when Seo drags him away. As he is not familiar with Kashima, he thinks ‘this guy’ is Seo’s boyfriend and starts having vivid imaginations about them. He’s really bothered about it. But what can he do about it? Hori is also here to take background snapshots for his manga references and isn’t too pleased to see Kashima around. When Sakura is lost, she bumps into Nozaki. I suppose this must be the most distasteful joke he has ever said to her. He joked he couldn’t identify her because of her different ribbon patterns! Sakura flusters on what to do so she shares her candy apple with him in which he doesn’t hesitate to take a bite. They head to a higher ground so Nozaki can take pictures for references of the festival. Since Sakura cannot get up on the metal bars, Nozaki lifts her up and this brings back memories of that entrance ceremony day. Deja vu. She thought it was bad enough she got on the wrong train till she saw Nozaki sleeping while trying to climb over the school gate! Since she was too short, Nozaki lifts her up. She thought he was some sort of delinquent but eventually realized he is a nice guy. That’s the first time she met him and he saved her when she was late for school, panicking and about to cry. She reflects lots of things have happened and their relationship didn’t go anywhere but she’ll keep on loving him more and more even though he only sees her as a friend. As the fireworks start to light up the night sky, Sakura accidentally blurts she loves him. Oh gosh. Did he hear that? He says something inaudible because the fireworks start up again. Then he puts his face closer to her ear and whispers he also feels the same like her. Yes. He loves the fireworks. Oh… I don’t know if Sakura has gone crazy but she’s laughing. In a cute way, that is. She thanks him for staying by her side and is happy with the way things are right now.

Love Lessons From Manga… Imitated From Real Life
Surprisingly I didn’t expect myself to enjoy this anime as I was going to pass it off as something mediocre. See, that is the problem when you try to judge something before fully watching it. The funny bits and moments are definitely the best parts of the series and it is just funny to see the characters react and deal with all kinds of it. The balance and right mix of such comical moments are what makes this series an enjoyable watch. Sometimes ridiculous but if you think about it, real life can be quite pretty similar too.

Bringing out the best in the comedy are the characters and despite Nozaki and Sakura are the main characters, the other side characters do well to bring good balance to the overall feel of everything. Each has their own quirks and personalities that we can relate to like Mikoshiba’s penchant to be praised. These characters also shows us the irony in life because for example Mikoshiba sounds like he is cool and flirtatious with the ladies but in real life he is just a noob and the furthest he gets with them is just dating simulations. Likewise, Seo may be a troublemaker and lacks tact but her angelic singing voice makes up for all that. Thus Wakamatsu, who is always stressed out by her, is also calmed and soothed by the person whom he doesn’t know is the very same girl. Then there is Hori who always has the tendency to beat the crap out of Kashima if she pisses him off the slightest. I don’t know if this would amount to violence against woman. Despite Kashima looking a lot like a guy, she is still a girl underneath that tomboyish looks. I wonder what her fan girls will have to say about that.

Ironically for Nozaki, despite writing such a famous shoujo manga, he himself isn’t really an expert on the subject of love. Though, he is keen in observing his subjects but tends to go overboard with zany and exaggerated scenarios from his perspective. Perhaps it is a reason why his manga is wildly popular because in some ways people can relate it to real life. For now his passion seems to be concentrating on the love life of his manga characters rather than the ones in real life. Right under his nose. Because in manga I think you can erase, reset and redo a scene again unlike in reality. No wonder he is so good. No wonder the manga is doing so well.

Sakura is a funny girl, which makes her an amusing watch. There are so many moments when she starts believing that Nozaki is going to do something romantic or perhaps realize something from the heart. Often as many times it turns out to be something else different and she’ll be so disappointed, disheartened, dismayed, crest fallen and frustrated. Feel like banging your head on the wall? In a way I think being status quo as his manga assistant is consider good enough because who knows what happens if they actually end up as a real couple. Hah. At least since they are not, there is no possible development of a break up later! Yikes! And the more she starts working with him on his manga, the more she starts to question the ideas he comes up with and uses. It just shatters all your perspectives on things.

Even the other smaller supporting characters outside the main magnificent seven are likeable in their own ways like Maeno’s narcissism, Miyako’s tendency to include tanukis not only in every manga she draws but in each freaking panel as well (something I feel is like a running gag each time she takes the limelight)! I believe Miyamae is the most serious character in the series and I don’t remember seeing him smile once. I guess his job is that stressful. Even Nozaki has times where he brightens up albeit usually when he comes up or does something silly. So with Nozaki’s strange stories and ideas sometimes, it even piles more pressure of him as evidently seen. No wonder he is so grumpy. I wonder if Lorelei’s music can help him. On second thought, maybe not. So which editor would you like to have? An unfriendly but serious one or a carefree and oblivious weirdo? I would have neither! If these characters were in Bakuman, I think it would have been big time fail.

I never put much hope on the romance department in the first place because I knew from ‘experience’ it was going to be status quo from start to finish. Even that seemingly heart stopping confession had some sort of a catch. And true enough it wasn’t really Nozaki that realized his feelings for Sakura or anything. Big relief or big frustration? Seeing so many of such situations in various animes already made me ‘numb’ when this sort of things happens. Oh well, on the bright side is that Sakura still gets to be by his side and she still has a chance. But don’t take too long… Or she’ll be forever waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting… Surely she doesn’t want to be content to be just his manga assistant, right? There are deep hints that Seo likes Wakamatsu (the constant teasing, why else would such a badass girl bug you like that?) and Kashima for Hori (otherwise why would she stand his abuse every time she escapes from club activities?). It would have been interesting to see something developing of this sort but you know, sometimes it is better there isn’t. Even Mamiko is having all sorts of troubles and challenges in love. Imagine it in real life. Oh wait. Doesn’t her love life chronicles take after real life?

The art and drawing are quite good especially the characters giving off that bishoujo and bishonen feel. In short, almost everyone looks good, handsome, cute and pretty and even girls like Seo with bad attitudes also look beautiful (till she starts giving away her bad habits then the overall beauty of the heart would start diminishing). Maybe the only one not fitting the bill would be Miyamae but even so, at least he is not that ugly. Note, Sakura has got the funniest-cum-cutest face when she goes into her annoyed mode because it makes her look like Pac-man! Serious!

I was surprised that Mai Nakahara was the voice of Kashima. No matter how much I think about it, she just doesn’t sound like the Mai Nakahara I knew of. Perhaps it is one of those roles once in a while whereby you voice something that you aren’t typically casted for. Kashima may sound a bit boyish but thinking hard and trying to recognize that lower voice belonged to Mai Nakahara, it was just mind boggling since she usually voices obvious female roles (think Juvia from Fairy Tail). At least Yuuichi Nakamura as Nozaki is still recognizable albeit he wasn’t in his angst character stereotype (Gray in Fairy Tail, Yamada in Valvrave The Liberator). Miyuki Sawashiro as Seo and Ayako Kawasumi as Miyako are definitely recognizable in my books. For the rest of the casts, they are Ari Ozawa as Sakura (making her debut voicing a main character), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Mikoshiba (Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Yuuki Ono as Hori (Moral in Hamatora), Ryohei Kimura as Wakamatsu (L-elf in Valvrave The Liberator), Kenta Miyake as Miyamae (Klaus in Hayate No Gotoku) and Daisuke Ono as Maeno (Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji).

Another winning point for this anime is the opening and ending themes. The opener, Kimi Janakya Dame Mitai by Masayoshi Ooishi attracts you with that funky guitar play. The way the singer sings the song with lots of funk makes it feel like fun all the way. Definitely you would want to hear it again. Aaow! Yeah! Ari Ozawa does Uramote Fortune and the cutest thing about this anime pop piece is how she goes singing repetitively the lyrics “Hantai no, hantai no, hantai no, hantai no, hantai no Fortune”. Addictively cute. She already has a cute voice and now the way she sings it is so cute, it makes your heart go “Kyun~!”. Really. There are a variety of background music too and I think some of them are not bad. But there is one they keep spamming and playing quite often so I think even though it sounds great, hearing too much of it becomes a bore.

After all that is said and done, this series is a good and entertaining watch if you want some light hearted romance that brings out the hilarious moments in the simplest things, go for this anime. You won’t regret it even if you’re not into the idea of love right now. Another good point that I suppose certain groups of viewers would find it good is that this anime doesn’t rely on fanservice or any sexual subtexts for its comedy so the comedy is clean good fun. Good enough for even for the family to watch. In the end, no matter how good a romance novel or shoujo manga is or how successful or good it looks on paper and theory, nobody has the slightest clue what romance and love is all about. Everybody is just a noob when it comes to love. Funny, isn’t it?

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?

Mangirl

July 12, 2013

You would be forgiven if you are guessing from the title that this anime is about a cross-dressing character or a weird person who has both genders. Or maybe a man who acts like a girl. Yeah. Misleading, isn’t it? Mangirl is actually the shortened form of manga girl and this again feels a little misleading. It is not a girl who is going to do what the famous pair of Ashirogi Muto is going to do in Bakuman. Instead, this short anime that lasts 3.5 minutes is about a group of girls working as an amateur editorial department for a manga magazine. In the highly competitive world of manga and anime, it is a wonder to see how these girls are going to survive their jobs seeing that they have zero experience. These are the trial and tribulations of the girls as they work through in what they love most, meeting deadlines and participating in promotional activities while learning the tricks of the trade to achieve their goal of making the biggest manga magazine in Japan. Sounds like fun? Not if you’re the one who is doing all the hectic work.

Episode 1
Hana Sasayama despite not knowing much about storyboards, becomes an editor of a new manga magazine company, Comic Earth Star. She enlists her friend, Aki Torii to be the vice editor but she declines no matter what. Till Hana threatens to spread rumours about White Autumn. Sudden change of heart, eh? And the rest of the quirky staffs come streaming in. Tsugumi Haraki who found her way here by following the trail of snacks and manga lover Ringo Nishijima who despite is pessimistic this company will last, still agrees to work with them. Because they can’t secure some trademark, their magazine will be called Monthly Comic Earth Star. They discuss the revenues and costs. And though it may seem they are making millions by selling cheap and in large quantity, be reminded that the other distribution costs and other expenses will eat them all up and it will cause them to be in the red. Hana thinks the thick pages of the magazines can be used as pillow and paperweight after that. Not even funny… They need to start off with 15 series and start looking around for 15 manga artists. No such luck. Many declined and some even though showed their storyboard decided to go with the more established company. Thankfully they manage to secure artists for the series. Don’t go into celebration mode just yet till you release your first issue.

Episode 2
Is Hana slacking in her job by reading manga instead? She says it’s part of her research… But she isn’t the boss since she has a supervisor too. The staffs are shocked when they learn Hana decides to serialize a manga by Shinobu Fujimori without even looking through her storyboard. Eventually she meets up with her and she already took the liberty in drawing the storyboard. Hana is impressed with her work but she is being more like a reader instead of an editor who gives advice on what to change or add. It’s more like the artist is telling the editor what to do… Hana did come up with some suggestions but they seem to be from pretty familiar mainstream anime traits. I’m sure you know about the guy who has limbs that stretch like rubber and a kid who keeps mascots as weapons in his pocket. Eventually Hana gets into the groove of being an editor and her research on reading manga has paid off. Finally she has a request of Shinobu before she begins her manuscript: Name the main character as her! Rejected!

Episode 3
Hana is excited for headlining the gravure shoot tomorrow. She thinks of camping in office. Rejected! Come tomorrow, Hana is not around. Did she oversleep? Apparently she waited at the wrong place. She even forgot her handphone and business card. What a way to make a first impression. But the gravure model, Kiiro Sakuradai and her staff are quite friendly. Hana is more of a nuisance than helping around. She fools around, accidentally falling within the range of the photo and even tries to add more light to the model (but via blinding her?). At the end of the day when the photos are released, the girls edit the photo to make it look good like eliminating stray hair. One of the photos has Hana’s face caught in the mirror. It’s like a ghost! Hana even suggests treating readers to some nude photos. Of herself? Photoshop effects? Rejected!

Episode 4
Shinobu’s assistant is out with a cold so her manuscript will be delayed. Hana is excited to pitch in. Only God knows what will happen with this idiot helping out. When the girls arrive, they are greeted by mountains of garbage bag! Can you imagine this piled up in only a day without her assistant?! And the assistant even cooks for her and all… Lucky the girls brought doughnuts to fill her stomach. Realizing about the deadline, Shinobu pressures herself to finish it and will not leave this room till it finishes. The rest of the girls start cleaning up and order food. Aki helps out with the inking since she has experienced drawing manga during her college days. However she doesn’t want to be reminded of that. Wonder what kind of manga she drew. Everyone takes a break with their food and the editorial department girls realize the hard job that assistants have to do. Yeah. A certain manga magazine editor is like that too…

Episode 5
The girls are now typesetting by putting in the right font and size before sending it to the printers. We learn the different types of fonts are used in different types of genres and they can basically influence the mood and flow of the story. That’s why it is important to select the correct fonts for the scenes. The girls work overtime and it is already way past midnight. Hana remains energetic since she gets to dress everyone up in cute animal pyjamas. Even so, they are still behind schedule. Suddenly Sayuri Misono (tsundere?) and Hikari Ayano (tomboyish?) from the anime division offer their help. After dividing the tasks (no Hana, setting the futon is not considered an important task), they manage to finish it in time and send it to the printers. Hana is excited this is their first step to get an anime. And they have not published their first issue yet…

Episode 6
The girls visit the printing factory to edit and proofread any mistakes. They are given a list of how to mark and correct the mistakes. Once done, amendments can be immediate and they can start printing the final copy. The girls find too many mistakes and don’t know the proper way to indicate corrections so they start to bug Aki for answers. She too panics that she didn’t know she had to indicate corrections. Everyone descends into panic mode that their first issue will be a disaster so Hana offers them to calm down over a warm cup of noodles. Now that they are calmer, they get back to work and in no time their first issue is released. The greatest reward is to see a reader’s smile while reading it. Hana had to ruin the moment with her embarrassing plea to beg to that reader to buy the magazine instead of reading it for free! Later while going through their first issue, Hana spots that ‘ghost in the mirror’ in that gravure shot. I guess they forgot to edit that one out.

Episode 7
The editorial department with Shinobu are going on a research field trip. Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Can they see everything in 3 days? Well, if Hana becomes a strict tour guide, yeah, maybe. Ridiculously tight schedule they’re running. While visiting a temple, the monk is glad that young girls like them appreciate visiting the shrine. Till he hears them using it as their manga reference to explode and burn it down!!! The girls are down to their last destination although they are tired after the hectic trips. They soak in the hotspring of the inn and Hana sees a shooting star. She makes a wish for Shinobu to stay healthy to continue working in good health.

Episode 8
The girls will be participating in Comic Supermarket, a large convention for doujinshi to help advertise themselves and sell their first issue. Aki has prepared lots of fluid for hydration, cool packs and pickled plums for the 3 hectic days. As they are manning their booth, a customer recognizes Aki as White Autumn. Before her past can be further revealed to Tsugumi and Ringo, Aki tells them to go look around. The duo are swept away by the pace of the crowd and they start feeling scared after seeing those ‘hunter eyes’ in the otakus. Aki also goes around and ends up buying lots of her yaoi doujinshi stuffs. When she sees a magical girl cosplayer complaining instead of helping others, she decides to go into action. Tsugumi and Ringo are tired and sought a magical girl’s help for water. They are shocked to see Aki cosplaying as the legendary Magical Girl White Autumn! Busted… All the fan boys love her when she tries to cast a cute spell to make her colleagues forget what they saw. Not working… But moe sugiru!!! When the trio return to their booth, the good news is that all their issues have been sold out. But Hana is close to being zombie after singlehandedly selling them all. I hope they had their fun…

Episode 9
The girls learn that all manga artists are unique in their own way. Hana laments Ekoda sensei still hasn’t submit his manuscript today. And today can mean just before the stroke of midnight. Ringo goes off for a night meeting with Kiyose sensei since this artist is a night person. Ooizumi sensei went on a trip so Tsugumi is tasked to look after the pets. She brought them to office? Not only had it become a zoo but a jungle since Akitsu sensei’s plants need to be taken care off as he is on a trip as well. Ringo comes back with Kiyose sensei’s cosplay outfits since his parents are in town and need a place to sleep. Aki spoke too soon when she thought her client isn’t that needy. Suddenly she gets a call by Hibari sensei who wants to personally see a nurse, soldier, priestess and other references. Like a cosplay, eh? The rest think Aki should cosplay with the costumes here. At first she is reluctant but the animals convince her (Aki is an animal lover and she can’t say no to those puppy dog eyes).

Episode 10
Hana and Aki are visiting bookstores in Akihabara to check out their magazine on sale. Hana tries to hint that her magazine is the best and even directly solicits to a customer to buy them! When they see another customer contemplating whether to buy their magazine or not, it turns out he just wanted a better copy. The duo then head to the nearby store to eat and surprised to see Shinobu, Tsugumi and Ringo working as maids. Hana is devastated that Shinobu has quit her day job to be a maid! Actually her friend who owns a maid cafe suddenly had all her workers falling sick so they’re just filling in for the day. I guess this means Hana and Aki have to chip in too. Aki is a natural as a maid that it is making the maid cafe owner drooling and nose bleeding! Tsugumi and Ringo remember they have to meet their customers tonight. So they call their clients to the maid cafe. Killing 2 birds with a stone. Despite their ‘criticism’, they enjoy the moe-ness of the girls in maid outfit.

Episode 11
Tsugumi may sound like she’s reviewing an artist’s manga but… She’s actually tasting her homemade cookies!!! Anyway the girls receive a manuscript from a newbie and it is very promising. It’s got great art and an interesting story. They think of submitting for the newcomer award. This elderly office guy who is that newbie becomes excited that this is his change to be a manga artist. He is going to hand in his resignation immediately! Not so fast dude! It took the entire day for Aki to convince him to rethink his decision. Just then, they get another walk-in submission. This time a middle school student, Ann Abe who inspires to be a manga artist and Shinobu is her inspiration. Her manga, Attack on Final Dragon Shippuden may sound like it has lots of other manga references but don’t you think her drawing is too cute to be a serious battle mange? They think it’s more suitable if she pulls it off as a comedy with a twist in the plot. Ann agrees and though the story seems horrible but the girls think the plot twist could be interesting. Ann gets excited and hugs Tsugumi, calling her as her master. Now Hana wants an apprentice of her own too.

Episode 12
Comic Earth Star will be releasing collected volumes of Shinobu’s popular manga series. To get started, they must put together all the manuscripts from the serial and proofread them. They notice some pages are missing or got switched around. To avoid any ordering mistakes, they use page numbers when it’s printed. As for the colour picture for the cover, Shinobu should have finished it today but… The girls are outside her doorstep and fear a repeat of déjà vu. Yeah, that load of garbage bags just keep flowing… Her assistant is out with a cold again but don’t worry, Shinobu has just finished it in time before collapsing. As they put her back to sleep properly, Hana suggests writing lyrics for a character song for the inside page cover. She starts doing so and the rest thinks this might work. It becomes a success as Shinobu attends a signing session of her book. Hana waits in line to get an autograph…

Episode 13
Comic Earth Star celebrates their first anniversary. You thought they’re never going to make it, eh? Aki wonders what to do for their anniversary issue but Hana says she has as plan. They’ll celebrate while thinking about it. Aki felt like an idiot for getting her hopes up. Sayuri suddenly barges in to tell them that they have received an anime adaptation offer (and not because she wants to scold Hana!). Shinobu’s manga is well received and there are plans to animate it. The girls get carried away in thinking all the preparations and promotions needed to announce the manga. Especially Hana who is already thinking about releasing CDs, debuting as an idol and even building a theme park amusement to conquer the world! Suddenly she just turned evil. Yeah, she continues dreaming about the fancy and luxurious life being served by a butler. Keep dreaming… Well, Hana will just have to do that seeing that a few days later, the anime offer is cancelled as the producers want the manga to progress further first. Now here is where they break the fourth wall. All is not lost because Sayuri points out they will be animated. Yes. Mangirl will be adapted into anime. Aki isn’t happy about this because Hana the slacker will be the main protagonist. But ever positive Hana says this way they can show people the hard work they do and proof how much they love manga. A year later after lots of hard work and promotion, Mangirl finally becomes the anime that we just saw.

Mango… Bakugirls?
Manga girls go!!! That’s what I wanted to say… It’s amazing that they have survived the first year. More problems to come… So are they ready to take on the big boys like Shogakukan, Kodansha, Shueisha and Kadokawa Shoten? Let’s hope they won’t be ‘eaten’ alive. Anyway, I suppose for a short series, everything is pretty much okay. Nothing much except that we learn a thing or two that editors go through every day just to ensure that we manga lovers and casual readers will have our weekly or monthly dose of manga series all nicely done in a volume. So now you know all that glossy and nice stuffs are actually thanks to the hard work and dedication of the editors and staffs putting in their heart, soul, time, energy and every other sacrifice to make it happen.  You better be thankful for it. Of course we have glimpsed a little on the workings and what their job involves but I think this is just the very basics. I don’t think this anime intends to scare you if they go into more details about the scary about when working under pressure to meet deadlines and such. Even if they’re making it in a comedy style.

So I thought this show was somewhat a little familiar to Bakuman but instead of focusing on manga artists, we focus on the editors and their hectic schedule.  Because I have watched Bakuman which is more realistic, this one seems more like painting the editorial job a little rosier. I don’t know. Can you have an editor in chief who is an idiot and goofy? Because in the real world, if any such editors are like Hana, they’ll be fired. See how easygoing and relaxed she is? While this may be a good indication that she is stressed free and happy with what she does, it doesn’t entirely mean that it is effective. Thankfully she has her little staff to buck her up and get what needs to be done. Aki is the main voice of reasoning of the group and the more serious one in putting Hana back in her place. Her experience as a doujinshi must have helped, eh? Though, she may have a quirk or two but that’s okay. Nobody is perfect. Same goes with Tsugumi who seems to be more infatuated with food. Because she can even drool while listening to Shinobu when she dreams about food! How nerdy can this foodie get? As for Ringo, I guess she is one who doesn’t mince her words though she won’t say bad things. Just that she is perhaps being honest. Shinobu is like your typical manga otaku that we all have been stereotype with. They’re good in what they do but fail when it comes to simple household chores and needs somebody to do it for them. Otherwise they can go berserk with an assistant’s absence in one day! Dangerous creatures… Sayuri and Hikari are just side extras and don’t matter much. Sayuri’s couple of appearance was perhaps to show her tsundere attitude that such genres are obligated to have. I think she is tsundere for Hana…

Remember even if you love manga, do take a moment to appreciate everything else that goes behind it from the artist to the editors and even the printers. For without them, you wouldn’t have such a ‘highly sophisticated’ entertainment material. Hmm… Why do I get a feeling that this anime, putting a bunch of girls as editorial department staffs serves to motivate males in doing their job better? I mean, where in the world can you find a group of cute girls doing such a stressful job and still stay very happy in the end? That’s why you need to have passion if you want to go on in this industry. Lots of them. In some ways, I am thankful that I am not having such a hectic editor job. Because my tastes would have killed the manga industry. Haha! Oh wait. I don’t even read manga! I guess I am ‘unique’ in my own way, huh?

Bakuman S2

November 24, 2012

They’re still at it. I guess it’s really going to be a long road in achieving their dreams of having their manga being adapted into anime. Which mangaka doesn’t dream of this ultimate dream in life? The second season, Bakuman S2 continues to follow the footsteps of the young and upcoming high school mangaka, Ashirogi Muto made up of the duo Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi. They’re aiming for serialization in hopes of not only turning their manga into an anime but if they are successful in doing so, Mashiro will have the girl of his dreams, Miho Azuki‘s hand in marriage. Seems like a simple plan, right? Well, if only the road and life of a mangaka was that simple.

After watching the first season, I was excited to go watch the second season so much so I had a little cooling off period to calm down the excitement (thus why this blog is so late and way after the sequel has ended). But just knowing the tough and hectic life of a mangaka sure instilled a new kind of fear in me. I never knew it would be that daunting to be a mangaka. I mean, I know it’s tough but I didn’t really think it was thaaaaaaaaaaaaat tough. As the second season takes off exactly where the first left off, even after their detective manga Gitantei Trap (TRAP) got serialized, we’ll see more trials and tribulations from Ashirogi as they try to grasps their dream oh so close within their reach. Of course in their pursuit of that, there’s going to be a strain in health and testing of relationships. Ah, stories in mangas always sound and look so much easier.

Episode 1
At the end of last season’s cliff-hanger, Hattori drops the bombshell that Gorou Miura will be their new editor. Of course the duo are surprised by this decision but will have to accept it. Miura on the other hand may be a newbie but you sometimes wonder where he gets his confidence and positivism. It’s good to have that but seriously, too positive that it seems unreal. So first thing to put in order is to sign up a contract. As TRAP has been serialized, they need assistants and Miura suggests a pro by the name of Naoto Ogawa. Of course talking about the monetary part it seems tempting but I guess that’s the reward of all the hard work being a mangaka. Next Miura plans their schedule and deadlines of submitting in their works and they also talk about the new rising star, Kazuya Hiramaru. His genius level is said to be rivalled of Eiji Niizuma. He quit his day job just to draw manga. Of course they shouldn’t worry too much about him and think about their own work. Miura also wants them to attend the New Year’s party whereby all serialized manga authors attend. Later Miura introduces Ashirogi to chief assistant Ogawa and his other assistants, Natsumi Katou and Shoyo Takahama. They witness the professionalism in Ogawa as he makes his observations and quickly settles in by delegating tasks to the rest. On the night of the party, Ashirogi gets the taste of life as a serialized mangaka. There is in a chauffeur to pick them up! At the lavish party, they meet rival Niizuma and also Hiramaru. However to their surprise, Hiramaru regrets being a mangaka and wants to quit! He got inspired at the moment and now he’s trapped with lots of hard work. He thinks he should’ve been born as a panda in a zoo! His author Yoshida has a knack of persuading him to ‘cool off’ and takes him away before he puts in more weird ideas to Ashirogi and demoralizes them. The party gets underway and Takagi wins a TV in a lucky draw. Ashirogi is introduced to Kazuhiko Torishima, a member of Jump’s board of directors. He knows Mashiro’s uncle and regrets the way things backfired on him. However Mashiro says he’d like to do things his uncle couldn’t do (make a living off manga) and the things he left undone (getting first place in surveys). Noting that mangakas want to have both first place and a long serialization, Torishima sees potential in them.

Episode 2
There’s trouble brewing on Azuki’s side. Due to the success of the anime Sei Visual, there is going to be a photo book of the seiyuus of the characters. Something Azuki doesn’t want to do but her manager is trying to force her to change her mind. Despite her lousy singing, she still manages to get offers like this. She needs time to think. Ashirogi is going full steam with their serialization with their assistants. Miyoshi is introduced to them and also helps out. On another meeting with Miura, he wants them to do 2 different storyboards and revise their storyline for chapter 4 for the committee. Working late one night, Mashiro is left with Takahama. The latter feels Ogawa and Katou are wasting their time being assistants. Being mangakas they should’ve dream big and take their skills to the next level instead of being satisfied as assistants. That’s why he wants to work hard and achieve his dream. Mashiro learns about Azuki’s dilemma. Should she or should she not? He texts her that it’s up to her to decide and she cheekily replies if she’s going to do it, she’d want him to see her naked before then! Is this a joke? He tries calling her but her heart is so confused that she didn’t pick up. News of Azuki’s strange behaviour reaches Takagi and Miyoshi. Mashiro rushes to her place. Takagi calls Azuki’s household and her mom Miyuki picks up. She makes Azuki take the call as Takagi tells her Mashiro is on his way to her house. Because of that, he is ignoring the manuscript he has to draw. Azuki calls Mashiro to apologize that she doesn’t want him to stop drawing manga because of her. As for the photo book, she asks if he would be happy if she had taken up the offer regardless it affects her career or not. His answer? He only wants to see her all for himself and nobody else! She feels better now and from now on should talk about things. Mashiro returns to draw his manuscript and they await the results of their first serialization.

Episode 3
TRAP got third place but Ashirogi isn’t thrilled. They were expecting first and that spot went to Otter 11 (of Hiramaru). Of course Mashiro is now worried how much they will fall now. I mean it’s going to be hard to maintain that position what more get higher. Meanwhile, I thought I won’t see that annoying KOOGY anymore but it seems he’s back and is going to team up with Aoki. Aida wanted her to polish up her story for Hideout Door but she’s inflexible and not willing to change so that’s why the editor from another magazine, Jack SQ invited her to come over to his magazine. It’s panic bells ringing for Nakai. He is so desperate that he tries to convince Aoki that he’ll polish up his art no matter what (without sleep included) to make her accept him. This means camping out outside the park next to her house and continuing to draw right into the dark hours of the night. In the cold. Ashirogi get wind of this and can’t help feel worried. Fukuda has been observing him but Nakai is too stubborn to change his mind. Not even Aoki could do that. She wants him to stop but he is persistent in drawing the kind of art she’ll be satisfied with. Despite getting bullied by park punks, Nakai doesn’t give up and struggles in the wintery cold. When his work is done, Aoki is amazed he could draw something so perfect despite the chilling conditions. This continues for several nights and it starts to snow. At this rate Nakai will die so Mashiro convinces Fukuda to go change his mind. How? He’s part of the Fukuda Group. Well, first attempt by Fukuda didn’t work so he leaves to get Ashirogi. Next persuasion comes in the form of Aoki. She extends an umbrella for him. She says his art isn’t bad. It’s just that she didn’t want to admit and ran away. She’ll write a story worthy of his art. She invites him in to warm himself up. Are you sure about that? Even if it’s just an invitation as a working partner? With this problem solved, the partnership with KOOGY is called off. But there’s another issue brewing. The second chapter for TRAP gets eighth place.

Episode 4
Third chapter gets ninth place. If this doesn’t ring any alarm bells, then what would? However Miura continues to be cheery positive despite Ashirogi worrying about the dipping trend. Takahama advises that they shouldn’t listen to Miura too much. Miura is also Takahama’s editor and when he submitted 3 manuscripts, he didn’t win any prize despite Miura being confident he would. Hiramaru is at Niizuma’s place. He has run away from his work and barged into another mangaka’s work place to complain? Yeah well, Yoshida knows very well where he is and drags him back. While it is good news for Hideout Door and Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight as both will be getting serialized, Ashirogi can’t worry that one of the popular serialized manga, Baked Cheesed will be dropped. They remember Miura telling them despite its 12th placing it won’t be axed. And now look what happened. So they call Miura for another meeting and Takagi wants to redo the storyboard. Naturally he is worried that at this rate TRAP will get cancelled too and because he isn’t confident, he got stepped over by all the other editors giving their own views. Till assistant editor in chief Heishi puts hit foot down. Miura meets Ashirogi and he doesn’t want them to change their storyboard. He warns he has seen many people failed because they rush in and paid too much attention to their ranking. In the end, Mashiro agrees with Miura and believes in Takagi’s stories. He also thought he was desperate and if he’s that, they’ll lose. In the end, they decide to stick to their current style instead of taking the easy way out and turning it into a battle manga since if they’re going to gamble on TRAP, he’d rather do it with their style till the end and gather fans and let them know there is a genuine mystery genre in Jack.

Episode 5
Ashirogi are third year high school seniors now. TRAP has improved a spot to 12th from their previous ranking. Comparing TRAP to Otter 11, TRAP is wordier so Takagi thought of putting in jokes and does research on comedy. Yeah, Miura had the same idea too and brings lots of comedy materials for them. They implement them and their ranking steadily rose week after week as high as sixth place. Miura shows them bags of fan letters ever since their serialization. Some love their work and others had ideas of what they should put in. TRAP’s chapter 11’s early ranking came in seventh and Nakai persuades Aoki to change her storyboard for her next chapter because he feels the fans may get tired of the dense dialogue. She agrees as she finds him trustworthy. Azuki gets another minor role in the anime Sket Dance (there’s a mini cross-over in that show too) and this gives Mashiro the much needed booster to carry on. Final results of the ranking show TRAP and Niizuma’s Crow tied at third place while Hideout Door massively jumps to eighth (Kiyoshi Knight in sixth). Ashirogi is overjoyed when Miura says he got them a front page colour spread for the 20th chapter. The guys are excited as this is their chance to surpass Crow. Once more, Hiramaru runs away from his work and ends up at Ashirogi’s place. Complaining. Till Yoshida rings the doorbell. So how does that guy motivate this lazy bum to work? He’ll take him to a place with cute girls if he submits his manuscript. So easily bought over. Rankings for TRAP’s next chapter fell to sixth while Crow maintains a steady third. Takahama and Katou arrive early at Mashiro’s work place but to their horror see Mashiro unconscious on the floor! Is history repeating itself? IS HE DEAD?! Thankfully he is still breathing but he’s not waking up.

Episode 6
Mashiro is rushed to hospital. Miura and Hattori also come rushing. They see Mashiro’s mother, Kayoko and deeply apologize for what has happened. From the doctor’s diagnosis, Mashiro needs to remove a liver and needs plenty of rest. Plus he’ll be hospitalized for 3 months. However Mashiro can’t rest now and wants to continue working on his colour spread since he can’t pass this chance up. The editors start talking about the time he needs to finish and the number of assistants to finish it so Kayoko chides them off that her son isn’t a manga drawing robot! Late that night, Mashiro sneaks out to call Takagi to bring the manuscript because he’ll be drawing at hospital and won’t wait till he is discharged. Since he’ll undergo surgery, that will only be 1 day. Takagi is of course in a dilemma because too wants to continue the serialization but by doing so, Mashiro’s health will be further jeopardized. Sasaki thinks of putting TRAP on hiatus and wants Miura to monitor Mashiro. Azuki gets word of this and visits Mashiro albeit they’re talking from outside the room. She wants him to stop drawing until he is discharged or else she will hate him. If by all means, then go ahead. Azuki thought it’s unfair because he said that knowing well she can’t hate him. Azuki confesses she has been in love for him for 8 years. She saw his drawing on display at a cultural festival and when she first laid eyes on him, that’s when it started. Azuki asks if he values manga more than him. Since she puts it that way, he answers straight that it’s the manga. Mashiro calls Takagi to tell he is really all fired up. Takagi notes how his plan to send Azuki to stop him didn’t work so he too gets motivated and will bring the manuscript to him. Ashirogi colours his page and Niizuma drops by. Seeing he is alright, he leaves as fast as he came. Miura learns Mashiro is drawing in hospital and rushes there to stop him. Mashiro is adamant to continue when the pain starts kicking in. Mashiro feels he can continue despite struggling. Azuki sees his determination and helps pick up the pen for him to continue. If Takagi wanted him to stop, he shouldn’t have brought the manuscript here in the first place. Miura doesn’t have the heart to tell him to stop.

Episode 7
Though Miura tells them the editorial department has planned to put them on hiatus, he’ll try to convince them that Mashiro can still draw in hospital. Miura tells Sasaki and isn’t pleased so he himself heads down to hear from the doctor if Mashiro is fit to draw. As long as it’s in moderation. How vague. Sasaki also meets Kayoko and he assures her harm will not come to him. Hiramaru is trying to make another excuse to avoid work by visiting Mashiro in hospital. He is saddened that it wasn’t him who got hospitalized. Yeah, if he worked as hard as Mashiro then maybe. So he gets the permission to visit Mashiro but is taken aback by Azuki’s beauty. He trying to flirt with her? Fukuda is also there. Then Sasaki and Miura come in to tell them that after much discussion, TRAP will be put on hiatus till April, after Ashirogi graduates from high school. Of course the rest aren’t happy because it’ll be too long a period. Sasaki made this decision because Tarou Kawaguchi is his uncle and died from it. Mashiro disagrees his death has nothing to do with this so Sasaki adds his mom wants him to stop manga completely since nobody wants to lose their family. Mashiro wants to continue but even if he gets better, the hiatus will still be until April. He may sound contradicting but after Niizuma’s genius case, they’ll refrain from making such decisions pertaining high school kids. Mashiro will drop out of school just to continue. Will his parents be happy? He doesn’t live for them. Sasaki stands by his decision for TRAP to be on hiatus till April. Hiramaru didn’t like this lame excuse he got to be on hiatus because he is Tarou Kawaguchi’s relative and leaves to continue his drawing. Fukuda won’t accept this too and talks to Niizuma about this. He won’t draw for Jack until the hiatus is lifted. Niizuma thinks of doing the same too. Thinking of a boycott, they call over Hiramaru, Nakai and Aoki to do a boycott. If it doesn’t work, they’ll just pay off the termination fee and draw for another magazine. Aoki agrees to do so and obviously Hiramaru is in it because he doesn’t have to work anymore… Yuujirou gets mail from Niizuma about their boycott and arranges for a secret meeting with all their editors.

Episode 8
At the diner, Fukuda and co are sticking to their guns about the boycott. Knowing Ashirogi will feel guilty that their actions caused them to go on a hiatus too, that’s why they will not tell him about this. They are willing to risk cancellation of their serialization. Since talking to the editors won’t do much, Fukuda thinks of talking to the chief directly. The editors will do that but they must continue drawing their manuscript. So Aida and Yoshida talk to Sasaki about the boycott but he just tells them it is their job to make sure the authors submit their work. TRAP’s hiatus is already a settled matter. Hattori negotiates to at least make the hiatus till Mashiro gets better to convince the rest. Mashiro undergoes surgery and it is a success. Miura visits and brought them presents in the form of TRAP’s very own manga. But as Ashirogi read the next issue of Jack, they are puzzled to find several of the other serialized works going on hiatus too. Miura tells them what’s happening so of course they are surprised. He advises them to take a hiatus until Mashiro is discharged. If he does that, it will stop Fukuda and the rest from the boycott because they’re the most upset when they learn about their hiatus. Streams of calls from fans start coming into Jack’s office about the hiatus of the several titles. This will be problematic if this continues week after week. The editors’ head will be on the line too. So Mashiro is okay with his hiatus but as for convincing Sasaki, it won’t be easy. While the editor in chief is still deciding, the rest continue their work and Miura notices major improvement in Mashiro’s drawing. Mashiro is finally discharged from hospital. Miura tries to convince Sasaki he has been drawing manuscripts in hospital and this shows his resolve. Sasaki wants him to consider what if the scenario turns out the opposite. Mashiro tells him he refused to let anyone stop him and remembered his uncle’s words about being serialized. Once you get there, it’s about conceit, effort and luck. After that it is physical strength, emotional strength and guts. And so Sasaki overturns his earlier decision and will continue TRAP as soon as possible with their colour spread. Hattori is so happy they tried their best that he hugs them.

Episode 9
With a little party celebrating Mashiro’s return, Takahama shows them his manuscript of Business Boy Kenichi in which Miura suggests to submit for the monthly contest. Ashirogi meets Miura and the latter tells them another detective title called Detective Gosuke Akechi AKA Cheater is slated to debut because TRAP was supposed to be on hiatus. Due to TRAP’s popularity, you can say currently there is a boom in the detective genre. Miura gives them more fan letters which came in during Mashiro’s hospitalization. Crow is given an anime adaptation while TRAP finds its ranking drop drastically because the votes went to Cheater. Of course with their rankings getting lower, they’re close to be candidates for the drop. Ashirogi doesn’t want TRAP to end and thought of looking through fan letters for ideas. Fukuda calls Niizuma about TRAP and Hideout Door in danger of receiving the chop but Niizuma is not worried. If it was unjust cancellation then he would but now it’s about survival of the fittest. Aida meets with Aoki and Nakai in hopes she could change her story to save Hideout Door. Being the stubborn girl she is, she agrees to only if they credit themselves for it. Miura reads Ashirogi’s latest manuscript and is not impressed because they’ve been using fans’ ideas. At this rate it will be a manga of the fans and not Ashirogi’s. Later Ashirogi meets Hiramaru driving a cool sports car. They realized he has been tricked by Yoshida to spend more so that he can’t get out of drawing manga. Hiramaru panics and even lies Otter 11 is going to have an anime adaptation. TRAP continues to drop to 17th and at the same time Takahama’s Kenichi makes his debut. On the next meeting for termination it is decided that Hideout Door and TRAP will be cancelled. Ashirogi receives the shocking news and will have only 5 weeks before termination. As much as they dread, they’ll have to think of a way to wrap up their story. Nakai lets Aoki know about this and hopes he could draw his own ending which might lead to her next big story. But she’s thinking of going back to shoujo manga after this completion. Another newbie editor, Masakazu Yamahisa gets permission from Aida to be Aoki’s editor and vows to bring her back. Ashirogi feels nostalgic to wrap up their title. Mashiro gets a much motivated SMS from Azuki that she wants to get married to him by 40. He gets fired up to do their next title. He can’t make her wait that long, can’t he?

Episode 10
Ashirogi has no idea what to draw next so they meet up with Miura. He suggests they should try a gag manga. Takagi thought he may try his hand at comedy but Mashiro has his doubts. He feels it’s better to try a one-shot with potential for serialization. He thinks Miura is no good. They seek Hattori’s advice but since it’s not good to talk behind his back, all he can say is it’s okay to disagree with their editor. Mashiro and Takagi have different opinions about doing gag manga so Takagi calls Niizuma for his. He wants to read a harsh story by them. They have this feeling Miura is wrong and will fight against him. Meanwhile Nakai is disheartened that Aoki don’t want to write for Jack anymore. She commends his artwork but wonders why he is so fixated on her. He admits it’s because he loves her! But she says he respects him as a manga artist not as a man. Heartbreak! Soon Aoki gets a call from Yamahisa as her new editor persuading her to do a love story for Jack. As long it has 3 panty shots a week. WTF?! Well, it made her stay in Jack. Ashirogi tells Miura that they aren’t suited for gag manga but he still insists they should do one. Takagi will create 2 works then. A serious one and a gag. Takagi comes out with the sci-fi Two Of Me and the action Hitman 10. The former may seem like a gag and the latter serious but in fact, it’s the opposite. So when they show it to Miura, he views both of them great but wants to serialize Hitman 10. Something Ashirogi wasn’t hoping for because they were betting on Two Of Me. Then Miura learns they also submitted a secret third work for the monthly competition. If they’re going to fight Miura, they might as well go all out. Plus, Niizuma is one of the judging panels for this contest. Ashirogi insists they don’t want the prize. They just want to be judged. They get into an argument so Hattori steps in. Miura will take their one-shot for submission and if this ends up in the magazine and goes on to become serialized, he’ll quit being an editor. Yoshida agrees to take this one-shot for submission but lays down several conditions.

Episode 11
Niizuma is surprised by Ashirogi’s one-shot submission, Future Watch and perhaps he’s a little bias to think it’ll be the best. But it’s true because as compared to them, the other works are below average. Niizuma gets the idea about serialization as it begins by dragging down a popular manga and taking its place. Ashirogi still hasn’t forgotten about their goal to best Niizuma. Ashirogi are walking around their school before the entrance ceremony. Miyoshi brings them to an Anime and Manga Research Society. So? Remember Ishizawa? Well, he’s in this club bragging about being a professional mangaka serialized in some magazine. Better avoid this dude as much as possible. The editors have their meeting and Miura calls Takagi that Sasaki has came out with an unprecedented decision. TEN (the name Hitman 10 was renamed to) will be submitted as a one-shot followed by Future Watch in the next issue. This is to let readers decide if Ashirogi goes serious or comedy. Takahama calls Ashirogi to thank them for everything because his manga finally got serialized. On another meeting with Miura, seems both one-shots by Ashirogi are well liked. They also realize their one-shots will be running against new serialized series and it seems the editor in chief wants to see how they fare against the new titles. So Miura has them rework TEN into a one-shot. Meanwhile Nakai is reeling over his ‘loss’ of Aoki. Since Takahama is serialized, he’ll need a couple of assistants. One of them being Nakai and the other is Katou. Guess what? Nakai’s broken heart is suddenly mended when he lays his eyes on Katou! New love? So fast! Mashiro doesn’t think TEN will fare well with the kind of humour Takagi puts in. But surprisingly Miura is laughing his head off! However they’re still putting their money on Future Watch. A week later and the results are TEN comes in at, well, tenth. A double digit. Not what they had in mind. Mashiro is convinced Takagi is not suited for gag manga. Then they get a call from Takahama. He is devastated he got sixth. That’s not too bad but during the competition, he got 2nd and thinks Miura has ruined it all by suggesting his kind of jokes. The point is, he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to them and to go with their own style and not follow him. A week later the results came in and Future Watch ranks 9th.

Episode 12
Miura heard from his fellow editors that putting in jokes was the right decision. So he decides to do research on past gag mangas and their stability compared to serious ones. Aoki meets with Yamahisa to discuss about her love story which is written from a girl’s point of view. He wants her to write it from a boy’s point. He asks if she had personally gone through such relationships. Not going into too much detail, she says she has her fair share. Seeing she needs to write from a man’s view he suggests to give his opinion. I think she’ll pass. Aoki gives much thought about it and thoughts of Nakai flashes through her mind. Speaking of that guy, he’s trying to hook up with Katou. In another meeting, Ashirogi submits their storyboard for Future Watch but Miura says he’ll go ahead with TEN’s serialization. They are not happy as this is not what they agreed on. He then shows them about data of gag mangas that will fare better. Mashiro still wants to do Future Watch but Takagi looks at the data and thinks TEN may work out. The argument escalates so much so Miura says he can work on changing his art or Takagi get someone else to draw for him. This hit a raw nerve so Takagi leaves and can’t deal with this guy anymore. Because it’s like asking them to split up. Aoki is walking into her university and ponders about directly asking a man’s opinion on the subject of love. Nakai? That will be too bias. Yamahisa? Not possible. Fukuda? Too humiliating. She is snapped out from her thoughts when Iwase (look who’s back after a long absence) asks her why she chose to do manga. Iwase she has been writing novels under the pen name Aiko Akina and Green Graduation is her most successful one. Aoki has read that book and asks if her romance was based on past experience. No. It was all fiction. As for her question on why manga, it’s because she loves manga. Miura realizes he is wrong and Hattori advises he got apologize quickly. Ashirogi gets tons of boxes of gag materials from Miura. Some even with his own stupid joke comments! Yeah, he’s a big joke himself. Then Miura pops up and goes on his knees to apologize. Ashirogi lets the past slip and they feel it’s okay to try a gag manga now.

Episode 13
Ashirogi lays out a couple of conditions. They don’t want to do TEN and will try a new one-shot and to be aimed at kids. Miura suggests they do this in NEXT. Yes, that tri-annual magazine they debuted in. Though it’s for newbies, they’re looking for someone to do a featured one-shot which will get a colour page. If it gets first place, it’ll lead to serialization. So they discuss the kind of characters they’ll have. An animal? I guess the best place to seek such inspiration is at the zoo, huh? Takagi coincidentally meets Aoki there. They both let each other know about the trouble they are facing in their work. Takagi suggests they could help each other out in understanding the opposite gender better. So thus began their midnight rendezvous in exchanging manga ideas and their own opinions. Takagi even lets her know about Mashiro and Azuki’s odd proposal. Aoki enjoyed her time talking to Takagi that from what I can see, she’s starting to like him! Takagi gets an idea for their next work. Protagonist is an elementary kid and his grandpa is an inventor. Grandpa likes his grandsons’ teacher and invents sorts of inventions that usually goes wrong. Elsewhere Iwase meets up and wants to talk with Aoki. Asking if she is familiar with Takagi, Iwase explains they were once in the same class and she was rejected by him. Seeing them work so hard makes her feel she has to acknowledge manga. To her, literature is more cultured than manga. Aoki realizes she still has feelings for Takagi. Actually Iwase wants to see Takagi for who she is now but is too humiliated to go by herself (some pride thingy) and thought Aoki would accompany her.

Takagi gets a shock when he hears Aoki calling to ask if he wants to see her panties! Actually what she meant was a girl’s. It’s for her work. Don’t get funny ideas or jump ahead. Once more they exchange useful ideas. So happen Miyoshi has been trying to call Takagi at this hour and couldn’t get through. Why so long on the phone? Aoki wants to meet Takagi at the zoo. This is a setup for Iwase to meet him. I’m sure he didn’t count on that. Iwase hands him her book and notes she has read all his manga works and tries to convince him he is capable of writing novel material instead of manga. Takagi will continue with manga and Aoki agrees that both novels and mangas have the ability to entertain people. That is what’s important. Iwase challenges him that she will write manga too because she wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with him. Takagi compliments her achievement so Iwase brings up the topic of him still dating Miyoshi (which is news to Aoki). Iwase thinks he is lying because although he said she is a thousand times better than Miyoshi, he should date her but he couldn’t. Takagi lets Mashiro know about this when they get a call from Takahama. He heard they’re going to do a gag manga and advises them not to. However they say this is what they feel like doing now so he gives them their blessings. He also tells them about Nakai and Katou. Miura likes the work for Tanto (Ashirogi’s new one-shot title) and wants to have a meeting with Ashirogi now. Their place is in a mess so they give the keys to Miyoshi to help with the clean up. While cleaning up, she sees the Green Graduation book. Inside is a letter from Iwase addressed to Takagi about her true feelings for him. This news hurt her heart as she leaves the place.

Episode 14
Miyoshi talks to Azuki about this but she wants to wait till they finish their work before confronting them. Can she hold out that long? Miura goes over the manuscript of Tanto with the duo. He thinks the main protagonist needs a unique feature that makes him stand out. Elsewhere Yamahisa discusses with Yoshida about Aoki’s storyboard. Seems it is pretty good but they think it’s better for her to draw the characters and her assistant to draw the background and panty shots. Yamahisa calls Aoki to suggest letting somebody handle the panty shots if she still opposes to draw them. Wait. Man or woman? Yamahisa knows a guy who is great in drawing this. Aoki rejects that seeing she can’t trust a guy whose specialty is such. Haha! Right on! That night Takagi calls her to ask for her opinion about boys flipping girls’ skirt. She hoped the conversation would last longer and probably tries to dismiss that she likes him. Miura and Yamahisa are in a challenge to see whose manga will rank higher. Takagi realizes he hasn’t called Miyoshi lately and when he does, he panics upon knowing she knows his meeting with Iwase! Trouble is brewing. They can’t have time to ponder how she knows about it and concentrate on their work since Aoki will be their main rival in NEXT. When the issue comes out, they see something disturbingly familiar. Aoki’s love story, Time Of Blue Leaves is somewhat a duplicate of Mashiro’s real life weird proposal to Azuki! OH SH*T!!! Doesn’t that PE teacher look like Nakai too? Big trouble. Fukuda saw this and calls Nakai. But he doesn’t care or shows the slight interest. Fukuda notes how Aoki will be wasted on him. Niizuma has also read this and thinks they’re suited better for a story manga. Though it’s good, he hopes they won’t become jack of all trades but master of none. And Hiramaru, he gets tricked yet again to continue drawing manga because Yoshida promises to introduce him to a real hot babe. Azuki calls Takagi about what happened. Since Mashiro is here, he passes the line to her and wants him to explain what’s going on. Seems they didn’t know about the letter in the book and that the meeting was just a coincidence. Azuki doesn’t want them hiding anything but Mashiro insists he is not. Since it’s come down to this, Azuki can’t trust him and hangs up. Did she just dump him?

Episode 15
Mashiro calls again to apologize but since he can’t tell about Takagi, their argument escalates for the worse. Takagi feels guilty that Mashiro and Azuki may break up because of him. Takagi decides to call Aoki to clear the misunderstanding but since she’s praising how much she enjoys talking to him and the only man she trusts, he couldn’t have the heart to say it. Mashiro and Azuki are both equally stubborn not to give in and Miyoshi also feels guilty that it’s her fault that it led to this. On to serious stuff, for the first time in their lives, Tanto gets first place! Indescribable happiness! Since Time Of Blue Leaves got second place, Yoshida suggests doing something about the artwork. Perhaps get Nakai back and pair them up again. Aoki calls Takagi to congratulate them but she oddly feels happy despite getting second. Then she gets a call from Yamahisa about the art. Yamahisa thinks he’ll contact Nakai but Aoki wants to leave that to her. So Aoki and Nakai meet and you can tell the fatty bastard is being arrogant. Aoki asks if he could draw her art and he blatantly says he’s having trouble choosing between her and the other fellow female assistant. If she wants him to draw for her, she’ll have to date him. Instantly Aoki slaps him for being an awful person to impose such condition. But Nakai isn’t fazed. This made up his mind and leaves. Wow. People do change. Takagi notices Mashiro isn’t in his top form and better clears this misunderstanding before it affects them. He calls Miyoshi, obviously still mad. And about the one that used Mashiro and Azuki’s romance too. He tries to convince her that he still loves her 1000 times more than Iwase. It’s going to take a lot more than that. If that’s the case, she requests to take him out on a date to the zoo. Unfortunately when Takagi gets there, Aoki happens to be there too. A distraught Aoki is so in a quandary on what to do that she collapses into his arms. Guess what? Miyoshi saw it all! FFFFUUUU!!!! Another huge misunderstanding he needs to clear. They chase her down and the only way he could get her to stop is to propose to marry her. Right now. So the trio sit down and talk things (and make cheesy jokes that would make couples break off. Really). Aoki apologizes for what has happened and promised will not call Takagi again. Miyoshi won’t impose such restriction and wants them to continue to talk to each other. In exchange, they’ll be friends. Mashiro is facing a slump when he thought he received a break up mail from Azuki. Seems she has forgiven him after hearing things out and has made friends with Aoki. Mashiro feels left out that the four of them are together but when he finds out about Takagi’s ‘forced’ marriage to Miyoshi, he gets fired up to get serialized and make a popular manga so when it becomes an anime, they can get married.

Episode 16
Yamahisa learns about what happened between Aoki and Nakai. He’ll still need somebody to draw the panty shots and all. Thus Aoki meets Ashirogi to seek their advice. They suggest Fukuda since his Kiyoshi Knight has lots of panty shots. Of course she doesn’t want him to think she’s using his work as reference material. Miyoshi suggests Ishizawa. Despite Ashirogi still hating that guy’s guts, Aoki would like to meet him. So reluctantly Takagi calls Ishizawa (still arrogant) for a meet up. Meanwhile Fukuda tries to call Nakai but doesn’t get through. He thinks of heading over and gets Takahama’s address via Mashiro. Once over, he tries to make Nakai realize about his resolve and even punches him. But Nakai seems to be comfortable and happy now. He chose Katou over Aoki and doesn’t want him to get in their way of their love relationship! Eh? Was there ever one? One way maybe. Fukuda notes he didn’t come here to work but to date. Ishizawa is still haughty. If Aoki wants his help, then she’ll have to do what he says. I don’t like the sound of this. The best way is to take pictures of movies of herself in various poses and he’ll decide what’s best. Won’t that be material for future blackmail? So it’s a bad idea to ask him because that guy won’t shut up and on the way out, Ishizawa’s face get pinned by Fukuda. He’ll coach Aoki to draw panty shots instead. In return, he’ll be very strict with her manuscript. Hattori gets a call from an old friend, Taninaka. He needs a favour of turning Green Graduation into a manga. Yuujirou is worried about Fukuda taking extra responsibility because he has his own manga to worry. He assures he will make Kiyoshi Knight even more popular and makes it clear he doesn’t have feelings for her. In fact he still hates her but since she participated in his boycott, he’ll help her out when she’s in trouble. Hattori sees Iwase and it seems she is bent on writing a manga that will rival Takagi. To ensure she’ll beat him, Hattori needs her to listen to every word he says and starts making suggestions on what to change on her work. Miura sees Ashirogi in another meeting. He is confident Tanto will get serialized if they make 3 chapters but the boys have their reservations. Miura notes Business Boy Kenichi isn’t doing well and is on the list of cancellation so he has no choice but to bet it all on Tanto. Fukuda continues to give his harsh opinions on Aoki’s work. Well, at least she’s taking all the useful notes down. Yoshida takes a look at Aoki’s work and notices the difference in drawing. Yamahisa thinks of submitting it to the serialization committee instead of doing a one-shot. Aoki’s improvement has her work being submitted for serialization. She thanks Fukuda for his coaching. Her editor told her to aim higher than Ashirogi but has mixed feelings about that since Ashirogi is both her friend and rival. Fukuda tells her like he tells Ashirogi: Don’t lose.

Episode 17
Miura and Yamahisa read the comments of their mangaka’s work. Safe to say, Miura lost. Mashiro and Takagi are in a weird practice. The kind whereby Takagi is preparing to meet Miyoshi’s father. They’re getting married, right? Nakai continues to flirt with Katou but now that she knows his feelings, she is treading carefully not to commit and at the same time not hurt his feelings. Takahama is obviously annoyed so he tells them Business Boy Kenichi is on the chopping board. If serialization stops, this means they can’t work together, right? Nakai notices how upset Takahama is and realizes his work is really in jeopardy. So after another serialization meeting, Time Of Blue Leaves will be serialized. Business Boy Kenichi will be dropped after 4 more chapters. I guess that’s the end of the road. And Tanto didn’t make the cut this time either. Devastating. Miyoshi accuses Takagi he didn’t want to marry her and thus let the quality slip! Of course not! Nakai wanted to tell Katou something but she says she can’t have any special relationship with him. Thinking that Aoki’s work has been serialized, she may need assistants. Yeah, he got the guts to even call her! Even if he strictly means business, what’s done is done. She doesn’t want him to call her again. Even if he apologized she already has decided her assistants will be females (subsequently one of them will be Katou). Ashirogi gets a call from Takahama not turning up for work. Because he got rejected by Katou and Aoki, he has decided to hang up his drawing pen and return to his hometown. Everybody else thinks he got what he deserved but Mashiro isn’t going to abandon him yet. He calls Nakai and he admits his talent of drawing has led him down the wrong path. He abused it. He’s disgusted with himself. He’ll be leaving tomorrow. Mashiro heads to his place to try and convince him to stay but he feels he has no right to draw manga now. Also with Mashiro are Fukuda and Aoki. She thanks him for his assistance on Hideout Door. He apologizes for all the trouble. No turning back now. Goodbye.

Hattori meets Iwase and is impressed with her work. She followed his instructions and it turned out to be very good. Now he wants her to continue her work and see how far she can go on her own. Ashirogi is going to meet Miura and they’re not placing much hope on Miura. During the meeting, Sasaki calls him and wants to see him. It’s because Takahama is with him. He also wants Miura to bring Ashirogi along. Seems Takahama wants to change his editor because Miura isn’t letting him draw what he wants. But Sasaki tells him off that is an admission and excuse he doesn’t have any talent. If he wanted to draw an excellent manga, it would’ve been accept as it is. If he disagrees with his editor and believes he is right, then he should draw a manga that will force him to agree. He will not change his editor and if he can’t get along with Miura, he can leave and draw for another magazine. Takahama apologizes for being conceited and make up with Miura. Ashirogi are glad they didn’t complain or badmouth about Miura. Yeah, better stop blaming him and focus their energy on their work. Hattori shows Yuujirou Iwase’s work that is comparable to Takagi. However he needs someone of Ashirogi’s level to draw them: Niizuma. Giving him read the script, Niizuma gets excited to draw a storyboard. Yeah, he’s doing it now. Once done, the editors are impressed. Even Yuujirou admits this is too good and must do this. Hattori will take it to the higher ups on a condition that he keeps doing Crow and keep its quality up. This will give Ashirogi some motivation. But can a mangaka have 2 serialized works? It’s unprecedented. Hattori suggests Niizuma should draw as if he was someone else via a pen name. If the committee approves this, they’ll reveal the truth. Yuujirou thinks this will fire up Niizuma (he has been sluggish since TRAP got cancelled), rivalry between mangakas will be something good for Jack and he may get promoted to be a lead editor and accepts this secret collaboration.

Episode 18
As Miura discusses Tanto with Ashirogi, Hattori shows Iwase the artwork drawn by MONEYS (Niizuma’s pen name for her work). She is impressed and also agrees to his suggestions of improving other areas of her manuscript, +NATURAL. When Miura hears about +NATURAL would fare better than Tanto, Hattori gives him permission to let Miura let Ashirogi know seeing Takagi and Iwase have some sort of rivalry dated back to middle school days. Of course they are shocked that +NATURAL has been submitted for the next serialization meeting. They are determined not to lose to her. Takagi goes home and sees Iwase waiting outside his house. Though she apologizes for the letter and the trouble he got into, she wants him to acknowledge her if they both get serialized and her manga becomes popular. He will. Only for her talent. That’s because Takagi will register his marriage with Miyoshi after getting serialized. Shocked by the news, Iwase vows to beat him and won’t accept his marriage if she doesn’t. It’s her pride thingy. Christmas Day is like D-Day because it’s the serialization meeting. The committee members are surprised with +NATURAL’s great artwork and yet MONEYS is such an unknown author. Till Yoshida recognizes it is Niizuma’s style. Plus, MONEYS is a play on Niizuma’s name. Niizu-ma. Ma-niizu. MONEYS. Geddit? Hattori and Yuujirou are summoned to the committee so they come clean. Reading Iwase’s manuscript further, they feel it is too good to be passed up. Only Niizuma’s art made it even better. Sasaki warns about Crow dropping quality but Yuujirou begs to differ. If he doesn’t do both, he’ll lose motivation. Ashirogi gets the good news that Tanto has been serialized. Though they are surprised that +NATURAL is also serialized, more surprisingly they get to know Niizuma is the artist and he’ll be using his real name now. But this unprecedented move is causing uproar with the other editors. With an established mangaka doing 2 works simultaneously, this means new ones will have a slot less. Hattori calls Iwase to tell her the good news but she doesn’t sound happy. Maybe it’s because of her pride that she is used to winning? Or was it that recent confrontation with Takagi? She also learns Niizuma is her artist. Fukuda blows his top upon learning this and calls Yuujirou for an answer. It’s business.

Meanwhile Hiramaru gets duped into continuing his manga work. Yeah, after that failed date Yoshida set up (she’s uglier than she looks in the photo), Hiramaru gets played once more into his hands when Yoshida mentions he might get hooked with Aoki. Hiramaru gets a call from Fukuda for their usual meeting. Since Aoki will be there, you can count on him to be there too. Looks like the Gods haven’t abandoned him. So Fukuda Group meets and they’re short a member. No, not Nakai but Iwase. Fukuda thinks they should call her too but Takagi doesn’t want to as they don’t get along. I guess majority wins. Iwase is called over, gets to know who Niizuma is but isn’t thrilled that this gathering is supposed to be their routine exchange of ideas and opinions. She chides them for having no pride and will never accept opinions of others. Even Aoki. She hastily leaves and will leave the artwork to Niizuma. With that short drama over, now Fukuda questions Niizuma’s goal of having 2 serialized works. Is it as insurance in case the other one fails? The others too have their objections against what he is doing. But as we know, Niizuma’s goal is to motivate Ashirogi. Thus he tells them to shut up and says he draws because he wants to not because of pressure by his editor. And if they have any complaints, do so only after making a better manga than him. He’s right. At the end of the meeting, Hiramaru wants to give Aoki a ride back in his sports car. She doesn’t mind but there’s something missing. It’s his sports car! Oh dear, it has been towed away for illegal parking! So Fukuda gives Aoki a ride home on his bike instead. The Gods have abandoned him. So fast? Were the Gods ever with him in the first place?

Episode 19
Miyoshi brings Takagi to meet her parents. Well, he’s nervous and ever apologizing. Don’t be. Miyoshi’s dad learns he is a mangaka and it reminds him of his late best friend: Nobuhiro AKA Tarou Kawaguchi. Oh, fate really works in mysterious ways. Also learning about Mashiro, he wants Takagi to call him here right now for a karate challenge to test their determination! So off the guys go to the dojo but they end up in a diner instead. It was just an excuse to get them away because there are some things he can’t say in front of the women. Starting off his story with Mashiro’s uncle as his best friend and love rival, they were in the same school. Nobuhiro got a letter from Miyuki and it isn’t a love letter but one that encourages him to do his best. So they continue to write letters to each other but in the end we know they didn’t marry. Miyoshi’s dad also learns about the uncanny and similar case of Mashiro and Azuki. He remembers telling off Nobuhiro to just tell his feelings to Miyuki but he wants to make sure he can make a living being a mangaka first. Because of this, he supports the duo and feels he should tell the person he loves as soon as possible. At the New Year’s party, the usual gang meet. However Ashirogi sees lots of attention and praises for Iwase and Hattori. This made get them riled up not to lose to her. Even Niizuma wants to head home and continue drawing her chapter’s storyboard. Which he did. Hiramaru wanted to party with the rest of the Fukuda Group but after seeing Niizuma’s determination, they have no mood and also leave. Go party by yourself. Hattori is alone with Niizuma at his place. Niizuma knows he is supporting Ashirogi and wants to know why. He explains it is not good practice to support authors one isn’t in charge. He feels Ashirogi will be a strong pillar of Jack in the future like him. Niizuma agrees to help out but also won’t lose to them. Miyoshi is now Takagi’s official wife and Ashirogi get Takahama and the energetic Ichiriki Orihara as their assistants. Miura shows Ashirogi the publishing sample that +NATURAL will debut in. It is basically a Niizuma’s edition as what many people would call it because he has the cover colour and middle spread to his name. Ashirogi reads it and finds it to be terrifying good. The kind that can draw in more kids and easily be adapted into anime. Speaking of which. Otter 11 will be getting its anime adaption. That’s not a lie!

When Jack is out, by 3pm all copies at every convenience store and bookstore has been sold out! Thanks to the word going around the internet that +NATURAL will be a great hit. As expected, it ranked first in the polls. The next week is Tanto’s debut as Miura tries to give them hope that their gag manga is different from a plot driven one and a top 5 finish should be good enough. That week comes and no sold out miracle for that issue. When the polls are out. Tanto ranks fifth. +NATURAL is at third while Crow takes fourth spot. Not what Ashirogi wanted. Takagi and Miyoshi are moving stuffs into their new apartment block when they are paid a surprise visit by Iwase. She is here to congratulate them on their marriage but Miyoshi doesn’t believe her sincerity. Iwase fans the fire and admits she likes the Takagi with talent. It would’ve been a heated argument between the women if Takagi didn’t step in. He acknowledges Iwase’s better talent than him, something that he knows she wants him to say. In the end, Miyoshi doesn’t need her congratulations and advises her to find a man with better talent quick. Oh, she already did: Hattori. She’s dating him?! Not exactly. She admires him because he has great talent. Well, I felt Iwase won this bout. Tanto continues to slide in the next few weeks till it stabilizes at 11th spot. Even so, Miura notes that they are doing well to draw in younger audiences. That’s because kids pick their top manga based on how funny it is, not the plot’s quality. Yuujirou tells Niizuma that Crow didn’t exactly fell from popularity since it got more votes than before (+NATURAL still holding strong in second place). Asking about his opinion on Ashirogi’s Tanto, he says he’s not reading it anymore.

Episode 20
Takagi is doing some funny antics for Mashiro and Miyoshi for ideas but it looks lame. Meanwhile Hattori is troubled because Iwase has been asking if she is appealing to him as a woman. Miura discusses with Ashirogi about the ideas and even thinks of coming up with a catchphrase but all Mashiro has on his mind is Tanto’s dismal ranking. Miura lets them know that +NATURAL is being fought over by TV stations to be adapted into anime, drama and live-action. That good, huh? But when Mashiro learns Niizuma isn’t even reading Tanto, he gets even more worried. Something is wrong. He notices his assistants not even giggling while reading it, Takagi may be pushing himself to do the impossible since his livelihood now depends on it, Miyoshi is worried (you don’t want your soon-to-be-husband dead, right?). So come the official wedding day (I didn’t know Miyoshi could look this beautiful), Hattori gives his speech and names all of Ashirogi’s work since the day they meet. But something in his speech bugs Mashiro. Despite naming each of their submitted works, he left out Tanto. So he confronts Hattori and nearly causes a scene at the wedding! Hattori tries to play it cool that they may be labelled as troublemakers if they quit their serialization. Takagi wants to go over but Miyoshi stops him. The groom shouldn’t leave his seat and to have faith in Mashiro. Taking it outside, Mashiro wants him to tell him straight that he should quit doing Tanto. Since he’s persistent, Hattori tells him the truth. He really wants him to quit Tanto. Shock? That’s what he wanted to hear, right?

Despite now officially married, I’ll continue to refer to Takagi and Miyoshi as they are because I’m much used to how I refer to them. The duo are having their local honeymoon and Takagi’s mind is heavy with what has happened. To cheer him up, Miyoshi thinks of watching TV and surprisingly, Niizuma is on the late variety show. At least he is still his quirky self. But the thing that caught Ashirogi’s attention was Niizuma’s declaration that they are his biggest rival. Mashiro is so distraught that he ran back home from his workplace. He calls Azuki to confide in her. She thinks he should quit Tanto too. She is glad their love is maturing because they’re talking together by phone and confesses she loves him. When Takagi comes back, Mashiro has a serious discussion with him on Tanto. They see no future in it. At least not the kind that they could beat Niizuma with. Then meeting with Miura, they decide to stop it, much to his dismay. So they go see Heishi but he is vehemently against it. He tells them off for being selfish. They may not be in the top 10 but Tanto has got the children’s votes. He reminds them a manga had to be cancelled for Tanto’s serialization. The duo seek Sasaki’s advice. He agrees with them. Provided if they don’t draw for Jack anymore. They should be prepared for this, right? Mashiro expresses his desire to beat Niizuma so Sasaki asks if he can really beat Niizuma if he drops Tanto and writes another story. Of course he can. Sasaki doesn’t. Hattori steps in seeing he feels responsible for telling them all the while they’re able to surpass Niizuma. Even Heishi agrees. He thinks they have talent but haven’t fully utilized them yet. Takagi hopes he could let them end Tanto. Since their contract is for the full year, they’ll come up with something for the committee that the entire editorial department can approve otherwise they’ll quit Jack. Mashiro agrees but Sasaki says this doesn’t fall under his responsibility. Well, Miura? What is it going to be? Let’s beat Niizuma! Hattori thought they’ve raised the bar level too high and it may be impossible now for them to beat Niizuma.

Episode 21
Ashirogi tells their assistants that Tanto will end in 2 more issues. Takahama is in favour of that while Orihara is surprised, he also supports them. Niizuma tells Hattori that his plan is going accordingly but is confident no matter how they approach him, he will not lose. Takagi is having writer’s block. There’s the wrapping up of Tanto to be done with. So with Miyoshi stinging on the food, he thought she should just go all out and buy what she wants, no matter how branded or pricey because he feels he won’t write something good if he starts feeling cheap. He’s not joking. In another meeting with Miura, since Takagi hasn’t come up with anything, he suggests to do Money And Intelligence which was the only manga to have beaten Niizuma in rankings. But they should expand it into making appearance as well, thus Money, Intelligence And Appearance (abbreviated as KTM – Kono Yo Wa Kane To Chie To Mitame) whereby you can buy not only intelligence but appearance as well with money. Takagi thinks hard and pens down all the ideas that are flowing through his head. Takagi shouldn’t fret on the setting because Mashiro will cover it up with his superb artwork. Mashiro notices that Miura is working with their strengths. Ashirogi wraps up Tanto and Takagi feels sad to end it. Even though it’s hard keeping it going, he got more attached to it. But he isn’t regretting. It motivates him to do a much better manga than Tanto. So with the ideas flowing through Takagi, Miura helps polishes them till KTM is submitted to the serialization committee. However the end results show that KTM won’t be serialized. Shocking? At least Miura sounded calm and not too obsessed about getting serialized. Ashirogi gets another shock when Miura says they’re not continuing with KTM and should do another manga, one that is mainstream fantasy. Why? Because they haven’t tried it out yet. But there are lots of other genres they haven’t try yet. Seeing Miura is serious, Mashiro decides to go with him so they sit down and discuss some ideas.

Niizuma learns that Ashirogi won’t be drawing for Jack anymore if they can’t draw something good. But he wants to know why Hattori is lowering the bar from them. Is he? Niizuma points out Iwase’s manuscript isn’t as sharp before and wants it rewritten. Wow. He can tell? So Hattori meets Iwase and points out what needs to be redone. Iwase mentions he never praises her work. Not as an author, but as a woman. I wonder how Hattori is going to wiggle his way out of this. Iwase is dead serious. Okay, first he says she shouldn’t view him as Takagi’s replacement and since they are meeting weekly, she can use that time to change his mind. I guess that worked. Ashirogi comes up with Stopper Of Magma despite Takagi still having some doubts in this work. But Miyoshi seems to like it because it is pretty easy to understand. They do the necessary and hand it to Miura to submit it to the serialization committee. Unfortunately it wasn’t even good enough to be submitted to the committee. Seems they felt it wasn’t their usual quality. Though Takagi is alarmed, Miura is cool. Takagi blows his top when he suggests they should’ve reworked KTM (which was what Takagi suggested) and have no more breathing space (they have used up 2 of the 3 chances to submit their works to the committee before the year end). Miura even throws back the responsibility to him saying that it was something they decided. Don’t worry, he’ll come over now. While Ashirogi are having doubts whether Miura has changed, they are surprised to see Hattori with him. Seems Miura sought his advice and wanted Ashirogi to beat Niizuma so much that he doesn’t care about appearances anymore. Hattori was the one who suggested with the mainstream fantasy idea. Since he was responsible for that, that’s why he is also here to help them.

Episode 22
Asking if they enjoyed doing Stopper Of Magma and Tanto, Ashirogi of course says no. Hattori mentions that KTM was too elaborated that’s why he suggested mainstream fantasy. So what they both need now is serious humour. Eh? What? You see, they were trying too hard to make a funny story that it wasn’t funny. Citing Otter 11’s serious humour whereby the scene wasn’t supposed to be funny but it became funny due to circumstances. In short, making people laugh without trying to make them laugh. Confused? The joke must come natural. Lastly, Mashiro needs to do more serious art. The more serious it is, the more what they’re trying to do will shine. So with the advice, Hattori leaves the trio to discuss their next work. Hiramaru thinks he can stop drawing now that Otter 11 has its own anime but Yoshida once again has tricks up his sleeve to get that lazy bum to continue. I guess if he wants to know more about Aoki’s likes, he’ll have to keep on drawing for weeks to come. Miyoshi tells Azuki what she learnt from Aoki that Ashirogi has one last chance left otherwise they won’t draw for Jack anymore. Azuki says to just watch silently over them. Next morning, not sure if it’s desperation from writer’s block, Takagi gets this idea to secretly tail Hattori and drags Mashiro into it. He himself doesn’t know why. I guess they’ll figure it out along the way. They see him entering his office, wait for him to leave, follow him to the bookstore and notice him picking books on ways to find romance. This is getting interesting. Then at the diner, what surprises them more is not his meeting with Iwase but that girl is boldly asking if she looks pretty (screw the manuscript!). It was just too funny for Ashirogi to contain their laughter especially the way Hattori tries to give his answer so they leave before they blow their cover. Lastly, Hattori is at the bar drinking with Yuujirou and Miura. He felt his judgement was right when they first met and had this feeling they’ll be great mangakas. That’s all he wanted to prove. Hearing that, Ashirogi get the motivation to give it their best.

Takagi has already got an idea from the tailing. He knows what kind of story to do. The kind that involves the perfect crime. We’ve got this protagonist kid that is fascinated by perfect crime. For instance, he will notice the contents of the pencil box. How long the pencils are, what brand, how used the eraser is, so on. He will then replicate everything and will be satisfied if the ‘victim’ couldn’t tell he is using a replica. Soon he finds others with similar interests and they start a club that does perfect crime. Mashiro is amazed with his fun and addictive story and Takagi has got lots of ideas to go with it. Takagi is tired out from his recent ‘data collection’ so Miyoshi tells him about Azuki’s birthday the day after tomorrow (Ashirogi can’t attend by the way) and she plans to give her a dress. Takagi get this idea to enhance their storyboard by doing the perfect crime itself. He brings Mashiro along to try and find an exact replicate of Miyoshi’s gift for Azuki. Where to start? I guess it’s trial and error. Needle in the haystack. See the humour coming in? The editors are getting nervy and hounding Miura for Ashirogi’s script. They know it’s their last chance saloon. What a panic bunch. What is Miura got to do but to rush over since lately Ashirogi hasn’t been answering his calls (and forgot to call back). Meanwhile Miyoshi celebrates Azuki’s birthday and gives her the present. Azuki finds the painting of herself lovely. But Miyoshi is puzzled because that isn’t her present. The real present subsequently arrives via courier. I guess this is Takagi’s example of surprise to shock the readers. While greatly working on their Perfect Crime Club, Mashiro gets a call from Azuki to thank him for the lovely art. Miura comes knocking on their door and is desperate for their storyboard, which they claim is 100 times better than KTM. They hand it to him to read and it looks like they’ve got the surprised reaction that they wanted.

Episode 23
Miura continues to read the script and somewhat finds the crime of the protagonist to be petty. But as Ashirogi points out, it is better to start off small first. So the story of this kid who thinks he has done the perfect crime is halted when he notices somebody else noticing his deeds. Thus he starts observing and tailing him that leads to a surprise end in the formation of the club. Miura is excited this new genre can beat Niizuma and Takagi has already ideas for the next chapter in which they’ll have a heroine joining the club via perfect crime style. Aida hounds Miura for Ashirogi’s work but he plays cool and goes off to collect Takahama’s work. However he tells him he won’t submit it. It’s not because this is Ashirogi’s last chance but rather after reading their work, he knows Takahama’s won’t stand a chance. But he still wants to send it in for serialization as he won’t go out losing. Miura has changed his viewpoint about everything will be okay if one is serialized. But now he realized there’s more to it. Fukuda learns from Yuujirou about Ashirogi’s predicament. This made him think about his own since Kiyoshi Knight has been serialized for 3 years with no anime offers and always lingering around 10th place. Besides, +NATURAL is getting an anime adaptation. Mashiro gets a call from Takahama who wants to see his manuscript. He agrees since tomorrow is the deadline and he won’t be any time to do adjustments. Takahama reads their story and is amazed. He understands what Miura meant and will withdraw his intention to serialize. This fires him up to do better so he can catch up to them. Mashiro is invited to Takagi and Miyoshi’s Christmas party while they wait for the committee’s decision. Since Azuki couldn’t come, as thanks for his drawing, she made him a Christmas cake. Miura finally submits Ashirogi’s work to the committee and they are amazed of how drawn in they are with the story. However Sasaki is not about to give the green light to serialize them. Because the question now is whether Ashirogi can beat Niizuma. That was the bet and condition. This is going to be tough. Even if Aida supports Ashirogi and if they don’t try, they won’t know, in that case as pointed, other mangas also have the chance to beat Crow and +NATURAL because the possibility is not zero. Yoshida is worried that the realism of the drawing may cause others to imitate. Since nobody can decide, Sasaki will have it decide on majority vote. In the 7-man panel, the score is levelled at 3-3. Yeah, it’s Sasaki who is to make the final decision. Felt like his suggestion backfired and eventually came back to him as the one who will make or break Ashirogi, eh? But he’s still cool. Now the decision that we’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll please. Come on… Come on… Despite praising Ashirogi’s works highly, he doesn’t think Ashirogi can beat Niizuma. OMG. That’s a no! No serialization!

Episode 24
Oonishi, the guy who voted against Ashirogi decides to change his vote because he feels guilty for affecting the lives of the mangakas. How nice of him. Even Heishi who voted a no decided to change his stance since he really wants them to win. If it was unanimous 7-0 loss than it’s a different story but it was a 4-3 close fight. Besides, they should let the readers decide. That’s what they’ve always done, right? And so that heart stopping decision ended with Perfect Crime Club given the green light to be serialized. Yes! Ashirogi finally did it! Fukuda and Niizuma call them to congratulate so the rivalry begins now. As Mashiro is going to eat the cake, he notices a USB inside from Azuki. Trying to get back with a surprise, eh? As thanks for the drawing, the USB contains a file of Azuki’s voice recorder of her congratulations for him (it is only fitting since she’s a seiyuu) and a Christmas song. At least her singing didn’t suck this time. Miura reads the announcement of change in editors so he talks to Sasaki to apologize about his conspiring with Hattori. But Sasaki says it was the result of him taking action to help Ashirogi so he’s okay. Plus, he could tell that Hattori was involved too since he understands them well and decided to leave it to him. Miura calls Ashirogi to let them know about the editor swap. Hattori will become their editor again and Miura will be in charge of +NATURAL. Miura suggests Hattori should come with him to see Ashirogi now. Hattori mentions the details of their loss but got serialized because of their potential to win outside. Ashirogi is surprised and decides to redo their storyboard again. Now? Yes. Mashiro feels they need to rewrite a storyboard that everyone will agree they’ll win.

Discussing about Niizuma’s work, Hattori explains about his straightforward method that is easy to understand and the way he uses perspective and sound effects. Showing them a manuscript Niizuma did for +NATURAL, Niizuma cut out unnecessary parts and inserted new scenes deemed appropriate. His expressiveness made +NATURAL much better but Mashiro thinks it has more to do with his imagination because of the way he uses the space in panel layouts. Panels without words or just scenery made readers freely engage their own interpretation. Ashirogi thanks Miura for everything and he vows to make +NATURAL better. Sure, he is happy he’s got a pretty girl to work with now but for Iwase’s case, she is not happy. Very. She thinks Takagi and Hattori have cast her aside. She is through with love and is going to be the best author around. Miura has to stop with his jokes and compliments or she’ll sue him for sexual harassment! And he better act as her editor or else. He just realized the sh*t he has gotten into. Wow. The author is flexing control and authority over her editor. Miura is introduced to Niizuma and the latter though not happy he made Ashirogi write a gag manga because they are suitable for realistic stories with realistic art, he thanks Miura for having them do Perfect Crime Club because it will be a manga that can compete with his. Mashiro thinks hard how to effectively use blank spaces and sound effects. Realizing how Niizuma turned Iwase’s script into a manga, suddenly an idea hits him. He wants to do stories with script only format so he can use his imagination to draw freely and put blank panels where he wants. It’s worth a shot. Meanwhile Fukuda is worried about his Fukuda Group because his mates are surpassing him. He is doing a one-shot manga but promises to not let Kiyoshi Knight slip.

Episode 25
In just 5 days, Ashirogi pulls off the impossible by redoing everything that is needed. They even want Hattori to point out any more stuffs that needs to be redone. There are. First, the name of the character since theirs doesn’t leave an impact. The manga’s title too could need some polishing. Hattori also wants a suitable design for the main character. Because of Mashiro’s realistic drawing, the protagonist is too normal and can’t be told apart from other characters. It’s that time of year again for the New Year party but Ashirogi are so busy that they couldn’t attend. As penalty, Hattori and Yuujirou are made to dress and dance in animal outfits. By the way, Fukuda is also hard at work doing his one-shot manga. Hiramaru thought he could relax and let some steam off but Aoki felt disappointed with his statement and have misjudged him. I guess he deserved it. Aside Orihara, Ashirogi will be getting 2 new assistants. They are Shuuichi Moriya who is aiming to be a mangaka and Shun Shiratori who has never drawn manga before despite loves reading them. Mashiro gives them a test to fill in the backgrounds because he only needs one to draw them for his manga. In the end, Mashiro chooses Shiratori to do it because it is closest to what he imagined. As they talk about rankings, Moriya points out it is pointless for manga to be ranked and drawing them to get popular and you can’t draw good manga if you think like that. Because Moriya insulted Shiratori he has nothing to do with manga since he has never drawn them before, Shiratori wants him to explain his ideal manga. It is a form of self expression and fine art. Shiratori counters that it just makes himself feel good but it won’t sell. Because Jack is doing business, ranking and sales are important. Mashiro puts a stop to this and lets out his opinion. They are trying to sell this manga but have no talent. Parents used to say reading manga makes you stupid, that’s why he thinks they should draw manga with content and quality that one won’t be ashamed to say it has cultural value. Because Ashirogi have no talent, they have to draw with popularity in mind. In short, each one should draw their own manga.

By coincidence Takagi finally gets the perfect name for his characters. Despite the perfect crime title, their names will be opposite and when put together would mean moral and truth. Their title is renamed as Perfect Crime Party or PCP. Hattori is impressed with their efforts but also mentions about Fukuda’s one-shot. It will appear in the same issue as their debut. Speaking of which, Fukuda is rushing to get Road Racer Buchigiri finish on time (it’s a one-shot based on his hobbies for motorbikes). Even Yuujirou is helping out as his assistant. The manga sample comes out as everyone reads it. It’s a tough one to call since they predict the votes will be split between PCP and Buchigiri. Aida feels Buchigiri may be easier to understand since the race scenes are showy and intense as compared to PCP’s exposition and plain looks. Ashirogi continues to work on their chapters and only wants to hear the final results instead of the preliminaries. D-Day arrives and they are anxious to know the results. They’re waiting for that phone call that will make or break them. They think their assistants have arrived early but to their surprise it is Hattori. He is catching his breath. Wait till you hear this. PCP secured number one spot with a majority of 150 votes over second place Buchigiri with 422 votes! Finally! They did it! They got the top spot! More amazingly they got more votes when Crow or +NATURAL debut at top spot (401 and 310 respectively). They wonder if Buchigiri wasn’t in, they could’ve gotten even more votes. While Fukuda feels frustrated he got walloped by Ashirogi, Yuujirou says this is the readers’ stamp mark for him to continue Buchigiri. He gives Fukuda the green light to end Kiyoshi Knight and work on Buchigiri. Miura informs Iwase that +NATURAL fell to 8th place because PCP and Buchigiri were just too good. Since she is a bad loser, she is going to rewrite everything again! She won’t lose to Hattori and Takagi. Miura tells this to Niizuma and he is pretty happy with Iwase’s decision and tears up the manuscript he is drawing. If she wasn’t fired up, he would’ve been disappointed because if they don’t do better, Ashirogi will overtake them.

As Hattori shows them the demographics and breakdowns of PCP’s position, Mashiro wonders if he can have that chart. Sorry, buddy. You can’t. Even if he wants to show it to someone, it’s all the more reason not to lend him because other authors’ rankings are in it and they are sensitive stuff. But he can feel free to tell it to others. If that’s the case, Mashiro wants him to follow him and also brings Takagi along. That person whom Mashiro wants to show is his uncle. At least at his grave, he shows the chart and the number one position that he failed to achieve in his lifetime. Maybe Mashiro is seeing things because he sees his uncle talking back. So what now since he has gotten first place? The tough part only begins from here. When he gets really popular and is truly number one, then he can come back here again. You bet he’s going to make frequent trips back here. The shocker ending comes with Hattori receiving ‘warning’ from Sasaki that if they get low rankings, he won’t hesitate to cancel them after the 7th chapter. And if they cannot go head to head with Crow and +NATURAL, he’ll straightaway cancel them!

From Boys To Men…
Wow. This season was equally if not even more thrilling and exciting than the first. With the different developments throughout this season, each episode really kept me glued to my seat. From Mashiro’s hospitalization to the boycott to Nakai’s romance that led to his downfall and ultimate he left the scene, to Takagi and Miyoshi’s wedding, Iwase’s sudden entry into the world of manga and finally a hit series for Ashirogi, it just keeps getting better and better. The jokes as well as the direction of the story were also paced nicely so the flow felt seamless and smooth. Now this is what you can really consider to be a worthy anime like how Ashirogi created a manga worthy of their readers. However this isn’t the end yet and as at the end of the final episode, the announcement of a third season is to come. So it really shows it is indeed a long arduous and tough road to become a famous mangaka. Remember, Ashirogi’s goal is to have their works turn into anime so that Mashiro and Azuki can fulfil their promise to each other. Even if it does sound a long way off, at least they are a step closer to that dream.

The characters here have grown much since and I’m sure they’ll grow on you too. Despite everyone trying their best to be the best mangaka around, they maintain friendly rivalry with each other and give support when the time calls for it. Mashiro and Takagi have improved a lot since their debut days. You can consider them to be veterans in the manga world but they are still young and have lots to learn. Just as Takagi’s stories get better (okay, sometimes he is hit with the inevitable writer’s block), Mashiro’s art also improves and this could up the rivalry between the best authors in Jack. You know they say competition is healthy, right? It is also good that Mashiro is starting to move out and away from his uncle’s shadows and form his own style. You notice he rarely compares or mentions about him unless when necessary. We also rarely hear him speak about mangakas being gamblers till they hit it big. So much so if I hadn’t thought about it, I would have forgotten all about it. I suppose instead of worrying if your story can be a hit or not, it’s best to improve your own abilities first. After all, the readers are the one that determine a manga’s success. Azuki and Miyoshi continue to indirectly support their guys in reaching their dream. We may not have glimpsed very much of Azuki’s struggle as a seiyuu but I’m sure she has her own troubles and is trying her best too. After all, she leans on Mashiro and him on her for support and pillar of strength. I’m not sure what Miyoshi dreams to be because in the previous season I remember she gave up her handphone novel after a while. Yeah, she tried jumping onto the bandwagon but didn’t find it to be suitable. But I suppose she found her dream in marrying Takagi. What more could she ask for?

One of the most surprising change in character is Aoki. One thing for sure, I find Aoki to be quite a pretty person herself is she smiles more often! True. Initially she was such a stuck up and not willing to bend her principles by an inch. After Nakai’s perseverance, she gradually opens up and starts to smile and laugh more often with the gang. I hate to admit this but Aoki being friendlier and more loosen up seems to make her look like a retard. Oops. Was it too harsh? Maybe funny should be the right word. So which do I prefer? The one with the sweet smile of course. Replacing Aoki’s snobbish behaviour is Iwase. I get a feeling that this woman will be twice, no, make that triple, oh wait, hundred times a more dangerous version than Aoki. She is more aggressive, very strict, has high standards and competitive. I’m sure men don’t like their women like that, right? So is it a wonder why she has been single all this time? The guys she liked never reciprocate her love. Takagi was in love with a woman who is so much more ‘lower standard’ than her and Hattori just simply chose to maintain their professional relationship. I’m not sure if she will become an even more dangerous woman after vowing never to love again but if it spurs her to make greater manga, then I guess in this aspect it is good. Maybe some right guy will ‘save’ her with love. Maybe we might see that in the next season? The other surprising change in character is Nakai. From a guy who aspires to get his first serialized work, he fell from grace after his fallout with Aoki and eventually Katou’s rejection. He became cocky, contended and lost sight of his true goals. Was romance he was seeking in the first place? It was good he realized his mistakes but the damage is done. Maybe he’ll make a comeback. Who knows? Maybe he just needs some time to cool his head. Or did he hang up his pen for good?

Some of the other characters stay relatively the same. For example, Niizuma continues to be the eccentric manga genius and his continued quality in his works is prove he is a class and cut above the rest. He may act like a kid and cawing like a crow but you will notice that Niizuma is not stupid. He has an eye and a good judge on people. Especially with Ashirogi whom he considers his ultimate rival, he wants to make sure they are at the top of their game because you feel good when you win the good fight fair and square, right? He observes details that normal people would not notice. And when he points them out, it really makes sense to what he says or the action he undertakes. Fukuda is still the rash and arrogant guy but I suppose that is his way of caring for his rivals-cum-friends. Hiramaru is one amusing joker. I guess that is what his role and existence is. A comic relief. The moment you see this guy, you know you are going to expect some crazy excuse to be lazy, not start his work or procrastinate. Despite the numerous calls of wanting to call it quits, at the end of it all, he is still continuing to draw manga. Like Hotel California, eh? Once you check in, you can’t check out. So it’s hats off to Yoshida for managing to keep that guy drawing for Jack. Or maybe it is Hiramaru’s gullible nature to be easily tricked. You just tell him what he wants to hear and spice it up a little to make it look good and he’ll put on his thinking cap that will probably last for around 2 weeks. I’m sure that will be enough time for Yoshida to come up with new excuses to keep him in.

Miura may still be the same easygoing guy but at least he realizes that getting serialized isn’t everything. It’s not just pushing what he thinks it is best for the mangaka because he too needs to hear out their opinion. Eventually even if ranking and popularity still matters, the most important thing is the help the mangaka to develop his/her skills and talents and make them use the best of their abilities. Hattori may not provide most of the guiding light for Ashirogi this season but he wants to see Ashirogi improve so bad that he is willing to conspire with Yuujirou and Niizuma for them to get better. You can say that it paid off and clearly shown in PCP and their greatest masterpiece ever since TRAP. The other minor characters may be playing minor roles but I feel their short contribution has helped in the development of the story and ultimately to Ashirogi’s improvement. Takahama may already have his break in his first serialization (which was unfortunately cancelled), he still continues to make the effort to catch up to Ashirogi. Katou may still happily be Aoki’s assistant but what happened to Ogawa? Did he move on to being some other mangaka’s assistant for some other magazine? Orihara still has his spirits high up in serving Ashirogi for the second time and with 2 new assistants introduced at the end, this will broaden Ashirogi’s horizon even further. But I’m glad that the 2 most annoying characters of the series didn’t make much screen time. Thank heavens. Everyone else could use less of KOOGY and Ishizawa. The rocker should stick to his rock music instead of producing weird mangas that nobody comprehends. I thought it was the end of the world when Aoki wanted to collaborate with him. Good thing she has common sense to call it off. Ishizawa shouldn’t brag and be so boastful just because he got serialized in some other magazine. It might not be right to judge him seeing we aren’t given a chance to see a sample of his work but I’m betting that Ashirogi and the others at Jack will be many times much better than his.

The opening theme of this season at least sounds better than the first season but still it wasn’t enough to attract me. The rock pop of Dream Of Life by Shouhei Itou at least sounded fitting for the theme and genre of this series. At least it doesn’t sound so gay like the last time… Monochrome Rainbow by Tommy Heavenly6 is the first ending theme and another rock outfit. I didn’t find it appealing to. I won’t say that out of all the themes I prefer the second ending song but at least this soothing and calming piece of Parallel= by Fumiya Sashida gives out a happy feel and though my feet won’t go as far as to shuffle with the beat but at least it makes my heart feel sunny and happy. Get what I’m saying? Well, when I heard this song, it reminded me of that song from Hall and Oates, Private Eyes. There is this insert song briefly played once called Crow Sky by Shuhei Kita and it is a song for Crow’s anime opening theme. Sounds like your typical song for a shonen action anime.

Though there are still some insights on the workings and procedures of the manga industry, at least it isn’t as heavy as I perceived to be when I first watched the first season. Maybe there are but I wasn’t really paying great attention since I won’t really be able to comprehend it as I am not in this line so I won’t fully understand what is being explained. Even when Ashirogi were pointed things to be redone or they come up with reasons why they should do it a certain way, I just accepted them as it is without thinking deeper. From past experience, doing so will only cause massive headache and prevent me from enjoying the anime. Hah. How can I enjoy the anime without understanding those stuffs? This is what I understand. Manga artists must work hard and draw hard, submit their manuscripts before deadline to be printed in the weekly manga magazine, cycle continues for future chapters. If Plan A of certain chapters doesn’t work, make sure you have Plan B. Better to have Plan C too. Every now and then, there are works that are submitted to the committee to see it is worthy to be given a shot at serialization. See? Simple. On whether it will be a hit and its ranking is another story and left to the readers to decide. Since this is an anime dealing with manga, I’m sure you can spot all the trivia of different mangas in the Jack office with Naruto, One Piece and Bleach as the famous real mangas decorating the walls. Because it is expect, the surprise factor to point out and go, “Hey! Isn’t this manga so and so?” isn’t really there.

Another thing to ponder about is the hectic work life of a manga. Mashiro’s collapse raises the moral issue of whether they should continue to work under pressure to meet deadlines. This topic is quite controversial and it’s not really my place to say who is right or wrong in the first place. We have to look at both sides of the argument. Firstly if the mangaka wishes to continue despite their failing health that would lead to further detriment consequences, do others have the right to stop them since this is after all their life? They have made the decision fully well known of the effects and yet decide to carry on. On the other hand I’m sure being a mangaka would mean a weird loner but there are many who have loved ones. They will be worried if you get hurt or die. It gets complicated when a person dies, get what I’m saying? The doctors who took an oath to save lives will be in a dilemma. But ultimately that life is in your own hands and you decide what you want to make out of it. So if Mashiro had really died, Jack would have gotten into lots of trouble and would be seen as a merciless slave driver making high school students work to their death. That won’t be so good. For Mashiro, his family, his friends, the magazine, society and the most of all the manga and anime industry. Thus the tough part is always to maintain that correct mix between work and play. But as we know, it is always leaning more towards work for budding and established mangakas.

I guess we’ve been fooled when we were given a glimpse of a possible anime adaptation of TRAP right at the start of the first episode of this season. Maybe that is just a dream. An imagination. A what if. Supposing that is what we are to expect if TRAP ever makes it but as we know it received the chop before halfway of the series. Was that just a false alarm? Don’t count it out yet because I am expecting the sequel to pull more surprises and keep captivated like it did for the past 2 seasons. Who knows? Despite PCP looking like the perfect manga for Ashirogi to stamp their mark, perhaps TRAP will make a comeback and bring them real success with an anime adaptation. We’ll just have to wait and see. Want to make a bet that Ashirogi can do better the next round? For the record, I still suck in drawing manga. It reminds me of all the sweat, effort and time put in just to bring the story, characters and art come to life. To me it’s very daunting. That’s why I continue to do what I do best: Watch animes. Heck, that’s not even reading manga.

Bakuman

May 20, 2012

I knew the life of a mangaka is hard. But I never knew it was this damn freaking tough and hard!!! That was what I conclude after watching Bakuman. From my perspective, this series shows us ordinary people what a prospective mangaka goes through in his quest to become the best mangaka in Japan and also their ultimate dream of having their works serialized. Turning it into anime would be icing on the cake. So if you’re thinking that becoming a mangaka is all about glamour and money, then think again because what drives these people to soldier on despite the low pay, long working hours and tons of other conditions is the passion. The most important ingredient you need to become a mangaka. Whether you’ll be famous or not that’s a different story but seriously, passion is what you need. Of course the ability to draw and to come up with an interesting story also helps.

Moritaka Mashiro is a middle school boy who dreams of a normal life. He is happy to be just that. Nothing extraordinary. No big dreams, no big ambition. Just become a salaryman would suffice. Plain ol’ boring life. However his late uncle under the name of Tarou Kawaguchi was a mangaka. He drew a manga popular enough to be turned into an anime called Super Hero Legend. Even if Mashiro has the great artistic skills of a mangaka, he is rather reluctant to pursue a career in this industry. One reason of his untimely death was due to overwork. I guess that is enough de-motivation for a young lad. All that is about to change when he is persuaded by his fellow classmate, Akito Takagi who is a genius story writer to team up with him to publish their very own manga together. Of course the main motivation for Mashiro to take up this offer is to win the heart of the girl he likes, Miho Azuki who is also an aspiring anime voice actress. So the deal as it turns out to be, if Mashiro and Takagi manage to get their works serialized and turned into an anime, they will have Azuki play the lead heroine role in the anime and yes, Mashiro will have Azuki’s hand in marriage. Looks like it’s going to be a long and tough road ahead.

Episode 1
So the first episode introduces to things and the boring life Moritaka is more than happy to lead. One day he returns to his class to retrieve a book he forgot but meets Takagi instead. He took the liberty to take a peep inside his notebook and is amazed with his drawing skills (albeit he was drawing a side profile of Azuki). To Mashiro’s surprise, Takagi isn’t going to blackmail him about his crush but wants to team up to write a manga. Mashiro remains sceptical because only a few people are successful. The rest ended up in failures and it is no different than gambling. Takagi is ecstatic to learn who Mashiro’s uncle is but still, Mashiro isn’t easily swayed by his offer or reasoning to enter the world of manga. Mashiro remembers his uncle told him his motivation to draw a manga. It was for a girl he loved. Though he rarely talked to her during their school days, he received a letter from her during graduation day to wish them to do their best. They only communicate via exchanging letters but as time passed, she ascended through the ranks of society but he went the other way. He felt the gap was growing day by day but persevered on. However she ended up marrying someone else though he continued to continue his failing work and subsequently 2 years later he passed on. Mashiro has always believed his uncle committed suicide. Mashiro gets a call from Takagi that he is going to Azuki’s home to confess to her and wants him to come along. Odd. Anyway he comes and at the front gates of the girl, they start getting nervous. Eventually Takagi manages to ring the doorbell to bring her out (after some messed up lines). Takagi starts his confession. He is going to be a mangaka. Surprise? Even more surprise to Mashiro is that Azuki is going to be a seiyuu. He gets caught up in the conversation and feels the need to say something. That’s when he says he is going to draw the stories that Takagi writes. Azuki gets excited and is confident they will do well. She promises to lend her voice if their manga becomes an anime. Mashiro is so taken in by her beauty that he blurts out his proposal to marry her if that dream comes true. Probably Azuki didn’t expect that and runs back into her house. Though she agrees with his proposal, but until then they won’t see each other. Because that will be a distraction. But email will be fine. With that, Mashiro gets his motivation to do a manga that surpasses One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. See what love can do?

Episode 2
Takagi waits outside Mashiro’s house to walk together to school. Because Takagi is always calling Mashiro “Saikou” (his kanji name can be read this way which means the best), Mashiro in turn calls him “Shuujin” (his kanji name can be read this way which means prisoner). However Mashiro hasn’t agreed to team up with Takagi yet. In school, they come across Aiko Iwase. She and Takagi are the top 2 of their grades. During the test, Mashiro didn’t feel good and excuses himself to the infirmary. Takagi accompanies him. Seems Mashiro is having problems of the heart. They talk it out at the rooftop as Takagi tries to give him confidence that they both like each other. Mashiro wonders why is he studying so hard seeing he wants to be a mangaka. He calls it insurance because he too can’t be 100% sure that he will succeed. Then Takagi starts praising Azuki and her proper upbringing and I think this is the deal that seals it. Mashiro agrees to team up with him. But Mashiro needs to convince his mom first. As expected she doesn’t want him to enter this industry seeing what happened to his uncle. Though she says no, she will have a word with his dad. Mashiro goes back to his room and reminisces the days he spent with his uncle. Then his mom comes in and gave a surprised answer. Seems dad allows him to do what he wants. “Men have dreams that women can’t understand”. I guess that says it all. Now Mashiro has to tell grandpa himself. Seeing his resolve to be a mangaka, grandpa gives him the keys to his uncle’s workplace. It is left untouched since his demise. Though Mashiro feels it is too early to have a workplace but grandpa notes there is nothing wrong to be prepared early. Besides, the room is packed with lots of stuff needed to become a mangaka. Despite having a test tomorrow morning, grandpa gives him the green light to go there now. Mashiro makes his way there and calls Takagi to meet at the workplace.

Episode 3
Inside the room, they are in awe of the shelves filled with action figures and manga collection. This could be a manga fan’s paradise. There are also raw manuscripts on Super Hero Legend. Mashiro explains the basic of a name (storyboard) and its flow and procedure before it becomes a proper manuscript. Takagi looks at some of them for reference. Both guys set a target that they will get their manga turn into an anime when they reach 18 years old. Doesn’t that sound very rush? Mashiro calls his dad to apologize that he always thought his uncle committed suicide. He now understands how his uncle wasn’t a coward but gave up a lot of things including sleep to focus on his drawing. Daddy reminds him of a manga scene he read to him when he was young and this boosts Mashiro’s confidence further. The duo find a box containing Mashiro’s late uncle’s love letters. From the way things were written, they feel both parties couldn’t properly express their feelings in words. Noticing the date, Super Hero Legend became an anime 2 years later after his love married. Looking into the graduation photo album, the guys are surprised to see that his crush looks like Azuki! In fact, it is her mom, Miyuki!!! Or at least someone who looks like her. Oh, how funny how fate can be! They decide to go to Azuki’s house to confirm certain details. Well, let’s Azuki is like a mirror clone of her. Except for that croissant-like hairstyle… First thing they did was to apologize for reading the letters but she is happy he kept them all these years. Miyuki too liked him but was too embarrassed to put it down in words. When his manga became an anime, she was surprised and felt that one of the characters in the anime was like a message to her. Miyuki asks which one is going out with her daughter so Takagi points to Mashiro. At least in the future. Miyuki teases them by saying she wasn’t into studious type and that girls prefer bad boys type. Takagi tries to debate that his type too is popular with girls. Mashiro confirms that Azuki doesn’t know his uncle is the author of Super Hero Legend and wishes Miyuki doesn’t tell her. Miyuki wishes them luck and will support them all the way to become great mangakas.

Episode 4
Mashiro gets down to work and tries using the G-pen, a pen that is hard to use even as his uncle told him. So much so, he hasn’t had much sleep and has bags around his eyes. Mashiro also duplicates a key to the workplace for Takagi. It is only right since they will be a team. Mashiro needs to get use to the G-pen while also trying out drawing sceneries and special effect lines. He also explains to Takagi about the several drawing tools and aids mangakas use in their art. As Mashiro practises, Takagi tries to read all the manga for inspiration. While the duo are at the convenience store, they read a manga magazine and are surprised to see a semi-finalist winner of the Tezuka Award: Eiji Niizuma. The surprising thing about him is that he is just 15 years old! One year their senior. Later Mashiro talks to Takagi about his high school choice. For the sake of his manga, he is prepared to go to a different school than Azuki. He believes that she won’t get another boyfriend. Then they talk about Niizuma, getting an editor and the ups and downs of getting a manuscript being rejected by the editor. Takagi plans out to do a manuscript and show it to an editor of a manga magazine, Jack in particular. So they need to complete their work during summer and show it to them and see their reaction. As they rush back to the workplace, they see Azuki and her family coming in the opposite direction. Even if both sides spot each other, Mashiro and Azuki pretend not to see each other although it is obvious that the duo are blushing. Takagi teases him that he is surprised that Mashiro could feign indifference considering that they are in the same class. Once they pass each other, Mashiro and Azuki look back at the same time and their eyes met. In the rural outskirts, we see the genius Niizuma a little bit of a crazy boy in drawing his manga. Man, his room is messy and he’s making weird screaming noises. He gets a call from his editor asking if he is willing to come to Tokyo.

Episode 5
After Mashiro has his fill reminiscing how he first fell in love with Azuki, it’s time to get down to work. During that time, Takagi is able to come up with a story called Futatsu No Chikyuu (The Twin Earths). It’s a sci-fi fantasy about ‘real humans’ cloning themselves as experiment on another Earth as research to create a better world after all those wars and natural disasters. While they are discussing their work, Kaya Miyoshi interrupts them. She is Azuki’s friend and needs to discuss something with Takagi. Something about the person Azuki likes. Well at least it wasn’t Takagi. Takagi tells her he needs to talk to her later. After she leaves, Mashiro can tell that Miyoshi likes Takagi. Miyoshi tries to get some details out of Azuki but the latter denies that she has somebody. Miyoshi thought she is stuck up like Iwase seeing she has never seen her talk to a boy before but Azuki never had a brother so in a way she is embarrassed to speak to one. It is the summer vacation so Mashiro is going to spend his days at the workplace. His mom reminds him about the tests so Mashiro shows her the high scores he got enough to shut her up make her at least approve his manga work and come back once in a while. The guys burn the midnight oil to get their manuscript done. Takagi takes a break to the convenience store and buys a manga magazine. Niizuma’s work and achievement awes them once more but this also discourages Mashiro. But he can’t give up easily just yet. Though both had this policy to not interfere with each other’s work, Takagi feels he needs to help out so Mashiro entrusts him by doing the tones. Going at full speed, their manuscript is done and all that is left is to call Jack for a meeting.

Episode 6
As the duo are on their way to Yuueisha, the publisher of Jack, Takagi narrates the reason he decided not to become a salaryman due to his parents. His father works in a bank while mommy always pressured him and his brother to study hard. That’s why Takagi is a top student and obtaining full marks is no sweat. One day he overheard his mom chiding his dad about covering his boss’ responsibility and got fired. He never understood what it means till one day his mom told him that he has to avenge his dad. That’s when he started thinking she was just making him study for her selfish wish. He started hated studying and began rebelling against his mom that he is not her tool because he will decide his own future. They let him be ever since. At Jack, Akira Hattori greets them and takes a look at their work. It must feels like an eternity waiting for his opinion. Hattori gets frank with them. Due to the sci-fi nature of their work, he feels it leans more towards a novel than a manga because there are too much narration. For it to be a manga, the story progression should be through the drawings and characters. Though the drawing is good, Mashiro still needs to make his own style. By observing Takagi, he notes that he writes based on how well the story can become popular and sell. He adds there are 2 kinds of successful mangaka. The first type bets on everything into a series and it becomes a huge popular success. The other type calculates as much as they can to produce a hit. He cautions them that the big hits are often those who don’t calculate. He has high hopes for them and gives them his name card and should contact him if they ever are in need of anything. Hattori is going to send their manuscript around for the monthly award. He sees potential in them. Hattori confides in his colleague, Souichi Aida about the duo and though he is not sure if a two-man team will split up like they always do, he is confident that in 3 years, they will surpass Niizuma. Mashiro’s class seats get a reshuffle. Guess what? Mashiro and Azuki are seated together. They are seating so oddly that it feels like putting the same magnetic poles together.

Episode 7
Mashiro gradually gets used to his seating next to Azuki and gets to find out some of her likes. Hattori learns that the editor-in-chief himself is going to Niizuma’s house because that kid is going to make his serialized debut soon. He’s got all the awards he could possible get and his feat of sending in manuscripts every month while going to high school is an amazing feat. Mashiro overheard a couple arguing that they won’t see each other if they went to different high school. This reminds him about his promise with Azuki. So when he wrote to tell her that they should wait until their dreams come true, he didn’t expect her to cry in the middle of class! He feels bad about it but still gets to know her email address. Miyoshi tries to talk to Azuki but she lies that she cried because her pet cat died. Next day, Mashiro softens his approach but writing the time for them to be together always is when he becomes a mangaka. Mashiro thinks of aiming to win the Tezuka Award before they graduate because he doesn’t want to see Azuki cry anymore. Takagi gets a call from Hattori about the results and it seems they barely missed being a final candidate for the monthly award. This doesn’t damper their spirits but instead motivates them to do better. Hattori is relieved that he was worried about nothing. He was in a dilemma to submit their work because if they made it, they may become unreservedly happy and if not, they might lose their will seeing it is their first submitted work. But thank goodness it didn’t turn out that way. The editor-in-chief, Hisashi Sasaki along with Niizuma’s editor, Yuujirou Hattori arrive at Niizuma’s home. His parents have given approval for him to go to Tokyo. The guys are surprised to see Niizuma working at incredible speed. Niizuma has a condition if he moves to Tokyo. If he becomes the number one author in Jack, he wants to end a manga he hates.

Episode 8
Though Sasaki didn’t really say yes to his condition, he gives him an option that he can ask for it when the time comes. Niizuma agrees. Wasn’t that hard. Takagi writes his stories during class and could even come up with 4 of them! Mashiro reads them but doesn’t find anything interesting so this process continues till one attracted his attention. Ichi Oku Bun No (Out of 100 Million) about humans in the future being assigned ranks by a giant computer built by the government. People of lower rank cannot go against those ranked higher than them and by doing so this is considered a crime. Of course a bunch of vigilantes fighting the system and against the higher ranking people who are happy to maintain status quo. After working hard and pushing the limits, they set another meeting with Hattori. He feels their work is much better this time as they have did all the corrections he pointed out the last time. If they do win the Tezuka Award, the next step will be their debut in the main magazine. Though there will be some time before the announcement, Takagi can’t help but feel nervous and can’t come up with a good story. This manga thingy is affecting Takagi’s studies that he dropped out of first place and into third. But he’s not fazed. Hattori calls Takagi to convey the good news that they made it into the final 8. This guarantees they will have their name printed. Their hopes ballooned (so as their dreams of actually winning the award itself). On the day the results are supposed to be announced, the duo are nervous so they try reading some manga to calm down. Then the most anticipated call from Hattori: They didn’t make it past the final selection. Though the depressing news hit them hard, they can’t stay down forever and need to continue because they have a goal to obtain by 18 years old. In class, an obnoxious mangaka-wannabe, Ishizawa approaches Takagi. Showing the duo’s name mentioned in Jack, he mocks Mashiro’s drawing as horrible (he is the one to say). He feels Mashiro is pulling down Takagi and wants to team up with the latter if he wants to be successful. To add salt to wound, he mentions Niizuma who was also the finalist and won the award. Takagi is furious and punches Ishizawa. He will not let that bastard go if he doesn’t apologize to Mashiro.

Episode 9
Takagi is suspended from school for a week as Mashiro continues to feel down. Azuki and Miyoshi also see the duo’s name in the magazine and understood why Takagi slipped in his grades. Mashiro couldn’t sleep that night and talks to his grandpa about his problem that if he is holding his partner back. He wonders if he is regretting it. Grandpa doubts he is because it is something he chose himself. This lifts him up a little. Mashiro pays Takagi a visit at his seemingly run down little house. Thanks to the suspension, he is able to come up with some good stories. But the shocking thing Mashiro sees upon entering his room is Miyoshi and Iwase sitting quietly behind. Oh great. This doesn’t look good. Well, both girls came because they are ‘worried’. While Mashiro understands Miyoshi’s case but what about Iwase? Takagi tells him something he forgotten. When he and Iwase was in the third semester of the first year, they shook hands to do their best seeing they are the top 2 of their grades. However Iwase took that as a sign they are a couple. Huh? So he has to choose between them now? It’s not exactly that he hates them so… Yeah, he likes them. But both of them? So he asks if they both love him and without hesitation, they say yes. Takagi curses his popularity. Though they want him to choose, Takagi still places manga above love. But Iwase wants him to give up on being a mangaka. She thinks he’ll regret it. Though it may be true but he doesn’t want to regret not pursuing it in the first place. Because now he is happy and is planning to go to the same high school with Mashiro. With that Iwase leaves and warns him he’ll regret that for the rest of his life. So does this mean Miyoshi won? Takagi clears up about his ‘confession’ that he wanted to talk to her wasn’t to confess but to ask her things about Azuki for Mashiro. Disappointed? Next thing Takagi knows, he got a super smack right across his face! Did she mention she took akido, karate and boxing classes? Takagi accepts her hitting him but even after that, she wants him to go out with her. After hitting her heart out, she leaves so as not to interrupt them. Finally some real work can be done. Mashiro is going to practice his drawing more so he won’t have Takagi any regrets. Meanwhile Niizuma arrives in Tokyo and after seeing a crow, he gets new inspiration and starts screaming like one. Really weird kid…

Episode 10
Takagi reminds Miyoshi that he can’t afford to go out with her for a teensy weensy bit because of their manga work. But she’s not giving up. Hattori brings the duo up to Jack’s editorial department to discuss about the comments made from various departments about their previous work. There is something about their characters needing to be Jack-like but at the same time the people are looking for originality. However after singing praises on Niizuma, Mashiro asks if the fastest way to get serialized is to write a story aimed for serialization. Hattori isn’t confident when Sasaki interrupts. He tells them a manga only needs to be interesting to be serialized. This was also the last words Mashiro’s uncle said to him. He goes on to let them know on how Jack works like authors being paid a yearly contract fee but ‘dismissed’ if their manga declines in popularity or cannot produce anymore good works. Sasaki was Mashiro’s uncle’s editor about his declining manga but he feels he can start coming up with something new. The biggest difference between them and Niizuma is their love for manga. Though Niizuma may be a rising star and has the things he needs to be popular, however that won’t be number one. It’s because he is young. He may be popular with kids but won’t be enough for middle schoolers. Hattori recognizes the deep story these 2 have and wants them to bring in their names. Sasaki wants them to make 1 interesting name with Hattori first if they want to take the shortest route to serialization. When Mashiro goes to the workplace, he notes Takagi already in earlier and Miyoshi inside. Don’t worry, they’re not doing anything funny. Mashiro doesn’t want Azuki to know that they’re using this place. It may be a total distraction. So Miyoshi becomes like an office girl making refreshments for the guys hard at work. Mashiro and Takagi submit their names to Hattori but he doesn’t find it interesting. In fact, their characters have become too Jack-like. He thinks for them to go into mainstream is unsuitable. He lets them know that if 2 out of 10 people think choose a manga, it is considered interesting even if half doesn’t think it’s interesting. He wants them to do cult instead of mainstream and aiming for universal popularity. In view of all this, the duo decide to use Kono Yo Wa Kane to Chie (This World Is Money And Intelligence) whereby in the future human can sell and buy their brains and thoughts. Smart people will want to sell it as a high price and to sell it to as many people possible especially to stupider people. But if you’re buying, you want it as cheap as possible from smarter people.

Episode 11
Yuujirou makes his way to Niizuma’s apartment to find him blasting to rock music to the maximum level while drawing his manga! Can he hear anything?! Takagi thinks about Hattori’s words that 2 of 10 would make a manga popular. But in this case there are 21 mangas to choose from and only 3 slots so the chances of getting selected are pretty slim. Their talk deviate a little as Mashiro ponders how much he would pay for Azuki’s thoughts. In class, the other guys are astounded by Mashiro and Takagi’s work. Takagi finally gets to go out with Miyoshi around Christmas. They talk about Mashiro and Azuki who could be more in love than they can imagine. Takagi leaves early so he can focus on his names but was beaten up. Lesson learnt: Don’t ever stand up on a girl on a date. Mashiro, Takagi and Miyoshi manage to enter the same high school together. With that aside, now they can concentrate on their manga. Hattori is impressed with their work and sends it for submission. On Valentine’s Day, Mashiro got pencil chocolates from Azuki seeing she thought it would be fitting since he is going to become a mangaka. Then the dreaded result announcement waiting. It could end up like the last time as a failure. Then the call comes. What it’s going to be? It is going to be run in the NEXT magazine. Though they are happy but Hattori lets them in on another info. The reason they are selected is because Niizuma is also running his work from the cover. So they are being used to make Niizuma look good. Even so, getting their work published here is a golden opportunity and they should use it to win.

Episode 12
Hattori treats the duo to a meal as celebration before heading back to discuss about their battle plan. Seeing they are serious in beating Niizuma, Hattori goes over panel by panel the amendments they need to make. Yes, every panel. Hattori is stumped that they want to get serialized quickly but Mashiro couldn’t say. He even thinks Niizuma is going too fast for his own good. Miyoshi talks to Azuki and the former feels bad that they both are focusing on making their dreams come true that they don’t have time to see each other. Though Miyoshi was made to promise not to tell, she can’t help tell Takagi about Azuki moving away. They go tell Mashiro about it and think they should have a talk before she moves. But Mashiro wants to concentrate on beating Niizuma first. Mashiro and Miyoshi end up arguing followed by the latter leaving. Next day Miyoshi apologizes for saying things she shouldn’t have but Mashiro is cool with it. Later Takagi and Miyoshi plan to make memories for Mashiro and Azuki. After the graduation ceremony, Mashiro and Takagi run into Ishizawa. Takagi won’t forgive him for what he said but apologizes for hitting him. Ishizawa responds by telling them to do their best. Miyoshi is trying to stall for time while walking back with Azuki. When Mashiro arrives on the scene, Miyoshi ‘abandons’ her. But Azuki just walk past Mashiro. Feeling the need to say something, he asks how long will she wait for him. She replies she’ll just wait. That’s good, right?

Episode 13
Takagi and Miyoshi love hearing any developments between Mashiro and Azuki. But if you’re putting your hopes high, don’t count on it. They only said 1 sentence to each other? That’s appalling. Mashiro and Takagi submit their work to Hattori and all that’s left is to put a comment on the final page. Hattori wants them to open a bank account seeing manuscripts submitted will get paid. How much? 9000 Yen per page for newcomers! Mashiro is having a problem in what to write to Azuki. He took too long till it’s morning. When he managed to send one, Azuki gave an instant reply. That was fast! In school, Miyoshi helps Mashiro and Takagi to come up with a pen name. It is decided to be Ashirogi Muto (it is based on the kanji names of Mashiro, Takagi and Azuki). Hattori shows the duo the sample of NEXT magazine and they find Niizuma’s CROW good. Hattori explains the important factor in ranking Jack’s manga: Questionnaires. Place cards within the magazine have readers rank the manga they like from 1 to 20. It is split into 2 reports with the preliminary ones amounting to about 100 early cards that are hand counted while the real deal comes out only much later and is sorted out by the computer. Hearing the early reports may not be accurate because one may start out leading but in the end lose out when the total number of votes are accounted for. Mashiro feels they need to serialize Kane To Chie for them to have any hopes of serialization (something Hattori disapproves for them to do while they’re still in school). So they need to make a name that he will approve. As the duo continue their work, they get a call from Hattori about the early report and it seems they are in the lead. But he warns them not to get too relaxed because Niizuma is just behind them by 2 votes and could overtake them anytime. A few weeks later, the real report comes out. Their final standing is third. Niizuma again got first and beats them by a wide margin. 503-312 votes. Hattori feels they have done a good job but the guys are still in shock over their lost. Because of that, Mashiro thinks of redoing their name. He is obviously depressed and feels the need to enter mainstream. Doing cult is just like running away as he tears away the name. Starting from scratch? Yeah, remember to pick up the litter you just made.

Episode 14
Takagi offering himself to get beaten up by Miyoshi? Even all that safety gear isn’t going to keep him safe. It’s part of his research to understand feelings of people who fight in battle stories, a mainstream genre that they will be doing. Miyoshi explains that a failure doesn’t mean they will be failures for life. Their work was good. She also lets them know about Azuki’s failed auditions but she never gave up. Mashiro thinks deep about his dramatic battle manga. He feels his idea has been done to death and the problem is how the story plays out and how they show the battles. Yuujirou goes to see Niizuma and remind him about his serialization. Later he comes back with a couple of assistants to help him with his work. However he is shocked to see that Niizuma is not doing the YELLOW HIT he is supposed to draw but CROW instead. Mashiro and Takagi go see Hattori about their plans to do mainstream and he is clearly not happy they chose this path. Both sides start arguing their points when the editor gets a distress call from Yuujirou about Niizuma’s work. Sasaki tells them to bring the manuscripts along with Niizuma himself. So when they arrive, Yuujirou hands in the manuscripts. This will be a problem because it was already stated in the previous magazine that YELLOW HIT will be serialized. But Niizuma doesn’t want to do that and is doing CROW instead. Mashiro overheard all that and realized he is getting serialized. He isn’t happy Hattori didn’t tell them this. Suddenly Niizuma pops up at Hattori’s table. He is a fan of Ashirogi Muto and thinks their work on Kane To Chie is interesting. His eccentric behaviour continues to surprise the duo because he considers them his friends! Yuujirou cuts in and asks Niizuma if he has done chapter 2 and 3 of CROW and if he does, they’ll agree to serialize it. Niizuma is confident he has it all in his head and starts drawing in his sketchbook. Though he was given an hour, he completed it in half that time! Amazing! No wonder he is a genius. Hope those 2 learnt a valuable lesson watching him draw right before their eyes. After that Hattori warns them that they can’t win against Niizuma’s battle manga CROW but Mashiro isn’t giving in. Hattori throws the ultimatum at them. They have to come up with a name he approves in 6 months, they will follow his plan or else he will resign as their editor.

Episode 15
Hattori continues to tell them about the downfalls of many trying to do battle manga in the mainstream. Niizuma interrupts again to tell them to just draw without thinking. He goes on about the hassle of drawing names and that he lied to the editors when he said he already had a name in his head. The characters he like just moved by themselves. Mashiro is confident he’ll catch up to him and until them he should continue to get serialized. He thinks this world isn’t as soft as to make him number one that easily. Niizuma has this feeling Mashiro will be his greatest rival because he had this incredible burning passion in his eyes like a manga hero. Elsewhere, Azuki manages to get an audition as a seiyuu for the anime Sei Visual. Miyoshi stays over at Azuki’s place. Azuki hears from Miyoshi how Takagi is doing his best so much so they don’t have time to go out on dates. Likewise, Azuki also thinks Mashiro is a really amazing person to be doing several hundred drawings. This encourages her to do better for her audition. She manages to get a role albeit is a minor one with just a few lines. She emails Mashiro about it so he replies to wait for them even if she got the heroine role. She didn’t like his discouraging tone and threatens to block him if he sends another mail like this. Mashiro vows to work harder so she can have a heroine role waiting for her first.

Episode 16
While Miyoshi is probably thrilled about Azuki making her seiyuu debut (the anime airs at midnight), seems Mashiro isn’t seeing you can’t easily get an anime adaptation and that she couldn’t play the part if she doesn’t get into the position where she can be a heroine. Mashiro has this problem of drawing a cute girl so Takagi suggests using an angel for a protagonist for “Watashi No Angel” (tentative title for his name). It’s about bad angel killing people to earn points (?!) so good angels are sent down to the human world to stop them. So good angel falls in love with human girl and goes on their justice hunt. Takagi receives a call from Hattori about the Gold Future Cup whereby newcomers compete in one-shot mangas. He suggests for them to submit their work for it to gain some achievements before the next issue of NEXT. With the deadline close, they work hard to submit to Hattori. He is impressed that they can go this far with a battle manga. Though he is setting a higher bar for them, he wants them to think of it as a compliment because a mangaka has to surpass his editor. Days later, the duo got the bad news that it isn’t even being entered. They feel depressed and wonder if entering mainstream was a wise decision. They manage to catch the end of Sei Visual in time to hear Azuki’s little line. She even appeared on TV in a cosplay. Using this as motivation, Mashiro feels they can’t lose and get depressed over being rejected. On another day, they are being called by Hattori as he shows them critics and comments of those who judge their work. The bottom-line shows that they have potential. Miyoshi shows the guys Azuki’s profile in a magazine for Sei Visual. She lets them know she almost got in trouble with her school because it doesn’t allow its students to do part time job but due to her good grades, she is let off the hook. With this, Miyoshi declares her dream to be a writer. I hope she’s serious in that. She’s going to write handphone novels and use Mashiro and Azuki as her model for her romance stories. I think she’s serious. Plus, she wants Takagi to help her out in exchange she’ll write girls’ emotions for his manga. Mashiro feels she shouldn’t interfere and they need to come up with something unique or the results will be the same. Takagi tries hard to come up with ideas but he’s having a writer’s block. Aida sees Hattori needing a good artist for a second place winner of Story King. He thought of using Mashiro but Hattori rejects seeing Ashirogi Muto is a two-man team. Yuujirou then suggests Mashiro work as Niizuma’s assistant just for the summer holidays, throwing arguments they view Niizuma as their rival and that older assistants are giving Niizuma the cold shoulder. Hattori agrees if only they consent to it. Hattori calls Takagi (who is in the middle of his date with Miyoshi) to seek his permission. Seeing he is in a slump, Takagi feels guilty of holding Mashiro back so if Mashiro says okay, he won’t stop him. Then Hattori calls Mashiro to let him know. He agrees to do it in hopes he may learn something. As he cycles past the park, he sees Takagi and Miyoshi kissing.

Episode 17
Mashiro arrives at Niizuma’s apartment and is being greeted by the other older assistant, Takurou Nakai. He learns about the peculiar habits while working with Niizuma. Like once he sleeps, he won’t wake up for the next 20 hours. Wow. The other assistant is Shinta Fukuda but he is just using this part time job as a stepping stone for his own debut. Due to Niizuma almost singlehandedly doing everything, Fukuda has lots of free time on his hand and is doing his own work. Fukuda and Nakai are surprise to learn Mashiro is part of the Ashirogi Muto team but Fukuda mocks Nakai further because based on accomplishment and age, he ranks the lowest among them all. So much so being an assistant has become Nakai’s full time job (his last award was like 10 years ago). Niizuma is happy to be working with Mashiro. Mashiro and Fukuda give their opinions on CROW and frankly speaking if he doesn’t come up with anything interesting, it will eventually get cancelled. He needs to put the readers’ interest first when drawing his manga otherwise he is better off drawing doujin. With that, the gang decide to help Niizuma make CROW interesting and get first place. Let’s say they would prefer to take down their rival when they’re at the top. Because Niizuma doesn’t do names and finds it troublesome, Fukuda makes him do one so as to assess whether it is interesting or not. Again, he manages to draw the entire chapter in his sketchbook in record time. Since he also has to be redoing an entire chapter, Fukuda takes the rest of the day off. Mashiro and Nakai won’t have anything to do till tomorrow afternoon. Fukuda at least compliments Nakai’s drawing techniques without using any reference and from any angle. He has to be good after being an assistant for 10 years, right? Mashiro continues to observe Niizuma at work and when he decides to sleep, he notices Nakai crying. Mashiro understands how he feels. Nakai advises him not to be an assistant for a long time, because he too has his dreams of serialization and he is already 33 years old. Next day, the assistants get down to work as Niizuma already has some of the manuscripts done. They notice another change in Niizuma because he is apologizing to Yuujirou. He will now attend meetings and draw names. He repents his ways of everyone telling him a genius but turned into a goblin instead. Though things are looking good for Niizuma and Yuujirou now, Mashiro still hasn’t his goal of coming here: For Takagi’s sake.

Episode 18
Fukuda asks Yuujirou about the appearance of mangas in Jack. He is unhappy that the first ones that appear are popular ones and the lesser ones at the back. He thinks of doing a rotation so that the questionnaire results will subtly change. Plus, he isn’t happy that the editorial department decides which mangas are popular. Yuujirou tells him to concentrate on his own work and get serialized first before thinking of those stuff. As they continue to work on Niizuma’s chapter, Niizuma tells how he got into manga. He came from a rural village whereby it took 30 minutes to get to someone in his grade’s house. The nearest convenience store was far and he had no money and thus spent his time drawing manga. This has Mashiro remembering his own past whereby he also drew manga when he was in elementary due to his uncle’s influence. Thinking that Takagi may have something he wants to draw, Mashiro requests to step down as Niizuma’s assistant. He knows he has caught on to something and allows him to go. Nakai is enough to cover everything Niizuma does. Meanwhile Takagi gets invited to Miyoshi’s home. Nobody else is in. She called him here to check out her story. And to write a continuation. Oh, now this? Couldn’t she just forward the story to him? Well, she really wants them to be together. That explains it all. Mashiro goes back to his room to take out a detective manga he drew when he was young (he thinks his drawing sucks at that time). He thinks this will be their mainstream manga as they’re too fixated on battle manga (in shonen magazines, detective manga is the mainstream). He calls Takagi but hears Miyoshi’s sound in the background. It feels like he is fooling around. Mashiro thinks he is neglecting the name. Takagi assures that he is doing everything he can and reminds him that his love with Azuki isn’t really the normal one because it is natural for one to be with someone they like. Mashiro ponders if his relationship with Azuki is drifting apart. So he is resolved to complete the manga by himself if Takagi hasn’t finish a name by the end of the summer holiday.

Episode 19
Mashiro tells Takagi that he will complete the manga on his own because as a mangaka he should know better to honour his deadlines. Takagi dismisses the idea that because of Miyoshi, he started slacking. At first he thought he wasn’t doing this for a girl but feels he is the same as him now. But Mashiro did tell him that if he ever needs a good copy (because his artwork in his names sucks), he can help draw for him but will charge 100 Yen per page. Miyoshi finds out about their break up and feels guilty. She wants to go talk to Mashiro to clear things but Takagi doesn’t want her to go make excuses to him on his behalf. He will continue to do his best but if she says something unnecessary, he won’t like her anymore. Mashiro sees Hattori alone about his detective story whereby the protagonist sets traps to lure the culprits out. Suspecting something amiss, he excuses himself to call Takagi to confirm about the break up. He is surprised that Takagi himself is also writing a detective manga. Aida tries to persuade to do the artwork for the Story King second place but was stopped by Hattori. Hattori explains that if he does the artwork, he may get serialized if it gets popular. But if he plans on doing so, he better makes sure he doesn’t team up with Takagi again. Since Mashiro isn’t sure, Hattori feels he shouldn’t do artwork for anyone besides Takagi yet. Later Hattori sees Takagi alone. Hattori feels if he listens to what he says, he is sure they’ll get back together writing a hit manga. Revealing that Mashiro is also doing a detective story, he wants Takagi to take his time to polish up his and come up with a good name together. How long will that be? Two years. For a detective story, you need time to build things up, right? However Takagi can’t do it. Hattori thinks Mashiro was also thinking about him because he rejected to do the artwork for Story King. Anyway Takagi will come up with his own detective story. Miyoshi still feels guilty so she tries to make it up between the guys. But nothing changed. Miyoshi couldn’t hold it in and told Azuki what happened between the boys. One day, Takagi gave Mashiro 5 names, something Mashiro couldn’t even complete one. They talk about their meeting with Hattori and eventually made up. They couldn’t stand 2 years deceiving each other so it’s safe to say that they’re back on track as a team. Plus, they decide to fool Hattori by making him think they’re still writing separately. In half a year, they’ll come up with 10 chapters needed for serialization instead of doing 3 names. Miyoshi once again tries to butt in but finds out their problem has been solved. As for Azuki’s case, Mashiro emails her that they are back on track and nothing is to be worried about. She is glad that the guys have matching wavelength with each other than him with her. That’s a joke, right?

Episode 20
Back in the workplace, they discuss the detective manga they’re doing and how to improve on it by setting tricks and traps that can surprise readers. Plus, Takagi has received boxes of DVDs of detective movies from Hattori in his bid to learn something from it. That will take him at least 3 months and he hasn’t got enough time for it. Miyoshi volunteers to watch it and tell Takagi the main points. What about her handphone novel? She gave up. WHAT?! So fast?! Well, she wants to help Mashiro and Azuki to be together (still feeling guilty about the break up). Mashiro thanks her for her help and sends Miyoshi into emotional frenzy. Yeah, she even proposes to Takagi to get married. The guys got cheeky enough because in class a girl approaches Takagi to confirm if he is going out with Miyoshi. Mashiro confirms he even has a fiancée. See that shock reaction? I guess they love seeing that. Miyoshi lets the guys know Sei Visual is going to have a second season due to its popularity. She lets them watch a music video of the seiyuus and they find Azuki really bad at singing. Mashiro and Takagi surprise Hattori when they both show up together with their work, Gitantei Trap. Yeah, they really got him. It only shows that they are really a good team. He still feels it’s not good for them to rush for serialization but since they insist, he wants them to get a good result for the next Golden Future Cup but until then, they also have to write and bring in a 19-page manga every fortnight. For each finished chapter they have to bring a meeting for the next one. They usually don’t go this far but Hattori wants to because he views them different from Niizuma. Even if they don’t get serialized, their efforts won’t be in vain. They accept the challenge because they’ve already come this far and got to do this at any cost. The duo on their way home bump into Fukuda. He too is entering for the Golden Future Cup. They renew their rivalry to duke it out fair and square. Mashiro and Takagi work hard (even during classes) to come up as they’re told. Then on the day of the announcement, they got the good news that they have entered the Golden Future Cup. Yahoo! This increases their chances of running in the main Jack magazine.

Episode 21
Mashiro burns the midnight oil so much so he deprives himself of sleep. So it’s no wonder he doesn’t look too good in class. On the way to meet Hattori, they see Nakai chatting with a pretty lady, Kou Aoki (clearly Nakai has a crush on her because he agrees to what everything she says). As much as they want to avoid seeing him, too late, he invites them to chat with them. Aoki is the runner up for Story King and Nakai will be doing the artwork for her. Oh, their work will also be a candidate for Golden Future Cup. The first thing Aoki tell Ashirogi Muto is that their work wasn’t very good. Wow. Right in their faces. Takagi asks her the kind of story she writes and it leans towards fantasy. There are 4 candidates vying for the Golden Future Cup (in descending order): Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight, Ashirogi Mutou’s Gitantei Trap, Aoki-Nakai’s Hideout Door and Kouji Makaino’s Colorfusical. Aoki also mentions she doesn’t like Fukuda’s work and prefers the weird Colorfusical that took second prize in the last Tezuka Award. As Mashiro and Takagi go meet Hattori, has them do meetings for serialization now seeing that they have entered the Golden Future Cup and notes their seriousness. He lets them know about the impartial endorsement percentage that ranks a manga. In short, works that run first will have better advantage seeing that the later works are being compared to them to be decided whether to be endorsed or not. Even so, if they don’t win but get good results, they’ll still have a chance to get serialized. They get fired up not to just to their best but win. Elsewhere, famous rock musician known as KOOGY stuns the crowd with an announcement at the end of his concert. Want to bet what it is? You will already make a good guess once you get to know there is an editor from Yuueisha to see him. Mashiro is wakened up by a call from furious Fukuda to watch the news. Last night’s KOOGY’s announcement has him taking a hiatus from music business to continue his manga work as part of his goal to become a charismatic person with success in different fields. Yup, KOOGY is Kouji Makaino. Fukuda is angry at this last minute announcement because it means that his fans will send in questionnaires and votes to seize first place for the Golden Future Cup. This is not fair to the other candidates. Fukuda suggests for the rest to storm Yuueisha to protest.

Episode 22
The Yuueisha editors know the Golden Future Cup entrants are going to storm the place. So once Fukuda and co enter, Yuujirou cuts between them. Fukuda thinks it’s unfair that mangakas like them put all their heart and soul into their work only to have something unfair like this pop up. But Yuujirou begs to differ because he feels his fans would prefer him to get back into the music scene as soon as possible. Fukuda gets a little rough and threatens for all of them to step down as candidates. However if they do, there will be many others willing to take their place. Mashiro, reflecting back Sasaki’s words will not pull out because all they have to do is win. Even if KOOGY wins and they read it, they’ll be able to tell who really won and lost. It is the content that it will be judged on. Though they take their leave, something still needs to be done. They decide to judge each other’s work at Niizuma’s place. Once they’ve finished reading, they’ll give their earnest opinions. Good or bad. Everything goes. No holding back. Niizuma also joins in. It’s natural to think that the ideas and work of others are good. But not Aoki. She thinks hers is the best. Because of that, she abstains from commenting on others. Because everybody else has faith in their own works, there is no further need for such a meeting. Therefore, they’ll hear the opinion of the most neutral one: Niizuma. Though he has a hard time choosing the most interesting one, he notes it is a tie for first place. He feels bad for the third place so he’s not going to say. On the way back, Mashiro can’t help wonder which works did Niizuma place as joint first even if it’s just his opinion. Also, he worries about KOOGY’s popularity that will rake in the votes. Azuki is preparing for a Sei Visual concert event when she heard her colleagues praising about KOOGY entering the manga world. They think of voting for him because they are his fans. Miyoshi and Azuki’s sister watch her sing on stage and seems like she still needs lots of room for improvement. Later Miyoshi shows a photo of Azuki in her cosplay to the guys and how much she is working hard to get better. Soon Mashiro gets email from Azuki herself. She believes the duo will get first place for the Golden Future Cup despite all the support she heard for KOOGY.

Episode 23
Mashiro is still bothered by Niizuma’s flat out opinion as a genius. But they can’t stop now. Mashiro continues to work hard, pinpointing his drawing that needs improvement to complement Takagi’s stories. Takagi has a condition and that is to touch up on the story too. After looking at Story King’s name, he feels the need to aim higher. Fukuda is redoing his Kiyoshi Night and is going to make it even intense while Nakai improves on the quality of the final artwork. KOOGY is having a press conference about his manga work. He is confident he has everything in his head and just need to put in on paper for everyone to see (seems he hasn’t penned anything down yet. I don’t know what he’s up to). Mashiro is going to spend most of his summer holidays at the workplace. His mom is worried but grandpa gives him the encouragement to carry on and at the same time to not forget those who supported him. Not only Ashirogi Muto works hard but Fukuda, Nakai and Azuki in their respective roles as well. They manage to meet the deadline (they haven’t slept in days) and to Hattori’s surprise, the protagonist has become a bit more shonen manga-ish apart from editing a few places. This isn’t a bad thing. He also notes they have grown a lot. Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight makes the first appearance on Jump’s Weekly magazine and the story crazily switches between violence and comedy. Mashiro and Takagi read it and find it has gotten more interesting than the one they read. The early report comes out the next day and seems Kiyoshi Knight is garnering favourable votes. Meanwhile KOOGY still hasn’t penned down anything and is confident of making it.

Few days later, Fukuda gets a call from Yuujirou that he can start working on serialization for Kiyoshi Knight. Nakai calls Aoki to inform her about this but she has no interest in the results of others. The following week, Ashirogi Mutou’s Gitantei Trap appears. Mashiro doesn’t look too happy because he realizes his artwork seems bad. He gets email from Azuki who has read their work and finds it interesting and has submitted a questionnaire. The early report shows Gitantei Trap with favourable votes so Hattori gives them the green light to do its serialization names. Few days later, Gitantei Trap’s result seems on par with Kiyoshi Knight though Hattori didn’t mention who got higher. Hideout Door makes its debut in the third week and they are stunned by the amazing artwork of this fantasy world. Nakai could rake in the votes based on his drawing so Mashiro can’t make light of his speed and technique either. Surprisingly Hideout Door also gets lots of favourable votes. Aida calls Nakai to start his serialization names. This is the moment he has been waiting for. Though a few days later their ranking went down, their approval rating is basically the same and most importantly they can still go ahead and move towards serialization. Nakai is so happy that he is crying tears of joy, thanking Niizuma and Fukuda for everything. Finally KOOGY’s Colorfusical appears in the next week and many find it hard to understand the confusing story. It feels like KOOGY is so infatuated with himself he has trouble communicating with the readers. But with his unpredictable votes from his fans, can he really pull this one off? It would be an insult to mangakas if he does. At least this is what Fukuda thinks. He’ll even quit his series if that happens.

Episode 24
The real results of the candidates of Golden Future Cup candidates as well as other works are out. Guess what? Colorfusical ranked at number 14! A big relief! So how upset is KOOGY? He smashed his guitar! So the mangakas were worried over nothing. In the end, it is the real manga fans that showed him. So the Cup now boils down to 3 competitors. With the real winner announcement quite some time away (because they’re recounting 5000 questionnaires!), Mashiro and Takagi continue to work on their serialization names. The staffs at Yuueisha are having a hard time deciding the winner of Golden Future Cup because the votes and margins are very close. Breaking down based on demographics and endorsement percentage seems to make it more complicating because each work has their own set of demographic fans. Waiting for the announcement is excruciating for the guys and when the call finally came, the winner is… Gitantei Trap and Kiyoshi Knight! Double winners?! First time something like this happen! Joy and relief greet the Golden Future Cup candidates. Fukuda notes the incredible prediction made by Niizuma not who got first but predicting a tie for first place. Mashiro emails Azuki about their success but she wants to know Takagi’s handphone number. Takagi is surprised when Azuki calls him to thank him that because of him, she and Mashiro wouldn’t have seen each other again after their middle school graduation. Because of him, Mashiro wouldn’t have aimlessly led a boring life. In fact, this is what Mashiro told her to say to him because it’ll be weird if guys said it to each other. Miyoshi couldn’t stand Takagi talking so friendly with her so she hijacks the phone to ‘warn’ her Takagi is her boyfriend and that she should at least say congratulations to Mashiro in person. Azuki isn’t ready but the handphone is thrust into Mashiro’s hands. It isn’t because Mashiro took too long daydreaming that he got cut off. Azuki instantly cut the line.

Yuujirou and Hattori attend to their respective mangakas and go over their names for serialization. It seems better than before. Aida also goes through with Nakai and Aoki. Even if Aida notes her work is not bad, Aoki’s pride takes it as there is something particularly not good and wants him to point out areas which he thinks needs improvement. It’s not that she’s a sore loser over the Cup’s lost. Miyuki wonders if Azuki has a boy she likes seeing she has manga magazines on her bookshelves. Embarrassed Azuki refuses to divulge any further information but Miyuki is concern if she is properly meeting the boy she likes. She doesn’t want her to end up like her (a relationship that ends up years later with only corresponding of letters). She cautions the other person may not like her after avoiding each other for so long but Azuki believes in that person even if they don’t meet. Hattori has finished checking Ashirogi Muto’s Gitantei Trap’s chapter 3 and is going to pass to the higher ups for decision. Later Hattori meets Aida and hopes he will follow up on Ashirogi Muto’s serialization (Aida is one of the few staffs in the committee that decide which works to serialize. Hattori and Yuujirou aren’t). Hattori shows the 10 chapters Ashirogi Muto has drawn during the days building up to the Cup’s deadline. This is how serious they are and proves they can handle this much. The night before the serialization meeting, Yuujirou treats Hattori out for a drink. They talk about the 13 names being submitted for the serialization meeting. They are worried because since there are veterans, newcomers’ serialization may be limited to one or at most two. Hattori feels he wants Ashirogi Muto to get serialized regardless of his own credit for it happening. And everyone else is waiting with baited breath and having sleepless night over it.

Episode 25
The 6-man panel judge start their discussion over the 13 submitted names to see who makes the cut for serialization for December’s Jack issue. It’s either a yes or no. If a work is given a no, it will be thrown back to the drawing board for changes or made as a one-shot manga or totally rejected. Due to limited space, if new works do get serialized, old ones go out or are stopped. It’s a dog eat dog world. Among the panel include Sasaki, assistant editor in chief Yahagi, Nakano, Aida, Kouji Yoshida and Yoshihisa Heiki. Going true the works one by one, when it is Hideout Door’s turn, Aida fights for its worth to be serialized and Sasaki gives the yes. Then during the debate for Kiyoshi Knight, the chapters may be following the same pattern but it shows lots of vigour and the characters are good. So that’s a yes too. Then comes the work of Rakko 11-Gou (Otter 11) by Kazuya Hiramaru. He is under Yoshida and is his top recommended newcomer. The amazing thing about this guy is that until this year, he has never read manga before. After seeing a copy of Jack in the luggage rack of the train, he resigned from his job at a corporation and started drawing manga. His first work was very good and showed lots of potential (he got an honourable mention in a monthly award). He went from an amateur to a pro in just a month. In other words, he is a genius. The rest aren’t sure since serializing a newbie would be risky but Sasaki gives a yes seeing the story is interesting. Now it’s Gitantei Trap’s turn. Aida tells the panel about all the hard work Hattori told him. They are amazed of the motivation and effort they put in despite still in school. Though worried if serializing them quickly will get them overconfident, Sasaki gives a yes. However there are 7 names Sasaki has given the yes and it is too much so they need to have another round to cut down that number. Meanwhile the mangakas are anxiously waiting for the answer. Not only the mangakas, the editors as well. The nerve-wrecking moment of waiting feels like eternity. Ashirogi Muto is feeling down and negative because though they may have been confident they won the Golden Future Cup, they are competing with other worthy rivals and their chances are slim. Plus, they feel they will not get picked since Jack people don’t need another bunch of high school kids to compare with Niizuma.

A meeting that is supposed to take 3 hours at most finally finishes after 5 and a half hours! Wow. Hattori calls Takagi and the decision was… Gitantei Trap GOT SERIALIZED!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Rakko 11-Gou is the other work that got serialized but for every success, there are many failures. Yuujirou calls Fukuda that he didn’t make the cut but his work will be considered at the next serialized meeting. Same case for Aoki-Nakai. At least they didn’t get cancelled. Mashiro and Takagi are so happy that they couldn’t contain their happiness. They are a few steps closer to their dream. Now all that’s left is to email Azuki. But Mashiro didn’t get a call from her bur rather from Fukuda. He congratulates their victory and though he has lost to them, he isn’t going to give up yet and will beat them in the next serialization. Passing over to Niizuma, he congratulates them and is delighted they can work hard while competing with each other. Mashiro relays the news to his grandpa and mom. Though mom is worried he is still in school and will be ever more busy, Mashiro is adamant that he will do both. He thanks his late uncle but feels there is more to be done and that he is still a gambler. Rushing over to Azuki’s house, he gets a call from an unknown number. It is Azuki. She got his number from Miyoshi. She congratulates him and both are them are going to work harder than ever to realize their dream. Next day, Mashiro and Takagi make preparations at their workplace to greet Hattori because they need to work out on stuffs like contracts and assistants. However Hattori introduces them to Gorou Miura, a new editor who joined Jack last year. He will take over Hattori and be Ashirogi Muto’s new editor.

Bakuboys…
Well, it isn’t over yet. A second season came and went just like that too. What’s more, even when the second season was halfway through its run, an announcement was made that there is going to be a third season! Woah! This means it is really going to be a long and winding journey being a mangaka. It goes to show that being a mangaka isn’t easy and not a bed of roses. It’s all hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Dreaming is easy but to achieve it is only 1% aspiration and 99% perspiration. I’ll be taking a short break for a while before resuming my ‘schedule’ with this series. Hey, I don’t have any deadlines or obligations to finish watching this series, right?

So what else can I say about the team of Ashirogi Muto. They definitely are a pair for each other and no other combination will do. They share a special bond and from a different point of view, it may turn yaoi anytime. Thankfully it didn’t. Maybe it’s just me. No, I’m not a yaoi fan, mind you. Everybody has a part to play in taking them to where they are now. If not for Takagi, Mashiro could have been continuing to live an uneventful life, void of any excitement. He wouldn’t have opened up himself to new challenges or take up challenges that takes him to new heights. If not for Azuki, that dream of marrying the girl he loves would have just stayed a dream. If not for Miyoshi, well, I guess you need somebody to support you like making meals and watching movies for you. Mashiro’s uncle has left him a treasure trove of material references and his family do not object as well. Without Niizuma, the pair wouldn’t have gone all out and improve themselves tremendously. With a genius like him as a rival, you’ll definitely start cracking your head on how to be better at him at his own game. Niizuma may seem like a genius in the eyes of others but to those especially not in the manga line, would view him as a very weird kid. He’s always cawing like a crow while drawing and he can’t really sit still while doing so. His body needs to move with the flow of the ideas in his head that is bursting to come out through his pen. Hattori has been a good editor for the pair and has taught them much in their growth. But I guess any manga magazine editor would want their pupils to shine and do well. But I will have to wait for the next season to find out why he is leaving them with a new editor. Perhaps a change in pace? They may get complacent with the old one seeing they have come to rely a lot on him in submitting their works to the higher ups. So a new one would bring in different challenges, expectations and pace. Like they say, variety is the spice of life.

The love development between Mashiro and Azuki may seem to be not going anywhere on the surface but even if they don’t show it, their love has been growing stronger ever since the day they first met. Besides, as Takagi once said, their love isn’t normal. Normal couples would want to be close to each other every single minute till they get sick of each other and break up. Oops. But perhaps reverse psychology here works. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. Hope it won’t be a case of history repeats itself like Mashiro’s uncle and Azuki’s mom. Takagi and Miyoshi seem like a joker couple in the sense that Miyoshi is always bugging her boyfriend to go out on a date despite knowing well he is busy meeting name deadlines. And even if Takagi does find a way to express his love for her, some of them sounds perverted. That’s normal, right? And for Nakai, he could perhaps try much harder to impress Aoki. But I won’t put my money on it. It’s just a one-sided love. Aoki may seem like a stuck-up b*tch but if she were to let emotions get in the way of her work, what would that make her? Would anyone take her seriously other than the fact she is Story King’s runner up? Maybe being emotionless is her way of being professional.

Just like Ashirogi Muto, there are still lots of potential for the other characters as well. People like Fukuda and Nakai will still try their best and not giving up on their coveted dream of having their works serialized. Then there are new characters like that Hiramaru guy (from what I can see, he got his inspiration to get into the world of manga after eavesdropping Ashirogi Muto talking in a train). I’m sure he will be a potential rival in the next season. Then there are minor ones that are not to be forgotten as well. Still remember Iwase? Even if Takagi has dismissed her ‘advice’ of not pursuing manga but I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll be hearing for her. Hmm… Perhaps a potential love triangle with Miyoshi in the future? I’ve got the same feeling that Ishizawa too will make a comeback somehow. But I do hope that KOOGY guy won’t make a comeback. I don’t know. I just don’t like him. It’s like he is trying to destroy everything that true mangakas have been working hard throughout their lives. Sure, celebrities these days tend to cross over to other entertainment industries to spread their popularity but I feel drawing manga shouldn’t be one of them. So just stick to being a musician/songwriter/actor/brand ambassador/fashion designer and the likes. One shouldn’t be too greedy.

The story flows at a constant pace so unless you’re really not into manga or at least in this industry, you wouldn’t appreciate what is happening nor understand what is going on. Even though I am not a manga enthusiast, somehow the pacing of the story kept me glued to the screen. Albeit there are many parts that I didn’t understand so I had to rewind and watch them explain again and again and again and again. So we have Ashirogi Muto forming as a formidable team to write and draw mangas to be submitted for awards. Each result serves as a lesson and a next step to take be it getting a good position or flat out rejection. They are not the genius type so it is expected that not every of their works will be readily accepted by everyone. Besides, the demographic is so fragmented sometimes it is hard to find a size that fits all for the public. So niche? Well, I’m sure every mangaka would like his or her works to be read by everybody even if it is not its intended target group. Being a two-man team also means there is pressure and expectation of the other. Though the tension and breakup lasted for a short while, it only serves to strengthen their bond even further. You know what they say about loving your wife by leaving her, right? Yeah, what did I just say about absence making the heart grow fonder? Then we have Mashiro temporarily gaining invaluable experience being Niizuma’s assistant before the pair goes on to write up a potential detective manga for yet another competition and the ultimate prize of serialization.

I’m not sure if this is how the flow of submitting your works to meetings of which works get serialized really takes place in the real world. But I think it’s more or like something like this. Although not much in detail, you can learn a thing or two about the process of being a mangaka and how their works get published. It is easy for readers to criticize and form their own opinions but you have to appreciate and give hats off to everyone in putting the effort for the published works. Artwork may not look good but see if you can do the same too. Story may not be interesting but can you come up with something better? The questionnaires and rankings are another daunting task. That little piece of paper is what will make or break you. A single number that can alter your destiny for the rest of your life. And being in a result-oriented world filled with rankings, you can’t blame mangakas for being anxious. You can spot many popular real mangas in this anime like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach and even To Love-Ru. I guess it is for some realism because it’s not like international brands that will threaten to sue if you display their name without their permission and hence the spoofed names.

The voice acting seems pretty decent considering this is an anime about mangakas. I guess the ‘best’ voice acting role would go to Nobuhiko Okamoto as Niizuma because of the way he screams and shrieks. You wouldn’t have recognized that this was the guy who voiced Usui in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama or Rin in Ao No Exorcist. But that ‘craziness’ is almost similar to his other role as Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index. Other casts include Atsushi Abe as Mashiro (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Satoshi Hino as Takagi (Yuuji in Shakugan No Shana), Saori Hayami as Azuki (Ikaros in Sora No Otoshimono), Sayuri Yahagi as Miyoshi (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Kentarou Tone as Hattori, Junichi Suwabe as Fukuda (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Tomoyuki Shimura as Nakai (Gaira in Marchen Awakens Romance), Ayako Kawasumi as Aoki (Saber in Fate/Stay Night), Hirofumi Nojima as Yuujirou (Kitamura in Toradora), Kikuko Inoue as Miyuki (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama) and Ayumi Fujimura as Iwase (Misaki in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama). I find the opening theme of the series, Blue Bird by Kobukuro, to be a little, how should I put it, gay. Maybe it’s the guy vocals. The first ending theme is BAKUROCK – Mirai No Rinkakusen by YA-KYIM while the second ending theme is Genjitsu To Iu Na No Kaibutsu To Tatakau Mono-tachi by Yu Takahashi with both pieces having that pop rock feel. Even many of the background music in the series have this rock feel to it using the electric guitar as its main style.

Indeed after watching just the first season, I already felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and pressure put in. I don’t think I can work under such pressure to get it out before the tight deadline and schedule. Now I truly understand why a mangaka’s workplace is so messy and their state is an even messier affair. Deprived of sleep, nutrition and everything much else, the passion of their work drives them to carry on. But where is the fun in that? Unless they enjoy going through all that and it would be icing on the cake to see their works get recognized. But that is just the manga part. Now if you are talking about making it into an anime, that will be an entirely different story with lots of different approach. You are now bringing your work into life. You need animators, you need voice actors, you need music and more importantly you need a much bigger budget. It would be ideal if every mangaka would get their work published and serialized but reality isn’t kind enough to have everyone live out their dream. Otherwise nobody would have put in the effort if achieving dreams is such an easy task. For every winner there are many times fold of losers. That’s why just like any other jobs, you’re just a gambler till you succeed. The odds are always 50-50. However in view of this gambler topic, at the end of the series I am inclined to think that buying a lottery ticket or trying your luck at the slots will have a higher probability of striking the pot of gold than trying to serialize your manga.