After Eiji chased the crow around, his editor, Yujiro went to his apartment to find that he hadn’t quite adjusted to living in the city at all, still leaving his door unlocked and blasting music. He manages to get him to turn it down but he doesn’t appear to care and already has a oneshot ready and enthusiastically tells him that he’ll have the colour pages he’ll have it ready a month earlier than the deadline. However the crowds scare him so Yujiro will have to pick it up.
Meanwhile Mashiro and Takagi are also at work on their oneshot with Mashiro opting for a more realistic art style and Takagi realising just what they’re up against as far as the questionnaires go and what he got himself into by choosing to do something like Money and Intelligence. They then start talking about the idea of buying other people’s thoughts in this which eventually shifts to Mashiro becoming lovey-dovey about the idea of giving his thoughts to Azuki and hers to him. They’re still working on this the next day at school and all their friends and classmates crowd around, amazed at how they’re aiming for something in Shonen Jack while Iwase silently leaves. On their way to the studio they talk about their high school entrance exams and how Takagi is going to see the Christmas lights with Kaya, who had even suggested that Mashiro and Azuki go as well but Azuki turned the idea down.
With the winter break almost upon them, Mashiro is sure that the amount of time that amount of time he’ll be separated from Azuki for as long as he may be in the future and bids Takagi to go when Kaya messages him. So he later meets her at the station and is surprised by her outfit as she clings to his arm, they then head off to look at the Christmas lights together. After a while they start talking about Azuki and Mashiro with Kaya finding the promise they have weird that they hardly even know each other however Takagi can see that their love is genuine, he then talks about how love is painful and tries to run off to work so that he can work on the oneshot.
The next day at school he and Mashiro talk about Azuki’s entrance exams, and because she’s trying so hard he also feels that he should do the same. There’s then another montage showing them working on their oneshot until they finish it not too long before they have to sit their entrance exams, where Mashiro will only be able to rely on the notes Takagi has prepared for him. After their exams Kaya is worried while Takagi is confident about whether or not they’ll pass, and when they hand their oneshot to Hattori he even suggests that they throw in a reference to their last work. Unsurprisingly all three of them pass and Kaya is in tears and when they hand in their oneshot again, Hattori tells them how the selections are handled by the Vice Editor-in-Chief to give him experience.
Two weeks after this Azuki and Mashiro congratulate each other on how they both passed their entrance exams and when Valentine’s day comes around, Kaya visits the studio with homemade chocolates for Takagi and a gift for Mashiro from Azuki. They bid him open it but he wants to save it for later, and when he does open it he finds a letter and a set of chocolate pencils. The selections go ahead with Hattori waiting outside to ask about the result and calls Mashiro and Takagi as soon as he finds out. Of course they’re over enjoyed that their work made it into NEXT, however Hattori is sure that it’s only to act as a comparison to Eiji’s oneshot and because of this he tells them that they have to beat him no matter what.
I don’t know whether I’m getting used to the slow pacing or not but I actually enjoyed this episode quite a bit, as while it didn’t actually go past usual chapter to episode ratio it still turned out all right. Even giving Eiji an appearance that didn’t act like a cliffhanger and showing Takagi and Kaya go on their Christmas date together was something that was nice to see. There was also something of a transitive feeling to it, as not only did the episode take place around Christmas and New Years Eve but we also saw things like Mashiro and Takagi preparing for their entrance exams.
It was great to see Eiji show up around the beginning of the episode sort of continuing where the last episode had left off and going a little further. Which was great as unlike most of his past appearances it wasn’t used like a cliffhanger, something that I had been concerned about before as it seemed a little weak. If anything it also kind of showed him as the fun sort of character he is in the manga, when if anything he actually wanted to do the colour pages required and hadn’t really adjusted to living in the city at all. Aside from that he also adds to arguably small and closed off group of characters that the series has introduced so far. So I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the future episodes.
Seeing Takagi and Kaya go on their Christmas date was something that was fun to see, as like I’ve said before the way they interact as a couple is just that. How they had never went on something like a date before it also made it kind of nice as well, as any of Kaya’s past attempts had been quickly shot down so that he could keep working. So it was nice to see them do this and actually act like a couple, while doing things like taking photos together or looking exploring the Christmas scene. However how they started talking about Azuki and Mashiro towards the end of it was kind of weird while it helped Takagi convince Kaya that their love was genuine despite how she thought that their promise was weird, and seeing Takagi try to use it as an excuse the get away was kind of funny.
There was also a sought of transitive feeling to this episode as not only were they preparing for their entrance exams, a sign that they would soon graduate from middle school and move onto high school. But they were also about to have something run in an issue of Shonen Jack’s subsidiary magazine, NEXT and make a big debut as mangaka. Quite a bit of time also progressed in this episode as while it began around December, it eventually progressed to Christmas and then quickly to February and with it, Valentine’s day. Something that probably would have been hard for Mashiro, however it was great to see him not really worrying about being separated from Azuki and still doing his best.
The way the episode ended was also on a good point as with them up against Eiji of all people, simply because they’re around the same age, it was as if they would have to put everything that they had learned over the previous episodes to beat him. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to break away from that and move forward as they would be stuck in his shadow. It was just a good point to end the episode on, as while they may have been making their debut simply being happy with that wasn’t really something they could do. As what they had to do was quite a bit more than they had really expected to do.