As the deadline to when they have to hand in their manuscript draws closer, Mashiro and Takagi continue to work hard and even then Mashiro still hasn’t emailed Azuki, so she doesn’t exactly know his address as Kaya trying to get him to hurry up and do so. However he feels that he should wait until he has the proper time to do so.
It’s not long until they hand in their manuscript to Hattori and he can see just how quickly they’ve improved, he suggests that they go out for a meal together to celebrate it but they’re far too tired and just want to get some rest. Something that they didn’t appear to be thinking about is also brought up, they’ll actually be paid for this, by pages of all things. Once he gets home Mashiro then sets about actually messaging Azuki, and despite how hard he had just been working he ends up staying up another night putting this together only to realise that he hit the character limit. So he shortens it only to be hit with a short tl;dr sort of response immediately, and while he’s sort of shocked by how fast she resonds he also finds the emoticons she uses cute.
In the Shonen Jack editorial department not only are Hattori’s fellow editors impressed with Mashiro and Takagi’s work but also his captain, Aida is as well, upon overhearing this though Yujiro appears slightly worried as he reassures himself that they can’t beat Eiji. When the time for Mashiro and Takagi to actually go on to high school comes up, Kaya finds that they’re all in the same class and Takagi suggests that they need a pen name. With Kaya eventually coming up with the name “Ashirogi Muto” relating to how their goal is to make Mashiro and Azuki’s dream come true.
As mangaka working with them Mashiro and Takagi also get copies of the magazine a little earlier than when they’re released, allowing them to not only view their own work but also those of the others that submitted something for it, including Eiji. And while Takagi thinks that Eiji has beat them already with his “Crow” both Mashiro and Hattori think that Money and Intelligence was more interesting, with Hattori going on to say how Eiji can only compete with other battle manga while they have no competition. However it will still all come down to the questionaire results, something that Mashiro remembers was his uncle’s dream to come first as he compared it to being a boxer thrown into the ring. Hattori then explains how these work a little better, with there being two sorts of results where the first 1000 questionaires handed in are calculated serves to give them a general idea followed by 1000 questionaires are sampled providing more definitive results. They ask him to tell them both of them with him telling them to prepare for anything, and as they head out Mashiro still has some doubts about whether Hattori will really allow them to be serialised in high school, so he suggests that they come up with something that will blow him away.
So they get to work on a version of Money and Intelligence that could be serialised and just when they complete the first chapter Mashiro finds a message of encouragement from Azuki about their work. As they continue to work they also happen to recieve an extra bit of good news, they’re first in the early results however the gap between them and Eiji is incredibly close. Which also makes Yujiro a lot more worried as he reassures himself that Eiji will beat them in the final results. When Mashiro and Takagi finish all three of the chapters needed they decide to call Hattori about handing in something else, and when they meet up Hattori reveals that the final results didn’t go in their favour. As even though they came first, something still impressive, Eiji still beat them by coming first.
When Yujiro informs him of this it turns out that Eiji didn’t even know what he was talking about at the time as he continues to draw away. As Hattori reaches for the manuscripts Mashiro snatches it away with the excuse of wanting to redo it, and on the train ride back it turns out that this has caused Mashiro to want to go with something mainstream instead of something obscure, as he doesn’t want to throw those other readers away. This leads them to the riverside where he explains what made Eiji’s work good to Takagi and tears apart the three chapters as a way to show that there’s no going back after this and as a fresh start. However this moment of resolve is ruined when an old man catches them littering like this so they have to make a run for it.
I don’t know whether it was how Mashiro and Azuki were physically separated, only able to contact each other through email or whether it was the shift from middle school to high school. There was something slightly different to this episode as we gradually headed into the second half of the first season (with the second season already confirmed). It should also probably be noted that unlike some/most of the past episodes that were lucky to cover even one chapter, this episode managed to cover an entire TWO chapters. Something kind of amazing in it’s own way for this, I mean this is the sort of pacing that the series should have had from the start.
Even though Azuki was out of the picture at this point, it’s safe to say that she’s still around in spirit in how she and Mashiro keep in contact through emails. For which the way it started was kind of funny where while Mashiro was losing sleep about just what to write first, even after two nights without it. Only for her to respond almost immediately with a message that was a fraction of his, calling them too long at one point. There was just something kind of amusing about it all and it goes without saying that it’s better than them just being awkward around each other in person.
Among the many things that happened in this episode it was also pretty nice to see the moment where Mashiro and Takagi found the name that would become synonymous for their as mangaka, Ashirogi Muto. It was a moment I had kind of forgotten so it was kind of nice to see it again with how Kaya had suggested it with some of the kanji relating to making Mashiro and Azuki’s dream come true not only being just that on it’s own, but also working to show how she was part of it now in some way.
However despite how this aspect was still present what really seemed to stand above it was the detail that it went into on how some things work in Shonen Jack and in turn it’s real life equivalent. With something like how mangaka are paid by their page count being something that interested me a bit, as even though it’s well known that a mangaka makes more from their tankoubon sales there was still something about how the amount they’re paid could change due to their page counts being either cut or raised that interested me about it.
What the episode mainly seemed to revolve around though was the way the questionaire results that rank the works in the magazine work, with how there were both early and final results that determined how well something was doing and how popular it was. Along with how even doing well in the early results didn’t exactly mean that you were going to do well in the final overall results, something shown when Hattori had told them that they came in first in the former which got their hopes up. Only for them to come crashing down when the final results had shown that even though what they got was impressive, Eiji still managed to beat them in the end. So this was nice to see as it showed that there was still some uncertainty in it until the final results came in.
The point where it chose to leave off on was also great, where upon learning that they had still lost to Eiji we saw Mashiro feeling that they should still approach mainstream stuff in some way, in that instead of aiming for that 2 out of 10 he didn’t want to forget about that other 3. How he did this by tearing up the three chapters that they had been working on was also kind of great for what it was, going to show just how determined he was for a fresh start with it serving as a way of saying that there was no going back after this, meaning that they would have to move forward at all costs.