In a sense, all of Bakuman up to this point has been a prelude to what happened this week.
Heishi moving up to Chief Editor, Aida being promoted to Assistant Chief and Hattori B (Yujiro) making Department Leader. The last of those surprises me because his big hit is a success he had absolutely nothing to do with the success of, but corporate politics is what it is. In any event, the main impact on the story is that we see a new side of Sasaki here, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it makes him likable, it does say something that he was willing to actually apologize for some of the stupidity he’s shown in his treatment of Ashirogi over the years (especially as regards Mashiro’s illness). Apologizing isn’t the shortcut to redemption anime sometimes makes it out to be, but there are those who stubbornly refuse to admit their wrongs right up to the grave, and I’ll give Sasaki credit at least for not being one of them.
Uncle Tarou is concerned. The pain his death caused Sasaki has been the most human face we’ve seen from the Chief Editor, and it’s undeniably true he treated Mashiro different than any other author as a result (he admitted it himself long before this episode). Anything Bakuman does with Nobuhiro’s character always cuts me to ribbons, and this was no different – Sasaki reveals that he asked Sasaki to look after Masahiro after he turned pro, and dreamed of the two of them being serialized together in Jack. That was not to be, of course, but during his farewell tour (I don’t give him much props for this, as it’s a job requirement in these situations) Sasaki does reveal his belief that only Ashirogi can surpass Eiji. He also tells Ashirogi that Eiji’s new manga is close to being ready (something tells me it won’t have any problems in the serialization meeting).
dual protagonists, each with demonic powers, fighting a battle over ideals. It is, as Mashiro says, an evolution of Ashirogi’s style – a conventional battle manga with dark and “alternative” themes. And as such, it can finally take on Eiji in a way their earlier works could not.
zombie romance, and if he’s this hyped up on it (and this determined to make it the best ever) you can damn well believe it’s going to be great. It should be a battle of the titans – the two most talented Jack authors of their generation going head-to-head with ideas that overlap, but are radically different too. There are practicalities to be ironed out first – most obviously, what to do with “PCP” – which is still, after all, a hit. Ashirogi could try and manage two weekly serializations but I’m skeptical about that – and it’s striking that Bakuman went out of its way to introduce the creation of Hisshou Jack, and mention Tarou’s request of Sasaki. Might “PCP” switch to a monthly format so that Sasaki could still watch over Mashiro, while Ashirogi writes their new series for weekly Jack?