While their first effort at creating a full on manga manuscript wasn't the immediate success they might have hoped for, Akito and Moritaka's next goal is an even more grandiose one - a Tezuka Award, which probably needs little explanation as to its importance within the world of manga given its name.
Given the importance of that goal, it's no surprise that Bakuman's eighth episode focuses solely on the boys efforts towards that prize, with Takagi throwing out concepts and ideas like a madman, only to see most of them vetoed by Mashiro. After what seems like a ridiculous number of notebooks packed with ideas, a suitable concept to be made into their next manuscript finally presents itself (and another genuinely pretty cool idea in its own right), meaning that it's time for the pair of them to put their all into creating the finished work for submission.
With the manuscript completed, the boys once again head off to see editor Mr. Hattori, who is impressed by the improvements made and gives them the nod for a Tezuka Award submission, suggesting that their next aim should be a work in Shonen Jack's NEXT publication. A nice idea, but Moritaka and Akito find themselves too distracted by the wait for the Tezuka Award nominations, particularly when they learn that they've made it into the final eight. Of course, nothing in life is that simple, and they don't make the final cut for an actual prize; a dashing of their dreams that having their work published doesn't seem to even begin to make up for. With Moritaka beating himself up over his artwork being the cause of their inability to win and award, and finding himself teased at school because of it, it looks as though there are still rough times ahead for our enthusiastic duo.
As seems to be par for the course with this series now, Bakuman continues to be uncomplicated and simple entertainment - the pure pleasure of seeing people working hard on something they love and being rewarded to some degree for it, coupled with the tension of seeing whether they can succeed to the levels that they dream of; a scenario which makes for some surprising "squeaky bum" moments as we wait for a phone call or for the opinion of an editor. While I wouldn't want to call this episode perfect by any degree (surely the boys would still have been thrilled to see their work in print? We never really get to share that thrill, indeed it gets turned against them immediately), it's still doing enough right to keep me hooked, helped along by placing it within a "real world" scenario which is happy to mention Naruto and Bleach rather than placing it in amongst entirely fictional series. Hopefully it can continue to keep up this state of simple pleasures, something which I do worry might be spoiled by Eiji Nizua judging from what we've seen of him so far.