Given all of his hard work and long hours, it isn't too much of a stretch to see Mashiro's efforts bringing him to the point of collapse, but needless to say this occurrence brings panic to all of those around him.
Although Mashiro comes around quickly enough, the news isn't quite so good for him - despite his sleep deprived, malnourished state, it seems that he also requires surgery (although the exact reason for this isn't explained at all) which will see him hospitalised for around three months, effectively leaving no choice but to put TRAP on hiatus.
At least, that's the plan as far as the editorial team are concerned, but Mashiro himself seems to have other ideas, assuring all and sundry that he can still work to the currently set deadlines with ease. While his pure passion for his work sees those around him agreeing to allow him to continue, Takagi's doubts over whether this is the right thing to do sees him turning to Azuki in an attempt to persuade him to put down his pen. When even her words don't sway him from his current course, it seems that nothing will make him back down, and as he continues to work on even through intense pain it seems that even Azuki has decided that all she can do is back her boyfriend to the hilt.
I have to admit that I wasn't expecting Mashiro's collapse to be quite this serious in terms of drama, although I do wish that his condition had been made clearer - I know this isn't Casualty, but having him stay in hospital for three months complete with surgery after collapsing from overwork seems a little... odd. I also felt a little uncomfortable with Azuki's actions this episode - although her agreement with Mashiro is as strange as ever, seeing her trying to make Mashiro draw even through intense pain in the name of achieving their dreams felt almost sickeningly twisted. Perhaps more about her decision will be revealed next week, but it took some of the sheen off what has otherwise been an interesting development to Bakuman's story - having been left in a situation where I was supposedly unable to use computers for a few weeks almost two years ago exactly, I remember continuing to watch and 'blog about anime, write reviews and so on despite feeling almost unbearably ill and nauseous while doing so during that period. It's a scenario that allows me to sympathise with Mashiro's plight, but I'm not sure I would have wanted those around me to do nothing or even egg me on when I was only doing myself further damage with my determination to work. Regardless, I'm highly curious as to where Bakuman intends upon going from here.