Having returned from his hospitalisation and with TRAP all set to pick up where it left off without the long hiatus previously expected, it seems that all is well in the world of Ashirogi Muto once again.
Indeed, with a colour spread to greet their return, fan letters aplenty and a relatively high survey ranking to go alongside it, it's as if they'd never been away. However, such positivity soon runs into some potential roadblocks, with the news of a pair of rival mystery manga series starting thanks to TRAP's popularity while trying to take advantage of its hiatus, ramping up the pressure on our returning protagonists to deliver.
This proves to be easier said than done, as their ratings begin to slide alarmingly into a seemingly bottomless pit - they aren't the only ones suffering either, as Hideout Door and its authors also have to face up to the very real possibility of cancellation. With a meeting to decide their fate coming up, Mashiro and Takagi struggle with what to do to turn around their fortunes - do they listen to the demands of fans, go down the battle manga route or stick to their principles? At the end of the day, nothing they do can reverse their poor fortunes, marking the end of TRAP's time at Shounen Jack. Is this also the end of Ashirogi Muto however?
Given the expectation of normal service resuming this week after the hospital and hiatus drama of recent weeks, Bakuman certainly had no intention of giving us a break here, instead going right for the throat by effectively pushing Mashiro and Takagi's manga down a flight of stairs while giggling with glee. The surprising pace at which this was delivered certainly didn't mess around, not even leaving the ultimate cancellation decision as a cliff-hanger and effectively taking us back to square one in terms of the duo's dreams. You could almost argue that this was all dealt with too quickly within a single episode, but then again the pace of this episode was perfect for delivering the shock of the bottom falling out of Ashirogi Muto's manga, as we joined their feelings of helplessness as their dreams crumbled before them, which was ultimately what made this the compelling episode that it was.