To say that things are getting hectic as we enter this latest episode of Bakuman would be an understatement - with Takagi now working on the scripts for Rabuta and Peace alongside PCP, now Mashiro has decided to go all out and create a one-shot story for the so-called "Leader's Fest" all by himself in an attempt to extend his own abilities and understanding.
Without Takagi's help, Mashiro's first job is to actually settle upon something to write about - a tough ask for a kid who has pretty much always been obsessed with manga and little else (although maybe he should write a manga about manga artists? Nah, that would never work). So what does he love that could make for a good story? The answer is, of course, his relationship with Miho, and thus Moritaka embarks upon the creation of a surprisingly good one-off love story. Oddly, it seems as if love is in the air all-round, as all of his rivals for the Leader's Fest are also thinking along similar lines, to the point where the chief editor decides that they might as well just make it a "love fest" and call it quits.
With the two individuals that make up Ashirogi Muto now effectively dedicating all of their time to different projects, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before tensions between this pairing began to rise, and with neither side willing to either give up on what they're currently do or suggest to the other that they might be heading down the wrong path they both carry on to the bitter end, with Takagi effectively disappearing to seemingly do his own thing, much to the consternation of Mashiro and Miyoshi. All's well that ends well however, as Takagi ends his work on Rabuta and Peace in the best way possible after it wins its bid for serialisation, and a good old punch-up clears the air and paves the way for Ashirogi Muto to get back to what they do best.
Although it occasionally dipped its foot into the silly bin (that punch-up felt incredibly out of character and forced, for example), this was another genuinely good episode of Bakuman that keeps this third season moving along very nicely indeed - it was interesting seeing the main characters desire to try something different and how they handled the problems inherent in doing that, while the actual rift between the two which grew from the whole scenario also felt both believable and compelling. Sometimes it might try a little too hard to create drama from nothing, but I certainly can't knock Bakuman for its overall sense in how to tell its story and make the world of manga creation sufficiently fascinating to cover so many episodes.