Having received an award for reaching their fiftieth chapter of PCP, and with some ideas about their next big project beginning to bubble beneath the surface (an "unconventional battle manga" no less - do they mean Medaka Box?), things are ticking over pretty nicely for Ashirogi Muto following their recent tribulations... which means that it's time to shift our focus to some of the other players in the world of manga creation.
Despite Fukuda getting a little time in the limelight with the news that Road Racer GIRI has been awarded an anime adaptation, it's Hiramaru who gets the spotlight for this instalment - with Otters 11 finished and his one-shot in the "love fest" coming in second, he seems well poised to try his hand at another serialisation... but can he be motivated to do so? It seems that the only thing that will persuade him to even consider it is a tea date with Aoki.
While Yoshida is intent on keeping Hiramaru well within his grasp and under his control, he seems to have underestimated his charge on this occasion as he switches cars, sends his old (and bugged) vehicle out on a random drive and whisks Aoki away for tea to an unknown location... well, unknown for anyone who hadn't been paying attention to either Hiramaru or Aoki's recent one shots. Having succeeded to some degree in avoiding his "keeper", can Hiramaru confess, and will he do so without being shot down?
It's been said numerous times before (and not just by me) that Bakuman is at its worst when it deals with love and romance, and so it proves again here - as a frivolous aside I suppose this week's episode was okay, but the relationship at its centre feels dumb and forced and feels rather pointless for the most part, while also turning Aoki's previous strong-willed and quite interesting character into another simpering, doe-eyed female to a large degree. Beyond even this, Bakumansimply isn't as interesting when it doesn't have Ashirogi Muto as its centrepiece, although with another rival looking likely to appear on the scene it looks like this week's aside will be a very brief one before we return to the real meat of the series.