Mashiro is discharged and returns to the studio, but TRAP begins a precipitous drop in rankings, to the point that they are warned that they won’t be safe in the next meeting. Meanwhile, Miho continues to get anime roles, Niizuma’s Crow anime starts, and Takahama gets runner-up with a one-shot. In the end, both TRAP and hideout door are terminated, all but killing Muto’s confidence, until a text by Miho insisting they get married before she turns 40 re-energize’s Mashiro’s passion.
Granted, this series has never been one to pull punches or bring out ridiculous twists in fortune, but wow, that was kinda surprising. TRAP is dead. It never recovered from its hiatus and new stories that competed for detective readers. Now Mashiro and Takagi are back at Square One. Considering how high they flew all season, we finally got an episode with another huge, crushing setback that brought back similar feelings of apprehension and disappointment from last season’s many setbacks.
We knew Mashiro would get better. We knew TRAP would drop in rankings (the episode titles tend to be spoilers in and of themselves). But we weren’t sure if the series still wouldn’t turn things around with one final, amazing chapter. It just doesn’t work that way with Jack. They have a tried-and-true system for picking winners and losers, and Trap lost. Miho revising her promise to only wait for him only another couple decades and change provided sufficient incentive for Mashiro to break out of his pity party and start coming up with a new, better manga. Something called Bakuman, perhaps?
Fukuda, Niizuma, Hiramaru, Aoki and Nakai tell their editors they’ll all join Ashirogi Muto on hiatus until the Chief Editor ends the TRAP hiatus. Mashiro’s surgery is successful, but he and Takagi are furious when they seen the four other manga missing. The phones ring off the hook at the editor’s office, but the Chief Editor won’t budge. When Mashiro is discharged from the hospital, he, Takagi and Miura confront him one more time with eleven piled-up manuscripts, and he finally agrees to return TRAP to Jack as soon as possible.
Well, that would seem to have been resolved rather quickly! Putting TRAP on hiatus brought the whole point of the series – Mashiro achieving his dreams – to a screeching halt, but through it all, Miho was ever-supportive, Mashiro’s friends stuck their own necks out for his sake, and he never stopped drawing. We’re not entirely sure passage of time was handled as well as it could have been, but what’s important is that they managed to convince the chief editor to end TRAP’s hiatus before they graduate, which is as good an outcome as they could have hoped for.
Of course, while Miura considers the backlog of manuscripts to be some of Ashirogi’s best work yet, it was all produced without knowing how each story would be ranked. The next episode’s title incliuding the words “low ranking” suggest Mashiro and Takagi’s next major challenge will be dealing with a sudden and perhaps prolonged decline in popularity, just when their first volume has been released. And unpopular manga don’t get turned into anime (usually).
Everything picks up where the first season left off, with Mashiro and Takagi getting serialized. Hattori hands them over to a new supervisor, who immediately delves into the logistics of serializing a manga. He hires three assistants for them, sets the deadlines, salaries, and expenses of the enterprise. They are also treated to VIP service as they attend Yoeisha’s New Year’s party, where they meet rivals Hiramaru and Niizuma as well as Mr. Torishima, board of directors. Mashiro sets high goals that impress both him and the Editor-in-chief.
This was a great continuation of the story we’d left last fall, and introduced a lot of new characters and challenges for Ashirogi Muto. It cleverly begins with the OP of Detective Trap, as seen in Mashiro’s head. None of the trials he and Takagi have gone through have jaded him from his ultimate goal. “Hard work, confidence (or conceit) and luck” are the weapons of any successful mangaka, and so confident is he (at least on the surface), Mashrio promises the editor-and-chief and (a very subtly hilarious) Mr. Torishima that he’ll do what his uncle couldn’t – make a living off manga – and do what he left undone – winning first place in the Jack survey.
Lofty goals, but after witnessing the professionalism of his new team – Editor Miura, Chief Assistant Ogawa, Kato the Girl, and Takahama the Quiet – he has cause to strive for them. The party is the perfect vehicle to introduce Kazuya Hiramaru, who some have claimed is even more of a genius than Niizuma – but when they meet him he insists he’d rather be a NEET. The charisma at the party is palpable, as is the cautious optimism. I love how this show doesn’t merely have course enemies as the leads’ rivals; their relationships are often more complicated. Punctuating the episode with a brief cut to Azuki getting Mashiro’s vow via text was also well done.