The manuscript for the first chapter of Perfect Crime Club is ready, but Hattori believes the character names and design needs work, as does the title of the manga itself. Ashirogi Muto misses the New Years party to perfect their work, as does Fukuda with a motorcycle shonen one shot that will appear in the same issue. Ashirogi meet their new assistants, Orihara, Moriya, and Shriatori; the latter two get into a debate about why to draw manga.
Takagi finally comes up with the name PCP (Perfect Crime Party), and the team belts out the first chapter. It takes first place in Jack by a landslide, earning more votes than either CROW or +Natural’s first chapters, an encouraging start. Mashiro shows the rankings to his uncle’s grave, but the real challenge has only begun, as the chief editor vows to cancel PCP if it can’t consistently keep up with CROW or +Natural.
First, lets get this out of the way: PCP (the drug) must not be a bug problem in Japan, otherwise, Hattori or someone else would surely have discouraged the use of that particular acronym to title anew manga. That said, this second season was going to end on one of two notes: either PCP took first place, or it didn’t. Victory or defeat. Hope or despair. Thankfully, it took first place, as it was meant to do. What we didn’t expect was for it to win by such a large margin. Nobody did; not even the setback-fatigued authors.
The battle has only begun. The competition is stiffer than ever, with two Niizuma Eiji drawn mangas, one of which is written by a girl who considers Takagi and now Hattori her nemeses. Hell hath no fury and all that. Not to mention Fukuda, who has a much more straightforward mainstream manga about motorcycles that the kids will love.
They also have to contend with a chief editor who is still not happy about Ashirogi quitting Tanto, and even more unhappy that he was rebuked in the vote to allow PCP’s serialization. Moritaka Mashiro is a step closer to making his dreams come true, and PCP has the makings of an anime…but there’s still at least a third season’s worth of tribulations to contend with before that happens. He sure hasn’t made it easy for himself.
The results of the serialization meeting are a mixed bag: thanks to Fukuda and Ashirogi’s help, Aoki’s manga gets serialized, but Ashirogi’s isn’t, and Takahama’s is cancelled. Katou rejects Nakai, and Aoki is hiring all-female assistants, so Nakai gives up and returns home, after apologizing to Aoki. Takahama goes behind Miura’s back and asks the chief for a new editor, but the chief reproaches him in front of Miura and Ashirogi. Impressed by Iwase’s story, Hattori meets up with Yuujirou, telling him she’s Takagi’s rival. Hattori wants Niizuma to do her artwork, which would make him the first Jack mangaka with two simultaneous serializations. Niizuma agrees to draw under a pen name for when the work is submitted.
As long as they’ve known each other, how in the heck has Takagi never even met Kaya’s parents? I guess her father isn’t around much. Well, it’s moot for now, as they can’t even ask permission to get married unless Ashirogi Muto gets serialized. If they fail, there will be no dreams for anyone. Yet another setback befalls them as their submission lacked the intensity of their NEXT one-piece. They complain about Miura once more, but witnessing Takahama get reamed out by the chief forces them to give Miura a break and focus on making their work better. As the chief says, complaining about one’s editor is just trying making excuses for one’s own shortcomings.
Speaking of talent, Nakai is throwing his away, after a hat trick of unfortunate events: Takahama’s manga being cancelled, Katou refusing to enter into a “special relationship” (despite the fact she still seems to like him), and Aoki refusing to let him come crawling back. As usual, his friends swoop in to try to mend fencs, but he leaves. At least the guy acknowledges he was a dick. Back to talent, Hattori and Yuujirou may have just built a dream team in Iwase and Niizuma. One can’t forget just how amazing a talent Niizuma is, and when he’s fired up by quality story, his rivals had better watch out. Mashiro and Takagi really need to dig deep, or Takagi may find the girl he scorned surpassing him.
When Aoki comes to Ashirogi seeking help drawing panty shots, Kaya suggests she meet with Ishizawa, but that proves a bad idea, as he turns out to be worse than Nakai. When Fukuda hears that Aoki and Nakai were in a fight, he drops by Takahara’s to confront Nakai, who tells him he’s “comfortable” where he is, and working with Katou. Rather than leave it there, he decides to coach Aoki himself, giving her pointers while he draws and having her fax him work to look over. Her resulting work gets her a shot at serialization in the same time Ashirogi’s Tanto is up for it. Meanwhile, Iwase meets with Hattori, vowing to draw a manga based on her novel that will surpass Takagi.
Fukuda can be loud and obnoxious, but he’s also kind (in his own way), and fiercely loyal to his fellow mangakas. We see a lot of him this week, juggling his own Kiyoshi Knights manga with the new task of helping Aoki essentially loosen up. This isn’t just about inserting panty shots; it’s about showing the right imagery at the appropriate time. It’s not simple. Fukuda’s direction really perks Aoki up, as she’s put Nakai and even Takagi past her and is going for it. We like this new, more emotional, more assertive Aoki a lot; she’s just got this spark right now, and her heated conversations with Fukuda are very fun to watch.
Fukuda isn’t just doing this for her. For him, doing what he does just isn’t fun if Niizuma, Mashiro, Takagi, Nakai and Aoki aren’t doing it too. He wants everyone trying to outdo the other, because that will result in everyone putting out their best work. Friends are the best critics, because they can communicate feedback to you in a way someone else may not be able to. Takagi and Mashiro may have had a better chance of being serialized if they put Aoki’s request on hold, but they didn’t; they helped her because she was a friend in need, and because Nakai really was a bastard. We’re not sure what to make of Iwase yet; she’s just starting out like Ashirogi Muto did with Hattori; but she’s a bright cookie, and it’s not unrealistic to think she’ll rise fast.