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 editors in the serialization meeting change their votes one by one until the chief is the only one to vote against it, and Ashirogi Muto’s Perfect Crime Club is approved for serialization. After recieving the news and being congratulated by Team Fukuda, Mashiro finds a USB in the slice of cake Miho made for him, on which is a recording of her singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
The news also comes down that Hattori and Miura will switch places, so Hattori will continue to be Ashirogi’s editor, while Miura takes on Iwase, who is none to happy. After hearing about the initial losing vote to Niizuma, Mashiro decides that Takagi will only give him scripts without layout, so he can better utilize his own imagination. Takagi agrees, and they prepare the first chapter.
Ah, for once, another Ashirogi Muto defeat is turned around at the last minute (or rather, the first minute of this episode), and in an unlikely adaptation of “12 Angry Men” (seven in this case). they get their shot. It’s almost as if the editors had forgotten about the readers and put Ashirogi Muto’s fate in their own hands, rather than those readers, which would have been totally unfair.
But getting those initial doubters to come around will require revision to Perfect Crime Club: enter Hattori, who immediately makes an impact with Ashirogi before officially taking the reins from Miura (who is also impressed with his authors’ professionalism.) When Takagi tells Hattori Mashiro is “saying crazy things”, we worry momentarily, but the drama is quickly dispelled once he explains himself. The ball is in their court.
Miura reads Ashirogi’s manuscript for Perfect Crime Club. While at first he finds its crimes petty, the realistic art and serious tone draw him in. He believes it will be a hit. While at any other serialization meeting, it would easily pass, the editors have to determine whether it will be able to beat Crow and +Natural, right now. Their deliberations go on a long time, as Mashiro has a Christmas get-together with Takagi and Kaya. The resulting vote at the meeting is tied 3-3, and the Chief editor with the tie-breaking vote. He believes it’s good, but not enough to win. With the final vote 4-3, Perfect Crime Club will not be serialized by Jack.
Bakuman is full of foolish promises. The idea that Mashiro and Miho cannot possibly be together unless they achieve their dreams is getting to be a major problem. Huge chunks of their youth have been spent away from each other. Yes, they love each other, but the idealism of their promise is starting to strain credulity. Case in point: Takagi and Kaya have Mashiro over for their first Christmas as a married couple. Why isn’t Miho there? Because of that silly promise, made when they were still kids. We know this issue has been covered exhaustively and they both seem to be committed to keeping the promise, but these constant drawbacks make the dreams they seek to achieve seem more like mirages; impossible to ever reach. Time will tell, we guess.
That’s beause of another dumb promise: to create a manga that can defeat Niizuma Eiji, or leave Jack for good. Ashirogi Muto has been through the pressure cooker enough; there was no need to gamble themselves into a corner. We held out hope Perfect Crime Club, which is the most original and best-thought-out manga Ashirogi’s created to date – would at least be given a shot to compete, but the Chief Editor took their gamble to mean that they the editors – and they alone, not the readers – would be the arbitors of the manga’s fate. With that, it seems like Ashirogi Muto’s Jack days are finished, unless Hattroi and Miura have any other tricks up their sleeve.
Rating : 3.5
Hattori advises Ashirogi Muto to play to their strengths: Takagi should try to find “serious humor”, which Ashirogi could enliven with his serious art. A clear direction fires them up, but coming up with a storyboard proves difficult, so Takagi suggests he and Mashiro tail Hattori in secret for a day. They witness him go about his business, learn new and unexpected things, and get further encouraged. After their adventure, Takagi knows what he wants to do: a ‘perfect crime’ manga. They swap Kaya’s present for Miho with an identical one to further experience the thrill and accomplishment of pulling small crimes off. They whip up a storyboard and deliver it to Miura…
After quite a few failures in a row and their careers on the line, finally a little optimism and excitement. Hattori’s “serious humor” advice really caused a light to go off in Takagi’s head. Both he and Mashiro are certain this is their best idea yet. We especially like how Takagi makes sure they’re on the right track by literally acting out the idea by tailing Hattori, then making the ol’ switcheroo. The whole episode was brimming with positive energy and discovery.
There are lots of nice touches: Takagi and Mashiro finally find out about Hattori’s “Iwase Problem”, when she meets him in a restaurant in a come-hither outfit – that Takagi has his back to her is an even better touch. We also like that Aoki and Kaya remain in touch, and how Aoki innocently leaks that it’s Ashirogi’s last chance. A concerned Kaya calls Miho, but rather than feel betrayed for Mashiro keeping something from her, she takes the high road and tells Kaya to chill out and believe in them. The dress-for-drawing swap was also pretty romantic. Of course, next week, we can expect this Perfect Crime Club manga