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Just as I stopped worrying about Bakuman's pacing, this episode gave me something to worry about.
Looks like the staff have decided to make some cuts for the worse, starting with the much shortened Nakai epilogue. I don't expect many to like, or even care for Nakai but his part of the episode was cut down far too much and was sped through. Even without knowledge of the manga, you could tell not much thought was put into adapting the relevant chapters of his story.
There was a lack of fluidity that ended up setting the tone for the rest of the episode. Nakai's epilogue isn't the only part of the episode that suffered; truth be told, the entire episode except the end was a hot mess. Ashirogi's part of the story just didn't deliver the potential it displayed.
Being the first real moment where Takagi is struggling, the episode squandered this opportunity. Ohba and Obata most likely roped in their real life experiences with DEATH NOTE copycats for this story, so you know the emotions are all real. Takagi's emotion in this episode was one of the best I've seen of him, but it wasn't made full use of. There was no build-up, meaning no suitable climax for the episode. All that was left was an uneventful ending.
Amidst the chaos of the episode, a big moment in Bakuman's story took place. Out of nowhere, Eiji springs the question about first place, thus setting the wheels in motion. We haven't heard a peep out of him regarding this since early season one of the series, which indicates we're onto something big.
This is a case of timing over build-up. Lest you forget, Bakuman was serialised in Shonen Jump, which means there needed to be some type of shonen power-up in the story. Luckily the characters have been upping their skills gradually, and now Eiji's ready to cash in his promise from Sasaki.
Downplayed is how I would describe this moment. That part of the episode was spot on, and the mystery of Eiji's decision continues, though not for much longer. Now that I have a general idea of where this season will end, my expectations have been set. One thing is for sure: something big is about to happen in Bakuman.