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Even this late in the game, Bakuman decides to humble its characters with some life lessons.
If there's one thing that both Takagi and Mashiro need to be aware of : greed is the enemy of success. This may not be the conventional greed in both their cases, rather a quest for perfectionism. Either way, it has blinded both of them and caused some strain to the people around them. Mashiro's need for perfection was nothing but short-sighted. He may have gone in with best intentions, but he neglected factors that a pro needs to consider. Luckily for him, he had a true pro to guide him.
It's understandable that Ashirogi Muto reacted the way they did. This is the first time that they're on equal footing with Nizuma Eiji, a goal which until now has been a pipe dream. Incidentally, this is the first time that Nizuma is actually paying them the respect of a rival. Before they were merely blips on his radar, and now they are the ones to beat. He's even going as far as to exploit his vast knowledge of manga to crush them. It may seem like a generic move, but Nizuma is the genius. He does what is necessary: no more, no less.
Whilst this is going on, Azuki finds success. Finally we hear about the love interest of our protagonist after so many episodes of not having her name mentioned! Just another precursor for the end, since both her and Mashiro need to achieve their dreams. This is just a check-in to make sure things are on track for Bakuman's end.
One thing I did want to talk about was a point Takagi brought up. Length of a series: is longer necessarily better This question tends to most relevant to the Japanese publishing industry, so it's no surprise that Bakuman would bring it up. Bringing up more memories for the DEATH NOTE duo once again, this question holds a lot of implications in the real world and in the series. As we've seen before in Bakuman - just a few episodes ago - once published, a work is no longer considered solely the author's property. A way of thinking that inevitably restricts creativity, because authors react like Takagi; thinking they need to write a story until the fans decide they want no more.
As the ending appears on the horizon, Bakuman is covering all bases with continued discussion. I won't mention the pacing issues any more, since by now one has to just accept them and embrace the sprint towards the finish. We can't expect any type of build up, but we can anticipate reaching the long-awaited destination.