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It's great that if only for a little while, Bakuman doesn't have any pacing issues. Especially since this is one of the more important episodes in the franchise.
For starters, I have to express my joy at the 300% increase of Kaya in this episode. Whether this the anime adaptation taking focus away or the manga toning down her appearance (or both) she has been missed. It's actually a little sad that she's been degraded to nothing but a minor background character, on the same level as the assistants. Even more-so since episode 7 didn't fully animate the source material, leaving me more upset with Kaya's diminishing presence. At least she had more than just one or two lines in this episode, and even dominated the first half.
Putting aside that major problem exclusive to this season of Bakuman, the rest of the episode was what a lot of us have been waiting for.....to some extent. Yet again something stands in their way. This time, their much trusted editor and general advisor Hattori. Not surprising given the focus on editors and their struggle between corporate and artistic responsibility, which has been another big focus of this season of Bakuman. Nevertheless, it does leave me somewhat confused that he'd think about it after his outburst to get Reversi published weekly. Possibly a "doting father" moment for Hattori, who's been through a lot with the duo and just wants to protect them.
Of course Hattori's concerns we're only the small obstacle. The big one just had to be the eternal rival and pseudo-antagonist of Bakuman; Eiji. Again, I can't seem to see him more than just a spoiled brat with the only goal of winning; possibly the effect the staff continues to go for. There is a bit of arrogance and selfishness there, but it looks like the final competition is bringing out his desperate side. If it is, that would certainly explain the cliffhanger.
Seeing the episode end on such a cliffhanger reminds me of the original Bakuman. An odd sense of nostalgia does come with it, even though it hasn't been too long since the first season aired. Nonetheless, next episode will decide everything however it seems like a clear outcome at this point. Still, a big improvement from the last few episodes.