Fortunately for its reading audience, the “breakup” between artist Moritaka and writer Akito only lasts a couple chapters before they reunite to continue their plan to take the manga world by storm. There’s really nothing else to add as, after that speed bump, the series maintains its usual level of quality with this volume. Though the main plot development here revolves around the duo’s competition against other talented newcomers to get a series in Shonen Jump, the most striking addition to this volume was its first female creator, Ko Aoki, and her icy disposition towards the rest of the cast.
She’s very particular about her tastes and not hesitant at all in letting Moritaka and Akito know that she didn’t like their debut work at all. While the addition of someone who thinks that they’re better than everyone else, only to wind up becoming a comrade of the protagonist(s) after witnessing their talent/skill/strength is a shonen manga trope (see Ishida from “Bleach” for a good example), that’s not the reason I’m interested in her. Halfway through the book, when all of the aspiring manga creators gather at Eiji’s place to meet and compare their work, there’s a scene where Ko’s eyes meet Akito’s over a series of panels. It’s a brief, wordless exchange that slips between the walls of screaming text that suggests there might be something more between these two characters.
That’s the most memorable part of this volume for me because of the potential DRAMA that it alludes to. Akito has been (somewhat forcibly) joined at the hip to Kaya since vol. 2 and while their relationship is more energetic than Akito and Miho’s, it’s still very predictable and annoying. If creators Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata are hinting at a potential relationship between Ko and Akito, then I welcome it. Yes, I may be a horrible person for wishing such a thing on whatever Akito and Kaya have together. However, what they have is so dull that I’m welcoming any change to spice things up.