Viz Edition Release Date: August 3, 2010
Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito's proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and motivation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!
Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world? Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito's proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and motivation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!
After a flashback to seven years ago, the story begins with Mashiro Moritaka lamenting about how life is a bit boring and that he will do what is expected of him as a Japanese man. He plans on getting a standard job and living a normal life while he pines for a classmate of his. After going home, he realizes he left his notebook at school and returns for it. What he finds in the empty classroom is the smartest student in Grade 2, Takagi Akito.
Takagi claims that he looked through Mashiro's notebook and noticed that he drew pictures of Azuki Miho, a cute girl in class. Takagi claims that Azuki likes Mashiro since he notices everything that goes on in the classroom since he sits in the back. He says he'll give the notebook back to Mashrio on the condition that they go into the manga business together. Mashiro scoffs him and tells him no and explains the unfavorable statistics against why they would do well in the manga industry before going home.
While at home, Mashiro goofs off as opposed to studying while he remembers his uncle, Nobuhiro Mashiro who was also a manga artist and how his life was full of unrequited love and struggling hardships. After getting scolded by his mother for slacking off, Takagi calls Mashiro on his cell phone and says he is going to profess his love for Azuki. Mashiro rushes to her house and finds that Takagi was waiting for him and rings the bell, asking for Azuki. Once she comes out, he explains that he knows that her dream is to become a voice actress and that he and Mashiro are going into the manga business. Azuki cheers for the two and claims how she admires Mashiro for that.
Mashiro, flustered that his crush actually likes him, asks if its possible that he'll become successful, which Azuki says he will. In the heat of the moment, he asks Azuki that if he does get an anime, will she marry him. Azuki becomes flustered and runs back inside. Masiro and Takagi thinks he blew it before Azuki comes on the intercom and says that she will marry Mashiro once he becomes successful, gets a manga, and then an anime and she has to star in it as the main female lead. Then they can get married. Feeling pumped, Mashiro vows that he will marry Azuki in the future.
The next moring, Mashiro is getting ready for school as Takagi comes to greet hm and walks with him to school. As they talk, Takagi reveals that he used to live near his uncle and that he heard about his death when he died. He then calls Mashiro "Saiko" which is another way to pronounce "Moritaka:. Mashiro feels that Takagi is making fun of him as he starts to call Takagi "Shujin" as another way to pronounce "Akito". Takagi notices a new resolve in Mashiro which he attributes to himself. Mashiro lets him know that he wants to be a manga artist for Azuki's sake, not his.
At school, the class takes an exam as Mashiro notices how calm Azuki is while she is testing. He wonders how they can live in a future where their dreams come true. Mashiro asks to be excused to the nurse's office until the next block since he is troubled by the whole matter. Takagi also is permitted to leave as Azuki worries about the two.
The two talk about Azuki in the nurse's office as Mashiro points out he couldn't breathe in the classroom. Mashiro reveals that he didn't get Azuki's email yet as Takagi scoffs him. They move to the roof as the nurse scolds them. On the roof, Takagi admires how MAshiro can care for Azuki from afar like that. He also points out that he is currently getting good grades as a fall back plan in case life as a mangaka doesn't work out. Mashiro wonders if he looks down at others for being stupid as Takagi points out that studying doesn't make one smart. He claims that Azuki and Mashiro are smarter than he is and explains how they are smarter than him for being so calculating with their dreams.
As the day ends, Takagi wonders how Mashiro's parents will allow him to be a mangak given the conditions in his house. He sits down with his mother before asking his father about becoming a mangaka, which she immediately rejects. He tries to talk around it, even saying he wouldn't kill himself like his uncle did, but his mother still rejects it. However, when his father gets home, he allows it since its his dream. His mother tells him to tell his grandfather since he lost a son to the industry too. A bigger surprise is that his grandfather gives Mashiro the keys to his uncle's manga studio telling him that he'll need it and how he's happy he's doing something with his life.
Mashiro rushes to check out his new studio as he calls Takagi, telling him to meet him at their new studio.
Mashiro and Takagi arrive at the studio as Takagi marvels at all the reference materials that are in the first room. From action figures to older comics, the two have more than enough to work on a full blown manga. Takagi wonders where the actual studio is as Mashiro takes them into the next room where then renovated apartment is laid out equipped for drawing manga. Mashiro opens the closet and gives Takagi a box of storyboards since he does not know how one is made. Mashiro allows him to sort through several of his uncle's storyboards as he looks over the different pens and drawing utensils as he has a few flashbacks on times he spent with his uncle at the apartment.
The two boys continue to dig through the archives of Nobuhiro's old documents as Takagi proclaims how excited he is to work with Mashiro on this. He points out that he will work his hardest to write good stories so that Mashiro and Azuki can get married as quickly as possible. Mashiro happily accepts this as he steps out to call his father. He apologizes to him for thinking that his uncle committed suicide as his father tells him that his uncle worked his hardest in order to gain success. He leaves Mashiro with a quote from a manga in order to let him know that Mashiro has the same ability as his uncle to succeed. Mashiro notes that he will not let anyone down and will pour his soul into making successful manga.
Mashiro and Takagi come to the end of Nobuhiro's old work as they find a box full of love letters from a high school friend. Mashiro remembers how his uncle mentioned that he really was in love with this one girl but he never had the nerve to actually say it. As the two read through the box of letters, they can see obviously that the two were in love with one another but never had enough courage to say anything to one another. As they get to the end of the letters, it turns out that Nobuhiro's crush eventually fell in love with someone else and got married. They find a year book and search for Miyuki Haruno and find a woman that looks just like Azuki.
They come to the realization that the woman Nobuhiro was in love with was in fact Azuki's mother and now Mashiro and Azuki are falling for one another now. Takagi finds it to be an odd string of coincidence and blames it on the genes. They figure that they should talk to Azuki's mother the next day as Mashiro's mom calls to scold him for being out so late and to come home immediately. The next day after exams, the two go to Azuki's house while she is out to meet with her mother, who agrees to see them when Nobuhiro's name is mentioned.
After an apology for reading the letters, Miyuki laughs it off and admits that she was in love with Nobuhiro but was too shy to confess it as she believes that it is a man's job to tell the girl that he is in love. She says that she kept a close eye on his manga and anime and noticed a character that was supposed to represent their love. After she finds out that Mashiro will be the one to date her daughter, she cheers the two on and tells them that they will go on to great things. Mashiro asks though that she not tell Azuki about the love that she and his uncle had. With a new resolve, Mashiro claims that he will start practicing that night while Takagi works on storyboards.
Mashiro wakes up suddenly in class after prompts from his teacher as he realizes that he was asleep in class. He reveals to Takagi that he had practiced all night as opposed to studying for his midterms, bringing his manga drawing pen with him to school inadvertently as well. Mashiro gives Takagi a spare key to the studio as they make their way to his place. While they are there, Mashiro shows the drawings he did last night, none of which he is truly satisfied with. He also takes a few extra minutes to explain to Takagi how effects work, storyboards, pen thickness, and other reference material used for making manga. Mashiro points out that he doesn't want to waste a second if he is going to marry Azuki at the age of eighteen.
Takagi expresses concern for Mashiro as he tries to get him to focus a bit on school. Mashiro reveals that he plans on going to Yakusa North High School after middle school, a school notorious for low achieving students. Takagi demands Mashiro get Azuki's email address if they end up going to different schools as Mashiro thinks its more romantic not to do it as well as he doesn't have the courage. After discussing it some, Takagi makes up his mind to go to Yakusa North as well since he and Mashiro are partners. Mashiro demands that Takagi not throw away his future on the off chance the manga career is not successful but Takagi dismisses it.
Takagi wants to know where to start with the reference material as Mashiro gives him a book that discusses the traits that make a man a man. There is also three qualities of becoming a successful manga artist. 1. Conceit. Seriously believe that you are better than others. 2. Do your best. 3. Luck. The two continue to practice drawing until they see a contest winning manga entry by Eiji Nizuma a fifteen tear old mangaka who must be a bit older than the two.
After they look at Nizuma's manga, they wonder how someone their age can be so talented. Mashiro feels inferior as he admits to doing nothing but goofing off until a week ago when all of this went down but Takagi supports him and remins him of the three things it takes to be a good manga artist. At the park, Mashiro thinks about other people they know who want to become manga artists like Hidemitsu Ishizawa. While Takagi notes some potential, he also points out that Ishizawa is more so an attention seeker and can draw the same cutesy girls again and again while criticizing manga artists. Mashiro goes on to think that Nizuma already has an editor to work with him to get him to come to Jump as soon as possible.
Takagi wonders how editors work as Mashiro tells him some of the stories from editors from the leech who doesn't care for his artist to the man who destroyed a beautiful piece to push a mangaka to work even harder. Takagi claims that they should work on a story and submit it to Jump seeing that most of the series in Jump have their own anime. Mashiro agrees as they go off to work on their new idea. On the way back to the studio, they encounter Azuki with her mother and sister. Azuki notices Mashiro and hides behind her mother as Mashiro does the same with Takagi, blushing. Both Takagi and Miyuki prompt the two lovers to say hello to one another but are too bashful to do so. However, after they pass one another, Mashiro looks back and sees Azuki starring at him, continuing to look at one another for several seconds before turning back. Mashiro looks back once last time to see Azuki looking at him again.
Mashiro claims that the two have the same frequency and recounts earlier times when their eyes met and knows that they were in love a long time ago. Takagi scoffs the idea as he presents an idea to Mashiro entitles "The Two Earths" to work on as a submission to Jump. Mashiro loves the idea immediately and probes Takagi for more ideas. The two agree to make a final draft for "The Two Earths" so that they could finish it and submit it by the end of the summer.
After the two agree to produce a manga by the end of the summer, they decide that school is the only time to simply relax. As they criticize their own work on the roof Kaya Miyoshi comes by to have a word with Takagi. Apparently it was she that told Takagi about Azuki's dream and wonders why he went off to tell her that. Takagi claims that it was for the benefit of everyone that he did as well as claims that he also wanted to talk to her. Miyoshi leaves as Mashiro claims that Miyoshi probably likes Takagi. Mashiro also thinks that she is a good person if she is Azuki's friend.
Back downstairs, Miyoshi goes to talk to Azuki about the affair as she wonders why Takagi likes her and not someone else since there are rumors that he is going out with Aiko Iwase, the second smartest girl in the class. Azuki claims that Iwase is too much of a snob to like and that Miyoshi would be good with Takagi. Miyoshi thinks that Azuki might be a bit of a snob for not being interested in boys but Azuki rebuffs her claim before heading back inside when she sees Mashiro coming down the hall. Miyoshi sees Takagi and leaves as well. The two boys wonder if they actually do have a frequency with the girls as they get back to work.
As summer approaches, Takagi helps Mashiro do better in school as they work nonstop on the manga. Takagi noticed that Mashiro is working too hard and worries about him as he tries to help out. He knows that the Nizuma entry in Jump has pushed him to succeed but not at the cost of Mashiro's health. Mashiro agrees to let Takagi help out with the inking process as they continue to work endlessly at the studio in order to meet their goal. They are still hesitant that their work is good but know that they did their best on this. Takagi calls Shueisha to make an appointment at the Jump offices to submit their work. What's more of a surprise is that they have an appointment and 3 o'clock the next day to show the editors of Jump what they have.