So the first episode of the drama 49 impressed me because they seemed to be pulling off a fairly difficult premise – a teen boy is suddenly possessed by the spirit of his dead father, who has control for 49 days – in good style. In particular, the young man in the lead role – Sato Shori-kun playing Kagami Dan (both possessed and unpossessed) – was doing a surprisingly good job of it. But I’ve seen good first episodes that were followed by disappointing follow-ups, so can this series maintain its strong momentum?

When we last left Dan (and for the duration of this article I will refer to Possessed Dan simply as Dan, even though the personality is technically that of Dan’s father), we found out that the ostensible reason for the possession was actually a cat named Ran, who would have died without a new home. That was one of many indications of Dan’s father’s soft side. In fact, his personality is so sweet, it’s a wonder what went wrong in his marriage that led to possibility of divorce.

I’m not going to comment on the opening few seconds. I’m just not. You’ll see why.

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The way Dan asked for the newspaper as he sat down for breakfast showed that there’s still a lot of adjustment necessary here. But that’s not the biggest sign – it’s pretty obvious that feelings that he has not experienced for decades – you know, hormones – are completely throwing him off.

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He decides to go for a run to work off all the unexpected energy . . .

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. . . and accidentally discovers a man sleeping in a tube. The man dashes off immediately without a word, but Dan says his name – Haruki. Looks like this series won’t just be about him solving his son’s problems or even just his family’s problems.

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Photos of her in hand, Dan finds the classroom of the girl he likes. This is really complicated when you consider that it’s really Dan’s father, but there are two factors to consider – 1. he knows his son liked the girl because that’s why Real Dan paid Satoshi (Jinguji Yuta) for photos of her, and 2. this relationship looks a heck of a lot less stomach-churning than Dan’s father acting in an odd way around Dan’s mother.

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Dan tries to ask another girl about his target’s name, but that girl tells the whole class that he wanted Minazuki Mana (Nishino Nanase)’s name . . .

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. . . and they all rise up and approach him in a flock. I’ve never seen anything like it. They basically block his way to her and say they’ll deliver any message he has. As usual, he doesn’t show any regard for what they might think of him, and he asks whether she has a boyfriend.

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When they start laughing, he realizes that his attempt to get his son hooked up with his dream girl has hit a snag (did they notice he was holding photos of her?), but he just laughs along with the students.

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It helps that he’s such a likeable character. Afterward, he asks Satoshi where he went wrong, and Satoshi gives him the lowdown on Mana. She is, of course, a model and extremely popular – hence the laughter in reaction to his questions.

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This was a great exchange between the two – hearing that Mana was so popular, Dan realized that the photos were probably reprints. Satoshi admitted that Dan was the thirtieth person who had asked for photos of her and Dan demands his money back because 2000 yen was too much! Satoshi retorts that the photos will be worth more once she goes pro. That was just perfectly hilarious.

49 Ep 02 018 49 Ep 02 019Dan accidentally lets it slip that he’s not interested in Mana for his own sake, but for his son’s. Satoshi at first takes it in a dirty way (I’m not sure how), and then wonders if Dan has the flu.

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Sachi (Yamamoto Maika) shows up as Satoshi leaves. Now, Dan calls her “Tanoka” even though the character listing has her as Takami Sachi, so I’m not sure what the character name is. She doesn’t say anything, but it managed to be a great moment anyway, and showed us a bit more about her personality and Dan’s. You’ll have to see it to understand what I mean – it’s hard to describe.

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Dan has a staring problem . . .

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. . . and because she smiled at him, he thinks Mana might not be impossible to approach . . .

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. . . but it seems like he’s already known at the “Don Quixote of the first years” – at least to Sawamura Shogo (Teranishi Takuto) who sees him eyeing Mana. Honestly, that’s a great title for a young man to have – after all, the reason why Don Quixote was trying to do things everyone considered impossible or ridiculous was because he was trying to recapture his youth. It’s a shame that more youths are not Don Quixotes – a notion that Possessed Dan would no doubt agree with.

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Anyway, these tennis-playing protectors of Mana threaten to report him to a guidance counselor. He objects that that’s going overboard, but they retort that Minazuki’s father is the PTA president.

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If it’s not obvious, Shogo is aiming to be Mana’s boyfriend himself.

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I loved the way Dan mocks him for not having confessed yet.

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But what’s even better is the way the basketball club intervenes when Shogo tried to force Dan into some “tennis practice” (I think this would probably involve Shogo trying to hit him with tennis balls). Much to Dan’s own surprise, leader of the basketball club Kenta (Yasui Kentaro) claims that Dan is already part of the basketball club. Kenta saw Dan’s basketball skills in the previous episode, and I’m surprised it took him this long to recruit the new talent.

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I actually think Dan was disappointed at losing the chance to get into the tennis club (possibly he could dodge Shogo’s attempts to make him miserable and impress Mana in the process), but the basketball made sure they didn’t lose him – they literally carried him off.

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Later, Dan goes back to the playground to find Haruki brooding there again. He refers to Haruki as Takami-san, which is very confusing since I thought that was Sachi’s name (is this Sachi’s father?). Anyway, Dan introduces himself as his father’s son, and there’s an instant recognition from Takami.

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Takami was laid off, and we find out that the only person Dan’s father had been friends with ever since elementary school was Takami.

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Takami said that he always followed Dan’s father like a shadow, just copying him – even in going into the financial field.

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I’m not going to go into the details of his situation . . .

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. . . but it turns out that Takami Sachi is, in fact, Haruki’s daughter. He’s been trying to hide his unemployment, but Dan finds out that she knew all along. She strikes me as a good sidekick for Dan, along with Satoshi.

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When Sachi says that her mother might divorce her father, that really gets to Dan. I don’t think he can sit by as what was about to happen to him happens to his friend.

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He sees Mana walking by, and with eyes lit up (the expression on his face was absolutely perfect – I mean, it literally couldn’t have been any better when he said “chance”), he tries to make his move.

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The bodyguard gives him pause, though, and Mana gives the same smile she gives everyone before getting into the car.

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Dan’s expression and the way he waved sayonara was also pretty good.

After giving Ran the cat some necessary care . . .

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Dan proceeds to go to his (that is, Dan’s father’s) old clients in order to get Takami some investors so that Takami can be a money-manager again. I guess . . . it’s safe to assume Takami is actually a competent money manager and wasn’t fired for losing client money?

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We haven’t really seen Dan interact with his family much, but that changes at dinner. Basically, he (Dan’s father) tries to defend himself against the accusation that he was a negligent father and husband. It was a pretty weak defense, though.

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But I think we can understand – nobody wants to be hated by their own family after they die (no one halfway decent, anyway).

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There are some other surprises in the episode, but I won’t get into those.

This was another excellent episode, and if this series keeps going like this, it’ll be my favorite since I started covering this time slot. It beats out Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou because the pacing is actually faster, the main character is even more dynamic than Morimoto Shintaro-kun’s character in that series, and there is a full range of interesting supporting characters besides.

Dan continues to be a fun character to watch in action, and Shori-kun is doing a remarkable job of hitting all the right notes with the character. The whole episode was filled with good moments from him.

Some of the other characters got fleshed out this time. We didn’t get as much of Kenta, though in the little we got, Yasui-kun’s efforts were still strong. The whole basketball team added a lot of color and humor to the episode – sometimes just by being in the picture.

But both Sachi and Satoshi can now be added to the list of really good characters that will help make the series special. Shogo may be a good antagonist, but I’ll have to see more of him first. I think we’ll get more on Mana’s character in the next episode.

The plot is brilliant and it moves quickly. I totally didn’t expect that we’d see him tackling stuff like Takami’s problems, but that’s a great way to develop things (instead of keeping it solely about Dan and the family). The writers went remarkably far to turn Dan into a legit teenager, complete with the impulses that one would expect, but also with the confidence of an adult who was popular as a kid. The way Dan’s father thinks he can win over Mana for his son is just the sort of thinking we’d expect from a father who feels a bit guilty for how things turned out between him and his son. It’s not always easy to digest, but at every turn we can see where the character is coming from.

You know what? I could probably do a much more fine-grained analysis of this series – picking it apart scene-by-scene, but I’ll have to hold off on that or I’m going to end up writing a book on this drama.