This is the second-to-last episode of 49 and I’ve admittedly stalled on reviewing it to delay gratification. On the bright side, the last episode will be double-length, but I wonder if even that will be enough time to put a satisfying cap on things. The acting and stories have been so engaging thus far that I doubt any viewer could resist wishing for an episode or two more (though the plot effectively limits the possibility of a special or second season).

When we last left Kagami Dan (Sato Shori), he had just retaken control of his body from his father’s ghost – doing so right in front of Mana (Nishino Nanase), who had so far believed that she was dealing with twins rather than a young man temporarily possessed by the ghost of his father. The switch seemed to signal that Dan now has feelings for Mana – feelings he used to only have for Sachi (Yamamoto Maika).

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Mana naturally demands an explanation, but she posits her own – multiple personality disorder – before he even gets a chance to say anything substantial.

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Sachi steps in, offering to tell Mana what’s really going on, but Mana spots a rival and they immediately start fighting over Dan.

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Ah! Young love! I bet Dan never thought that he’d have two girls fighting over him! Well, to be more accurate, one girl fighting for him, and another fighting for his father who has been using his body like a time share. You can sort of tell Shori-kun has a bit of trouble not smiling here as he tries to put on a convincing wince of pain, but he gets his expression down to one of dismay before they cut to the opening credits.

Meanwhile, Dan also seems to be making strides in becoming a model, as he cosplays while Satoshi (Jinguji Yuta) takes pictures (on request from other students, of course – he’s strictly professional). Well, they always said that his face was his one winning trait, so I guess it’s good that he’s putting it to use. The Go-playing model.

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Even though he seems to be good at it, he doesn’t seem enthusiastic. Then again, will we ever see Dan enthusiastic about something?

Kenta (Yasui Kentaro) is mildly surprised that no one requested pictures of him.

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Then he grabs the camera and tries to take a picture of Satoshi, who immediately turns away. Finally, we get a little tidbit about Satoshi, who hasn’t had much of a background so far. The setup was contrived – the way he turned to conversation to his parents and how there are no photos of him when he was young.

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Turns out his parents divorced shortly after his birth, and his mother blamed him for her suffering rather than happily taking photos of him.

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Satoshi says that since he wasn’t loved by his parents, he finds it hard to believe any girls would like him. Now, that sounds like something that would work subconsciously – part of a character’s description – but it’s hardly something a person would normally say about themselves. Certainly not as spontaneously with hardly any prompting as Satoshi is doing here. I call this a rare miss for the writers, but hopefully it’ll at least set up something interesting (they’re not just going to tell us this about Satoshi and not do anything about it, right?).

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I do like the response from Dan and Kenta, though, who tell Satoshi not to say such gloomy stuff so early in the day. That was cute.

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As Chicken Basket’s popularity grows and every girl in school seems obsessed with the group, the members lament that they can’t tell the girls that it’s them in order to convert some of that group popularity into personal relationship success.

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I’d have liked if there was a second song from them, though.

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At the club, owner Kiryu Tetsuya (Kyan Yutaka) urges them to tell everyone who they are so they can become proper celebrities. Of course, we heard in the last episode that he doesn’t much care whether this means they’ll get expelled from school, so we have to question his motives for giving this advice. He doesn’t seem to have the boy’s best interests at heart, even though they were essential to getting him back on his feet.

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Fortunately, he says outright that he doesn’t care if they get expelled, so the members of Chicken Basket now know what he really thinks of them. He basically says that they wouldn’t have been able to make it very far on the college route, anyway.

The four guys in the back like the idea of seizing their newfound celebrity, since they didn’t have much of a positive image of themselves in the first place. Remember how they were a completely unmotivated basketball team?

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Kenta and Dan don’t like where this is going, though. Kenta was always motivated – that was why he pushed Dan to join the basketball team in the hope that he could turn things around. Well, at least that’s always how Kenta has seemed. But what about Dan? Is he reluctant simply because he doesn’t really feel comfortable being a celebrity, or is it because he finally sees his life going in the right direction and doesn’t want to do something wild like drop out of school?

Knowing that Tetsuya isn’t the guys she thought he was, Yuko (Nomura Masumi) wants to dump him again. Aiko (Konno Mahiru) is not at all happy with this. She was going to give Tetsuya a substantial amount of money at one point, after all, so she was clearly hoping that Yuko’s child would have both parents present.

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Dan walks in and it takes Aiko a moment to figure out that it really is Dan and not his father.

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Aiko seems very involved with her own feelings, frustrated at her children, and sure doesn’t show Dan how glad she is to have him back.

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She also seems rather stupid. He explains to her the mechanism by which he and his father switch places very clearly, and then she has him touch her breast so that she can talk to her husband. But wait, I thought she didn’t want him taking over her son’s body? Didn’t they have a whole argument about that? I’m really getting to hate Aiko.

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And of course, right when Dan’s father gains consciousness, she begins lecturing him about how bad a father he is. I can’t imagine how anyone could be a better post-mortem father, though.

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With the other four Chicken Basket members apparently focusing on their career as celebrities, only Dan and Kenta attend basketball practice. This is getting serious.

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Whether it’s Dan or Dan’s father, they always seem to get approached by either Mana or Shogo (Teranishi Takuto) while drinking water at the taps. It was Shogo’s turn this time, accusing Dan of messing with Mana by switching personalities.

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Shogo drops the hint that he was the one who tried to get the Chicken Basket members expelled.

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Since it’s Dan’s father Shogo is talking to, all this revelation gets him is some taunting in return. I think Dan’s father really enjoys needling Shogo.

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Then, giving me my best laugh of the episode, Shogo looks straight into the camera and asks how many episodes there are left. Not enough, my friend, not enough.

Why is Satoshi taking pictures of Yuko? Seems like he’s getting more artistic in his photographic work and not just selling to the school crowd. How he could think that Yuko looks happy, though, I have no idea. The writers seem to have a curious image of Satoshi that I don’t understand.

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Dan’s father gives Satoshi a pull of the ear in admonishment and pulls him away, explaining the fight between Yuko and Tetsuya . . .

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Of course, Yuko is practically the only major character who doesn’t already know that Dan’s father is possessing Dan’s body, and she wonders why he keeps referring to her as his daughter when he whispers to Satoshi.

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Dan’s father decides to tell Yuko what’s going on with him and Dan, recalling how Aiko accused him of not being a proper father. Well, he can’t be a proper father while he’s pretending to be Yuko’s brother, right?

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But first he tries to get Satoshi to do the explaining for him. That . . . can’t go well, right?

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Well, I think I’ll have to keep how things go with Yuko out as a spoiler, as with the rest of what happens in the episode.

One question – do people really run around (literally) looking for a taxi in Tokyo? Seems like it might be easier to call someone with a car.

Gotta hand it to Satoshi, at least he has a definite identity as the kid who never puts away his camera, even though everything else about his character seems strange.

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Oh, and I can’t avoid sneaking this screenshot in. It’d be criminal to waste it. Can you guess what’s going on (assuming you haven’t watched already)?

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And somehow, we get a rare smile from Aiko.

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Oh wait, there’s another unavoidable screenshot:

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As usual, there were a lot of great moments in this episode, especially towards the end. The ending was really fun and a wonderful way to round things off.

I don’t really feel this episode got through enough, though. The whole treatment of Satoshi was ham-handed, the whole thing between Mana and Sachi was totally shallow – they just yanked at Dan and tried to rip him apart, and the only saving grace was what happened with Yuko.

I was especially frustrated that we didn’t get more development of Dan, especially with only one episode left now. Earlier in the article I asked whether he might be a bit more optimistic about his life, but we got no hint about the answer to that question. Is he now less likely to contemplate suicide? There’s been no indication that he’s at all happier, apart from a single moment of triumph at Go. Even fifteen seconds of him taking a shot in basketball practice and Kenta saying that he was getting better would have been plenty.

For fans of Dan’s father, though, he’s definitely back and in full form. He was less effervescent in his last few turns in Dan’s body, but this time he was back to his old over-confident self.

Well, that leaves just the final hour. I still have my doubts that they can wrap this up to my satisfaction in such a short time, but the writers have shown the ability to cover a lot of ground before.