The first episode of SHARK was excellent, but we really only got to meet a few of the characters properly – renegade vocalist/genius Mizuki (Hirano Sho), record agent Ichika (Yamashita Rio), and leader of SHARK Kai (Hamada Takahiro). I’m looking forward to getting a sense of the other members of SHARK and also enjoying some more sharp acting from the three leads.

Last time, Ichika asked the charismatic Mizuki to become the vocalist for SHARK, replacing their one-year-deceased lead singer Kazuki (Fujii Ryusei). SHARK cannot début without an electric leading figure, and Kai is too reserved for the role (though you won’t catch him acknowledging that).

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But if you think that everything would be sorted out just with Ichika asking Mizuki . . .

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. . . you obviously didn’t watch the first episode, because not only is Mizuki the type of person that would say “no” on impulse, but he’s also got another offer to début from Homareda Pro, so he thinks he’s already set.

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And even if by some miracle he said “yes”, Ichika didn’t really ask Kai or the other members of the band about the arrangement. Given Mizuki’s bad attitude (and again, I hope he continues to be delightfully volatile), I doubt Kai would have assented very easily.

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Ichika is quite forceful when she wants to be, and despite being very respectful of Kai, she still pushes the idea that they need Mizuki.

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Kai tells the other band members about the fact that their début is on hold at best and scrapped at worst, that Ichika has found a new vocalist, and that Mizuki said no and Kai wouldn’t have let him in the band anyway.

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Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru) isn’t happy with the current situation, and the news that they might get dumped by Ichika’s company has him wondering whether the band has any future.

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So, we get some sense of his fiery personality here, and the possibility that he might not follow where Kai leads.

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The other two are more like peacemakers – especially Ryuzaki (Matsumura Hokuto), who steps in immediately – but they also look like they sympathize with Kenzo’s sentiments.

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At the office, Ichika gets word from her manager Yoshimura (Okada Kohki) that Mizuki would be acceptable as a lead singer, and that he talked to the bosses about giving SHARK another chance. The requirement is that the band win a scheduled Music Garage audition. If they do, they’ll début.

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But Mizuki is still boasting about his upcoming début with Homareda Pro. The way he fills out the application in boldly with a black marker may or may not work, but he probably shouldn’t have left the agent’s card at the burger joint.

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Sure enough, when he walks into the record company headquarters . . .

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. . . he suddenly realizes that he doesn’t remember the name of the person he’s supposed to meet and doesn’t have the card.

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I love the bit where he confidently draws a picture of the agent. That was just perfect for his character.

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Luckily for him, the man he came to see came down to greet him.

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Ichika continues to be somewhat taunted by Okawa (Mano Erina) in the office . . .

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. . . but when Okawa suggests that she might poach Mizuki since Ichika had failed, and try to sign him as an idol or solo act, Ichika finally barks back at her defiantly. Ichika is serious about getting Mizuki! This was another great scene – I’m glad we didn’t have to wait long to see Ichika get fed up with Okawa.

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Mizuki quickly realizes that the Homareda Pro offer isn’t what he thinks – they want him to just play guitar for a model who will do the singing. Doesn’t sound like they’re interested in him writing songs, either.

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When he gives his usual attitude to this horrible arrangement, though . . .

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. . . the agent gives him a heavy dose of reality about how hard it is to get a song to the top of the charts, and how simply claiming that everyone doesn’t understand his talent won’t get him there.

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Thankfully, Mizuki isn’t so easily cowed, even though he recognized that some of what the agent was saying was true. When the agent starts to say something about Mizuki’s past, it enrages Mizuki so that he grabs the guy and tosses him against the wall.

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Not the best at the anger management thing, is Mizuki? Anyway, it sounds like he’s got an interesting backstory that will eventually be revealed. For now, he just storms out of the meeting.

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Meanwhile, Ichika didn’t waste any time and immediately went to Homareda Pro to ask them if they could give her Mizuki.

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After pulling her leg a bit, the agent confesses that they decided not to sign Mizuki, and that he should still be close by.

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So, will Ichika manage to convince Mizuki now?

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And even if she does, how will the rest of the band react?

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In particular, how will their stalwart leader Kai take it, since he’s already rejected Mizuki?

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I continue to like how this series is going. The pacing is patient but not slow. Because the plot continues to be very easy to predict, the main attraction is the acting.

Ichika is really the center of the story, and Yamashita Rio-san is a wonderfully unconventional lead actress. She has a lot of energy, shows a tremendous range of emotion, and is completely idiosyncratic. She doesn’t fit neatly into any mold. The best parts for her are when she explodes – like when she reacted to Okawa and also to Mizuki later in the episode. She respond the way the viewer would want to respond.

Hamada Takahiro-kun as Kai is like a pillar. He conveys a wise stoicism remarkably well, and if he continues to get compelling roles, he might eventually grow into the style of old actors like Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck. I think it’s his stage experience coming through here.

Of course, the real force in the episode was Hirano Sho-kun. And we know he’s doing a brilliant job acting here because we’ve seen enough of him off-camera, and he’s nothing like this character. And even though he conveys a lot through dialogue and action, he shows us even more of the character through his expressions. Consider that moment at the burger joint when Konno Kaede (Kawaei Rina) mentioned how hard Mizuki had worked to get a début and a shadow crosses Mizuki’s face. We don’t know why, but something about her mentioning his effort gave his disquiet. As loud as he is, there are plenty of time when he sits or stands silently, but we know what he’s thinking because of the look on his face.

Excellent stuff so far. The key will be what they do with the plot once Mizuki is part of SHARK. If everything continues to go in an obvious direction, then the acting can only make this a decent drama, not a great one. It will take some clever stories to make this series something special.