At the end of the first episode of SHARK, Kurata Mizuki (Hirano Sho) got to perform with SHARK leader Kai (Hamada Takahiro). Then, in the second episode, he got on stage with all the SHARK members except Kai (because Kai had collapsed from a fever and Mizuki had to fill in for him). So . . . is he going to get to play with the entire group this time?

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Well, not if he keeps telling them all how crappy they are. To be fair, his criticism of Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru) and Ayumu (Matsumura Hokuto) were mild – at least when compared to what he said about Teppei (Kamiyama Tomohiro)’s inability to play guitar.

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Confronted with this scene of Miyuki’s unruliness, Kai is all the more convinced that Miyuki can’t be SHARK’s lead vocalist.

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It looks like SHARK is back to square one.

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The next day, Ichika (Yamashita Rio) checks with Mizuki to make sure he’s still willing to be the group’s lead vocalist after that rant, and he assures her that he hasn’t changed his mind, and that she doesn’t have to ask again. But if he doesn’t like how they play, then why is he still willing to be part of the group?

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He also outright refuses to be more civil to the band members, saying to do so wouldn’t be to take rock seriously. Sounds like he believes the perfection of the music should be put ahead of people’s feelings, but will SHARK really be able to stomach this approach after the lighter touch of his predecessor Kazuki (Fujii Ryusei)?

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From being one of the milder characters, Teppei is now dead-set against Mizuki. Kenzo points out that Teppei is only saying that because Mizuki said he was horrible.

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Ayumu tries to play his normal conciliatory role, noting that what Mizuki said had been correct, but in doing so he implies that Kenzo is a bad guitar player. When Kenzo asks Kai if that’s the case, the straightforward Kai can’t hide the truth.

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So Kenzo storms out and, as Ichika enters, Kai says Mizuki is to blame for the group’s turmoil. But if Mizuki was right as Kai seemed to admit, then wasn’t the problem really SHARK’s own complacency and inability to confront their own problems?

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As the rest of the band storms out, Ayumu is the only person Ichika can talk to about the audition they have to do in order to début. She also wants him to approve of Mizuki as the new vocalist, but while he acknowledges Mizuki’s positive points, he also can’t get beyond the temperamental singer’s bad attitude.

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When we see Mizuki talking to Kaede (Kawaei Rina), though, she gets him to admit the positive qualities of the members that made him want to join the group. Why can’t he just say those things to them? Because those good things were the way they used to play with Kazuki. They weren’t playing like that for him.

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I enjoyed how Kaede tried to turn put things in a way that was tailored to Mizuki’s peculiar psychology. This was the first episode in which she looked like a significant character – sort of like Mizuki’s counselor.

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Mizuki sees Ichika stalking Ayumu . . .

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. . . and then not only ruins Ayumu’s attempt to confess to the girl he liked . . .

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. . . , but then berates both her and him after she walks away and Ayumu tells them why he got interested in her.

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I love that Mizuki is so firm about being himself even though other people hate him for it, but I don’t think Ayumu appreciated it at this moment.

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Ichika tries to get Mizuki to understand Ayumu’s feelings by letting him hear a love song Ayumu wrote back when Kazuki was in charge. A music agent, Ichika can see that the way to reach someone like Mizuki is through music.

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Thanks to that, Mizuki has a plan. But will he be able to win Ayumu over while still remaining his coarse, insufferable self?

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Before we get to the actual plan, though, he gives a little lecture to Ayumu. This was reminiscent of the same sort of talk we used to see Tsukasa give in Bad Boys J – a drama that shares a director and screenwriter with this series. However, while in Bad Boys J it was ludicrous, it worked better here because we’re dealing with subtler characters, the lines were more sophisticated and fit the situation better, and Mizuki is the type of character who thinks he knows everything and would likely give people lectures like this.

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This was a sweet episode, and this drama keeps getting better and better. In terms of young love storylines, it’s been done before, but it’s a huge improvement over the Romeo & Juliet storyline that came in equivalent episode of Bad Boys J.

More than the story, though, it was the execution that made it excellent. Matsumura Hokuto-kun and Hirano Sho-kun did remarkable work selling their characters . . . well, except for one thing – Hokuto-kun needs to figure out how to play the keyboard more convincingly. The song was extremely straightforward and should not have looked the way that it did. The director is also partly to blame for the way it was filmed and the lack of direction given. Still, the good acting outside of that more than made up for it.

So . . . is this going to be a pattern of Mizuki trying to convince one member in each episode for the next three episode, or are we going to get something more complicated? I don’t mind either way, as long as we get more of what we saw here and they don’t go overboard with Mizuki’s speeches.