SHARK is a drama about a band that lost its way after the death of its lead singer and now has one last chance to hit the big time – a critical audition process that will decide whether the band can debut. Obviously, the first step was acquiring a new lead singer, but the current leading contender, Kurata Mizuki (Hirano Sho), isn’t accepted by the entire group because of his inflated sense of superiority.

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So, when record company liaison Komatsu Ichika (Yamashita Rio) tells them that they passed the initial stage in the audition, it’s really only three of the group members who have done so – Mizuki, Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru), and Ayumu (Matsumura Hokuto). They’re missing their two guitarists, so that Mizuki had to handle the guitar  part.

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But for some reason, we didn’t get to see that. Why didn’t we get to see the first part of the audition? If they’re going to argue that the process is important to the story, then it’s sort of silly to skip showing it to us.

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Well, it was just a preliminary thing, anyway – the second round of the audition is a live performance – a battle of the bands. At least we’ll definitely get to see that . . . right?

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But Ichika confesses that Kai (Hamada Takahiro) still says that he wants no part of the new group – meaning that he wants no part of self-proclaimed genius Mizuki. Shouldn’t Mizuki just have a talk with Kai?

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The final member – Teppei (Kamiyama Tomohiro) – hasn’t given an answer. I suppose that’s who we’re going to deal with in this episode, though I really wish they’d break with this lame and obvious pattern of spending each episode on one group member and having Mizuki solve the whole problem with a passionate rant. It’s approaching the Tsukasa pattern in Bad Boys J.

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The group is planning to approach Teppei, but an old classmate get to him first and asks him to participate in a jam session.

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Teppei readily agrees to do it as a favor, but then the conversation goes in a weird direction that I totally didn’t get, with the blue-clad classmate saying everyone looked down on Teppei. How is that any way to talk to someone who just agreed to do you a favor?

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At the burger joint, Konno Kaede (Kawaei Rina) says that Mizuki has changed. I always cringe when writers give characters a line like this because it’s almost as if they’re saying “see, we really do develop our characters!”

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But she’s right, he has changed. He’s lost his edge. He tried to regain it by lamely saying that SHARK doesn’t need another guitarist when it already has him, even though it’s clear his heart isn’t in it.

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Some tough guys in the corner tell him to quiet down – except they’re not at all polite about it – and since he’s still trying to prove that he’s still edgy, Mizuki unwisely decides to pick a fight with them.

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They’re not going to show us the fight, though, but it’s a side thing, anyway. We turn instead to Teppei, who sees some school kids walking by and recalls how he and his classmate had planned to form a band.

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Just as the memory fades out, he sees Ichika, Ayumu, and Kenzo waiting to speak to him.

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He seems enthusiastic about the band making it to the second round of the audition, but then notes that they did it without him, so they don’t need him. He’s still bitter about how Mizuki said how horrible his playing is.

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As in the usual pattern, he explains his point of view to them – how SHARK allowed him to believe in himself, and Mizuki’s words burst that bubble.

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The group doesn’t have the same meaning to Teppei anymore.

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Needless to say, everyone is bummed out when they see Mizuki walk into the clubhouse. He managed to get by with only some bruising – no broken limbs.

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If Ichika was upbeat before, she sure isn’t now. And if there’s anyone who can make her feel worse, it’s her insufferable coworker Miku (Mano Erina). Miku complains that her new husband only texts her ten times a day when he used to do so fifty to a hundred times a day before they were married. Ah, first world problems.

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For some reason, even the DJ seems intent on insulting Teppei. The fact that Teppei is accepting this sort of treatment without comment is really disturbing and definitely a case of low self-esteem.

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Meanwhile, Kai’s boss tells him about a street musician who might be a good replacement vocalist and Kai goes out to see him.

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The fellow – Akashi Shinobu (Kakizawa Hayato) – has a good voice, but is somewhat lacking in charisma – the specific element that the record company was really looking for. It doesn’t matter – Kai clearly thinks he’s found the right guy.

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Teppei performs with the DJ as planned . . .

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. . . and SHARK only now finds out what he’s up to .

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But the gig isn’t what Teppei expected – the DJ is outright bullying him by rapidly changing song styles so that it’s difficult for Teppei to adapt. What the DJ is doing makes no musical sense, and the looks he gives Teppei make it clear that he’s being malevolent. What the heck is going on here?

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That’s the real point of suspense here, since we already know that Mizuki is somehow going to get involved and win Teppei over. So, I’ll leave the rest of the summary out as serious spoiler territory.

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The downside to this episode is now beginning a fault with the series – it maintains the patterns of the previous episodes and is entirely predictable. The dialogue is better than in Bad Boys J, but otherwise it is still following the same formula and it’s an obvious case of lazy, uninspired writing.

Kamiyama-kun had the burden of the acting in this one and while he was good at some points, his expressions often look forced rather than the natural product of his thoughts. Still, the situation was so bizarre, and he had so little dialogue to work with, that I thought he did a fine job given the difficulty.

Speaking of bizarre, this story was quite a stretch. The best thing about it was that we at least got to see a performance and we also got a fight. This sort of story requires more setup, though. We still haven’t gotten a sense of SHARK’s place in their music landscape. For instance, how many other groups are trying to win this audition? How does SHARK compare to those groups? It’s really important that SHARK is shown to be no match for the other groups without Kai and Teppei, but there’s been no attempt to do that.

On the flip side, this episode sets up at least two obvious plot lines for future episodes. But . . . are they already too obvious to attract people to watch?