The storyline to SHARK has been fairly straightforward and easy to follow all the way through. That’s a good thing, because it looks like I’m going to have to review the remaining episodes without subtitles if I want to get through them before I need to start reviewing the second season of this drama, which starts on April 20th.

At the end of episode eight, Mizuki (Hirano Sho) basically froze on stage, having a sudden loss of confidence after seeing and hearing Akashi Shinobu (Kakizawa Hayato) perform. In truth, Mizuki’s constant bluster and show of confidence had always served to mask his deep self-doubt, and he just couldn’t maintain the act any longer because he was faced with a rival he didn’t believe he could defeat.

SHARK Ep 09 000

He exited, leaving Kai (Hamada Takahiro) to handle the vocals.

SHARK Ep 09 001SHARK Ep 09 002

Outside, Kaede (Kawaei Rina) is waiting for Mizuki, but he can’t bring himself to say anything to her – not even something rude.

SHARK Ep 09 003SHARK Ep 09 004SHARK Ep 09 005

As the pain hits him . . .

SHARK Ep 09 006SHARK Ep 09 007SHARK Ep 09 008

. . . his oddly calm voice-over wonders what he should do. If I heard him right, he recalled the spark he once had thanks to music – the one that is now extinguished:

SHARK Ep 09 009SHARK Ep 09 010SHARK Ep 09 011SHARK Ep 09 012

Back at the record company, Ichika (Yamashita Rio) tells her manager that she forgot to record the performance. He’s growing desperate for something to show to his bosses in order to convince them that SHARK is worth supporting – gone is the calm demeanor he had at the beginning of the series.

SHARK Ep 09 013SHARK Ep 09 014

It’s not true, of course – she does have a recording of the performance. As Okawa (Mano Erina) points out to her, though, word of how it went is already all over the internet – it’s a good thing Ichika’s manager hasn’t bothered to look that far into things.

SHARK Ep 09 015

Mizuki isn’t showing up for group meetings and interviews, and since he’s the person everyone is interested, the band is quickly losing opportunities to regain a chance at a major label debut.

SHARK Ep 09 016SHARK Ep 09 017SHARK Ep 09 018

It’s clear that the members are stunned by the sudden turn of events – they can’t even be mad at Mizuki.

SHARK Ep 09 020SHARK Ep 09 021SHARK Ep 09 022

It doesn’t look like they’re trying to talk to Mizuki (though I might be missing something because I don’t understand all the dialogue), and perhaps they’re succumbing to the despair that was already plaguing the group before Mizuki’s arrival.

SHARK Ep 09 023SHARK Ep 09 024SHARK Ep 09 025

If they wanted to talk to Mizuki, it wouldn’t be hard to find him – he was at his usual haunt. Can Kaede talk some sense into him? It looks like she’s going to be the only one who’s going to try.

SHARK Ep 09 026SHARK Ep 09 027

It’s not going to be easy though. Just going by his tone of voice, it sounds like he’s in denial.

SHARK Ep 09 028SHARK Ep 09 029SHARK Ep 09 030

The other side of things is between Ichika and Kai, since Ichika had convinced Kai to accept Mizuki, and now that doesn’t seem to be working out. At this point, a dispassionate viewer would have to concede that maybe Shinobu was the better choice for vocalist after all, though we have to wonder if he would have made such a drastic chance if not driven to it by anger.

SHARK Ep 09 031SHARK Ep 09 032

Kai has already expressed an increasing attachment to Mizuki, but the band was in search of something it could believe in and rally around after the loss of its first vocalist, and Mizuki is no longer acting the part of that rally point.

SHARK Ep 09 033SHARK Ep 09 034

Ayumu (Matsumura Hokuto) seems to apologize to his girlfriend for the way Mizuki abandoned the concert . . .

SHARK Ep 09 035SHARK Ep 09 036

. . . and he’s quite distraught about the whole thing . . .

SHARK Ep 09 037SHARK Ep 09 038SHARK Ep 09 039

. . . but luckily his girlfriend reminds him that they both support Mizuki. After all, though she doesn’t say so explicitly, Mizuki did help to bring Ayumu and her together.

SHARK Ep 09 040SHARK Ep 09 041SHARK Ep 09 043

Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru) and Teppei (Kamiyama Tomohiro) have their own little conversation about the Mizuki situation. Apparently everyone has to talk about it in pairs.

SHARK Ep 09 044SHARK Ep 09 045SHARK Ep 09 046

Through all the conversations, they have flashbacks where they remember how Mizuki has touched them.

SHARK Ep 09 047SHARK Ep 09 048SHARK Ep 09 049SHARK Ep 09 050

Meanwhile, Mizuki runs away when he sees Ichika. I guess that’s why they haven’t been able to get a good conversation with him.

SHARK Ep 09 051SHARK Ep 09 052

At least there’s one person in the world who Mizuki is not running away from:

SHARK Ep 09 053SHARK Ep 09 054

Reading an article about Castaways – probably the interview that should have gone to SHARK if Mizuki had showed up – Mizuki reflects that it’s the end of rock in Japan. His little rant draws Kaede’s ire.

SHARK Ep 09 055SHARK Ep 09 056

Shinobu shows up at Kai’s shop to give him a kick in the pants. I guess Shinobu wasn’t satisfied in the way he won the battle of the bands – he clearly looked up to SHARK and wanted to feel like he achieved something by beating them. He got no such resolution.

SHARK Ep 09 057

Mizuki’s two fans show up at the burger joint, and he puts on his old act . . .

SHARK Ep 09 058SHARK Ep 09 059SHARK Ep 09 060

. . . but Kaede has had enough of him.

SHARK Ep 09 061

Mizuki chases her and, as they pass the ballet school, she gives him a real talking to, insisting that he shouldn’t give up on his own dream so easily.

SHARK Ep 09 063SHARK Ep 09 065SHARK Ep 09 066SHARK Ep 09 068

But if Mizuki goes back to SHARK now, how will his group members take it? Will they just welcome him with open arms? And where is their confidence going to come from now, since their belief in Mizuki has taken such a blow?

Well, you’re going to have to watch to find out those answers.

This episode basically revolved around Hirano-kun’s ability to show Mizuki’s emotional state, and he did an excellent job with it this time. The only fault was in the voice-over narration at the beginning of the episode, which felt a bit off.

I liked that they had Kaede give Mizuki the key lecture – the sort of lecture that he gave to the other members of the group to get them through their own problems.

The relationship between Kaede and Mizuki is definitely the most earnest one we’ve seen in any of these Johnny’s time slot dramas so far. Think back through all of them – Bakaleya, Sprout, Piece, Shinryochu, Bad Boys J, Kamen Teacher, and 49 – and the only relationship that even came close to being as delightful to watch was the one between the characters played by Hashimoto Ryosuke-kun and Triendl Reina-san in Bad Boys J.

So those were the good things about the episode. There was one downside: the ending felt a tad too quick and easy. I suppose we have the time constraints to blame for that. At least we saw a lot of angst from Mizuki through the episode, and that’s what sold it.