At the end of the previous episode of SHARK, the record company director the band is having trouble with – the same one who used to be Mizuki (Hirano Sho)’s manager, agreed to listen to the group’s new song on one condition – if Mizuki was fired as vocalist.

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Ichika (Yamashita Rio) informs Mizuki of the ultimatum, and while she assures him that she rejected the notion, it’s pretty clear that the problem here is between Mizuki and the director. It’s personal.

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Because it seems to be just between the director and Mizuki, Ichika decides not to tell the other band members and urges Mizuki to try to resolve the situation. She wonders if there’s something he’s not telling her, but he’s tight-lipped.

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She confers with her boss and he assures her that if the director is acting out of personal feelings, they can find a way to get  her to reconsider. Profit is profit, after all.

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But that won’t heal Mizuki’s wounds, nor those of his old manager. He decides to confront her about her personal vendetta against him, but she retorts that there’s nothing wrong with deciding whether to work with a person based on their personality.

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Basically, she wants him to bow to her, but while she’s definitely driven by a grudge, her insistence is not quite as petty as it sounds. We all know that Mizuki has an issue with pride and while some people are forgiving, others might not be.

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Mizuki consults with Kaede (Kawaei Rina) about the fact that he might get dropped from the band because of the director. She notices that he doesn’t have much confidence in his ability to deal with this situation.

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More importantly, we get a first indication that there may be something seriously wrong with Mizuki’s most critical tool:

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Meanwhile, Ichika is working overtime trying to promote SHARK’s new song “Answer”, making sure radio directors play it all over the country.

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The band decides that they shouldn’t put all the burden on Ichika, and maybe they should try to convince the director to listen to their new song. Mizuki agrees, but he seems focused on his own thoughts.

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Ichika bumps into the director again, but that conversation goes nowhere.

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Knowing about the director’s ultimatum when the rest of the group doesn’t, Mizuki is distracted for reasons he doesn’t want to explain to the others, and does his genius routine in order to excuse himself from practice.

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At this point, the guys really should see that something is up, but they’re not really putting two and two together.

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Passing by a record store, Mizuki sees Ichika pleading with the store owner to promote the band. That seems to spark a realization in Mizuki.

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While the band is starting to out that Mizuki had more on his mind than they thought . . .

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. . . Mizuki calls up Kaede to ask her whether she would choose the pursuit of her own dream over those of people important to her. She answers that she would be happy to see the dreams of those close to her fulfilled.

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So, with that answer in mind, what is Mizuki planning on doing?

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And what will Ichika do?

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Would the director really let the band début if Mizuki leaves? Wouldn’t they need a new vocalist anyway – putting  them back to square one?

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And they might have to get a new vocalist anyway, depending on what’s up with Mizuki’s throat.

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Ah, Mizuki. Will the troubles never end for him?

Well, this was a simple and solid character development episode. It was the fulfillment of the main conflict from Mizuki’s backstory (the way he left his manager on bad terms, scarring them both) and the introduction of a new conflict that he will have to face in the final episode (whatever is up with his throat).

The writers resolved the conflict smoothly and in the process showed that Mizuki has changed. The development of this character was executed smoothly throughout the series and this episode just kept with the trend to its logical conclusion.

Hirano-kun did a good job with the acting in this one. He has that haunted look down, and though he didn’t really have a huge range of emotions this time, it was impressive that he could sustain the right atmosphere without it getting stale.

In terms of acting, though, the earnestness Yamashita-san conveys is still the strong point of the series. In this episode, it was particularly clear that her character has more passion for SHARK than all the group members combined, and there are few actresses who could convey that as well as Yamashita-san did.

Altogether, this was a smooth half-hour. Given what they seem to be setting up in the final episode, I think I’ll have some positive remarks about this series in the last review. See you there!