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Japanese Variety Shows, Dramas, and Pop Music

Archive for the ‘Winter 2014’ Category

SHARK Ep 12 Review

Posted on: April 27th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

This is the final episode of SHARK – or at least, the first season of it, which was focused on the story of Kurata Mizuki (Hirano Sho). In a very concrete way, it’s the finest finale episode of any drama I’ve reviewed – and possibly that I’ve ever seen. Since doing a synopsis of the episode is a futile way to approach it, let me explain why I think it was such a successful conclusion.

For most Japanese dramas, the last episode is a culmination of expected events in a smooth resolution. Occasionally, there’s a surprise or a twist. More often there’s a lengthy recap of key scenes from the entire drama in the form of a flashback as the conflict reaches its climax. It is unusual for the finale to also be the best episode of the series.

The tension in this episode is largely dictated by Ichika (Yamashita Rio)’s mood. She starts out elated that the concert that will determine whether SHARK will début or not has been sold out, but her mood changes as she figures out about Mizuki’s voice. In general, viewers probably followed the same trajectory as Ichika – starting out excited to hear the band play, and then having more complicated feelings with every song.

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And, of course, the reason why we’re excited to hear them play is because the writers and director have been careful to minimize how long we’ve gotten to hear the group up to this point. They’ve also minimized the group’s wardrobe, but that’s another point entirely.

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The concert takes up almost the entire half-hour, and features the songs “Reflexion”, “Smile”, “Kagayaki”, “Answer”, and “Keep Walking”. At the start, the only people who know about Mizuki’s vocal cord problems are Mizuki himself and Kaede (Kawaei Rina), but that won’t be true by the end.

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SHARK Ep 11 Review

Posted on: April 22nd, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

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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SHARK Ep 10 Review

Posted on: April 19th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

We’re getting subtitles for the remaining episodes of SHARK’s first season just as the new season begins (thank you, Hakuchan!) so, let me try and get through these ASAP so that I can start on the new season. Not that I think that the next three episodes aren’t going to be fun, mind you, but my curiosity is fully mobilized in wondering what sort of storyline they’ll build around the new cast and how they’ll transition from this story.

At the start of this episode, Mizuki (Hirano Sho) tries to listen to the song from his rival in the Castaways. I guess it was an attempt at bravery in the face of the cataclysmic realization of his lack of comparative vocal skill, and . . . he fails this particular test of bravery. It doesn’t take more than a few lines of the song before he ditches the headphones.

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Back at headquarters, Mizuki takes revenge on Shinobu of Castaways by drawing all over his image on the cover of Indies Press. Hmm . . . I’m not sure this is an adequate way to get revenge, but the rest of the band got a laugh out of it.

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Ichika (Yamashita Rio) is not so sanguine about the situation, though. Walking in utter depressed, she breaks the news that their début is in jeopardy because a director at the record company has nixed it.

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SHARK Ep 09 Review

Posted on: April 10th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

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.

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

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

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SHARK Ep 08 Review

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

English subs for this episode of SHARK are now available, so let’s continue our journey with the group. There’s also news that we can expect a second season of SHARK with a somewhat different though equally interesting cast starting in April, so look forward to that.

This episode begins with SHARK participating in a radio interview. As you’d expect, Mizuki (Hirano Sho)’s attitude dashes any hope that it will go smoothly, and Ichika (Yamashita Rio) has to apologize profusely for his rudeness.

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Afterward, she expresses legitimate concern that the station will never invite them on again, even though the show’s producer shrugged Mizuki’s attitude off.

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Kai (Hamada Takahiro) wonders about their chances for a début, and Ichika admits that her boss isn’t having much luck with their superiors. If SHARK wants to début, they’re going to have to gain popularity first.

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SHARK Ep 07 Review

Posted on: March 16th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

Now that they finally have the band all together, the journey of SHARK has finally begun. So . . . does that mean we’ll be getting some less predictable storylines?

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Well, the start of this episode sure makes it seem that way, because we get a glimpse into the mind of Mizuki (Hirano Sho) as he narrates his thoughts. We got some narration from Ichika (Yamashita Rio) last time, but that wasn’t as surprising because we always had a clear idea of her thoughts, anyway.

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I’m not sure I wanted his motivation to become so clear so quickly, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise.

The group is in the middle of a photoshoot for a special TV feature on SHARK. How will it go?

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SHARK Ep 06 Review

Posted on: March 7th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

Well, there’s just one member of SHARK left who needs to accept Mizuki (Hirano Sho), and that’s the stubborn leader of the group, Kai (Hamada Takahiro). Since we already know what’s going to happen, will they at least manage to do it in style?

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There seems to be growing camaraderie between Mizuki, Ayumu (Matsumura Hokuto), Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru), and Teppei (Kamiyama Tomohiro). When Mizuki tries to tell Kenzo that the drumming was too fast, the others all tell him that his singing was the one that was off-tempo. He objects, of course, but it has the feel of being safe.

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That makes Ichika (Yamashita Rio) happy, but she’s got a tough job ahead of her. She’s got an appointment with Kai to check out the vocalist candidate he found – though really she just wants to convince him to accept Mizuki. She tells everyone about the meeting with Kai and reassures Mizuki that she supports him as vocalist 100%.

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