Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan (浪花少年探偵団 – Naniwa Juvenile Detective Team) is a mystery series based on a novel by Higashino Keigo (東野 圭吾), writer of Galileo and Ryusei no Kizuna among other dramas. This drama focuses on mystery-obsessed elementary school teacher Takeuchi Shinobu (Tabe Mikako) and her cohort of similarly curious students.

Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan Title

This episode is all about driving and bicycle safety. No, really, see:

Bicycle SafetyDriving Lessons

In the opening, Takeuchi is helping to train the kids in bicycle safety, being her usual thoroughly amusing self.

Bicycle Safety With FlairMenacing Crossing Guard

Then, she’s continuing her own driving lessons alongside the idol-obsessed mother of the Harada boys (played by Maeda Koki and Maeda Oshiro, who also narrates).

Idol-Obsessed Mom 1

Mrs. Harada fancies her driving instructor, who happens to look a lot like the idol she worships.

Looks Like Her Favorite Idol

We then find out about a 130 million yen (about $1.625 million) burglary, and it’s the buzz around the classroom.

BurglaryBurglary Buzz

It leads to a failed attempt by Hatanaka to calculate how many pork skewers it could buy, and retribution from his teacher for the bad math:

Hatanaka's Bad Math 1Hatanaka's Bad Math 2Hatanaka's Bad Math 3

But Takeuchi is not so upset that she doesn’t question her class, trying to find out all they know about the burglary.

Tapping Her Best Sources

When you think about it, this is brilliant, because she has a whole class of eyes and ears to work with. Unfortunately, this girl spoils all the fun:

Spoiling the Fun

Back to the driving, we find out that Mrs. Harada’s instructor has offered to give her 1-on-1 instruction for free. That’s . . . suspicious. Heck, it’d be suspicious even if this wasn’t a mystery series. Thoughts fly through Takeuchi’s mind and she decides that the best thing would be for her to tag along:

Free?Shinobu in the Back Seat

A curious case involving frequent dog poo prevents her attending one of these special lessons (I swear, I’ve been on the watch for a poo felon the exact same way she was, so this scene was nostalgic) . . .

Dog PooKeeping Watch

. . . and sure enough, catastrophe occurs – Mrs. Harada got into an accident. But it’s the driving instructor who’s injured and in a coma – Mrs. Harada’s fine if a bit shaken.

Visiting the HospitalHarada Shaken

She finds herself in the middle of a case, though, as she might be criminally liable for the accident. Our favorite cop, Shindou Shuuhei (Koike Teppei) explains the situation in the classroom, with analysis from the Naniwa Boys’ Detective Team.

Police Investigation 1Police Investigation 2Police Investigation 3

The Harada boys are clearly worried about their mother:

The Harada Boys

Surprisingly, though, the outspoken girl from earlier is the first to insist that Shindou help Mrs. Harada:

Insistent, Isn't She?

Walking together afterwards, Shindou notes that Takeuchi was saved by dog poo, but Takeuchi suddenly realizes that it might not have been a coincidence – the dog poo might have been a ploy to keep her at home.

The Poo Plot 1The Poo Plot 2The Poo Plot 3

Okay, keeping watch for an animal that defecates in front of your house – that’s normal. Deliberately having a dog poo in front of a person’s house on the bet that the person might skip a free lesson – that’s a stretch. Or maybe just incredibly devious. But what’s the point?

The Naniwa Shounen Tanteis are tagging close behind to hear every word, and pop out when they hear about this possibility:

There They Are

Takeuchi has unpleasant plans for them, though:

It Has Something to Do With Poo

Shortly after, there’s this hilarious scene, which I’m completely unable to describe. You’ll have to see it for yourself.

The Girls TeamThe Boys DelightedWhat's She About to Say? 1What's She About to Say? 2

Fact collection follows, so I’ll leave out further details. But what sort of murder is this, when the most suspicious person in the whole picture is the person who’s in a coma? Is the dog poo really connected to the accident? What about the burglary – you don’t mention such a large burglary in a story unless it has something to do with the case, but what?

Looking for Answers

Takeuchi and the boys are totally active in the fact-gathering on this one, but the cops aren’t out of the picture by a long shot. The clever Urushizaki has a nose for what’s suspicious, and he takes in all the details from Shindou and smells something worth investigating.

Urushizaki 1Urushizaki 2

Even Takeuchi recognizes quickly that Urushizaki is the real brains in the police force:

Shinobu Recognizes Urushizaki

There’s no tension between the police and Takeuchi. In fact, Urushizaki is quite ready to listen to her input, no matter how sharp-tongued she gets.

Shinobu Working with the Police

In a funny character twist, Urushizaki seems to fall for Takeuchi’s mother:

Shinobu's MotherUrushizaki

And that really shows that our characters are still getting more fleshed out, with depth added to them throughout this episode. Comedy was in full force from beginning to end, so it was a fun hour to watch. The emotional resolution was also very satisfying.

Most importantly, the mystery was pretty good this time, with all sorts of stuff to figure out. I think, with the facts we were given along the way, the viewer really did have a shot to come up with the answer this time. Some aspects of it were resolved a bit too easily and quickly, but that’s because they had to pack it into an hour.

I think this series continues to strike a good balance between action, comedy, and mystery, with everything held together by good characterization.