Beginners! (ビギナーズ! ) is a comedy drama series about a team of misfit police trainees. It stars Kis-My-Ft2‘s Fujigaya Taisuke-kun and Kitayama Hiromitsu-kun as Shimura Teppei and Tachibana Danji respectively, as well as Gouriki Ayame-san as Momoe Hiro. Their nemesis during their police training is Ryuzaki Misaki played by Ishida Hikari-san.

Beginners TitleBeginners Cast

With the plot so straightforward (and all too familiar), the writers and actors have a heavy burden to distinguish this series from similar stories. Can they do it?

The story begins with Shimura (Fujigaya) riding on a motorcycle, thinking about his goal to become a police officer. His best friend, Onda Yuichi (Mori Ren) set him on this path, but we wonder whether he’s really serious about it, since he seems rather carefree and police officers . . . aren’t.

Carefree Fujigaya

After the credits, we meet Hiro (Gouriki), who’s beyond carefree – she’s outright hyper.

Carefree Hiro

So far our characters have the mentality of teenagers (but maybe they’re supposed to be in that general age-range), but then there’s Onda, who’s taking things seriously enough to be studying on the train. Unfortunately, he already seems out of his depth.

Studious Onda

Hiro’s on the same train, gets lifted up by the squeeze of bodies, squashed against the window, and ultimately doesn’t even notice as her destination passes.

Not Firmly GroundedA Tad Uncomfortable

Gouriki-san was already pouring on the humor here, and largely sets the tone for much of the episode.

Shimura, is, of course, late for the police academy registration, and his family reflects on how unsuited he is for police work.

Shimura Wakes UpHe Ought to be Arrested

Between hiding a suggestive magazine, struggling to find his registration papers, and taking the motorcycle without permission, there’s plenty of evidence to support their point.

At Least He's Pious

As we get back to the scene where we met him at the start, we can at least be glad that they’re both good-natured and likeable, even if they’re otherwise hopeless. Which brings us to the third main character – Tachibana (Kitayama):

Kitayama Grumpy

He, of course, is not very likeable. He’s the moody fellow with something to prove – you know the type.

Moody Tachibana

Now, all we need is for our characters to bump into each other. Shimura and Hiro end up almost doing so literally, and that leads to Shimura’s papers getting scattered all over the place.

Sorry!This is Not Good

Despite everything going wrong for him at this point (he’s late, his papers are soggy, the bike got towed, etc.) he still wears a confident smile as he arrives to the academy late:

Entering the Academy 1Entering the Academy 2

You could say that he has a good attitude, but does he have the right attitude? I don’t know about in Japan, but being perpetually cheerful is not a highly valued trait among cops around here, I assure you. Instead of a smile, the right expression looks something like this:

A Look of Contempt

A step away from being tossed out, Shimura is adopted by Ryuzaki (Ishida), and allowed up to S class. Having read the description of the show, we know what the S class is all about, but he sure doesn’t.

Ryuzaki Takes Him InSeems to Know How to Salute, At Least

Neither do the other members of the class, who are a bit surprised by the classroom, but otherwise in a positive mood.

Odd Place for a Classroom 1Odd Place for a Classroom 2High Spirits

Shimura meets Hiro again, and finds out that, because she’s so hyper, it’s impossible to get properly angry at her:

Shimura and Hiro 1Shimura and Hiro 2

Their main instructor, Sakuraba (Sugimoto Tetta), proves to be a bit goofy himself. There’s no wonder about how he ended up with this class. Assistant Instructor Ryuzaki, though, is cut from a different cloth. When Shimura tries to thank her for including him in the class and gets totally the wrong idea about her intentions, he gets what’s coming to him:

Ryuzaki 1Ryuzaki 2Ryuzaki 3Reaction 1Reaction 2

While the rest of the academy is marching in formation . . .

In Formation

. . . the S class does what can only be described as janitorial duties, and they’re too clueless to figure out what’s going on. Mind you, they’re a lovable bunch, and that’s what counts. You can have total idiots as characters, as long as they don’t cross the line and become irritating. So far, there’s no problem with that.

What is a problem, though, is that Onda has a respiratory condition, and he’s not coping well:

Onda Has a Problem

After an embarrassing shower scene . . .

Embarrassing Shower Scene 1Embarrassing Shower Scene 2Embarrassing Shower Scene 3Embarrassing Shower Scene 4Embarrassing Shower Scene 5

. . . we find out that Ryuzaki is actively trying to beat the dream of becoming a cop out of the nine S class members, and it looks like her first target is Onda. Is this going to be a case of one member getting challenged in each episode? I don’t think it’ll be that cut-and-dry, but maybe along those line.

Meanwhile, Shimura and Hiro have a rooftop scene in which they both act like kids, but there’s a hint of some connection there:

More Shimura and Hiro 1More Shimura and Hiro 2More Shimura and Hiro 3

Then everybody finally discovers, from Ryuzaki herself, that they’re just substitutes and not proper trainees.

Ryuzaki Drops the Bombshell

Needless to say, this creates some tension in the ranks, and it explodes between the ill-tempered Tachibana and Shimura, who announces that he’s ready to quit.

Kitayama v Fujigaya 1Kitayama v Fujigaya 2

All becomes clear as we find out that Kaibutsu-kun’s father (Kaga Takeshi) is in charge of the academy.

The Monster King's in Charge

The nine recruits demand to be trained properly, which leads us to the real challenge of this episode: they are taken to a beach and have to do one week’s worth of running by sunset. Will they make it? Will Ryuzaki train them properly if they do?

UltimatumUltimatum 2

It was a fun episode, and definitely a good laugh. The characters . . . well, they weren’t very complex, but this is a comedy, so I was glad that they were interesting enough for the audience to care what happened to them. Towards the end, things got a bit more serious, and in that the episode showed its weakness. When things turned from comedy to drama, it didn’t hold together very well. That said, the ending itself somewhat made up for it, because it was the right ending given how things were set up throughout the episode. You’ll understand when you see it.

The acting was okay, given the nature of the characters. However, like I said, I felt the serious bits were lacking. I’d be happier if they emphasized comedy in this series, anyway, and they pulled the humor off just fine.

So, alongside GTO and Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan, this is definitely on my list for the rest of the season, as long as I can get the files and preferably subtitles. Speaking of which, thanks to Soo-jin on D-Addicts for the subtitles to this episode.