Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan (浪花少年探偵団 – Naniwa Juvenile Detective Team) is a mystery series with a humorous bent based on a novel by Higashino Keigo. It centers on mystery-obsessed elementary school teacher Takeuchi Shinobu (Tabe Mikako) and her cohort of similarly curious students. We find our heroine in the midst of preparing for an interview.

Interview Prep 1Interview Prep 2Interview Prep 3

The voice-over from the younger Harada boy (Maeda Oshiro) reminds us that Shinobu is only a temporary teacher and needs to pass the examination (including, apparently, and interview) before she can gain permanent status.

Shinobu Tries Her Best 1Shinobu Tries Her Best 2Shinobu Failing Last Year

Back in the classroom, she plays janken (rock-paper-scissors) with the entire class for a pudding (they sure like their puddings, don’t they?):

Whole Class Janken 1Whole Class Janken 2Whole Class Janken 3

After returning home, she has a stomach ache, and wonders if she’s been poisoned. At first, we wonder if she’s just being melodramatic, but then she passes out.

Shinobu in Pain 1Shinobu in Pain 2Shinobu Unconscious

Meanwhile, the Naniwa Shounen are treated by the usually stingy Hatanaka, but when it comes time to pay, he bizarrely doesn’t pay up. What’s up with that?

What's Up With Hatanaka? 1What's Up With Hatanaka? 2What's Up With Hatanaka? 3

The others end up handing him two hundred yen a piece for the bill, but when he pays, we see that he has plenty of money – a handful of ten thousand yen notes. What’s going on with Hatanaka?

What's Up With Hatanaka? 4What's Up With Hatanaka? 5

When police officer Shindou (Koike Teppei) tries to call Shinobu, he finds out from her mother that she’s been hospitalized. The cheery voice her mother uses to tell him immediately signals that it’s nothing too serious, though she eventually says it’s appendicitis, which I thought was a serious condition.

Shindou ConcernedIt's Appendicitis

The kids spot Shindou and push him into proposing to Shinobu in the hospital . . .

Literally Pushing Shindou 1

. . . but you just know there’s something wrong here:

Preparing For DisasterShindou 1Shindou 2Shindou 3Shindou 4

Eventually, he finds the right bed:

The Right Bed

We’re introduced to an old couple in the same recovery room.

Old Couple

From that light-heartedness, we go to something completely different . . .

Something Different

. . . then back to the hospital, where Shinobu doesn’t like the look of her meal, and the old lady finds quite a surprise in the bag her husband brought her:

Suspicious MealLots of MoneyOld Woman On Edge

After a scene in the classroom, we find out that the old lady’s husband was attacked by a thief. It turns out the old man was the one we saw tied up. He wasn’t hurt, though, and nothing was stolen. I wonder if it has anything to do with the money in that bag.

The Police Report In

The old lady decides not to tell the police about the money. Typical.

Old Lady's Mum

Shinobu senses that something fishy is going on, though.

Shinobu Suspicious

During a classroom reading of Merchant of Venice, Hatanaka appears to have a guilty conscience.

A Pound of FleshFeeling Ill?

A bit late, the man who’s supposed to be wooing Shinobu, Honma Yoshihiko (Yamamoto Koji), enters the hospital room bearing flowers. The rivalry between him and Shindou is obvious to both of them.

Shindou and HonmaShindou and Honma 2

There’s a lot of time spent on seemingly inconsequential stuff. The episode grinds on at a slow pace, and all we find out is that the old lady is a shrewd businesswoman, negotiating ruthlessly with Honma for musical tickets, then reselling them for a profit.

Halfway through the episode, we still don’t have a clear idea about the crime that Shinobu has to investigate, though we’re pretty sure the old couple has to be at the center of it. But are they victims or criminals?

You Know What They're Up to, Right?

A nightmare wakes Shinobu up in time to see something suspicious, but she’s too late.

Nightmare 1Nightmare 2

Without a proper case, the Naniwa Shounen investigate one of their own, as the Harada pair and Tanaka Teppei (Hamada Tatsuomi) try to find out what’s going on with Hatanaka.

Naniwa Shounen in Action 1Naniwa Shounen in Action 2Naniwa Shounen in Action 3

Out of nowhere, they find themselves being chased by a cop:

Running . . . Why? 1Running . . . Why? 2Running . . . Why? 3

Stranger and stranger, the old lady claims that the thief only stole her panties. What the heck is going on here?

You've Got to be Kidding

From here on, the pieces, such as they are, come together. Honestly, the focus of the episode wasn’t on the crime at all, but on the characters and more casual happenings, including the competing attempts by Shindou and Honma to win Shinobu’s heart.

The mystery wasn’t much of a mystery. You should be able to guess what happened just from the clues I gave here, though Shinobu gets a few more before she comes up with the answer.

Takes Her Long Enough

The Naniwa Shounen had a fun time with it . . .

All Smiles

. . . but it wasn’t really compelling for the viewer. There was a complete absence of real tension in the episode, and nothing really made me laugh, either. It was just . . . slow. I love the characters, but the writers need to put the characters to better use than this. The acting was consistent, with everyone executing their parts expertly. But is this a mystery drama or not? So much potential . . . .

For the second episode in a row, I’m calling this series out on a weak plot despite its strong characters. Things are not going well for this series. I hope that they can revive it in the next episode, but there were no signs of life from the preview.