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 as Shimura Teppei and Kitayama Hiromitsu-kun as Tachibana Danji. Gouriki Ayame-san plays their fellow S-class member Momoe Hiro. Their nemesis during their police training is assistant professor Ryuzaki Misaki played by Ishida Hikari-san.

Ishida versus Shimura 1Ishida versus Shimura 2

Due to the Olympics-related programming changes, this episode was delayed a week. The third episode of the series left me puzzled and frustrated, since I felt it was poorly constructed, and I’ve been patiently waiting to see if that was a sign of things to come, or just a brief misstep.

The show begins with more rough training for class S.

Rough Training 1Rough Training 2Rough Training 3Rough Training 4

Ryuzaki’s idea of a demonstration is painful, and doesn’t really help her students understand what they’re supposed to do, leading to hilarious results.

The only member who’s competent in self-defense is Fukuhara Yoko (Mizusawa Elena), but she’s told off by Ryuzaki anyway. Ryuzaki is, of course, loathe to give credit to any of the S class members since she’s trying to get rid of them.

FukuharaRyuzaki's Judgment

Fukuhara is our focus for this episode, as the guys malign her behind her back . . .

They Must Be BlindFukuhara Notices

. . . and then spy her talking to a guy from another class:

Spying on FukuharaCould It Be Love?

And is love in the air for these two as well?

Is He Serious!?Is He Serious!? 2Is He Serious!? 3

Well, that’s complicated. They’re really there to eavesdrop on Fukuhara and the guy, but Fukuhara knows them too well, and busts them:

She Always Notices 2Caught

Teppei totally blames Hiro with every breath:

Teppei Blames Hiro 1Teppei Blames Hiro 2Teppei Blames Hiro 3

After that, Hiro decides to torment Teppei about his rescue of Niijima Chiaki in the previous episode.

Hiro Torments Teppei 1Hiro Torments Teppei 2Hiro Torments Teppei 3

Which quickly leads to them coming face-to-face with Niijima herself:

Speaking of Niijima 1Speaking of Niijima 2

Hiro decides to leave the two lovebirds alone, reinforcing the idea that she’s not at all interested in Teppei, but then stares at their backs:

Looking Back 1

Uh-oh. We’re getting some serious romantic subplots now. People are confessing to Fukuhara, there’s a love triangle between Hiro, Teppei, and Niijima. I’ve already got my fill of serious romance from Sprout, so let’s quickly move on to something else.

The scene turns to the chief’s office, where the chief notes Ryuzaki’s inability to get the S class members to quit. There have been dropouts in other classes, so the substitutes are suddenly useful. The chief proposes that two S class members should be transferred to a class short on students:

The Head Honcho 1The Head Honcho 3The Head Honcho 4

What’s this all about? Is he trying to break up the team?

As we found out at the end of episode three, the chief is especially interested in Shimura Teppei, due to an incident involving Teppei’s father. He asks Ryuzaki about Teppei, though his response to what she says remains mysterious.

Unhealthy Interest in Shimura 1Unhealthy Interest in Shimura 2Unhealthy Interest in Shimura 3

Ryuzaki is pissed about the transfer of the students and wonders about the questions about Teppei, taking her frustration out on the class’ main instructor (to whom she’s supposed to be an assistant even though she does all the work).

Ryuzaki Vents 1Ryuzaki Vents 2It's All in Her Hands

The two transfers will be chosen by a test, but before that, Teppei’s having trouble with the heat, and introduces a novel idea called “air conditioning.”

Teppei Introduces AC 1Teppei Introduces AC 2

. . . which throws Ryuzaki into a rage:

Ryuzaki Gets Angry 1Ryuzaki Gets Angry 2Ryuzaki Gets Angry 3

The main instructor notes that the two who do best on the test will be moved to an air-conditioned room – maybe that’s enough to encourage Teppei to try his best?

Well, Fukuhara’s definitely interested, regardless of the classroom amenities:

Fukuhara's Interested

So, we have a legitimate challenge for the S class. That’s good. The lack of something concrete unifying the last episode made it feel aimless. It took about ten minutes to get to it, but it looks like we’ve got a tighter plot this time.

Tachibana talks to Teppei about his encounter with Onda in the previous episode, and was clearly affected by Onda’s deep concern for Teppei. He urges Teppei to really try his best. There are other signs of a major personality change in him as well, but we’ve been given little reason for this change of heart. I’m not happy with that. We should get a reason for character development.

Since When Did He Start Caring?

As expected, Teppei is totally driven by the thought of air conditioning, but Hiro shoots down his ambition, pointing out that Fukuhara and Tachibana will definitely get top marks in the test.

She's Falling For Him

Teppei has plans for Tachibana the next day:

What's He Up To?

We learn why Fukuhara was put into the substitute class in the first place (I’ll leave out the details – watch and find out!).

Learning About Fukuhara

Hiro also has a moment of trepidation:

Hiro Troubled

So, how will they do? More importantly, will those who succeed really leave the class?

StartTestPhysicals

Well, if you don’t get the hint after seeing the faces full of angst, let me say that the process going forward is not going to be smooth, and there’s widespread dissatisfaction with the results.

But what does this have to do with the remedy?

A Festival?A Festival.

I’m not exactly clear how this came into play. I don’t know about the message conveyed by Fukuhara’s situation, either – it rubs me the wrong way a bit. The whole episode has some questionable gender-based messaging, and it’s in that area that I have the most trouble with Japanese culture, though I don’t know how reflective this comedy is of societal attitudes in general. You’ll have to watch to understand what I mean.

The resolution was also iffy because I didn’t buy into the motives for the decisions made.

However, the plot was fairly tight this time, and we’re left with some interesting stuff for the next episode. On top of that, the preview at the end of the episode was promising, though it looks like we’ll be turning away from humor in favor of some more serious material. That’s fine – going into this series I was looking forward to a comedy, but the humor has felt a bit forced, so I don’t mind if they take a break from it.

Call this one a mixed bag, but with positive expectations going forward.

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