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. Shinobu begins this episode by having a rough morning – oversleeping, being delayed at a train crossing, and . . . well, you get the picture.

Bad Day 1Bad Day 2Bad Day 3

She enters late for a staff meeting:

Arriving Late

The topic turns to bullying, and in particular a victim named Shibuya who is the target of a student named Serizawa from Shinobu’s homeroom:

Bullying 1Bullying 2

Serizawa’s also been defacing some famous faces:

Vandalism

Shinobu takes the criticism against one of her students personally (and, since it was coming from Haruna-sensei – Kimura Fumino – it was meant that way):

Shinobu versus Haruna

Shinobu enters the classroom screaming for Serizawa, and starts a cascade of angry remarks.

She Started It

He arrives late, and she gets on his case. It turns out that he does, in fact, have problems. But is it just his attitude, or is there something behind it?

Quite Rude 1Quite Rude 2

A fellow student said that Serizawa was late because he was helping an old lady with her apple cart. Helping that same old lady played a part in Shinobu’s own tardiness. The story turns the class against Shinobu, and she faces comments that they like their old teacher better. Only the Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan members are quiet at this point.

Teacher Yamashita Was Better!Justified?Discontent

After work, Shinobu is in despair, thinking that she’s a bad teacher:

Shinobu Depressed

She’s seated between the two men fighting for her love – police detective Shindou (Koike Teppei) and company president Honma (Yamamoto Koji) – and  they spend the time sparring with each other over her:

Honma versus Shindou 1Honma versus Shindou 2Honma versus Shindou 3

We learn a bit more about Serizawa, and especially how much he liked the teacher before Shinobu took over. Especially important was a story about how he helped kids with the vaulting horse.

All About the Vaulting Horse 1All About the Vaulting Horse 2All About the Vaulting Horse 3

You see, the only student who couldn’t get it was Shibuya. He decided to try it out on his own, and hurt himself. It wasn’t a serious injury, but his mother is one of the harsher types:

Shibuya's Mom 1Shibuya's Mom 2

She is the PTA president and demanded retribution, armed with parent signatures. She basically got the beloved teacher fired, and that was how Shinobu got hired. Bummer.

Lamenting the Loss of Yamashita

Oh, and the vaulting horse was banned from the school.

No Vaulting Horse!?. . . is what we had in my school . . .

Shinobu was already sympathetic to her fired predecessor. With this news of the vaulting horse being banned, she’s driven to investigate:

Investigating the Culprit

Unfortunately, she does so when she should be watching the kids, and Serizawa takes the opportunity while they’re playing dodgeball to deliberately target Shibuya.

Aiming for Shibuya

The Naniwa Shounen stand up for Shibuya, so Serizawa starts attacking them with the ball.

Fighting For the Downtrodden 1Fighting For the Downtrodden 2

This is getting out-of-hand.

They're in Trouble Now!

But why is it that Serizawa and Shibuya leave together?

What's This?

Could be dangerous, could be something deeper. Shinobu’s curious, though, and the Tanteidan detects it:

Case Opened 1Case Opened 2

The kid detectives mobilize to collect the facts:

Minor Mobilization

It’s interesting that Shinobu doesn’t assume that she knows what’s going on between Serizawa and Shibuya, despite knowing the facts outlined here. Isn’t the real issue what happened to the vaulting horse?

Not That Simple

Well, maybe not. I’ll leave that process of discovery for your enjoyment. Back at home, Shinobu’s mother is once again playing host to the police detectives:

Pretty Soon, They're Going to Move In

Shinobu asks them for their advice on a particular aspect of the Serizawa-Shibuya case, though I don’t think what they have to say helps.

A parent-teacher meeting with Shibuya’s mother tests Shinobu’s tolerances . . .

Looking Quite Irritated

. . . but right after her is Serizawa’s mother, who seems completely unaware of her son’s activities, leaving her husband to handle him.

Doesn't Seem to Know What's Going On

I think Shinobu ends up saying too much in this scene, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Next, she visits her predecessor, Yamashita, at his new work.

Visiting Yamashita 1Visiting Yamashita 2Visiting Yamashita 3

Even he has no idea how the vaulting horse collapsed.

No Clue

The Naniwa Shounen evaluate her as she questions him.

Evaluation

Shinobu visits Serizawa next, and has the talk with him that Yamashita recommended.

Speaking with Serizawa 1Speaking with Serizawa 2Speaking with Serizawa 3

I don’t think she quite reaches him at this point, though what he has to say is interesting. Finally, she questions the fellow at the very center of the issue – Shibuya.

What Really Happened?

On the bright side, the case occupies most of the episode, and we have very little of the unrelated material that filled up other recent episodes. However, it was an old case rather than a fresh one, and it didn’t involve a murder. Worse, it hardly involved the Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan, who just popped their heads in at key moments. Until this episode, their participation was increasing with every case, but this time there was a total drop-off.

The explanation was a bit difficult to accept, and the case resolution scene was lacking in tension. I mean, the scene actually dragged – it’s supposed to be the most exciting part of a mystery, and it was completely underwhelming.

Altogether, the pacing was a serious problem in this episode. We’re getting more and more scenes that feel slow with each new episode. I hope the next episode breaks this trend.

Thanks again to Eric Paroissien for the subtitles. You can access his catalog of subtitles, including a range of dramas and movies, at paroissien.com.

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