In the last episode of Beginners! (ビギナーズ! ), the show took a serious turn, and it was excellent. Will the drama continue to go strong?

Beginners Title

It begins on a promising note. Class S instructor Sakuraba (Sugimoto Tetta) said at the end of episode 5 that he would really train them from here on (instead of leaving everything to his assistant Ryuzaki – played by Ishida Hikari), and we see that happening in the first scene:

Serious Training 1Serious Training 2Serious Training 3

While the rest of S class is totally fried, Shimura (Fujigaya Taisuke) and Tachibana (Kitayama Hiromitsu) refuse to give each other the upper hand by quitting first.

Serious Training 4Serious Training 5Serious Training 6

Though their stricter training regimen seems to have strengthened the bonds within S class, so that even Tachibana is willing to complement the others . . .

A Softer, Gentler Tachibana

. . . Shimura’s attempt to court Niijima Chiaki (Okamoto Azusa) leaves Hiro (Gouriki Ayame) feeling . . . well, dumped, I guess.

Love Triangle 1Love Triangle 2Love Triangle 3

Then Shimura gets a call from his sister – one that might change everything:

Shimura Gets a Call 1Shimura Gets a Call 2Shimura Gets a Call 3

Ah, yes, it’s all about that pesky father who did something that has both the academy chief (Kaga Takeshi) and Sakuraba riled up.

And apparently, Shimura doesn’t want to meet his father:

Not Going Home 1Not Going Home 2

Hmm. What does he know and what doesn’t he know about his father?

Not Going Home 3

Whatever he knows, it seems to haunt him.

Sad Shimura 1Sad Shimura 2

Gone is the cheerful, effervescent, and sociable Shimura, leaving a melancholy fellow who calls his classmate fat:

Touchy Shimura 1Touchy Shimura 2Touchy Shimura 3

The rest of the class is appropriately shocked by the change:

What Happened to Him?

While the others decide to leave him alone, Hiro can’t help probing further, knowing it has something to do with the phone call he received.

Hiro Wants to Know

This time, it’s Chiaki and Hiro talking on the roof at night. Will the fact that they both like Shimura come out, or will they both dodge the issue?

Chiaki and Hiro 1Chiaki and Hiro 2Chiaki and Hiro 3

So far, the episode has retained the sober tone from last time, but since Shimura’s issues with his father are unlikely to be solved in an hour, where’s the conflict that will keep us interested?

Shimura’s brooding over his father eventually gets Hiro so concerned that she actually goes to Tachibana to talk about it, though that scene contributes absolutely nothing.

Tachibana Isn't Helpful 1Tachibana Isn't Helpful 2

This is moving very, very slowly. Hiro eventually decides to take the poor puppy out for a walk . . .

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. . . with Chiaki watching from a window.

As Chiaki Watches 1As Chiaki Watches 2

Switching gears completely, we see Tachibana visiting the friend at the center of his regrets.

Visiting a Friend 1Visiting a Friend 2Visiting a Friend 3

How will things go? I think we all hope they’ll go well, because we don’t want him to go back to being the ill-tempered Tachibana who we met in the first episode.

On the other side of town (actually, right under the Tokyo Sky Tree), Hiro seems intent on making Shimura smile.

Sky Tree is Long 1Sky Tree is Long 2Sky Tree is Long 3Sky Tree is Long 4

And with her being her usual hyper self, how could she fail?

Hiro Being Hiro 1Hiro Being Hiro 2Hiro Being Hiro 3Hiro Being Hiro 4

But then he bumps into someone he didn’t really want to see (no, not his father, but the uncle he lives with):

Encountering Uncle 1Encountering Uncle 2

Will he be led home, after all? If so, will he end up meeting his father?

This episode was mainly designed to give us information about Shimura’s background, so it was pretty slow most of the way through. Since talking about these things runs counter to Shimura’s established persona, it takes him a while to open up. Character-wise, everything is kept very consistent, but the price for that is the slow pace.

So, we learn more about Shimura, and that’s about it. He’s the main character, and this background information will definitely come into play in future episodes, so it was definitely worth the time. Since Hiro was with Shimura through most of the revelations, there was some development in their relationship, as well. Don’t expect much excitement, though.

Rather than call the episode “good” or “bad”, let’s just say that it was necessary, and leave it at that.