In the previous episode of Beginners! (ビギナーズ! ), we saw all sorts of developments. The writers filled out Shimura (Fujigaya Taisuke)’s back-story out a bit, though not completely. Tachibana (Kitayama Hiromitsu)’s visit to his friend put a smile on his face, and it looks as if a weight has been lifted off of his heart. A kiss suggested that the hearts of Shimura and Hiro (Gouriki Ayame) might be coming closer together, but where does that leave Chiaki (Okamoto Azusa), who confessed to Hiro that she liked Shimura?

Loose Threads 1Loose Threads 2Loose Threads 3Loose Threads 4

Episode 6 was a slow episode, but one that put a lot of pieces into play. This time, I’m hoping for some movement from those pieces – some action.

The show begins with Shimura deliberately taking a distant seat to avoid sitting right across from Hiro. A bit too obvious, isn’t it?

Seating Arrangements 1Seating Arrangements 2Too Obvious

They tell him to sit closer, and then tell him that there’s a school-wide athletic tournament that between the classes. The events are kendo, judo, and 3000 meter relay. Should be fun!

Good News 1Good News 2

Of course, Class S is a small class of eight people, so there’s a built-in disadvantage. There’s also the fact that the class leader, Shimura, is a bit distracted.

Distracted Leader

In the halls of power, the academy chief wants to mess with Class S (presumably because he has something against both its instructor, Sakuraba, and Shimura). Of course, he decides to challenge the class to win the tournament.

The ChiefThe Challenge 1The Challenge 2

A loss will mean forced retirement for all members of S class. Sakuraba’s pride leads him to agree to the terms. He does have a request, though – that the direct opposition to his class should be the best class in the school, Onizuka’s class, and that a victory would mean an end to the class’ substitute status.

Sakuraba's Condition 1

Sakuraba breaks the news to his class:

Breaking the News 1Breaking the News 2

This is the quickest we’ve gotten down to the conflict of the episode in the entire series. Is this really all there is to the story, or is there another twist ahead?

They begin by doing some scouting:

Scouting 1Scouting 2

That doesn’t exactly encourage them:

Dejection 1Scouting 3

Looks like the Onizuka class knows all about the stakes, as well. The Onizuka class makes a tactical mistake, though – they decide to taunt S class. It’s never wise to taunt opponents who already feel cornered.

Confronting Onizuka Class 1Confronting Onizuka Class 2Confronting Onizuka Class 3

They create the line-ups for the events, but it seems like Tachibana and Fukuhara (Mizusawa Elena) are carrying most of the burden, being two of the three competitors in all the events, while four members are only substitutes.

The Line-up 1The Line-up 2The Line-up 3

Shimura doesn’t like it, but the four members in question say they support the arrangement, so it goes through.

It still leaves them feeling like . . . well, feeling like substitutes. They don’t even attend practice.

Leftovers

Yamane (Emoto Tokio) and Ishioka (Ishii Tomoya) end up feeling guilty about it, though, and start to take part.

Checking Out How Things Are GoingFresh Resolve 1Fresh Resolve 2

The awkwardness between Shimura and Hiro continues when she sees him practicing at night. They shift the topic to the tournament, and Shimura has harsh words for her lack of participation.

Shimura and Hiro 1Shimura and Hiro 2

She doesn’t take it very well.

Shimura and Hiro 3Shimura and Hiro 4

On the way back to his room, Shimura notices that Yamane and Ishioka, at least, have ended their complacency and started practicing judo.

Shimura Sees Them At It 1Shimura Sees Them At It 2

He points it out to Tachibana.

Pointing It Out to Tachibana 1Pointing It Out to Tachibana 2

Next morning, Shimura is even more fired up about getting all the members to take part.

Let's Do It Right 1Let's Do It Right 2

Will he get their support? If they do it this way, it might feel good, but can they win? Being a realist, they can’t be fired or the series would end on a down-note, but if they lose, will some deus ex machina save them from their fate?

What about the issue with Shimura’s father? Will we get any more developments about that? The first part of the episode had nothing about it.

With all the threads going, we also have to wonder how the Shimura-Hiro-Chiaki triangle will develop in the midst of this trial.

The plot was about as generic and predictable as they get. This isn’t even the first time in this series that S class has faced a physical challenge to avoid being fired – it happened in the very first episode, and Shimura faced it in the swimming episode. In saying that I wanted action, I was thinking more about field work.

On the other hand, at least it was a fast-paced episode even if it was formulaic. I think it’s always fun to watch judo and kendo, and the way they handled the tournament was excellent. They gave each event an appropriate amount of time, so it didn’t feel too slow or rushed.

Still, there was really nothing worthwhile about the episode. It moved some subplots forward a bit, but not enough to justify the episode. It was a pleasant hour, but an unsatisfying one.

Thanks to Jounetsu8 at Livejournal for the subtitles.