This episode of Kamen Teacher (仮面ティーチャー) begins with a monologue from Shishimaru (Kishi Yuta). This is the most I’ve heard from Kishi-kun in a while, and certainly the most lines he’s ever had in a drama episode. It was . . . atmospheric. Not sure I approve of the close-up, but that seems to go with his character.

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The focus is on Kotaro (Maeda Goki)’s group – Mad Max – which he is mobilizing in an attempt to take down the Kamen Teacher (Araki Gota played by Fujigaya Taisuke).

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Shishimaru is concerned that, if Mad Max actually defeats the Kamen Teacher, their numbers could grow tremendously from the victory, and presumably the other members of the top four would find their power challenged. Takehara Kinzo (Kikuchi Fuma) seems entirely unconcerned, confident in his ability to take down any rival.

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The way Mad Max decides to get the Kamen Teacher’s attention is quite striking – they start directly attacking teachers at school.

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Araki immediately gets dressed up, draws them out of the school with some bike riding, and then shows off his preternatural powers.

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Flash to later that evening, when Araki is watching is favorite show – Kinpatsu-sensei.

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Kinpatsu-sensei (Tsukada Ryoichi) talks about action and reaction, demonstrating with a little push-hands demonstration.

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This bit of humor still looks fresh for now. I wonder if it’ll still be good after another half dozen episodes – might be.

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The thing that makes it funny, by the way, isn’t just Tsukada-kun’s acrobatics. Most of the humor comes from how seriously Araki takes what Kinpatsu-sensei says. It’s like gospel to him.

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And sure enough, he immediately tries the action-reaction push-hands with the first person he can grab.

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Rather than growing the ranks of Mad Max, Kotaro might soon have no group left with the way he is beating them up because they’re afraid of the Kamen Teacher and don’t want to fight the motorcycle-riding hero again.

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This is getting a bit weird:

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The teachers seem to be confident that the Kamen Teacher will solve all their problem students. But, as with so many school dramas, isn’t it also the teachers who need to change? Ichimura Miki (Omasa Aya) isn’t so comfortable with the whole Kamen Teacher thing.

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She tells Araki that she thinks force will never solve anything, and after a flashback of some of his overuse of violence, he readily agrees. The flashback was a helpful touch from the writers – without it, we might be tempted to think that Araki was just agreeing with Ichimura because he likes her.

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He does the action-reaction thing with her, too. Perhaps he should have a heart-to-heart talk with a physics teacher – they know all about force, action, and reaction. He seems to have digested a valuable lesson from the Kinpatsu-sensei episode, but how will he put it to use?

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He still tries to ask her out for dinner (to discuss teacher, of course), and she still rejects him without pause.

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His biggest fan Kondo Kanako (Taketomi Seika) catches the action-reaction bug after eavesdropping, but depressingly, she doesn’t have anyone to do it with – she has to use the wall!

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As I expected after the previous scene, Kotaro is facing a rebellion within the ranks of his group. But rather than just leave the group, the rebels want to take him down.

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There was a highly ambiguous scene between Takehara and Kusanagi Keigo (Jesse). The writers want to keep them in the picture, but aren’t ready to put them into action yet.

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Speaking of action, Kotaro fights the rebels and shows how he got to be leader in the first place.

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Only a confrontation between him and Takehara stops him from going too far.

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As Araki walks away, wondering what to do about the direct challenge from Kotaro, he meets the student he helped in the previous episode – Bon (Kyomoto Taiga). Bon handles the exposition – describing Kotaro and his foibles.

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But does this information make Araki more or less likely to engage Kotaro in a violent confrontation? I’m at least thankful that Bon suspects that Araki is the Kamen Teacher – it’s far more interesting if a student knows his secret identity early. I hope this will lead to further development of Bon’s character – either as a sidekick or as someone who eventually has to stop the Kamen Teacher from going too far.

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When Kotaro decides to make Ichimura his next target to draw out the Kamen Teacher, Araki intervenes out of uniform and takes some punishment (though he’s already established that he can take quite a lot of that).

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The fact that Araki falls so easily temporarily convinces Bon that Araki is not the Kamen Teacher, but then the prone body of Araki suddenly disappears . . .

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. . . because Araki has to suit up.

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The principal is pleased.

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But how is the Kamen Teacher going to deal with Kotaro? Just beat him to a pulp and hope that settles it?

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Of course, you’ll have to watch to find out . . .

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. . . just like Kusanagi did.

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It was an entirely straightforward episode with few surprises (really, just the Kinpatsu-sensei lesson and Araki’s reaction to it), but given that it was tight in its construction and, as you’d expect in this sort of series, very well-paced.

Maeda Goki-kun did a noteworthy job with his wild portrayal as Kotaro. I normally don’t give too much credit for that sort of performance because it can be done in a very easy way, but he put nuance into it and made the character a touch more colorful than this sort of character usually is. Also, the energy he put into it was immense.

Fujigaya-kun was quite amusing in this episode, both naïve and subtle. His acting here leaves me confident that he can handle this role and to keep it interesting for the season. So he’s got the basics down – can he surpass my expectations?

Altogether, there are multiple plotlines unfolding simultaneously (the central one of the episode, the Takehara subplot, the Ichimura subplot, and the Kusanagi subplot), and a definite sense that we’re getting a coherent story with a lot to look forward to. That’s a marked quality-of-writing improvement over this drama’s timeslot predecessor – Bad Boys J.