Since this episode of Yowakutemo Katemasu (弱くても勝てます) begins with a flashback of Aoshi (Ninomiya Kazunari) playing catch with the younger Tarumi (Arimura Kasumi), my guess is that the centerpiece of this episode will be about Tarumi. However, the writers of this series have made a good effort to have multiple plot lines going at the same time in each episode, so I’ll be looking to see what else they throw in.

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In the present, it’s the anniversary of the death of Tarumi’s father – Kaede (Yakushimaru Hiroko)’s husband. He died shortly after watching the baseball game that has haunted Aoshi’s memories for so long, so Kaede tells Aoshi that even if the Joutoku team loses, they should play a game worth watching because it might be the last game someone sees.

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Aoshi doesn’t take that contrived burden seriously, but it looks like the memory of her father is still a big weight on the younger Tarumi:

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Meanwhile, practice is going how it always seems to go. Are they getting better? Maybe. At least they’re approaching the ball, even if they aren’t making contact.

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But Kamezawa (Hongo Kanata) is literally sleeping on his feet at first base, and that leads to the ball hitting Akaiwa (Fukushi Sota). Tarumi has to come to the rescue.

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Okay, that was all very reasonable, and we now wonder what’s up with Kamezawa (aside from his brilliant facial expressions), but what happens next is going a bit far. Did they really have to make the entire baseball team scared of a cockroach?

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I do like Tarumi’s character here – fierce in the face of the super-wussiness. She gave the team a talking to because of the way they ran in response to a bit of rain, but why do we get the feeling that this is about more than just the team’s inadequacies?

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Meanwhile, it looks like former manager Masumoto (Arakawa Yoshiyoshi) is now trying to act as a spoiler – trying to get Aoshi in trouble for little things. He’s a minor diversion and doesn’t even rise to the level of comic relief (especially since this is comedy all the way through, anyway), so I guess his scenes are mainly to keep the pace up.

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As a final stab as Aoshi departs, Masumoto mentions the fact that Akaiwa still hasn’t returned home – he’s actually been living on school property, and now Aoshi has to tell him to vacate.

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In the world of the parents, Kaede turns down Akaiwa’s father, who has been trying to woo her since episode one. Kaede is concerned about their children, since Akaiwa and Tarumi like each other. She’s especially worried because Tarumi gets a bit strange every year around the anniversary of her father’s death.

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Strange in what way? Well, apparently, she suddenly gets driven to play baseball. I . . . don’t know why that’s so strange (considering she’s already very involved with the team), nor why Tone Riko (Aso Kumiko) says there’ll be trouble after just seeing Tarumi take some practice swings with her umbrella. Seems like a perfectly natural thing to do.

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Then again, Riko tends to jump to conclusions. Consider the fact that she’s already decided that the story about them will end with them winning a game.

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The problem with the team at this point seems to be that, even though they get in the right position, they don’t believe that they can catch the ball, It sounds like they overthink things, constantly wondering if the ball will do something strange. Shouldn’t this school be covering physics?

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Standing unobtrusively in the back, Tarumi really, really wants to be a player, and is even dressed up for it.

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Now, Aoshi decisively shoots down the idea of her playing on the grounds that the rules don’t allow her to play in matches. Since Joutoku only recently became coed, there isn’t a girls team (though considering how hard it was to find participants in the boys team, I suspect that assembling a girls team would be hard even after ten years’ time).

The rest of the team is divided on what they think about how Aoshi handled it, but surely the point is that Tarumi isn’t going to be satisfied with this kind of brush-off. Shirao (Nakajima Yuto) insists that the only person who can talk to Tarumi about it is Akaiwa.

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Riko appears to be following Aoshi everywhere – even to Kanae’s place. I think she’s just infatuated with him and unwilling to admit it, because otherwise she’s clearly beyond journalist territory and starting to get stalker-ish.

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Aoshi, of course, is more interested in finding out what Tarumi’s new behavior might have to do with her father’s death.

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So far, the Tarumi plot has clearly dominated, but around here we start getting some of the Kamezawa plot, as Akaiwa arranges to stay with the eccentric student for a night and finds out what’s really going on.

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Thankfully, Kamezawa tones down his silly faces when he’s on his home turf.

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So the two key questions are why Tarumi suddenly gets obsessed about playing baseball around this time of year, and why Kamezawa sleeps standing up even when he’s on the baseball field. Pretty simple, right?

Well, they decide to throw us a few curveballs along the way, including two surprise encounters with Aoshi’s nemesis Yachida Kentaro (Ichikawa Ebizo). The first one was when he gave Tarumi a batting tip:

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Tarumi does sort of lie about being a player on the boys team here. While I liked her fieriness earlier, she’s going a bit overboard here, saying things like this to someone she doesn’t even know – potentially causing trouble for the team.

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I couldn’t resist questioning Aoshi’s teaching methods in this classroom scene:

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Is it normal for teachers to read directly out of textbooks while they walk around the room? The teachers I remember all had notes, but otherwise expounded on the key points with their own words. The assumption was that students could read the textbook on their own.

Anyway, Akaiwa approaches Aoshi about the Kamezawa situation, which is sort of funny, because Akaiwa himself is also in the middle of his own subplot, and he might also have to help Tarumi out. He’s got a lot on his plate.

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Riko continues to stalk Aoshi – even inside the school . . .

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. . . as the entire baseball team meets with the principal. You’ll have to watch to find out why they do.

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Does Akaiwa’s eventual talk with Tarumi help to resolve anything? Or will Aoshi ultimately have to find the solution?

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Oh, then there was the second surprise appearance of Yachida Kentaro near the end. What do you suppose his game is, showing up at Joutoku? The way he talked before, he wouldn’t even have wasted the time to spit on Joutoku’s efforts to play baseball.

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This is a tough episode to assess. Overall, it was amusing and enjoyable to watch, and the acting continues to be good (by comedy standards). It continued with the same atmosphere we saw in the first two episodes.

The problem I encountered was with an apparent contradiction in tone. On the one hand, the show had insightful treatments of the way people react to the death of a family member, even more than a decade after it happened, and also how someone in Kamezawa’s situation would feel and act. At the same time, there were very strange and unrealistic characterizations straight out of a cartoon – the behavior of Tone Riko and Masumoto as well as the cockroach scene. While the cockroach scene was a laugh, I found Tone Riko and Masumoto both jarring, and not really funny.

Some of the scenes still make me wonder about how we’re supposed to take it. Comments the characters make are occasionally befuddling, and Yachida’s whole thing at the end came out of nowhere. I like surprises in dramas, but I feel like I’m missing something.

I still think it was an interesting episode that moved at a decent pace and featured some highlights from Arimura-san and Hongo Kanata-kun.