Omoikkiri Tanteidan Hadogumi (おもいっきり探偵団 覇悪怒組), or simply Hard Gumi, is the 7th in the Toei Fushigi Comedy series, so a little earlier than my last review (PaiPai) and aired in the year of my birth. Somehow, this has the most coherent story of the shows I’ve reviewed so far and apart from one glaring factor, is my favourite because of it’s potential. It’s also inspired by The Fiend with Twenty Faces, an Edogawa Rampo character that was the inspiration for the theming of my favourite game of all time; Persona 5!
The show begins by showing a suspicious-looking man stalking five children and giving exposition on their character and motivations. Each kid has a unique personality quirk and are not very good at studying, except for the action girl Yasuko. Good start already because I actually know the character names and why I should give a damn.
The children notice this obvious pervert in a trench coat and chase him through the streets with a dog, no doubt with the intent to murder him and use him as an example to others. After a shiba savaging, the man runs off and the kids laugh with a passing monk on a moped.
The next day, the children are shocked to discover that same pervert is their new teacher! He goes full Dead Poets Society and engages the children and their interests, explaining how his snooping was part of his diligence as a teacher; to know them, their skills, and their dreams. It’s actually pretty cool and the actor portraying Toshihiko Ochiai is pretty good at balancing sincerity and comedy when addressing the children.
The kids get up to some pranks, further showing their skills and sneaking a peek at a teacher’s panties. While Ochiai quietly agreed that he thought they’d be white too, he chewed them out for not thinking bigger in terms of their skills and that they should surprise him.
Which they do, with a home movie about a phantom thief the lead kid Hiroshi creates, much to the delight of their class and their teacher and, again, it’s cool to see them encouraged for their outside-the-box thinking.
What I don’t approve of is a full-on, wang out, ten-second shot of a small child pissing. That ain’t what I signed up for and I wish I could bleach my brain clean of it’s memory. It wasn’t funny, it was gross.
After being chewed out for that exact thing, the kids return to Hiroshi’s house to find his keyboard missing and a man with the same phantom renegade appearance as his character taunting him with it. Hiroshi’s phantom thief has come to life and stolen his most precious belonging and will only get it back if he accepts Matenro’s challenge. A fantastic cliffhanger to the first episode and shows why the kids form their own detective gang to solve Matenro’s mysteries. I mean, it’s definitely the teacher, right? Has to be.
Out of all the shows so far, I like this one the most and would definitely recommend it. The OP sucks though so best to skip over that.
You can now find Hard Gumi, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.