Bad Boys J is a Japanese drama based on a manga about rival groups of delinquents vying for control over Hiroshima. We got a hint about the contents of this episode from the end of episode one – it’s going to be a Romeo and Juliet tale – a guy from the Gokuraku Chou gang (the focus of our attention in this series) is in love with a girl affiliated with a rival gang. Will they manage to present this familiar story in a sufficiently novel way?

Before we get to the serious stuff, there’s the revelation that Kiriki Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) has become the eighth generation leader of the gang because he defeated the previous leader. Since he acts like a wimp except in very particular circumstances, his sudden rise in the world of bad boys is bound to have comic implications.

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So will his continued infatuation with Fumi (the sister of the guy he beat up).

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It almost looks like Tsukasa is getting somewhere with her . . .

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When Iwami Eiji (Fukusawa Tatsuya) calls Tsukasa her stalker and makes Tsukasa panic.

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In a bit of necessary exposition, the guys reflect that at least Fumi wasn’t affiliated with a rival group, because otherwise Tsukasa would be forbidden from pursuing her. Kawanaka Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru) says that the rule forbidding romance with another gang was created to prevent disputes . . . but aren’t disputes exactly what they spend their time getting into anyway?

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Eiji does not seem to take this reminder of the rule well.

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After the credits, we find out that Gokuraku Chou has been attacked by Nights – the second most powerful group in Hiroshima with a territory that truly dwarfs Gokuraku Chou’s meager neighborhood.

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Apparently, despite the snappy white suits, Nights is an enemy to be avoided at all costs. Nakamura Hisao (Watanabe Shota) gives us snapshot of the top three in Nights – Hiro (Hashimoto Ryosuke), Kenjiro (Yasui Kentaro), and Jun (Hagiya Keigo).

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After hearing that intro, they reflect that Nights wouldn’t bother with a small gang like Gokuraku Chou unless there was a good reason – it would hurt their pride. Eiji remains silent.

We get a glimpse of the inside of Nights headquarters, where Hiro laments having gotten too many strawberrys because he thought Erika (Triendl Reina) liked them (she does, but she can’t finish so many) . . .

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. . . and has Eiji’s girlfriend Mika (Matsumura Sayuri) treated roughly to make a point about her violation of the rules. Erika seems to be on Mika’s side, though, so perhaps she’ll play a role in resolving this matter.

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Eiji gets a call from Mika and it sounds like they’re going to persist through the adversity, but Hisao overhears, so now the secret’s out on the Gokuraku Chou side as well.

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Tsukasa approaches the coffee-house with a gift in-hand, preparing to once again woo Kumi . . .

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. . . but the atmosphere inside is tense as Youji has to figure out what to do with Eiji.

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Of course, it’s to Eiji’s great fortune that the leader of Gokuraku Chou never voluntarily adopted the rules, nor accepts the justification behind them.

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Eiji tells Tsukasa the story of how he met Mika in the first place, and how they fell for each other without knowing they were parts of rival groups.

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So, since it’s safe to say Eiji and Mika are not going to share the fate of Romeo and Juliet, how will the impediment to their love be removed?

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Well, even with Erika as an ally, there’s no way we’re getting through this one without a fight sequence, so let’s have the Nights all line up . . .

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. . . the requisite exchange of angry words . . .

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. . . and finally the outbreak of mayhem.

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The downside of this episode is pretty obvious – it was completely predictable from the start, containing no surprises in terms of plot. I’m glad they got through with it early on – hopefully they have more innovative stories for us in the coming weeks.

Hashimoto-kun did a fine job as Hiro and did a good job of playing off of Triendl-san’s portrayal of Erika (especially at the end). The character of Tsukasa worked out better this time since there was no attempt to portray him as a weakling – just as a bit whiny and wide-eyed. Kento-kun continues to do solid work bringing a very difficult character to life.

But the real highlight of this episode was Fukusawa-kun’s portrayal of Eiji, and that’s really the only reason I can say it was a good episode. Fukusawa-kun’s performance was superb as he made it both natural and engaging, certainly demonstrating that he has a future in acting.

It’s interesting – I would recommend the first episode on the basis of Iwamoto-kun’s role, and this one because of Fukusawa-kun’s. It looks like Bad Boys J might end up a broader showcase of Johnny’s acting skills than I would have guessed going in.