The last episode of Bad Boys J ended with yet another aborted confrontation between Kiriki Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) and Danno Hidenori (Nikaido Takashi). Can we look forward to a more innovative storyline this time, now that the writers clearly want to delay the whole #1 versus #2 thing?

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The opening looks very promising. In my last review, I wondered where all the other members of Gokuraku Chou were, since only the four principals seemed to be doing battle against BEAST. Well, the writers neatly anticipated that reaction (I love when they do that) and started this episode with Gokuraku Chou holding new member auditions.

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This was just a brilliant bit of humor, putting things on a good track. The first guy looked the part, but got the name of the group wrong, constantly saying “chu” instead of “chou”.

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In an unexpected disqualifying factor, the next guy pissed off Eiji (Fukusawa Tatsuya) because he didn’t know anything about volleyball.

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I’ll leave off the third one because it served as the ultimate punchline to the skit, and I don’t want to ruin it for you.

The net result was that the three foot-soldiers of Gokuraku Chou – Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru), Eiji, and Hisao (Watanabe Shota) – were left dispirited, wondering if it would be better to just accept all comers to increase their numbers. Youji doesn’t like that idea, though, insisting that the people they accept should be friends they would be willing to defend with their lives. Since that didn’t seem to be true of the Gokuraku Chou we saw in episode one, I think Youji might have gotten this from Tsukasa – seeing how Tsukasa gets fired up against overwhelming odds because he wants to defend his friends. Maybe, maybe not.

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Honestly, I’m still surprised that the battle they had with Nights and Hiro (Hashimoto Ryosuke) left them as the number two group, since it looked like almost a stalemate with Hiro only conceding the issue because Tsukasa got on his knees to beg. I feel like I missed something there.

I bring that up now, because it looks like they’re more worried about Nights trying to make a comeback than BEAST trying to put Gokuraku Chou down for good. Hisao is an old friend of Hiro’s, but of course wouldn’t be privy to inside information about Nights’ plans.

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The episode going forward will have more of a focus on Hisao this time – a good thing, since he hasn’t really gotten any attention so far – but before that there’s the matter of what Tsukasa is up to.

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He is, in fact, doing a little audition of his own. A job interview, actually, and it’s at the place where the girl he’s infatuated with, Kumi (Hashimoto Nanami), works.

In a somewhat awkward continuation of the humor at the start of the show, Tsukasa proceeds to give us the most horrendous interview performance I’ve seen in a long time. We already know he’s an honest, forthright fellow, but this is going too far.

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Of course, the result leaves him bummed out. But, just as the other guys are berating him, and old friend of his walks in.

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Takanashi Aoi (Taketomi Seika)’s friendliness with Tsukasa has Mika casting uncertain, concerned looks.

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Looks like she’s going to become another distraction from Tsukasa’s obligations to Gokuraku Chou, as she asks him to take her sightseeing.

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She pulls out an old photo which includes another old friend of theirs – Shinichi. According to her, Tsukasa and Shinichi were best friends and Shinichi always stood up for Tsukasa, who was a crybaby, until one time when Tsukasa helped Shinichi.

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We get a flashback of Tsukasa turning into the fiery defender we’ve come to know and love, though he seems uncertain that Aoi’s memory is accurate.

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Turns out Aoi is no weakling herself – she’s a black belt in karate. I don’t suppose they could recruit her for the group, though, since she lives outside Hiroshima. When Tsukasa says that Aoi was his first love, he notices the reaction from Kumi. Honestly, though, if she likes him, she’s sure taken pains not to show it to him until now.

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Youji is uninterested in Tsukasa’s personal issues and breaks up the meeting.

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So, what’s going on between Hisao and Hiro?

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What’s Aoi really in this picture for?

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There’s clearly more to the Shinichi story than we got in the first round.

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But this promises to be quite a distraction for Tsukasa . . .

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. . . so what will happen to his friends while he sorts it out? There are already forces – a Nights offshoot – readying themselves to fight Gokuraku Chou.

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But who in Gokuraku Chou is ready to fight them? We know Youji is solid, and it looks like as long as his relationship isn’t threatened, Eiji is ready. Could it be just the two of them, though?

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The Nights party scene really showed why it was a brilliant move to case Hashimoto Ryosuke-kun in this part.

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I think I’ll leave the rest of the details out to avoid giving too much away. There was just one more screencap, though:

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You would think, wouldn’t you, that with her looking at Tsukasa like that, that they’d already be in a relationship, right?

The plot this time was a huge step up from what we’ve been getting in this drama, and exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for. It was much more complicated in structure, and didn’t just involve people getting offended for one reason or another and then fighting each other. I enjoyed the humor at the start and the interesting situation going on within Nights. I think we’ll be getting more of Hisao in the next episode, and it’s about time his character got some development.

It also looks like the writers are earnest about trying to work on the Tsukasa-Kumi relationship, but I still can’t fathom it. I think I must have missed something that is forcing Kumi to keep her distance from Tsukasa, or otherwise we’ll find out more about her in a future episode.

In terms of acting, Kento-kun, Iwamoto-kun, and Fukusawa-kun did a fine job again this time. I’ll have to see more of Watanabe-kun before getting a good sense of him, and I think we’ll get a chance for that next time. Unlike other episodes, this one was more tightly focused on Gokuraku Chou, so we didn’t have the broad cast involvement we’ve seen before. I thought that the leader of the Nights offshoot did nice work, but I didn’t catch his character’s name, so can’t figure out the actor’s name, either. I’ll try to get that in the next review, too.

Since the subbing team released three episodes (5,6, and 7) in quick succession, I’m in catch-up mode, and will try to get the other two reviews out soon.