In the previous episode of Bad Boys J, they wrapped up the plot where they dealt with the scary demon character who was capable of defeating everybody except Danno (Nikaido Takashi) and possibly Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento). So . . . what are they going to do this time? A more novel plot I hope?

No, they’re going to give us yet another demon, except this time the guy will really mean it (instead of being talked into submission by Tsukasa). This new demon – Sasaki – is so bad that the set his school on fire and trying to kill all the students. So . . . why are the cops letting him go to roam the streets?

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Apparently, it’s because he’s reflected on what he’s done. Why do I get the feeling that Sasaki’s reflection wasn’t quite as deep as the people releasing him might have hoped.

That’s all irrelevant, of course – either Tsukasa will fight Sasaki and win or he’ll talk the monster into surrender. Let’s get to the real plot of this series – whether Tsukasa can win the love of Kumi (Hashimoto Nanami). That is, after all, the only thing main character Tsukasa has been after since the start of the show.

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He always delays his words just long enough for someone or something to interrupt, so he hasn’t managed to confess properly.

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Kumi sure gives him plenty of opportunities to say how he feels, though, and finally he manages to get it. Not only that, but he also tacks on a ninety degree bow and helps an old lady to boot. What a guy! How could she resist?

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And she doesn’t.

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So . . . that’s the end, right? No wait, there’s that demon guy still. Cue the title sequence:

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In Gokurakuchou headquarters, Tsukasa can’t stop thinking about the moment Kumi said she liked him, much to the dismay of the other members.

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Kumi is daydreaming, too, but she’s got two special guests to draw her out of her stupor – Kaori (Itano Tomomi) and Erika (Triendl Reina), the girlfriends of the other two top Bad Boys in Hiroshima.

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In a truly amusing moment, they consider how slow Tsukasa is. He didn’t even kiss her, after all.

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And back at Gokurakuchou HQ, they also reached the topic of the missing kiss. Eiji (Fukusawa Tatsuya) lays down the law, telling Tsukasa that he’d better do it next time.

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Tsukasa then asks Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru) to practice with him. Again, while it’s a comedic trope, this is so overused and so unrealistic that it’s hardly worth a laugh.

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The way the other two members restrain Youji to force him to accept Tsukasa’s kiss practice was . . . a bit different, though. But how could Tsukasa consider it a proper practice with Youji struggling like that?

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Somehow, even though it makes no sense and is completely unrealistic, Kaori predicts that Tsukasa is practicing kissing as they speak. She seems to know Tsukasa better than Kumi does (she flatly denies that he’d do such a thing).

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And . . . I’m getting bored. This is probably as slow as the drama has gotten at any point in the nine episodes so far.

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And just when I think we should be getting some action, it keeps going on. When we turn back to see what Tsukasa is doing, he’s trying to get advice from Eiji after Youji beat a hasty retreat to avoid any further practice.

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Finally, around halfway into the episode, we saw Youji encountering some beat-up Nights members.

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At Nights HQ, Kenjiro (Yasui Kentaro) and Jun (Hagiya Keigo) try to keep things together while their leader Hiro (Hashimoto Ryosuke) is still in the hospital.

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But then some uninvited guests walk in – it’s a full assault on the heart of their territory.

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But Sasaki doesn’t seem to be with that pack – perhaps entrusting them to take care of business without him – and is instead being very creepy while pretending to read a magazine. I guess without Hiro there to lead Nights, this new group doesn’t need Sasaki there, either.

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Tsukasa and Kumi make plans while I patiently wait for one of them to be in mortal peril.

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The news of Nights demise spreads quickly . . .

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. . . and you know what Hiro wants to do, even though he’s in no fit state to do it.

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But what about this new group that’s appeared out of nowhere? Hiro calls them STP, and they seem to have some internal strife within their top brass. It’s not clear to what extent Sasaki is really the leader – he acts like more of a freelancer here.

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In the midst of this new threat, Tsukasa has some more fun with Kumi.

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They even do the sticky photo thing:

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And with time running out in the episode, we still get the really slow piano manga-romance music.

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The only saving grace is when they both mention Tami-chan’s Okonomiyaki – a place that Sasaki also mentioned out-of-the-blue with regard to a certain urban legend. You don’t suppose the two lovebirds will meet him there, do you?

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I’ll leave that as a surprise of sorts. There’s also the matter of Danno’s place in all of this. He’s been absent for the episode so far. Well, it turns out he’s got an appointment with STP’s Ryuji.

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And I’ll leave the rest out as super-spoilers.

Oh, there was an omake corner at the end, but I didn’t see the point in it. Seemed to be perpetuating some really stupid stereotypes about the sexes.

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Okay, where did all the strong STP guys come from? It’s not just Sasaki – Ryuji is also quite impressive, and their whole group seems to be able to wipe out groups like Nights with ease. I really don’t like it when major new characters materialize like this late in a drama or any story – it’s the mark of really bad writing. We were led to believe that there were three powerful groups in Hiroshima, but out of nowhere this new one pops up.

But really, we barely got a taste of STP, and their success was extremely rushed. Most of the episode was devoted to the Tsukasa-Kumi relationship, making me feel like I had been fooled into watching a romantic comedy that isn’t even being done particularly well. The whole relationship arc was outright plagiarized from the corpus of awkward young love cliches, making it tedious to watch.

I can’t even get excited by the Sasaki thing, because they hardly spent the proper time building it up and the Yutaka story’s resolution undermines their attempts to make Sasaki scary. For this episode, they would have done better if they showed Sasaki building STP from the ground up – recruiting the best fighters (perhaps even criminals who had never thought to join forces before), and thereby giving us a more credible threat to work with.

I realize what happened, of course – this must have been how the manga had it, right? It’s sort of a Dragonball pattern of constantly having new big baddies for the airheaded hero to fight. But you know, a drama isn’t a manga, and they’d do the story more justice if they adapted it with some thought instead of just copying it directly.