In Bad Boys J, Kiriki Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) ate okonomiyaki while Hiroshima – or Hiroshima’s gangs, at least – got burned. Doesn’t have the same ring to it as Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but you get the idea.

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Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru) and the other members of Gokurakuchou are understandably troubled because they don’t even know who STP is and already they’re going to have to prepare for an attack from this new aggressor. There’s no question that with Nights and BEAST already down, they’re next.

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But even though nobody else seems to have good information on STP, one of the BEAST ladies seems to know all about them, saying that their number one and number two fighters are really strong (well, no kidding – they just beat up on the top two groups in Hiroshima). This sad attempt at exposition just makes the incongruous STP situation worse.

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Meanwhile, Ryuji is upset that Sasaki interfered with his one-on-one fight against Danno. The conversation makes the STP leadership situation a bit clearer – Ryuji is the top, and Sasaki is the number two. I can’t imagine why it’d stay that way for long, though – Sasaki is clearly stronger and also more ruthless.

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Ryuji wants to fight Tsukasa in a one-on-one fight and warns Sasaki about butting in again, but it doesn’t seem like Sasaki cares too much about what Ryuji thinks. He’s also clearly taken a special interest in Tsukasa.

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Youji asks his BEAST friend whether they have any information on STP. They don’t, except that STP is strong (again, no kidding). Well, after telling us so often that nobody knows anything about STP, I sure hope the writers have a very good explanation of who STP are and where they came from, because otherwise they should stop spending valuable time reminding the viewer how little we know about the group.

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By the time Youji gets back to headquarters, STP has already attacked, going so far as to spray paint STP on the Gokurakuchou banner. STP also left an invitation to any remaining members of Gokurakuchou – including the top, of course – to come to the harbor.

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Enraged, Youji immediately starts heading for the harbor, but for some reason Tsukasa isn’t up for a fight at all. I thought he was the one who got fired up when people harmed his friends? Has Tsukasa gotten even softer than he was at the start of the drama? We haven’t seen him in a serious fight for a while, come to think of it.

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Anyway, Gokurakuchou mobilizes without Tsukasa. Sasaki isn’t at the harbor, either – at least, not when all the action starts. It’s just Ishimoto – the guy who’s more loyal to Sasaki than to Ryuji.

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Well, Ryuji knew where to find Tsukasa:

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For the sake of avoiding serious spoilers, I won’t reveal how the confrontation at the harbor or at Gokurakuchou headquarters ended up. Will Gokurakuchou win a battle but lose a war? Where will Sasaki appear?

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Sasaki might be a hard case, but can Tsukasa talk Ryuji into submission?

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Honestly, with the way Tsukasa is acting when his entire group is falling to pieces and practically every person he’s called ‘friend’ in this series is getting beaten up, it’s a wonder he ever got into a fight in the first place. What does it take to get him angry, anyway?

Apparently, he’s aiming to become a preacher, because even when he sees one of his closest friends being totally mistreated, he decides to give one of his sermons before doing anything about it.

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This was truly pathetic. And there’s no secret about what the writers are trying to do – they’re trying to delay the fight without using the time to tell a story.

Despite all the motions and the injuries, the only real purpose to this episode is the conflict between Sasaki and Ryuji.

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There’s a lot of pointless exposition about STP and Sasaki where characters repeat what everyone already knows. For instance, the cop we met before tells Tsukasa that Sasaki has an aloof look, but his strength is real. Yes, I think the viewer knew that and, by this point in the episode, Tsukasa knew that, too. The cop goes on to talk about Sasaki’s ability to be cruel with a calm face – again, something Tsukasa definitely knew about Sasaki already by this point in the episode.

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It would have been better for the writers to have used this moment to have the cop reveal something about Sasaki’s background – what he’s done and why he’s this way. But they don’t even make an attempt, and just waste to time treading water, delaying the final battle as much as possible. They could have delayed by telling us more of the backstory, but no such luck.

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And then there’s the Tsukasa-Kumi relationship which dominated the previous episode. It hardly makes an appearance in this one – which is fine, given the overdose we got in episode nine. Unfortunately, the only substantial scene we see between the two involves Kumi asking Tsukasa not to fight anymore. This is . . . incredible. It’s not like Tsukasa is plunging himself into fight after fight anyway – his efforts to talk his way out of battles in the past few episodes should be worthy of a peace prize.

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Will Tsukasa actually promise not to fight anymore? If so, he’s either going to be dishonest or this drama is going to be a full-fledged romantic comedy.

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The best moment in the entire episode comes late in it, when Sasaki wonders what STP stands for, and Ishimoto doesn’t know either. Do STP even know who STP are and how they came to be?

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It wasn’t just a funny moment – it seemed to me an admission by the writers that they hadn’t figured out STP’s history at all. They just needed an enemy for the other Hiroshima groups and voila! – a new group materializes out of thin air.

Somehow, we also got a Nights moment with Kenjiro (Yasui Kentaro) and Jun (Hagiya Keigo) at the end, even though they didn’t play any part in the events of the episode, and their conversation neither added nor changed anything. Just checking in with them, I guess.

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The same sort of conversation happens on the BEAST side, too. I’m not sure how they’re supposed to keep the group together by not fighting – doesn’t that mean they have to surrender to STP? – but that’s what Kaori (Itano Tomomi) insists on.

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If it isn’t obvious, I’m not happy with the way they’re trying to wind up this series. They should have put more meat onto this final story, but it’s really just bare bones with many things making little or no sense. To make up for the lack of detail about STP and Sasaki, they fill time by telling us in dialogue what they’ve already shown us through actions. Doing do makes the pacing slow to a crawl, and that’s a shame, because the quick pace of the drama in its earlier episodes was its most redeeming quality.

Sasaki is a fine villain, but his strength seems to be in coming late to fights and beating up on people who are already weak. They keep telling us he’s strong, but this little tactic of his undermines that impression.

Tsukasa irritated me throughout this whole episode, though. He has such lofty words about friendship, but what’s with his tendency to let his friends fight without him? His whole manner is just getting on my nerves at this point.

So . . . if this fight with Sasaki is the ultimate battle that will be resolved in the last episode – episode twelve – then what’s going to happen in the next episode? If it’s just a lot of delaying again, I’m not going to be kind.