On the one hand, this episode managed to do something I had begged the writers to do in the past two reviews – give us a bit more background on STP and its leaders. So . . . that made it a good episode, right? But at the same time it also continued to portray Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) in an unreasonable way. Did the positive aspects of the episode outweigh the negative?
While the other members of Gokurakucho are ready for action, Tsukasa is still unresolved. To recap, the group STP, led by the demented Sasaki, had a massive fight with Gokurakucho that ended with Sasaki dragging Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru) all the way into Gokurakucho HQ. Youji is the closest thing to a friend Tsukasa seems to have (at least from what we’ve seen) but even though Tsukasa has readily fought battles over less – getting fired up immediately without even thinking about it – he’s now unwilling to seek revenge. Ostensibly, this is because of a promise he made to his beloved Kumi (Hashimoto Nanami) who didn’t want him to fight anymore, but he had already turned pacifist before that.
At least Eiji (Fukusawa Tatsuya) and Hisao (Watanabe Shota) share my frustration. It would have been better if Tsukasa explained his reasons (or state his excuses) properly, but the writers left Hisao to dismiss it as Tsukasa not belonging to their world. That’s funny because, in the early episodes, the only way he seemed to fit into their world at all was because he fought. With Youji in the hospital, Eiji and Hisao had the right to a real explanation from Tsukasa.
Thankfully, Tsukasa does get angry when the former leader of STP, Ryuji, shows up to explain why he did what he did, . . .
. . . gives that cogent explanation of his motivation I was looking for, . . .
. . . and then asks Tsukasa to help him seek revenge against Sasaki.
In response to that plea, the normally sympathetic Tsukasa sounded dismissive – telling Ryuji to focus on caring for himself.
Now let’s face it – we know that Tsukasa has to snap out of this curious spate of reluctance by the end and have that massive fight we saw in episode one. Given that, there are only two questions: what restores Tsukasa to his defender-of-justice ways and how long is it going to take?
Sasaki tries to come up with a way to anger Tsukasa sufficiently to make a real fight out of it, but his second-in-command, Ishimoto, thinks up a plan and heads out to put it into action.
Tsukasa discovers the results on his way to meet Kumi – the place is a total wreck. Kumi only has a cut, but then Tsukasa gets a call from Ishimoto (how the heck did Ishimoto get his number?) who says they’ll go after Kumi if Tsukasa doesn’t show up for the fight.
Tsukasa seems mad after this. Will this be enough to do the trick, as Ishimoto expects? Presumably not, or this would have been Sasaki’s plan rather than Ishimoto’s . . . right?
We get the second part of the STP revelations – some info on Ishimoto this time, courtesy of guys who knew him as a wimp in middle school.
Ishimoto had a flashback where we see him trying to join Gokurakuchou and getting beat-up and insulted by Youji at his presumption.
This flashback should definitely have come in the last episode rather than this one – it should have come up before Ishimoto and Youji fought so that we had a proper sense of the context of that fight (and why wouldn’t Ishimoto have thought of it before that fight?). This way, it’s far less poignant. They could have kept his encounter with his middle school classmates in this one – only the flashback needed to be transplanted.
After seeing Youji at the hospital and apologizing for being a useless friend (well, at least he knows it, too), Tsukasa calls a full meeting of Gokurakuchou.
The members hope that the treat to Kumi has finally gotten Tsukasa ready to fight, but the tone Tsukasa took at Youji’s bedside suggests otherwise.
Instead, Tsukasa proposes to step down at the leader of Gokurakuchou and to apologize to Sasaki. This is . . . ludicrous. Just to prove that he’s really the toughest guy in Hiroshima, there’s no reason for Sasaki to relent just because Tsukasa doesn’t have a group to back him up. Tsukasa still has a reputation as a strong fighter, and it’s worthwhile to Sasaki to deal with that reputation lest it returns to haunt him – the way Yutaka returned, for instance. And STP has already shown a willingness to involve people who aren’t in a gang (like Kumi).
Also, Ryuji already told Tsukasa that words wouldn’t work with Sasaki. In his one meeting with Sasaki, Tsukasa didn’t see any way to talk peace, either. What makes him think that Ryuji was wrong about Sasaki and that he knows the villain better?
I think Eiji and Hisao agree with me.
Hiro (Hashimoto Ryosuke) might be getting much-needed rest . . .
. . . but Youji isn’t going to take this lying down. Incidentally, how is it that my two favorite characters in this series both ended up in the hospital?
Oh, and don’t worry, Youji’s words got Hiro up:
The way Tsukasa talks to Kumi as he meets her, it doesn’t sound like he expects to survive his attempt to apologize to Sasaki. What gives?
Kumi, of course, detects that there’s something wrong and tries to remind Tsukasa of his promise.
So, when Youji walks into Gokurakuchou HQ, what is he going to say?
What the heck is going on with the other groups like BEAST? Are they going to try to make peace with STP when there’s no chance of it?
And what about the best couple in the series?
In the end, I was quite satisfied with the result. The writers tried to do a more delicate dance than I gave them credit for in the past two reviews and . . . sort of succeeded. The story was far from a home run and while Tsukasa’s behavior in this episode turned out to be sensible, it still didn’t explain his actions and words in the last episode before he had decided on his ultimate course of action.
I also think we should have gotten a more thorough view of STP’s background – the tidbits we got this time were better than nothing, but not as good as a steady flow of revelations. Compare the lack of information we got about Ryuji and Ishimoto to the time spent on the background of Yutaka, even though STP is the climactic opponent for Gokurakuchou.
And, of course, we don’t have nearly enough on Sasaki – will they manage to squeeze that into the last episode, or will he just be left as a cardboard monster?
In terms of acting, this was an excellent episode with a lot of challenges. I especially enjoyed the work of Hashimoto-kun, Triendl Reina-san, and Iwamoto-kun. Kento-kun didn’t bring out his character the way he needed to in the first half – he played it a bit too flat in order to smooth out the transitions. It would have been better if he had created a gap – even to have been a bit of the old whiny Tsukasa we saw at the beginning of the series. He had quite a burden on his shoulders, though, and it was still good work . Hashimoto Nanami-san in the role of Kumi has been a real disappointment – she needed to up the tension in her voice and face during her talk with Tsukasa, once she realized what he was up to.
That just leaves the last episode. Will Sasaki spend the episode telling Tsukasa why he’s so evil while they exchange blows? Will Tsukasa end up talking Sasaki into submission after all and go on to a brilliant career as a counselor, possibly replacing Tenma Ryo in Shinryochu? We will definitely find out in episode twelve!