Firstly, I’d like you to keep in mind this isn’t a review as we’re only halfway through the Winter season. This is me looking at a series that started this winter with little fanfare. And yet, it fast became my only must watch pick of this season outside of March Comes in Like a Lion. I know I am not alone in saying that this show has been surprisingly good but even without the surprise factor, this show is just good. While, like most stories, it won’t suit everyone’s tastes, there are certainly enough reasons for you to give it a go if this is a show you didn’t pick up this season.
The most compelling reason would be that this show demonstrates some fairly solid writing. In its first four episodes it wove an interesting story with multiple characters and plot threads and seemed to effortlessly bring it all together. Not one scene or moment was wasted as everything fed into the overall story and had some significance even if at first you couldn’t quite work out why something might be important.
I recently watched the first episode again to introduce a friend to the series and realised how many things I missed the first time. There are just so many small details that have been included and overall it creates a very cohesive and fairly compelling narrative. While the existence of that many hitmen in such a city in Japan might be fantastical, the narrative effortlessly leads you to believing that the scenario is plausible and that somehow this city functions.
That said, at its core it is a story about hitmen and revenge, which might not interest all viewers. I was worried about the new arc starting at episode 5 and whether the show could manage to keep its momentum going, yet both episode 5 and 6 proved beyond doubt that this story has some real thought behind it to deliver something that feels fresh even if it is walking some fairly familiar story lines.
Outside of the story, we have some really interesting characters. Probably the best part about the show is that the characters are all fun in their own way, even with the dark and serious subject matter. Whether it is Banba, who enjoys playing the clown, Lin, who has clearly been given the straight man role, Saito, who is just in over his head, the Avengers, who are every bit as over the top as their name implies, or the myriad of other hitmen, organisations and victims we encounter, each character is memorable in their own way and leaves an impression. That said, Banba and Lin’s relationship, and how that has developed over the course of the first 6 episodes, has been fantastic to watch unfold and I can’t wait to see more of it. Episode 6 saw me truly fall in love with the characters of this show and now I’m just worried they are actually going to get hurt before the season’s end.
It is perplexing that the characters are all so oddly likeable despite most of their actions. The culmination of the events of the first arc leading to the surviving characters playing baseball together was very well done and seeing these characters interact in their day to day lives, outside of the killing people part, goes a long way toward humanising them and making you want to see them succeed even as you have to question their moral standing almost every other minute of the episodes.
With some decent music, some very well done scenery (having been to Hakata I’ve had the pleasure of actually recognising some of the scenery and it has been an excellent reminder of the trip), and pacing that knows exactly when to move on and when to pause on a moment, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens has so far been a pure joy to watch.
While there are plenty of reasons why this show might not hold up all the way until the end of the season, there are plenty of reasons to believe that it will continue to build on this very solid first half. If you haven’t tried it yet, give the first episode a go and see if this anime can draw you in. Definitely not for those squeamish about blood and murder though.
Thanks for reading.
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19 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Why Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Works”
This is one of those shows that I would like to call ” the best anime that most of you aren’t watching”. Despite being incredibly awesome, you don’t see this one make an appearance on blogs. Such a shame as like you I truly love the series as well. For one Lin is becoming one of my favorite anime characters. But I also just love the storyline. I think that before I do a full series review for this one, I’m going to bingewatch it again after it is finished. If only the see the details that I have missed. Great that you wrote a piece about this one, and thanks do much for recommending it in the first place 😀
Ps…just before moving on to the next post I noticed your follower count: seriously you are nearing the 2000! That is incredibly awesome 😮😮😮😀😀😀
I noticed that myself yesterday and I’m kind of hoping to hit if before the first of May. 2000 followers in 2 years would be a fantastic achievement to celebrate.
You will make that for sure. I think that is absolutely astounding! Very happy for you, and it’s not only something that you deserve, but it’s also no big suprise as both you and your blog are totally awesome 😊😊
I’m with you in that a binge watch from start to finish is in order once the series is done because after watching just the first episode I know I’ve missed a huge number of details the first time through because I didn’t know what was important (turns out everything).
I’m enjoying the show also! Give me good characters and I’m sold!
I just keep thinking how much more I would be enjoying Kokkoku if it took some lessons on creating a cast of interesting characters from Ramens. I know they are very different stories, but the lacklustre characterisation is really hurting Kokkoku, whereas Ramens can get away with some of its less fantastic moments because the characters are so much fun to watch.
I agree, characters you care for or that are interesting tend to save a lot of plots.
If you were to ask me why Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens works, it would be the full jazz soundtrack, including opening and ending songs. They add so much groove to the series that you can’t help but like what’s on the screen. Furthermore, the pacing of each track also decides the intensity of action, further amplifying the effect.
But in simpler terms, my ears enjoy this too much <3
The music has been excellent for the series. It fits what is happening and it is just fun.