Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 6: Mistaken Identity Can Be Fun

Review:

I think this is the episode I officially fell in love with this series. I’ve really been enjoying it so far but there’s always been a hesitation in committing to it because there were so many chances for the show to derail. Yet 6 episodes of consistent entertainment and I’m now head over heels for this anime and I’m just going to try and squash that voice in the back of my mind that keeps asking where does it think it is going now.

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So what made this episode so great? Lin takes on a job for Banba and pretends to be the Niwaka Samurai which of course leads to him facing off with the ninja. That said, Lin wasn’t doing too terribly against him (not great but he didn’t get instantly wiped out so go him), however outside interference meant that Lin ended up kidnapped and knocked out. Which is where our story shows once again that every plot point exists for a reason and the kidnappers, realising they have a fake, hire the torturer for hire who set up his website in the last episode. Of course, they couldn’t have known that the torturer knew Lin and would swap him out. But what really makes this whole sequence special is how Banba and Lin both reflect on the other as they realise what is going on.

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I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my heart skipped a beat after that. I genuinely love these two characters and how well they play off one another. And just in case all of this wasn’t enough to make this a truly praise worthy episode, we do in fact get a fight between the real Samurai and Ninja.

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Plus a baseball game showdown at the end. This show is pure entertainment and when you couple a great story with great characters and a great soundtrack, there is very little not to like.

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Karandi James

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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 5: Why Not a Ninja?

Review:

This show continues to impress with how it manages to weave its story together. Despite episode 4 bringing the first arc to what felt like a decisive close, this episode managed to feel like we were just picking up where we left off while integrating the new problem our characters will face. I do feel a bit sorry for Saito as the main connecting thread was his departure from his job at Murder Inc and the killer they sent after him. He really needs to catch a break in the next couple of episodes.

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The newly introduced hitman, who for reasons that only vaguely make sense is going to be known as a ninja, is a nice addition to the large cast and I wonder if he will remain an antagonist or whether he’ll end up joining the rest of the baseball obsessed crew that we have met. Certainly Lin would be happy enough to hit the bench.

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Outside of the well told story though, this show continues to work with these characters and the interactions between Banba and Lin remain the highlight. While the other characters are interesting enough, and I have to wonder how long until someone decides they are sick of the informant selling them out and decides to take him out, Banba and Lin are still a show stealing duo and a real pleasure to watch.

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I’m looking forward to next week as the preview was intriguing and with Banba on his ‘break’ from work, it will be nice to see if Lin can hold his own or if he’s about to get in well over his head.

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Karandi James

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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 3: Game On

Review:

Well, this anime just became my favourite of this season (still sitting underneath March Comes in Like a Lion which carried over from last season). The first two episodes interested me and started getting me drawn into these characters and their world but episode 3 consolidated everything I wanted from this show. Between the great sound track, betrayals, murder, and all of the general chaos, this is a great start to a season.

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Saito decides to do something about his situation and seeks out the avengers to frame the guy who framed him (sounds like it could be fun). This plot doesn’t get a huge amount of development but the seeds are there and it is definitely going to mess up other plans later on. More importantly, at least Lin and everyone else is smart enough to realise Saito has clearly been framed and not one person actually believes he killed the girl.

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As for Lin, he gets a very cool opening sequence when he goes to confront his former boss. The boss kind of bothers me because he has had countless chances to actually kill Lin and each time he ends up gloating and not actually doing it. In the office he gloats about how he’s been pocketing the money that Lin thought he was sending to his mother (who has apparently been dead for five years). That’s kind of petty and gloating about it just makes this guy look even more pathetic. Though I guess then we don’t just wonder about why Lin isn’t dead at the end of the episode given this guy already has a clearly established M.O of talking too much.

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Meanwhile, Lin isn’t the only one being targeted now as Banba’s also stuck his nose in too far. Lin and Banba teaming up was inevitable so I’m glad they didn’t drag it out and have Lin act stubborn for half a season before they got to this point. Still, it won’t matter if they don’t find a way to avoid the hitman who is clearly going to be coming for them sooner rather than later.

Basically, this was a lot of fun (you know if you don’t mind murder in your stories) and there’s plenty of characters to like and despise in various measures and plenty of plots bubbling away. I’m looking forward to seeing where this should go next but I’m very glad I picked this show up this season.


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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 2: The Plot Thickens

Review:

This is fast becoming my favourite new show from the winter season. The first episode was interesting but I didn’t want to get too excited because there was such a large cast and so many ways for things to fall apart, but the second episode carefully built on the ideas from episode 1 and now we’re kind of in a good place for a fairly decent story.

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Lin get’s the lion’s share of attention this week as he refused to kill the private detective, Banba, until he’s paid for a job from the last episode (not that he actually did the job it was just the person ended up dead regardless). This episode sees some fairly interesting interaction between Banba and Lin as Lin essentially moves in to stop any other hitman from taking Banba out until he gets paid. Banba ultimately deals with this in the most sensible manner; he offers Ling money for information. But that wouldn’t make for a good story if Lin got his money and paid off his debt and lived happily ever after. The final moments of the episode give Ling strong and compelling motivation to stick it out and to get very involved in what is coming.

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However, it isn’t all about Lin, and we learn more about Saito (poor guy just can’t catch a break). After being mistaken for someone else last week and being kidnapped by the Avengers, on his release he ends up getting paid anyway because someone else has taken out the target (turns out there’s a connection to the mayor’s idiot son, much like Ling’s story so everything is kind of coming together). Saito decides to have a night out on the town but his luck really has not improved and it will be interesting to see the fallout.

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Meanwhile, part of me wonders about all the tourism plugs for food and theatre that pepper this story. While it would make sense in a slice of life or similar story, it seems weird for a hitman to be trying to sell travel to a particular city or region. Yet all those little details are helping to make the setting feel realistic even while the story is pretty far-fetched. It will be interesting to see if they continue to take this path going forward. Either way, I’m really enjoying this series so far.


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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 1: Hitmen, Detectives, and Corruption

Overview:

Okay, I went in pretty blind but essentially the set up here is that there’s a whole bunch of hitmen and organisations operating within the town and then there’s apparently someone who specialises is killing hitmen. Don’t ask me what the title means. The individual words make sense but what it has to do with the show other than the location, I don’t know.

Review:

And here is another entry into the ensemble cast dark and violent modern urban crime story. While there aren’t massive numbers of these there are a few now and for me they are a bit hit and miss. I’m not a huge fan of such a large cast because it usually makes it harder to get an idea of who is who (and after watching the first episode of this I can remember maybe two names and I’m not even sure if we got names for some characters). Yet, I have to say this was a pretty interesting first episode.

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We move through four main focuses with the guy dressed as a girl who clearly has some tragic backstory involving a younger sister taking up a large chunk of the start and finish of the episode. We also have someone who I think is a private investigator, though time will tell, who is looking into the mayor (guy running to be mayor’s) after a detective was murdered. We have the staff working for the mayor cleaning up after his son’s idiocy. And lastly we have some newbie hitman who quickly gets himself in over his head.

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So despite the large number of cast members, this episode didn’t feel too disjointed as there are clear links between the stories so far and characters seem to be crossing paths fairly quickly so hopefully we’ll get to know the key players in the next few episodes.

Outside of that, the pace is quick but not rapid fire, there’s some violence and few scenes clearly intended just for shock factor but after the opening scene there wasn’t as much as I expected there to be. Character designs are quite nice and are distinct enough to recall which character is which and the backgrounds are all quite nicely done. All and all, for a show I hadn’t heard of and had no expectations for, this was quite a nicely done introduction and I’m looking forward to more.


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