It just got personal on this week’s episode of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. Ride the highs and the lows with the residents of Hakata. There is never a dull moment in the city where hitmen roam. Episode 2 does not hold back the punches and after watching this week’s episode, you’ll be begging for more!
Japanese Original Episode Title: イレギュラー
After getting snubbed by his boss, Lin offers to protect Banba from a string of hitmen that are bound to show up to finish the job Lin refused. Saitou gets kidnapped by the Hakata Avengers and finds himself in a bit of a sticky situation. In the shadows, someone is systematically wiping out people connected with a certain incident… and of course a healthy helping of some delicious Tonkotsu ramen!!
Aww He’s Cute When He Isn’t Killing People: Even after being told to leave, Lin camps out on Banba’s couch. Despite being a hired gun, Lin is surprisingly relaxed sleeping in a stranger’s house, so Banba takes advantage of the situation and snaps a few blackmail photos with his phone.
I-is that blood? Blood, lots and lots of blood. While most of the episode’s early gore happens off screen or is depicted through carefully unfocused shots and odd camera angles, the blood is on full display; splattered on clothes, pooling on the floor, and of course, dripping from deadly looking knives.
Badass Business Card: Since hitmen can’t just go around announcing that they’re hitmen, the employees of Murder Inc. carry special business cards that when in contact with an open flame transform from a mundane white Red Rum business card to a blood red one with the Murder Inc logo emblazoned on its front.
The lighting is on point- I am a sucker for the little details and Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens has some stylistic choices that make my inner fangirl sing! Namely, the use of lighting in the background and foreground of scenes are phenomenal and really add a bit of realism to the animated art style. Sun spots, glare from street lights, and the reflection of rainbow colored lights on the water at night… simply divine!!
This is serious business: Banba gets rather heated when Lin stops him from leaving the house. You think it’s because he has some sort of PI work to do, but no, Banba just wants to go out and buy some spicy pollack roe. When Lin reminds him that there are hitmen on his tail, Banba goes on a five-minute tangent about why said roe is worth risking his life for… he then requests that Lin get it for him instead…
Chicken soup…er Ramen for the Soul: There’s a really nice intimate moment between Banba and Lin as they share their first meal together in Banba’s apartment/office. It’s just a really quiet moment, with soft lighting and ton of close up shots. It’s the first time we see the two ‘bonding’. We even get a bit of vulnerability from Lin.
Cool Ending Sequence: The ending theme is reminiscent of the opening to the 1998 anime Cowboy Bebop. It features a jazzy instrumental track with color coded stills of characters and objects specific to hitmen/ the Hakata underworld. The only dialogue coming in the form of various voiceover lines from several characters featured in the episode.
Themes & Trivia
In it for the money: Lin refuses to carry out his boss’s orders to kill Banba until he gets paid for his last job. When the boss states that he will just find someone else to take the job, Lin promises to kill anyone that tries to kill said mark, that is unless he gets his due before that… Side note: Saitou goes all out after receiving the pay for his first ‘kill’ and let’s just say the money doesn’t even get a chance to burn a hole in his pocket…
Avengers assemble: Saitou gets kidnapped by a group of people that avenge transgressions made against their clientele… But, unlike the Marvel heroes, they rely on torture… good old fashion torture! They butcher a man who tormented a stranger’s cat, in the same manner the guy used with the animal, and let’s just say it was horrific… But, they aren’t all that bad. The Avengers only dole the appropriate punishment for the crime…at least they’re honorable.
You have the wrong guy! Saitou… poor, unfortunate Saitou finds himself in a sticky situation due to a bit of mistaken identity.
Food: Hakata is known for a few iconic dishes, many of which are referenced throughout. Last week, I mentioned that the title was a reference to a ramen dish the area is known for. This week we get spicy pollock roe! The Hakata Tonkotsu of the title also makes a repeat appearance, albeit in instant ramen form.
Here’s my card: Everyone has a business card, businessmen, hitmen, avengers, and torturers?! If it’s considered a job you can bet there’s a card for it!
The Info Guy/Guy in Chair: Enokida is the man to see if you need info on anyone in the city from hitmen to corrupt politicians, no secret is safe.
Women in Suitcases: There is a tendency for women to end up getting the short end of the stick. Case in point, the president’s son requests a woman and one is brought to him… via suitcase. In the next scene, we see that she is now gagged and bound to a bed with psycho sadist dude gleefully taunting her…
Niwaka: There are a number of cultural references in this series, usually pertaining to Hakata. In a rare departure from the food-based references, we get one from the theater. The Hitmen Killing Hitman is finally given another name, ‘Niwaka Samurai’, due to his appearance. The killer wears a mask and carries a katana reminiscent of those courtesans used when performing niwaka.
Honor among thieves: Despite a majority of the characters being a part of the Hakata underworld, there is a code of ethics they all live by, granted most of their rules are a bit questionable at best. The Avengers are not against torture, but only when the crime warrants it, and then there’s Lin who never wastes food… it’s oddly human.
Shit just got real! I have been impatiently waiting for this episode all week and it did not disappoint! Is it too early to say that this is one of the best anime to come out of the Winter 2018 season?
The wonderful pacing from Episode 1 carried over to this one as we see the characters we were introduced to in the last episode continuing with their individual storylines. Episode 2 comes with a new set of eccentric characters to fall in love with and they actually fit in nicely with the existing lineup. There were some slower intimate moments between Banba and Lin that I thought were really well done and which were not too over the top or in your face but just enough to play up the chemistry between the two leads. And of course, my boy Saitou is always a hoot, so every time he shows up is bound to be hilarious!
There are a lot of tonal shifts in this series. One minute the characters are enjoying a nice bowl of ramen and the next someone is getting tortured. Oddly enough, the transitions are done in such a way that the shifts seem to flow well with the overall narrative. Honestly, as of right now, I have nothing bad to say about Episode 2. In fact, I can’t believe I have to wait another week for the next episode!!! *weeps*
Ramen for Breakfast
This week’s episode was PHENOMENAL. There was a nice balance between the lighter slice-of-life moments and the heavy darker moments. You wind getting caught up in the layered storytelling and dynamic characters to the point that the episode just breezes by… I sincerely hope that they keep up this momentum, because damnit, this anime is quickly cementing itself as one of my top five favorite anime…
What did you think of this week’s episode of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens? Are you as geeked about the series as I am? What is your favorite aspect of the series so far? Let us know in the comment section below! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Winter 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!