Originally published on The Fandom Post.
What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Now that Lin and Banba have met, Hakata’s various storylines are starting to intersect. A lot of this episode is focused around Lin and Banba’s banter, as Lin decides to protect Banba until he gets paid for the previous job. Even though they just met, our two leads already have solid chemistry. Banba’s laid back and cocky attitude contrasts nicely with Lin’s seriousness, making for some amusing banter as Banba lectures Lin on the virtues of spicy pollock roe. Even though we don’t know much about Banba, his quick wits and casual attitude make him an entertaining lead, especially when he and Lin can bounce off each other.
Meanwhile, Saito quickly clears up the misunderstanding between him and the Avengers by showing them his Murder Inc. business card. It’s a somewhat amusing scene, although it’s undercut by the gruesome torture going on in the background. A show about hitmen obviously isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses, but Ramens’ somewhat cavalier attitude towards torture and kidnapping is still an unpleasant mark on an otherwise fun show. While Saito and the Avengers part ways without any hard feelings, the delay is enough that the mayor’s men get to the targets first, killing them to cover up his son’s violent habits.
Even though they don’t get a ton of screen time here, the Avengers are already an interesting bunch. They’re hitmen, but they have an odd code of honor. They only help people who have been wronged in some way, punishing the wrongdoer in proportion to their actions. For a man who tortured a cat, they inflict the same torture he did. For Lin, they punch him in the face the same way he punched the man in episode 1. We may not know much about them beyond that, but it still makes for an interesting setup.
While most of the episode is solidly executed, the twist at the end is handled pretty poorly. The reveal that the woman they mayor’s son killed and Saito woke up with is Lin’s sister should be a powerful bit of irony as she dies right when Lin gets the money to pay his debt. The problem is, we know almost nothing about her or Lin. We don’t know why he has such a large debt, why she was in Hakata, why they were separated, or what their relationship was like. Without knowing anything about them, Lin’s shock and grief has no emotional weight and the entire twist comes off as just a bit of plot convenience to get Lin and Banba to team up again. This would have been great as a mid to late season reveal, but giant plot twists rarely have any impact when they happen so early.
While the twist at the end could have been better, the rest of the episode (excluding the uncomfortable torture scenes) maintains the same cleverness and intrigue as episode 1. Now that Ramens’ various plotlines are starting to intersect, it looks like we’re going to have quite a tangled web on our hands. Shows like this thrive on making the audience want to find answers, and Ramens certainly succeeds on that front. I’m game for whatever underworld intrigue it has to throw at us.