Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 3 Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post.

What They Say:

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Now that all the players are introduced, it’s time for Ramens to get things moving for real. After last weeks underwhelming twist, Ramens is back on its feet with the most plot momentum we’ve had so far. Lin confronts Zhang, Saito discovers he’s been framed and goes to the Avengers for help, and Banba formally partners with Lin to find the one who killed Lin’s sister. As Lin fights Zhang’s men, we learn exactly what it takes to be a hitman in Hakata. The way Lin quickly dispatches Zhang’s men is both cool for how effortless he makes it look, and silly for how over the top the gore is. At the same time, his battle against Ivanov has a real sense of tension (even if Ivanov’s claim that knives don’t work on him after Lin stabs him is kind of silly), and the way Lin tricks him with a pistol hidden in his knife is a clever way to resolve it. The animation doesn’t add much to the fight, but it’s competent enough not to detract from it either.

Once Lin and Banba join up again, we’re treated to more of the banter that was so enjoyable last week. Contrasting Lin’s serious demeanor with Banba’s laid back attitude makes for some good comedy, even if we don’t know much about Banba. His willingness to help Ling is commendable, but it seems like he has some sort of reason for it beyond altruism. He also has far more underworld than a typical PI would; the owner of the ramen shop he went to before has some sort of connection to the Niwaka Samurai. Now that the mayor’s men know that Lin and Banba are targeting his son, they’ve finally reached out to hire the mysterious samurai to kill them. Now that he’s beginning to connect to the main story, we get our first glimpse of the Samurai.

It’s only a brief scene, but Munakata’s flashback to when he saw the Samurai is the standout moment in the episode. Seeing the Samurai behead a murderer and then effortlessly take Munakata’s eye by throwing a knife through the scope of his rifle does a lot to setup that this guy isn’t like the rest of the hitmen in Hakata. The whole scene is both creepy and intriguing enough to get us interested in who he is. He does look awfully similar to Banba, though…

While all this is going on, Saito is desperately trying to figure out who framed him. I was worried that this would turn into a giant misunderstanding with Lin and Banba hunting Saito thinking he’s the killer, but that thankfully doesn’t happen. Subplots based on those kind of misunderstandings are always tedious to sit though, so I’m glad Ramens quickly dispenses with that by having Lin and Banba figure out that Saito was set up and discover that it’s the mayor’s son right away. Not only does this avoid an annoying subplot, it also establishes that Lin and Banba are professionals who know what they’re doing. Saito’s explanation for how he ended up working for Murder Inc. is less compelling, though. It’s essentially “I threw a baseball and accidently almost killed someone, so I got hired by a company of hitmen,” which doesn’t add much to his character and seems like it’s leaving something out since Saito never said why he applied for a job there in the first place. His main role here is to hire the Avengers to help him get revenge on whoever framed him.

In Summary: Now that everyone has a reason to want the mayor’s son dead, it looks like Ramens’ disparate plotlines are going to start intersecting. Enokida’s betrayal and Lin’s attempted infiltration are a solid setup for next week, and are vastly superior to last week’s twist. Hopefully Ramens can continue this upswing with Lin’s assassination attempt and the possibility of Saito meeting up with Lin and Banba to connect all of these disparate plotlines.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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