Originally published on The Fandom Post.
What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In a show with as many disparate characters and plotlines as Ramens, connections are crucial. Connecting all of its plotlines are what allows it to be a cohesive story, as opposed to a series of random vignettes. Ramens as always done a solid job there, and it’s talents are on full display this week. The central variables we learned about last week all have their own role to play in this week’s misadventures. Lin (pretending to be the Niwaka Samurai) and Banba alternate between getting captured by thugs chasing after the bounty and the Kakyu Association, while Sarucchi just tries to fight the Niwaka Samurai. Sarucchi and Banba’s eventual fight ends in a draw, leaving both sides more or less where they started.
Even though there wasn’t a lot of plot progression by the end, this episode managed to be consistently entertaining thanks to how well it connected. From little details like Nao hiring Enokida to track down the thugs who kidnapped Lin, to actual plot twists like the torturers’ first online job turning out to be to torture Lin to find Banba’s location, everything in this episode connects to something in Hakata as a whole. These small coincidences and connections do a lot to sell the ensemble cast and further the show’s frequent baseball metaphors. Just like baseball, everyone in Ramens has their own roll to play, bouncing off each other and supporting the “team” as a whole. There’s nothing too deep about it, but it adds some nice flavor that keeps everything light and fun.
Speaking of fun, Banba’s escape with Sarucchi (he wanted to fight Banba, not just let the Kakyu Association capture him) was one of the most entertaining sequences yet. Dodging bullets, fighting gunmen with swords, jumping across rooftops, and making fun of Sarucchi’s bad aim all make for a fun action scene that also helps fit Sarucchi into the main cast. Since he’s on one of the baseball teams the Ramens play against, it looks like he’s here to stay. His personality is pretty much a slightly less irritable Lin, but he’s amusing enough that he makes for a solid addition to the already large cast.
In between all of the fights and kidnappings, Ramens also finds time for some surprisingly good character work. Lin’s conversation with the Avengers after they save him does a lot to show how much he’s grown to like the people he’s met in Hakata. He still tries to maintain his distance, but his prickly demeanor is all but gone. He even gets in some friendly teasing when Misaki tells him it’s okay to be himself. He even seems less annoyed with Banba than usual, actually seeming happy to see him after they both escape. Adding in enjoyable banter and character growth does a lot to support Ramens’ primary objective of being cool.
Now that Sarucchi has joined the main cast, it looks like Ramens is moving on to bigger plotlines. It’s strongly hinted that the woman who killed the head of the Kakyu Association was actually hired by Banba, made especially interesting by the fact that she’s his ex. Whether she’s a friend or foe, it looks like Ramens’ next move is going to be addressing the fallout from that, especially since Banba’s ex is now the manager of another baseball team.