Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 7 Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post.

What They Say:
“Leadoff Hitter”

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After two arcs centered around Lin and Banba, it’s time for our favorite mushroom-headed hacker to take the lead. Lin and Banba are given supporting roles here, but this arc is clearly setting up around Enokida. We learn that before he was a freelance hacker, he was the son of a major politician who ordered him killed after Enokida intentionally tried to jeopardize his father’s career by hacking into the police department. The butler, Yagi, took pity on Enokida and decided to help him escape and lie about killing him. Enokida’s past comes back again now that a group of cyber-terrorists/hacker-focused hitmen begin to target him for causing trouble for them and put a bounty on his head.

Jumping right into a new arc now seems kind of sudden. I expected more focus on the Murder Inc. subplot from the last couple of weeks, but it looks like it’s not even relevant here. For that matter, Sarucchi doesn’t even show up here, leaving a slight disconnect between this episode and last week’s. It’s not a huge deal, just a little jarring compared to the smoother transition between the first two arcs. Even so, this arc is shaping up quite nicely.

Enokida’s always been an interesting character thanks to his casually mercenary attitude, so it’s nice seeing him get center stage. The big highlight of the episode is his conversation with Yagi, which is filled with both familiarity and distance. Based on their brief interactions, it seems like Yagi was more of a father to Enokida than his actual father was. At the same time, Yagi being ordered to kill him and pointing a gun at him before creates some kind of distance. Enokida’s father only makes a brief appearance so it’s unlikely that this will end with some kind of reconciliation, but I wouldn’t mind if Yagi stayed around for a while yet. It certainly helps that the “combat butler” archetype he’s based on is just as cool as ever.

M3, the cyber-terrorist hitmen, also have the potential to be Ramens’ best villains yet. All three are sociopaths of varying degrees, but they’re not like past villains. Unlike the mayor or Sarucchi, these guys are both sadistic and experienced hitmen who know how to get a job done. This combination makes them far more intimidating than previous villains and more of a threat to our heroes. Even though they’re hitmen, a lot of this conflict seems poised to play out in cyberspace. M3 is a cyber-terrorist group, meaning their skillset is perfect to go against a hacker like Enokida. It’s set up as more of a game of wits than a straight up fight, which gives it a lot of potential.

In Summary:
Rough transition aside, the arc being set up has the potential to be Ramens’ best yet. Enokida’s past is more interesting than Lin’s or Banba’s, and the M3 hitmen make for some threatening villains. The one possible worry is that this arc will be resolved as suddenly as the previous one, but that doesn’t diminish this episode’s entertainment value.

Grade: A-

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