Originally published on The Fandom Post.
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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fond as it is of baseball metaphors, Ramens’ latest episode is more similar to a game of chess. With a virus broadcasting his location to M3 whenever he uses his computer, Enokida is forced to be more clever in his approach. From using his phone to access his computer remotely, to using coded emails and a friendly pickpocket to coordinate with Lin and Banba, Enokida spends the entire episode using all of his tricks to outsmart M3. It’s not hard to figure out his plans before he explains them, but it’s still fun watching him slowly back M3 into a corner without them even knowing it. The episode spends a little too much time on Enokida explaining his plans, even though they were mostly shown already and are pretty easy to figure out from context. Once again, the rest of the cast takes a backseat to Enokida’s own scheming. Lin and Banba only get involved when Enokida calls on them for help, and Saito (amusingly) is used as bait to draw the bounty hunters off.
Fun as Enokida’s battle of wits is, it’s also somewhat rushed. By the end of the episode, Enokida’s completely beaten M3 and somewhat reconciled with his father. It feels like Ramens is trying to resolve its plotlines almost as soon as they begin, which is a real shame. M3 had real potential as villains, but they’re beaten so quickly that we barely get a chance to get to know them. They’re left as more disposable villains instead of the real threat they were built up to be last week.
In the aftermath of M3’s utter defeat, we’re also treated to another conversation between Enokida and Yagi where Yagi reveals that he spared Enokida on his father’s orders all along. I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s nice seeing Enokida realize that his father still cares about him. On the other, it somewhat undermines his relationship with Yagi. The big hook from last week was how Yagi decided to ignore his orders and spare Enokida. Having that be his orders all along robs last week’s flashbacks of some of their potency. Even so, all this does lead to a surprisingly touching moment of Enokida using his hacking skills to wish his father a happy birthday. Even if they haven’t completely reconciled, Enokida reaching out like that is a nice way to close out his storyline.
While this was an entertaining episode, it also highlighted one of Ramens’ biggest weaknesses: its pacing. The plotline about Enokida and M3 only started last week and it’s already over. Rushing through like that ensures that Ramens never gets boring, but it also feels like it’s not letting its stories live up to their full potential. The M3 arc was good, but it could have been better.