Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: “There is a person you desperately want to kill. Now, how do you kill that person?” At a glance, Fukuoka seems like a peaceful town, but crime runs rampant behind the scenes. It’s now a battleground for professional killers, with urban legends suggesting that there’s even one who specializes in killing professional killers. Assassins, detectives, revenge seekers, informants, torture specialists… When stories are told of these and other professionals of the underground, a “killer of professional killers” appears… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: What could potentially be Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens’ undoing in its premiere episode is the flurry of characters it introduces without any proper set up that would help the audience latch on to any of them. Instead, they end up feeling like too many, too soon and make it hard to really care about the show and story when you can barely keep up with what’s going onscreen as we jump from new character to new character. The fact that the show’s title still doesn’t make any sense even by the end of the first episode speaks as to how much it fails at proper set up. But there’s some hope that Tonkotsu Ramens will still win over some fans, thanks to its intriguing premise.
Tom: This first episode does indeed throw dozens upon dozens of characters at you, and while not impossible to follow, there comes a point where you begin to wonder if you’ve already met them or if it’s just another new face to the pile. The main through line, involving an investigation into the dark secrets of a mayor seeking reelection, and a killer of killers running amuck, are still decently easy to get a grasp on, even if you’re juggling all these new characters. It’s an interesting narrative, but one so marred by that over abundance of a ever increasing cast that the intrigue of the narrative feels diminished.
Linny: There’s also the fact that many of these characters suffer contrived backgrounds. From the politician’s son who loves to pick up girls so he can force himself upon them and/or kill them, to a cross-dressing hitman who’s only doing all this so he can be reunited with his little sister. The ‘bad’ guys of the episode just reek of cliche evil and make themselves feel like tired tropes rather than convincing antagonists. Further compounding these issues is the fact that the art isn’t really adding much to the show. While it isn’t downright hideous throughout, it’s a bit bland and ultimately ends up making the story feel just as drab.
Tom: Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens isn’t bad, but it is rough. Too many little side stories are running through this first episode, causing us to follow an excess of new characters and not allow enough breathing room for us to grow attached to any of them. A better call might have been to follow a couple plot lines in this first episode, then jump back in time in Episode 2 and fill in some of the gaps later. Let us latch onto a handful of characters before bombarding us with the rest of the cast. As it stands, Ramens is for viewers who don’t mind getting a little lost among the many contrived killers peppering the series’ landscape.
Linny: Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens’ premise is one that caught my attention and seemed like something that could potentially be enjoyable for viewers who enjoy corny brutality. So far though, it’s more likely to confuse and disengage the audience with one too many characters and not enough set up to sell its cast as convincing or worth caring for. Thanks to a somewhat unique premise, there’s still hope that maybe Tonkotsu Ramens will find its footing in coming episodes and free itself from the sloppy set up and actually deliver a thrilling showdown amongst hitmen but based on the first episode, that hope does not fly very high.
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.