Welcome all, to Volume 3 of the Worst/Best Anime you (might) not have seen yet. A feature you probably thought was pretty much dead, seeing how the last time I published something in this category was way back in August last year. Granted, my hiatus might have had a little bit to do with that as well, but that said, I think with the upcoming Anime theme month this is as good a time as any to bring this one back. But what was this feature about Raist? Yeah I guess I’d better explain this one again, as I know how fuzzy my own brain can get at times! The Worst/Best anime you (might) not have seen yet is a series of posts where I select an anime at random from the Crunchyroll (you know: the Netflix for anime) line up. To make it clear I’m selecting an anime that is relatively obscure and people (might) not yet know about. This of course means I could be lucky and select a real gem, or very unlucky by picking an anime that is so bad it’s no surprise not many people are talking about it. I do have to admit that just like in Volume 2, I am cheating a little bit here as this is an anime that I had actually already started with, but never fully completed. I hate unfinished business, so I finally rewatched and completed this one. And honestly I’m happy to have done so. So, without further ado, let me reveal the title for Volume 3, and let’s dive into this!
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
Year of Release: 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genre: Mystery, Action, Crime, Comedy
Yep, I know right? That title is quite the mouthful. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is an anime series that is based on a series of illustrated novels. So far nine volumes have been released, and just to get this out of the way: I haven’t read any of them! Luckily I don’t have to worry about that as we aren’t discussing the books here today, but the anime series. This is a show that quite honestly is a blend of so many genres that it’s hard to even classify it properly. But before we get fully into that, let’s first talk a little bit about the story. Welcome to Fukuoka city! It’s a beautiful place, and one that at first glance is sure to be a magnet for tourists. There is just one slight catch though and that’s the fact that 3% of the population is a hitman (or hitwoman). So depending on whether or not you like a little danger in your life, you might want to rethink those plans of visiting that city. Not surprisingly Fukuoka is a cesspool of criminal activity, housing many despicable individuals. But not every person in the town has cold intentions. One of them is Zenji Banba, a detective that tries to keep tabs on the many hitmen organisations that the city contains. When the cross dressing hitman Xianming Lin enters his life though, things are about to get wild.
You see, Lin has been ordered by the company he works for to take Banba out, as they think he is quite the threat to their criminal enterprises. But when he arrives at Zenji’s place of work he doesn’t even attempt to kill him. Lin is quite dissatisfied with his employers, and instead offers to team up with the detective. This action, eventually sets of a chain of events that explode into violence very fast, and will endanger both men, and their friends…This anime series is a show that was a lot of fun, while at the same time it’s not going to down into history as a classic. And that’s fine really, not every series needs to have a five star rating in my book. One of the shows strengths is it’s two lead characters. Xianming Lin has to be the craziest hitmen that I have ever come across in any form of media. I mean let’s be honest a cross dressing hitman? If that isn’t crazy enough by itself, I don’t know what is. The thing is though, it works incredibly well, and Lin has entered my personal top 5 list of favorite anime characters. His banter and chemistry with Banba serves up some of this anime’s greatest moments, but he’s also just a very well rounded character. Especially when you begin to learn more about his background. No denying the fact that whenever Lin entered the scene, the quality just went up a few notches.
The same can be said about Zenji Banba. He’s one of those mellow and one could say almost say zen type of characters. As always though, there is more below the surface, especially when you learn his greatest secret. He was a stark contrast to the at times explosive outbursts of Lin. Zenji is also a big baseball fan, and even has a team comprised of loads of shady figures. It will obviously come as no real surprise that Xianming eventually has to play as well. The cast of Hakata Tonkutsu Ramens is huge, and while I liked most of them, I also felt slightly disappointed that many of them just played a very small part. This automatically means that a lot of their backstories were lacking resulting in a few, while still fun, also very undeveloped characters. It never hurts this anime a lot though, as it’s mostly an action oriented series. The series consists of three, what one could call parts, each with a different storyline that takes place over the course of 4 episodes. The final part for me was definitely the most interesting, as there we find out more about the past of Lin, and it also introduces a great new villain. The middle part of the show was at times a bit slow, and this for me at least, also had the least interesting storyline.
When it comes to the actionpart, I think the best way to describe it is that it’s kind of like a Quentin Tarantino movie. That means, over the top, extremely bloody fight scenes, that are very violent, but at the same time because it’s so extreme just add to the charm. As mentioned before, the series has elements of quite a few different genres in it, ranging from full on action, to (dark) comedy. I’m, as many of you know, not a huge fan of comedies, but in this series it never takes an upper hand, and the humor is just, well extremely funny. When it comes to the animation side of this one I can without a doubt say that it looks very good. The action sequences especially are very stylish and the show has an overall dark, almost kind of film noir look to it. A fact that is amplified even more by the at times jazz like soundtrack that accompanies this anime. Hakata Tonkutsu Ramens is simply put a very nice, and quite decent show to spend a few hours with. I for one would not have minded to see a second season, but so far there don’t seem to be any plans for that. The characters especially, as well as the honestly quite unique storyline, are the biggest draws that this show has to offer. I guess if you want to decide if this is a show that might work for you, the best advice I can give you is to just watch the first episode. If you enjoy that one, you will enjoy the rest of the series. If not, the other episodes are not going to change your mind and it’s best to look elsewhere for your next anime fix. I’ll leave you with a short trailer of the series that introduces the characters.
I give Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens a 8 out of 10 score.