Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

July 15, 2018

Judging from the name of this anime, I thought Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens would be an anime about ramen. Which feels pretty weird because in that same season, another ramen themed anime was aired (Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san). So why the heck do they need to show 2 different ramen anime in a single season? Is it ramen appreciation month? It doesn’t make sense and even more confusing when I saw the promotional poster that does not indicate any relation to ramen whatsoever. Even more baffling reading the synopsis that this series’ setting revolves around assassins, murderers, professional and hired killers. I don’t think that the ramen in Hakata are that good that it is worth dying for. Just saying…

Episode 1
A guy is in danger of being assassinated by this hot chick. Oh wait. It’s a cross-dresser! He tries to bribe him to spare his life but Lin Xianming is one who sees through his contract because he is a professional killer. But to his dismay his mission isn’t over yet as his employer gives him another target. With this, he hopes to free his little sister, Qiaomei. However upon arriving at the spot, the police already cordoned off the area and it is believed the target committed suicide. Oh well, job is done then. Meanwhile this nice and meek looking guy, Saitou joins a company that hires killers! Is he up for the job? Detective Shigematsu is talking to his freelance colleague, Zenji Banba that this isn’t suicide but one that is setup to make it look like one. He knows the man well so he knew something was off in his ‘suicide note’. There is a photo of a mayor candidate, Shoutarou Harada and his female bodyguard, Reiko Asakura. Speaking of which, they are in town campaigning. Banba pops a balloon to see the reaction of Reiko. If she shielded him, she is his bodyguard but however the stance she took was definitely a hitman’s reaction. Reiko returns to her colleagues. They will have their hands full again because the mayor’s idiotic son, Yuusuke has killed a woman he has a fling with and wants them to clean up. Banba sees his informant, Enokida to find out more about Reiko. She worked at Red Rum Inc until 5 years ago. Everyone in their line knows that this company is just a cover up for Murder Inc, a hitman organization. Her specialty is poison. Reiko tries to advice the idiot Yuusuke to be more careful and not cause his father more problems but he doesn’t care. Not that he likes his father anyway. More problems because dimwit college boy has footage of his friends beating up foreigners and he plans to upload it online. She quickly unplugs the power and wants the names of all his friends involved.

One of the foreigners takes out his complaints at Bar Babylon. This is no ordinary bar as it is one who accepts requests for vengeance. His friends got hold of one of the attacker’s name card, Jun Murase. Jirou accepts the avenger job. Saitou gets his own fake name card as a wine salesman and is warned of a hitman who kills hitman. But Saitou doesn’t need to be concerned with this opportunistic Niwaka Samurai as he only kills those worth their salt. Should he be insulted or relieved? Banba does more investigation and meets up with Yamato. He talks about a guy killed this morning because he cheated his host club millions. Lin is not amused he didn’t get the agreed amount so he calls Zhang his employer about it. In such a bad mood already, he punches passing Yamato for swiping his ass. Lin didn’t realize he stole his purse. Saitou is tasked to kill Murase so his great plan is to hide in his room. Oddly somebody else rings on the door. Being an amateur, he opens it but Jirou mistakes him for Murase and punches him out. Lin is face to face with Zhang and complaining. He is warned if he keeps this up, he’ll have the Samurai deal with him. If he wants cash, go kill this Banba guy as he is sticking his nose around his business too much. When Banba returns to his office, Lin is already waiting for him. However he is not here to kill him but to protect him.

Episode 2
It seems Lin rejected Zhang’s offer and will kill whoever he hired to kill Banba. Saitou wakes up and sees Jose “Maru” Martinez torturing and skinning a guy like how he did to his cat. Horror. Luckily Saitou is given a chance to speak as he clears his name he isn’t Murase. So where is the real one? Dead in an accident. Looks like DUI. Of course this is set up to make it look like one. Lin will not let Banba leave as part of his protection plan but Banba complains about spicy pollock roe he needs. If he can’t go get it, maybe he could on his behalf. Of course it’s a wild goose chase because there are so many varieties to choose from. Should have been more specific. With this distraction, Banba sees Enokida to find out more about Lin. Lin faces off with Maru but after the latter punches his face, he leaves. Claiming he is an avenger, they don’t do more to the target than was done to the client (Yamato in this case). When Banba returns, Lin just finished beating up a killer who was waiting to ambush him. Banba smoothly returns his purse and makes it look like he left it on his chair. Zhang sees Munakata and they make a transaction for a human trafficking girl. Munakata pays him the cash but Zhang wants something else instead. Kill a hitman who used to work for him. That poor girl becomes the latest plaything for that idiot Yuusuke.

Munakata’s team is on their way to kill Lin. He talks about the Samurai and nobody knows his real identity because those who do are all dead and killed by him. Saitou calls Jirou as he saw Murase’s death reported on the internet. Was he involved? Nope. They were together at the same time, remember? Saitou then sees his bank account. Looks like he got a windfall from killing Murase?! At first his conscience tells him to return the money he did not earn but after seeing those astronomical figures, it’s time to party! He hits every boob touching joint in town. Banba is surprised Lin likes to watch romance dramas. His reason is that in this line of work, he needs to know the lives of regular people. Can he tell fiction from reality? Banba further asks why he became a hitman. Was it out of debt? Sort of. It seems he needs 5 million to clear it. Banba suggests if he could pay off his debt right now, what would he do? There. Cold hard cash right in front of you. This has Lin answer more of his questions like the organization he works for (a bunch of yakuza who were exiled plus a few Chinese mafia) and it is mostly involved in human trafficking. Showing him a picture of a man, Lin recognizes him as Wang Longfang and the head of the organization. Banba now connects the dots as to why the mayor doesn’t want anyone seeing them together. Saitou must really be having a great f*cking spree. He wakes up naked with bed and next to him is a naked girl. Last night must be a blast, huh? Well, sh*t is going to hit the fan because this girl is dead!!! OMG!!! Lin leaves as he contacts Zhang. He is confident he can pay off his debts now. However Zhang tells him he didn’t see the news. Conveniently it is playing right before his eyes. A Chinese girl named Qiaoming is found dead in a hotel and they are finding a man who was sharing the room with her. Zhang further adds a good buyer showed up recently to buy her and had he been more cooperative, they could have reunited. I guess the money doesn’t mean a thing now. He is going to kill him and his sister’s murderer.

Episode 3
Saitou is actually framed by Munakata and Reiko who really make it look like he did it. Lin barges through and kills mercilessly Zhang’s men until he reaches him. But Zhang isn’t worried. He further reveals the money he sent back to China for his mom, he pocketed it all. Distracted, Lin is restrained by giant Ivanov. Zhang claims he is just a killer and not a professional, that’s why he cannot kill him. He leaves it to Ivanov to settle this. Lin pulls out a hidden knife to stab him but it doesn’t work. But a knife pistol did the trick. Banba then walks in. He had a tracer on Lin and will now put it on Ivanov. Saitou pours out his woes to Jirou. He didn’t really kill her. He explains he almost killed somebody while playing baseball. It was unintentional but that incident scarred him. But Red Rum seemed to accept that and hired him. Saitou requests to be avenged. Frame the person who framed him. Zhang is disappointed that Lin still lives. Munakata wants to take this responsibility so Zhang tells him to capture him alive so he can kill him. Munakata knows Ivanov wasn’t done in by the Samurai as he only uses swords. He remembers seeing the Samurai once but it was only from the shadows. He was to snipe his target but the Samurai got to him first. Paralyzed by his killing intent, the Samurai threw a dagger and blinded an eye of his. He quit his hitman job and got employed by the mayor as he thought it would be a less risky job. Banba agrees to help Lin find his sister’s killer but wants 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. Zhang calls Genzou Gouda who supposedly knows the Samurai and wants him hired for a job.

Banba and Lin see Enokida who show hotel footage that Saitou came in to the room with a completely different girl (Reiko) and then a man (Ivanov) came in with a giant suitcase that could hide a corpse and put it in place. A recorded conversation from the tracer that Yuusuke brokered to buy a girl. Yuusuke has a bad record of dabbling in shady things but is of course covered up and never made public. Lin wants to kill this guy as he is the one who murdered Qiaomei but Banba as a different idea. Noting they want to buy another girl, Lin agrees to play that girl. He is perfect for the part, no? Banba talks to Genzou as he reveals he and Lin have been targeted. He has to follow through this job but doesn’t want to see him dead. He asks if he can introduce the Samurai to Kakyu Association. Banba gives him the green light. What about him being killed? Maybe he’ll play dead. Munakata and Reiko ambush Enokida to find their target’s location. Enokida is willing to sell them information for a price but just this time, he gives his info for free and tells them about Banba helping Lin to kill Yuusuke and that Qiaomei is Lin’s sister. But he doesn’t need to worry about finding them because they’ll come to him. Banba becomes Lin’s broker as they meet up with a henchman for an exchange (Lin is hiding inside the suitcase). When Lin is brought to the place and emerges from the suitcase, looks like Zhang has anticipated their ‘reunion’. We meet again.

Episode 4
We see in detail Enokida selling out to Munakata and Reiko. Zhang tells Lin that his informant sold him out and as proof, there is Banba’s decapitated head from the Samurai! But Lin notices something off. Does Banba have ear piercing holes? Before he has his head cut off, the Samurai then whispers about the 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. He decapitates Zhang and swiftly avoids all bullets to take down all his henchman! But what if a bomb is thrown? Hit it back like baseball! Munakata knows if he escapes, he will regret this. So he faces him and gets sliced. In the aftermath, Lin seeks an explanation about the fake head. He went to see Dr Saeki to get a corpse and do a bit of cosmetic surgery. He also got the corpse to make its hair like him from Jirou since he was a hair stylist. As for his status and nickname as the Samurai, he once accepted a job to kill hitmen. A few kills here and there and suddenly he got that nickname. He is still a detective, though. They make their way to Yuusuke’s place. But first Banba calls Reiko. He tells her he killed her comrades and their target is Yuusuke. Reiko is smart enough to leave and will not sacrifice her life for this piece of sh*t. But at the door is Jirou and Saitou. Saitou identifies her as the one so Jirou punches her out. Banba and Lin go in to find Yuusuke. He is hiding in the closet. So why didn’t he shoot Lin on sight? Heck, Lin even taunts Yuusuke to shoot him since he is going to get killed by the Samurai. Yuusuke gives in to his taunts but before he could fire, Saitou couldn’t stand this violence and throws a curveball knocking Yuusuke out.

Yuusuke is tied up and made to confess all the girls he murdered. This recording is streamed live all over Japan! But streaming is stopped when Yuusuke tries to describe the Chinese girl and this riles up Lin as he beats the sh*t out of him for killing his sister. Then Maru takes over the rest of the torture. With that done, Banba talks to him about what will happen next. Like with Yuusuke’s confession, the mayor will be in ruin as his collusion with criminal organizations will come to like. Reiko will be framed that she killed Zhang of Kakyu Association and the abduction of Yuusuke. Lin plans on leaving tomorrow since he has no reason to stick around. Banba reminds him he is breaking his contract. That 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. Looks like he is going to be around now. Lin now joins Banba’s baseball team called Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (HTR). It includes Genzou, Enokida, Yamato, Maru, Jirou, Shigematsu, Saeki and loli Misaki as manager. Lin and Saitou have joined as newcomers. Lin isn’t impressed since he doesn’t know how to play baseball. But Saitou might relive his glory days. He looks a bit different since his original face is known to public as a serial killer so Saeki gave him a cosmetic surgery. HTR is up against Dazaifu Sanders.

Episode 5
An order is out to kill Saitou since he knows the company’s secrets. Meanwhile Shunsuke “Saru” Saruwatari is dissatisfied he only gets weak targets and threatens to live. They let him go seeing he isn’t popular and even warn he will regret it. Wait. Shouldn’t they kill him? So now he is wandering around and he meets his old right hand man, Naoya Nitta. He is a hitman consultant. Yeah, there’s such a thing. Hearing out Saru’s wish to have strong targets, he has the perfect place for him. How does going up with the Samurai sound? Enokida meets up with Gwen for information about Saitou since he is his target. Saru thinks Nitta is making fun of him since he is introducing ninja weapons. So a samurai and now a ninja? He gives a list of hitmen from some organization and to pick a few to kill. They’ll eventually pick up on somebody killing their men. Lin learns that Banba will temporarily stop working while he is away participating at the local Yamakasa festival. Since Genzou fired a couple of guys for killing the wrong target, Banba thinks Lin could cover for him but he won’t. Nitta is surprised Saru killed everyone on the list. Well, they’re all weaklings. Nitta reveals he is meeting with his client from Kakyu Association as they want the Samurai dead. This could be his big break. Enokida calls Saitou to tell him someone is waiting for him at his home to kill him. Bye. Yeah, what kind of dumb killer leaves the windows open and waits right in plain sight for his target to return? Naturally Saitou runs and calls Banba for help but since he is out drunk, Lin takes over and is willing to help. He has Saitou run and hide in a train. That’s the problem with killers talking instead of killing. Because this gives Lin enough time to fight him. But Gwen takes Saitou hostage. WTF?! Aren’t you supposed to kill him? For the first time, Lin uses Banba’s baseball advice to get the better of Gwen and kill him. Luckily nobody is on the train. I bet somebody is going to freak out when they see a bloodied corpse. Saru is given a chance to kill the Samurai. He will do it since he is strong.

Episode 6
Hey. Lin is impersonating Samurai as he faces off with Saru?! Regretting of taking on the job in Banba’s stead? Halfway through, a couple of punks (the ones fired by Genzou) kidnap Lin into their van. Thanks to Nitta paying a hefty amount to Enokida, he manages to track the van down. However Saru is not going to be happy when he learns from the guys that this Samurai is fake and is already dead. It seems they hired a torturer to beat him up to spill the beans that he isn’t the real deal but then the torture went overboard and now he’s dead. A picture of Lin is posted and for the real Samurai to show up. Genzou has to interrupt Banba in the middle of his festival and this dude is willing to ditch his festival to go rescue Lin. When Banba arrives, he meets Saru and is told about the circumstances. But before they fight, the Kakyu Association interrupts. Change of plans. Their boss, Wang wants to kill him instead. Saru is left fuming over Nitta’s betrayal but since that guy dares him to kill him if it makes him feel better, reverse psychology works. But Nitta also betrays his employers as he has placed a tracker on Kakyu Association. Lin wakes up alive back in Jirou’s place. When they saw Lin’s picture posted, they had to scramble for a plan. They had to find a similar dead body and doll it up to match his. Maru was called to torture and did the body switch. Lin apologizes for trying to be the Samurai so when he calls Genzou and he learns what happened to Banba, he rushes out. His turn to do the saving?

Saru kills the lowly guards to save Banba. He can’t kill him if he’s dead. Yeah, I figure that too. With the Kakyu Association guys hot on their tail, suddenly they get news that Wang is dead and stop their pursuit. Apparently had he not busy f*cking his mistress and went ahead to kill Banba, it wouldn’t have happened. Did he die during sex? Now Banba and Saru can fight to their heart’s content. But it has to be a draw since Saru almost fell off the building and Banba saved him to repay his debt. Another time, okay? Nitta talks to his colleague, Sayuri. There was an insane request to assassinate Wang but how did she manage to slip pass the guards because all women who sleep with him will be subjected to a thorough body check. Yeah, they didn’t check the poison in her nails. Lin gets his vengeance as Maru beats up the guys who torture him. Lin finally finds Banba when it is all over. They talk things out and he apologize for impersonating him. But Banba is most upset that the festival is over. This year is particularly special and he waited all year for this. Now it’s gone. Like Lin cares. Don’t worry. He’ll treat him to ramen with spicy pollock roe. HTR is against Ogura Fried Udons (OFU) in another baseball match. It seems Saru is on this team and Sayuri as their hot manager! It gets heated between Banba and Saru so they trade blows. Their headgear falls off and they realize who they are! It’s a small world after all.

Episode 7
Kazuo Matsuda gets a blackmail telling him to bank in millions or his secrets will be exposed. Yagi his butler knows someone who can deal with this. Saeki is baffled as he shows Banba and Lin a few photos of homeless guys being beaten to death. Also, Saitou has been arrested because for cybercrimes? Thankfully Enokida liaised with the police to get him released as Saitou explains how some remote virus hacked his PC and made it look like he did all those cybercrimes. Some guy sees Chegaru and wants this person named Macro Hard taken out because he has been snooping around politicians they have been supporting. Chegaru returns to his henchmen, Siva the hacker and Irasawa the washed up boxer to begin their operation. Yagi sees Banba and Lin to find a long lost person. Doesn’t that look like Enokida? Speaking of which, here he is! They know each other and immediately he runs. Yagi shows us he is no butler to be messed with as he jumps down the window to catch up with him! Siva hacked into Macro Hard’s PC and finds something interesting. Of all the people he has hacked and blackmailed in his folder, Matsuda’s name popped up. Siva knows he has a son who hacked into the Metropolitan Police site during the heat of an election but that case was covered up. He goes by the name Black Leg Nameko and lucky him he has found a footage that shows he is around town. Yeah, it’s Enokida.

Enokida still holds a grudge against his father who tried to kill him. Well, Yagi was ordered to kill him (for the hacking) but did not. He let him flee to Hakata where he has some friends should he stumble into trouble. Enokida doesn’t want to have anything to do with this but Yagi says he is here to hire him. If he is a professional, he shouldn’t let his personal matters disrupt business. Saeki calls Banba and Lin as he receives another dead body again. However this isn’t a homeless guy. This guy is Macro Hard. They check out his address nearby and Enokida is also here. It seems his PC is gone as they notice a hidden camera watching them. Watching it, they see several men coming in to beat him up and then take away his PC. Chegaru reports to his employer Macro Hard has been taken care of but warns of Black Leg. Considering him a threat, he wants him taken out too. Enokida receives a call from his friend in the police that M3 is targeting him. It is an organization of hitmen targeting hackers. In no time, a bounty is put on Enokida’s head on the shady website. Thank goodness Banba sees it because otherwise he wouldn’t have rushed to save Enokida’s ass being ambush at the alley. How the f*ck does he know where he is? He didn’t bring up that tracker thingy. Unless it’s given. As Enokida tries to take down the post, he realizes too late it is a trap to track his every move. How about going offline? That too is a trap and what they expect him to do because how useful can a hacker be without his computer? But Enokida gets an idea when they talk about bait. He parts ways with Banba and goes on his own.

Episode 8
Siva tracks Enokida’s movements from time to time. When Irasawa is sent to get him holed up in some public toilet, only his laptop is there. Siva realizes he used a remote virus to hack the laptop and then control it from his handphone. Enokida has hacked the site to remove his name but he put Saitou’s name as distraction. Poor guy now has mercenaries after his ass but thankfully Enokida sent Yagi to protect him. Siva uses the ol’ street cameras and manages to pinpoint Enokida’s whereabouts. As he is hanging out in a café, the cue is made for Irasawa to kidnap him when he temporarily cuts off electricity. Irasawa beats the crap out of Enokida in his personal boxing ring. Then it’s time to kill him. Chegaru is satisfied with the death of Enokida from the video he downloaded. Next day he waits for his employer to tell him about his done mission but is shocked to see the real Enokida coming to talk to him.

Enokida reveals his brilliant plan. The one Irasawa beat up was Lin in disguise. Yeah, he really took a beating before it was his cue to cut him up. Lin also had a different camera and this one was used and edited to make it look like Irasawa killed him. It all started when Enokida during his walkabout sent a coded message to Banba and Lin’s handphone. Banba was able to decipher it to send Yamato to swipe his wallet at a certain intersection at a certain time. Inside his wallet contains his following plans. While waiting at the café, Lin came in and sat a few tables away. After Enokida made a few distracting calls and entered the toilet, Lin then followed. Both exchanged clothes and places. The rest is history. Irasawa is tied up and tortured by Maru for the details of his colleagues. When Chegaru downloaded the video, it had a virus that would allow Enokida to steal all his information as well as those he is connected to. This means he got his employer’s detail as well. All that is left is for the police to arrest him. Siva is ruining people’s lives by editing fake photos of them. He is stopped dead in his tracks when Samurai knocks him out. Enokida sees off Yagi at the train station. He noticed on Macro Hard’s PC all the details pertaining to Matsuda’s case many years ago. Why did Yagi bought a plane ticket in his father’s name after faking his death? Yagi reveals it was part of his orders to fake his death and let him escape. Enokida always thought his father saw him as sick and incurable. Yagi lets him know the other half of what he said. The best way to cure it was to set him free. Dad’s birthday is coming up but Enokida won’t go back to that place. Rather, he sends a prank happy birthday message and his father knows it is him. He realizes he has been pranked and has Yagi search the entire room for bugs. Enokida has his sweet revenge while enjoying his BBQ with the rest.

Episode 9
Lin just finished a job that returns the favour to the culprits of betraying the ones they trusted. This seems not to sit well with Lin. Lin looks like he is getting the hang of HTR’s complicated baseball coded signs. But this teamwork action has him remember his gruesome past. Living the poor rural life, a broker tried to coax his sick mom to sell her children. Of course she refused. One day, Lin (real name, Maomei) and other boys were taken from the village. Lin was the only one left in the long journey and was sent to a facility that trains assassins. His partner is Fei Lan. Apparently his partner committed suicide so they brought a replacement. On many occasions, Fei Lan helped Lin out when the going gets tough. Lin reveals he sold himself and lied to mom he got a job. Fei Lan on the other hand says he was born to a prostitute and she thought she could use him for the trade but couldn’t. So ending up here was the best thing for him. Both agree to work together for 5 years and get out of this joint. They train hard, suffer hard until they are the best among the teams. On the day they are supposed to take their final exam, it is a fight to the death. No time limit. No holds barred. The winner is the one left standing. Or both die. Lin thought of a plan to pretend fighting each other to keep hitting and break the chains. However Fei Lan betrays and stabs him. He reveals his former partner’s suicide was a lie. He overheard how the finals were to be conducted and killed him thinking he would get out of here but then Lin came as a replacement. Lin becomes mad over this betrayal and slices his left eye before stabbing him. Lin ‘graduates’ with flying colours. Of course right now, Fei Lan is still alive and a professional killer in Beijing. He has info about Lin’s whereabouts and is going to see his old partner.

Episode 10
Banba and Saru coincidentally see each other at the batting centre. You bet sparks are going to fly. Sayuri comes to see Banba but only Lin is in. She tells him she was Banba’s girlfriend and is here to hand him a list of Kakyu Association’s executives. Yup, Banba plans on taking them out. Nitta sees Lau of Sheung Wan. He wants his organization’s presence here and since Kakyu Association is in disarray after Wang’s death, he plans to strike in this confusion. Nitta suggests Saru for the job but Lau wants to test him by taking out a few simple targets. Coincidentally, Banba and Lin as well as Saru select the same targets. Although assassinated at different times, when they get to their next target, they are shocked to see the target dead. Kakyu Association has the executives shipped to a save place and has Suzuki in charge of overseeing a hired killer who can take out these guys. That killer is of course Fei Lan. His condition to work for them is that he wants to know the whereabouts of Lin. Of course they want to test his worth too so Fei Lan easily kills a spy in a convenience store. Lin thought he spotted Fei Lan in the streets. So that’s why he now has those nightmares? Because of that, he plans on running away, fearing he has become complacent and almost falling into that trap. Get out before Banba betrays him? Unfortunately he bumps into Enokida who ‘threatens’ to tell everything if he doesn’t help do a favour to keep his mouth shut. Enokida needs him to take out a killer who killed one of their informants. Lin is shocked to see from the CCTV that guy is Fei Lan. With Suzuki providing details on Lin, Fei Lan agrees to do whatever he is told. But he goes overboard and kills all the Sheung Wan people in their hidden drug stash. Then Saru enters. You know what happens to people who kill his prey, right?

Episode 11
The fight is getting good until Suzuki misfires and sends Saru falling into the sea. Of course that won’t kill him but guess what? He can’t swim! Thank goodness for Banba passing by. A couple of abducted Sheung Wan guys are forced by Fei Lan to fight to the death so that the survivor could bring the head of the loser back to Lau. Inside his mouth is a ring in which Lau suddenly understands and changes his orders not to attack Kakyu Association. Lee who is now the boss of Kakyu Association calls Suzuki as Sheung Wan proposes a ceasefire. Both sides meet up and agree for Sheung Wan not to encroach into Kakyu Association’s territory who will in turn not prevent them from entering other areas. There is also another condition: Trade their hired killers. Lin realizes that Enokida has told everyone about his story with Fei Lan, that’s why they’re giving him lots of gifts. A call from Shigematsu for Lin. A couple of murders with guys of the same named, Hayashi (pronounced as Lin if kanji is read in Chinese). Both have nothing in common except their names. Because he describes the way the victims died, Lin knows this is Fei Lan’s doing and is a message. Lin asks Enokida a favour to find out the next Hayashi he will target. It seems the other thing in common is that those guys buy medicine from the same pharmacy in which the list is sold to Kakyu Association. Looks like there is another Hayashi on the list. Lee tries to poison Fei Lan but he can smell poison and quickly injects some virus into him. If he wants the cure, he must do as he said. Meanwhile Nitta puts sleeping potion in Saru’s drink. When he wakes up, he is mad at Nitta’s betrayal. But Lau is going to kill Saru instead of trading him. This isn’t part of Nitta’s deal, that’s why Lau will compensate him with money. After all, all assassins are tools, right? Nitta gladly accepts the money but then shoots all of them. After he frees Saru, he gets punched. Nitta explains he was just acting and saved him instead of betraying. Not sure if that’s a lie too but whatever. Sure, all assassins are tools but Nitta takes care of his tools, especially ones that are valuable. By the time Lin arrives at the next Hayashi’s house, he is already dead. Fei Lan is seen waiting. He explains Lin messed up in killing him. The one who picked up the corpse noticed he wasn’t dead and sold him to a sick man who loved torturing him. So is he here for revenge? He wants Lin to team up with him and go around the world killing and making a fortune. But Lin refuses and it’s not about the money. He loves this place and the people he has met. In that case, Fei Lan will destroy this city and his friends.

Episode 12
Lin doesn’t want to kill him so Fei Lan fights him to force him to remember his old self. Lin is smart not to tackle him in close quarters so he makes his escape albeit at the price of spraining his escape from that leap out the window. When he is about to call Banba for help, that guy is here. He heard from Enokida and of course there is a tracker on Lin. Sorry to cut this reunion short because Fei Lan shoots Banba in the gut. He has Suzuki and his men take them in. They wake up in a cell in Kakyu Association’s HQ. Banba’s doing fine. Who patched him up? Were the baddies kind enough to do that? Banba learns from Lin about his fear, that’s why he wanted to run away. Banba doesn’t consider his act as stupid. After all, he was also betrayed. But he wants to trust the people he wants to trust. Even if Lin fears of being betrayed again, he believes he will trust again. You can’t play baseball if you cut everyone out after making small errors. With Fei Lan here, we can see where this is going as he unlocks a cabinet full of weapons. They will kill each other and the survivor walks free. Lin won’t do it but Banba walks up and picks up a baseball bat. Lin knows he never kills with that weapon and knows the baseball signs he is sending to him. But when he picks up a knife, Fei Lan shoots it off his hands, knowing he would do something like that. He then threatens to kill Banba. Here is where he reminds us his awesome samurai skill again. When he shoots, he uses the bat to deflect and hit a henchman! WTF?! So damn precise to go through the bars?! Lin uses the knife pistol to pump a few bullets into Fei Lan. Then in precise timing, Banba pushes Lin into the cabinet before a big explosion occurs.

Flashback 30 minutes ago, Jirou at the front gates of the HQ wants the sole dumb baddie to let Misaki use the toilet. Of course he didn’t care but when the gay guy got mad, I guess he relented. Misaki then unleased a mini robo vehicle in which Saeki controls to go around the HQ with Enokida’s hacking. The gang could relay to Banba since he has a transmitter in his ear. That’s why the timing of the explosion was precise. Big holes in the wall and cage but no Fei Lan. Lin wants to settle this by himself and assures he could do it. Since Genzou was once a famous hitman, he comes out from retirement just for tonight and goes guns ablazing in his trench coat mafia style. Stupid goons just show up to be gunned down. Enokida does his hacking while Maru reliefs his boredom by being his bodyguard and beating up weaker goons. Saru is looking for Fei Lan but bumps into Banba. Banba offers to be his opponent and will not let him get to Fei Lan. Saru sees his wound and is in no condition to fight so he gives up. So he is done targeting Fei Lan? Meanwhile Lin follows Fei Lan’s blood trails. They meet again as Fei Lan gives him one last chance to join forces. Again Lin turns him down. He loves this city and people and wants to stay here for real. This time Lin is willing to kill him and is not his old self anymore. A short epic knife bout before it ends in an undramatic fashion with Lin slashing a big one across his body after some candy spitting distraction. At this range, Lin will not miss. Fei Lan’s last words are he was envious of everything Lin had that he didn’t. Was he talking about his freedom? Whatever. Dead body doesn’t need to know. In the aftermath, Lin returns to Banba’s groupies and nothing says peace like having a friendly baseball match. It’s HTR against OFU. Can Banba strike a homerun before Saru strikes him out? By the power of spicy pollock roe…

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Although this is a great anime, I don’t want to spoil it but I can’t help feel a little disappointed with the ending. Not to say it is bad but it isn’t satisfying either. Like as though it is a bit rushed. So does that mean I want a so called winding down episode that lasts an entire episode of its own? Well, the fact that Fei Lan can be considered as a thorn and blot in Lin’s past and for them to get it over quickly with this short reunion makes it look a bit rushed. I mean, Fei Lan got killed as quickly without any fanfare. Yeah, I was expecting the fight to last longer but I realized we’re out of time. Besides, dying a fast death without any distraction seems pretty legit. As a professional killer, you don’t want to drag out a fight that you are almost very sure of winning. Because you know in movies, bad guys always rant when victory is at hand only to give time to the hero to snatch it away and turn the tables. So maybe yeah, the ending might feel unsatisfying but at least it isn’t too cliche. And then we get to see this happy ending of the main characters playing baseball together. Because it’s like they all lived happily ever after playing baseball. Until the next hit job then.

This series is pretty interesting as it reeks familiar elements found in other anime series like Hamatora, Baccano and Durarara. I feel it reminds me a bit more of Hamatora because of that baseball thingy. Just take away the supernatural elements. The enigmatic and interesting characters, the intriguing setting as well as the undeniably lively jazzy background music, this series might not be the most original or fresh of plots but with all those creative elements and great pacing combined, it is surprisingly one of the better series of the season. It even has its own brand of humour especially the names of certain organizations like Red Rum which I assume they parody that iconic word in The Shining. Yup, you would have guessed it is murder spelled backwards. And then you have online websites ShadyJobs.com. Just hilarious.

Divided into several small mini arcs is one of the reason why this series is entertaining instead of dedicating the entire series with a dozen episodes to just a single storyline. Although the arcs can run independently of each other, they are built upon the last arc in the sense of the character dynamics and relationship. Although some of the twists and turns in the plot are itself interesting, sometimes I feel that the revelation of things might feel a bit hasty. Like as though it is for the plot convenience. You know, it’s time to reveal to the viewers what the heck is going on so here is an explanation to put things into perspective and the pieces of the puzzle together.

While the plot is interesting and not hard to follow, the biggest flaw that this series suffers from is the characters. There are a few comrades working together with Banba but this series mostly has its focus on Lin. Sure, he is one of the main characters and the star of this show, having the first and the last arc as him as the centre of attraction. Though we have a mini arc that focuses on Enokida and this is very much welcomed as we get to know more about this enigmatic hacker, this means the other characters are tossed aside and we do not get to know more about them. For example, it would be interesting to know more about Jirou’s background and how he came to adopt Misaki. Or it would be entertaining to know how Yamato became an expert pickpocket and Saeki entering this shady surgery field. What about Genzou who was lately revealed as a once famous hitman? In his line of profession in which he must have been such a pro, he must have stepped on many toes and hence many would like to kill him. So why is he retired so easily running his ramen stall? Unless he killed them all. Hence it makes them nothing more than just plot conveniences and shallow characters that we don’t want to care about. Ultimately, they’re just characters that exist so that baseball crazy Banba could complete his HTR baseball team. Play ball!

Even Banba who is supposed to be the other half making the supposedly dynamic duo, feels lacking. We know he is cool and has his own ways of solving problems. Personally, him being Niwaka Samurai caught me by surprise since I wasn’t putting my thinking cap. I was thinking this Samurai dude would later show up as a potential antagonist and face off with our main characters. So I’m not sure whether to feel disappointed when his identity is quickly revealed by the end of the first mini arc. Because after that, Banba being the Samurai feels less relevant. When it started, the mystery and enigma surrounding this Samurai dude was curious. Everybody was talking and warning about the rumours of this mysterious guy and after we viewers know his identity, it slowly fizzled out. Like the Samurai alter ego didn’t really matter so much anymore.

Lin obviously gets the most screen time and focus. Introduced to us as a quirky cross-dressing killer to save his sister and the only other one (other than Enokida) who has a full flashback of his past. So I guess this is what it means when the past catches up to you, huh? It is a pretty sad but motivating at the same time to learn about Lin’s past because he overcame all the obstacles to earn where he is now. Although his profession isn’t really a glamorous and commendable one. Learning his past makes us understand the choices he made and how he ended up where he is. I suppose his cruel destiny turned out to be a blessing in disguise because he has never met such nice people in Hakata that we would never expect this cross-dresser who at first was not interested in anything the groupies are interested in, to say out loud he loves this city and the people in it. Yes, he loves Hakata and his friends, not because of that spicy pollock roe contract thingy. Yeah, he is truly a fellow Hakata boy now. Fans hoping to see Banba-Lin yaoi relationship might be confused since Lin is predominantly in his female dress. Too bad nothing very gay between them too.

Saitou feels like the comical relief of the gang because of his slightly bungling behaviour. I can’t really think of any skill he is good at. Can you? So he is like the extra there to fill in the extra spot. Because HTR would be incomplete if not for that one member. On a side note, I wonder if the Red Rum Inc name reference was borrowed from The Shinning. Saru also feels like a comical character since he is impatient and he has this angst to want to kill somebody. Trying out his ninja persona and failing at his shuriken aiming feels like a running joke of the series. Sometimes it feels like Saru can never be part of Banba’s groupie because we all need that rival-cum-ally. It would have been an even more awesome team had he been part of it. Hence Saru’s clash always feel like they’re allies but on the wrong side of the coin. Even if Saru won’t kill Banba whenever they stumble upon each other, I’m glad they’re taking it out on the baseball field.

Something buts me about Hakata being the hotbed for killers alike. Assuming that killings, murders and assassinations take place every other day, how come the city is still filled with so many people? If killers kill killers and assassins assassinating assassins, shouldn’t Hakata be close to being a dead town now? Unless new people move in every time after somebody dies. It would be real weird because it’s like nobody senses something amiss with the reducing numbers of the Hakata residents. With all the crimes and body count every day and every night in the city, surely there is going to be a significant drop in population. Last a checked (fast Google, that is), the population of Hakata itself is about 230,000 people. Give or take a few thousands of other people moving in and out from neighbouring wards, if people from professional killers to ordinary citizens alike keep dying like flies, I wonder how Hakata replenishes itself. Even more so when the city is famed for professional killers in this anime. Where do they get their replacement? I guess there is no mass deaths like a plague or something so a few deaths every day is like negligible?

Oh, Fei Lan’s death in the end (assuming he really died but it is unlikely Lin would screw up) is like killing 2 birds with a stone because now Lee can’t have the antidote to the virus and so he’ll die too, putting Kakyu Association in disarray again. Yahoo. Like we cared. Damn, whoever is the head of this organization sure meets his death in weird ways. Imagine such shady organizations have a high turnover in their bosses, it’ll be so unstable. Well, you rise to the top fast, you also fall fast.

Another good point of this series are the action bits. They are quite entertaining although not to say that the fighting scenes are the best in the world. Entertaining enough to compliment the plot. Because if you have professional killers in your anime, it would be weird if there are no killings at all whatsoever. This means you are going to see a lot of blood spilled as our main characters slash, slice and dice the unimportant minor extra henchmen who only exist to be killed in that scene and satiate our blood craving lust in the name of entertainment. The most unbelievable one has got to be Banba in his Samurai form because he really could dodge bullets or hit them with his sword. Don’t say his practice with baseball did the trick!

Art and animation feel pretty good. Of course, since it is done by Satelight who did Fairy Tail, Log Horizon, Nanbaka, Mouretsu Pirates, Madan No Ou To Vanadis, Shugo Chara, AKB0048 and the Symphogear series. Not really sure about the Hakata city but with the details given to it, it sure looks gorgeous in its own way. Well, that is if you don’t take into account the murders and all the blood spill around in the dark alleys and corners. As for the character design, I just want to say that Banba reminds me of a discount version of Cowboy Bebop’s Spike. Is this where he ended up after retirement? And doesn’t Enokida look like Estonia from the Hetalia series? Just take away the glasses. Saeki and Nitta look close enough that sometimes I confuse between them. Better keep that white coat doctor wears, Saeki.

A few recognizable seiyuus include Daisuke Ono as Banba, Yuuki Kaji as Lin, Yuuichi Nakamura as Saru, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Yamato, Sayaka Ohara as Sayuri, Kenji Tsuda as Chegaru, Natsuki Hanae as Siva and Takehito Koyasu as Harada. The one that caught me by surprise is Aoi Yuuki as Misaki. I blame this loli having not enough lines (even so, they were mostly soft spoken) and I did not pay serious attention to what she has to say because I thought she was unimportant to the whatever plot. Shame on me. The other casts include Nobunaga Shimazaki as Fei Lan (Kaito in Ano Natsu De Matteru), Kensho Ono as Enokida (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Daisuke Namikawa as Jirou (Rock in Black Lagoon), Tomoaki Maeno as Maru (Schubert in ClassicaLoid), Daisuke Hirakawa as Saeki (Muneakira in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls), Kenji Hamada as Shigematsu (Jouji in Paradise Kiss), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Saitou (Itsuki in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Kousei Hirota as Genzou, Maasaya Matsukaze as Nitta (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Hiroki Touchi as Munakata (Pantherlily in Fairy Tail), Natsumi Fujiwara as Reiko (Chihiro in Shonen Maid), Atsushi Imaruoka as Irasawa (Dallas in Baccano) and Motomu Kiyokawa as Yagi (Tippy in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka).

If you are very familiar with the rock style of Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets, you will feel very much at home with this series’ opening theme, Stray. It fits the crazy and intriguing pace of the series well. But the one that takes the cake is the ending theme, Dirty Bullet by Tri4th. This is one of the very few pieces for anime themes in which it is instrumental. The very lively fanfare and jazzy nature of the song definitely feels like this is the theme of the series.

Overall, this is quite an enjoyable series but of course only for mature audiences since the body count and blood spills are recurring themes. It could have been longer and lasting another cour to flesh out other interesting characters and personally this is the only downside of the series. Otherwise, the interesting as well as not complex plot (it’s just about killing others and who to kill, right?) and jazzy music make the series alluring and dangerous at the same time. I bet your view of Hakata won’t be the same after watching this. You won’t be heading there to try ramen or watch a local baseball team. It’s a lively city where you shouldn’t be taking it for granted. Because for the most part, it is a city where lives are taken literally. Yeah, the irony of killers making a killing for a living.

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