5 Point Discussions – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens 7: “Lead-Off Hitter”

by Sage Ashford

When a hacker threatens a politician with connections to a criminal organization, it creates a crackdown on hackers that endangers everyone’s favorite informant. Will Enokida be able to stay out of danger? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. The center conflict of this episode is kicked off when a politician gets blackmailed by a hacker claiming they’re aware of all his secrets. In a world where people are aware of an entire website around theft, kidnapping, and murder, you’d think no one would do this unless they were in a large enough organization to maintain some reasonable protection. But nope, apparently some think threatening powerful politicians have zero repercussions.

His behavior has caused multiple groups to start moving against him, including the dangerous criminal organization M3 and…a butler. Well, we’ve seen baseball-obsessed hitmen and an idiot who just wants “strong targets” like he’s in a shonen anime, so why not?

2. While Enokida is trading information he got on M3 with the police, he gets a call saying Saito’s been placed in jail.  The hapless idiot was surfing the web and got infected with a remote-access virus which results in him being blamed for bomb threats, blackmail, and….child porn. Being the comic relief in this series is just Saito dodging close call after close call, from nearly being tortured by the revenge seeking Jiro and Jose, to having someone try to kill him for not doing an exit interview. Being Saito is apparently suffering.  Enokida having just dealt some useful information to the group gets him out of trouble, and hopefully the series doesn’t decide to be “funny” again any time soon.

Random: I really love HTR, but I reserve the right to call it trash if the end reveals Saito as this ultra capable assassin who kills the entire cast.

3. We delve into Enokida’s past this episode. The butler of the politician from earlier in the episode seeks him out because of his ability…and it turns out, because he helped raise him.  His father is the politician, and he works for the House of Representatives. Years ago, Enokida acted out in youthful rebellion and apparently hacked into the police database and got caught. It was the middle of an election year, so it took a lot to make it go away. Whether it disappeared or not is unclear, but we know the family butler was asked to kill Enokida.  Finding himself unable to murder an innocent child, he claimed the job was done and instead gave Enokida a ticket to Hakata.

One thing I’ve never liked about anime (and to a lesser extent Japanese TV drama) is how family relationships are so easily repaired and horrible mistakes made by parents are meant to always be forgivable. The butler, Yagi, tries to excuse the behavior by claiming Enokida’s near murder is basically a form of karma. We’re also told that Enokida was very possibly abused as a child, but hey…none of that matters because you’re supposed to forgive your parents, because they’re irreplaceable.

4. Early in the episode we’re introduced to a new anti-hacker hitman group that work for the criminal organization M3. There’s a leader, a very talented hacker, and a creep of a guy named Irasawa. Most of them don’t get that much development, but we learn Irasawa’s a washed-up boxer with an obsession with violence–he takes homeless fights and watches them in his spare time whenever he gets the urge to kill. And when that fails, he kills them anyway and has begun sending their bodies to Saeki, the surgeon that’s friends with Banba and the rest.

Because blackmailing politicians in a world like this is a stupid thing to do, they’re sent after the person responsible–a hacker by the name of Macro Hard. They take him out so easily it occurs off-camera, but in doing so they discover someone else in Macro Hard’s files…Black Leg Nameko.

5. “Black Leg Nameko” is Enokida’s hacker name.  Because Enokida has been working with Hakata’s cyber crime department, he’s garnered the unwanted attention of M3, which allows them to track him down. They connect him to his father after exploring their last target’s blackmail files, noticing that he uses a similar, more impressive, virus of the one used when he hacked the cops as a kid.

They cook up a plan to find him, starting by placing a hit on Enokida online. This results in the most tense moment of the series, as Enokida nearly gets murdered just walking down a random alley before being saved by Banba. Again, the point of this series is that it’s good to have a network of friends–people who without that kind of network wind up murdered off screen.

While getting away, Enokida learns of the hit, causing him to try and hack it to get rid of it. But that’s just part of the trap, which gets his computer infected with a virus that tells everyone where he is. Trouble is, if he disconnects he loses any control of the situation he has.   Still, he’s come up with a plan to get out of the situation…if he can live long enough!

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is available on Crunchyroll.

Sage Ashford

A writer with way too many hobbies, Sage can often be found catching up on the latest anime, or reading a stack of comics between Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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