5 Point Discussions – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens 8: “Trick Play”

by Sage Ashford

Enokida has to escape from the anti-hacker trio that are apart of criminal organization M3.  But can he do it even without his computer? 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. “Trick Play” is a weird episode. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels basic compared to other episodes. Last week’s episode “Lead off Hitter” set up Enokida being hunted by three guys who track down hackers that pose a threat to their organization. They manage to trick Enokida into getting his system hacked when they have a hit placed on him and he tries to shut the website for the hit down.

By the end of the episode though, it’s kind of obvious where everything is going to the viewer: Enokida’s planning to trick them into attacking the wrong person. Once you realize that, things aren’t as compelling because they’re setting up something that’s supposed to be elaborate, but you’re already primed to look for the tricks. You’ve seen the man behind the curtain. You know the sound a Super Kick makes just comes from slapping a leg and no one’s actually getting hit. It’s tricking the characters, but not the audience, so what’s supposed to be clever just comes off as almost facile instead. There are shows capable of getting one over on viewers despite that, but this isn’t one of them.

2. In this week’s “Being Saito is Suffering”: I feel we’re slowly getting to the point where it’s alright to not feel sorry for him. I mean, he keeps putting himself in terrible situations. After barely escaping falsely being charged with possession of child pornography and sending death threats and blackmail to politicians, this week he’s just drinking his life away like everything’s all good.

Unfortunately for Saito, while Enokida’s trying to outsmart the anti-hacker group he has to come up with a way to cancel out  someone having put a hit out on him. So he requests a non-lethal attack on ShadyJobs on Saito, who’s fortunately just fast enough to escape most of the people after him. By the time he gets caught, Enokida’s former butler Yagi has tracked him down, and keeps him protected until the job wraps up.

3. The plan to outsmart the bad guys ultimately calls for Enokida to change places with someone so they can get “kidnapped” and he can track down their location. The pieces were put in place for this last week as Enokida was given a wig that looked just like his existing haircut, and we learned Lin was exactly the same height as he was. While we know the “A” and “Z” bits of this story, the B to Y bits can still be kind of fun to travel through, as there’s neat subterfuge involving Enokida’s friends needing to communicate while staying under the radar. With eyes on him, Enokida’s laptop winds up hacked, he’s being watched by camera throughout the city, and they can even tap into his phone calls.

Still, the group manage to make the switch, with Lin swapping with Enokida and being kidnapped while wearing a bug to track him down. Once again, Lin takes a pretty terrible beating, as the boxer’s chosen method of killing victims is beating them until they can’t fight back then finally slitting their throat. This is the second time Lin’s gotten beat down…though admittedly the first one was his fault.

4. The group is led to believe they won, which only lasts until the head of the group meets up with his contact to explain that they’ve completed the job…but seeing Enokida there instead.  There are some funny moments here as they explain all the tricks, even though we understand the broad strokes of what happened. After Lin gets beaten up, he sliced the boxer’s arms up and left him for Jose to torture until they got all the information they needed out of him.

Meanwhile, the hacker is found by Banba while in the middle of attempting to ruin some poor idol girl’s life. We don’t see what happens, but it’s doubtful that he made it. By the end, the only person left is the leader, who finds himself surrounded by cops as Enokida walks off into the sunset. It’s no wonder the kid is allowed to do whatever he wants; it’s basically impossible to actually get over on him.

5. I’ve got to eat some crow. Turns out, Enokida’s dad isn’t a near murderer. After looking into some of his father’s files that Macro Hard had on him, Enokida learns that his dad was the one who paid for the plane ticket to Hakata in the first place. That means even faking his son’s death to begin with was part of the plan, and we learn that after realizing he couldn’t “fix” Enokida, it’d be best to set him free.

This feels toothless to me–they didn’t want to go the whole way and say Enokida’s dad was a psychopath who tried to have his son killed the second he disappointed him, so they backpedal. Now he’s not just a good man, he’s a great father who saw that his son needed to leave the nest. Most anime refuse to pull the trigger on evil parental figures, so I’m not surprised.

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.