5 Point Discussions – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens 10: “Shortstop”

by Sage Ashford

Lin and Banba are hunting the Kakyu Association, a group indirectly responsible for killing Lin’s sister. But the Association has employed an old friend from Lin’s past to help protect them. 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. With three episodes (including this one) left, the story’s heading into some predictable, though necessary places. Without realizing it, Lin’s allowed Banba’s disarming personality to lead him into trusting again. When Banba’s ex-wife Sayuri pops up at Lin and Banba’s place, she even believes he’s Banba’s new boyfriend. (As a brief aside, I’m going to take this as the author realizing that’s clearly what should happen, and just assume it does since I’m too lazy to read the light novel source material.)

He’s become comfortable enough to start making grocery requests, and even had a bath installed into Banba’s apartment. Which…is kinda weird when you think about it. Dude spent his childhood in a house that didn’t have windows and his teen years in a prison, but somehow he’s picky about bathtubs over showers? In any case, Lin eventually becomes spooked by the fact that he’s getting so close and tries to abandon Banba. More on that in a second.

2. Banba’s ex-wife Sayuri pops up to deliver something helpful: names of all the top executives working for the Kakyu Association. Since killing the head, they’ve been after her, while Banba and Lin have been hunted for already having wiped out a couple execs.

At the same time, Shunsuke gets a new contract from his buddy Naoya. Turns out, after the Kakyu’s head got murdered another Chinese organization thought it’d be a great time to make inroads into Japan, starting with Hakata. But first, they need the Association completely de-stabilized.

And just like that, two different Association heads wind up getting murdered with such ease even I was shocked. You’d think the lead members of mobs would have better security. But Banba just pretends to be a lawyer, takes one of their decoration swords, and kills two dudes in less time than it took you to read this sentence. Of course, you can’t go around killing major mafia heads without something happening.

3. Welcome back to the latest chapter of Being Saito Is Suffering: If you haven’t been keeping up at home, our resident non-assassin of the group Saito has so far narrowly avoided torture, narrowly escaped a hitman, got falsely imprisoned for blackmail, had a non-lethal hit placed on him. This week? He’s working his simple convenience store job when Lin’s old buddy Fei-Lan pops up and slices the throat of a Kakyu Association member who was reporting to Enokida. Turns out, Fei-Lan has been hired by Kakyu to protect them from Shunsuke and whoever’s bankrolling him.

I can’t even blame Saito for this one. He just wanted to work at the 7/11, keep the snacks warm, maybe steal one of those Reese’s Chocolate donuts for lunch. And in comes someone who makes the magazine aisle look like a cut from a Tarantino movie. Only way to have avoided this is just move out of Hakata but…then he’d be abandoning his friends, and that’d just make him a dick.

4. This show should’ve gotten a full twenty four episodes instead of just twelve. There are several members of the supporting cast we could’ve gotten some development on that just went largely ignored. This week, Enokida teams up with the group thief Yamato, and they just narrowly stop a terrorist from blowing up a train station with plastic explosives. Yamato has a cool look and is probably neat enough to be worth delving into, but instead we’re about to tap out in just two more episodes.

In the meantime though, it puts Enokida in the position to run into Lin just as he’s running away from home.

5. This entire episode is a countdown leading up to the lead cast members running into Fei-Lan.  Saito meets him when he murders a Kakyu traitor in his convenience store. Shunsuke runs into him at the end of the episode when Fei-Lan loses it and starts a war with the rival gang, Sheung Wan, by murdering all the people at their drug warehouse. That fight is left up in the air but hopefully this will be a highlight for episode 11.

And Lin?  He walks past him in a crowded street intersection without seeing him, only hearing Fei’s telltale whistle. Then later, after running into Enokida, he’s asked to get revenge for the murdered spy–where Enokida has video footage to show who did the job. The previews make it seem like Fei’s going to ask to work with him again. From the looks of things we’re about to dig very deep into all of Lin’s trust issues, as he’s presented with a fake friend and a real (boy)friend. Will he choose one of them, or leave and go it alone again?

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.