5 Point Discussions – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens 11: “Brawl”

by Sage Ashford

Will Lin be able to confront the partner he was forced to try to kill?  Or will he abandon Hakata for greener pastures?  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. At this point, it’s almost like Banba’s got some kind of weird “main character” detector that keeps him from killing anyone important to the plot. Last episode ended with a tease of Shunsuke versus Fei-Lan, the two hitmen being paid to be the muscle for the Sheung Wan and Kakyu Association. The fight is shockingly close, which makes one wonder just how good the school Fei Lan and Lin studied at even was. It’s certainly one thing if Lin was simply never meant to be an assassin to begin with, but now Fei-Lan’s just barely holding his own versus Shunsuke? Shunsuke’s an idiot who uses a baseball gimmick and can’t properly throw a shuriken while Fei Lan spent his entire teenage life training to become the perfect assassin.  This fight shouldn’t even be close to even.

In any case, as Shunsuke gets close to winning, someone from the Kakyu Association shoots him and causes him to lose his balance. He falls into the water by the docks and everyone just assumes he’s dead. It’s not an incorrect assumption either, as apparently Shunsuke can’t swim. He gets saved from drowning by Banba, who pulls him back to shore. It’s not clear how Banba found him, but once again this is the lead saving anyone remotely plot relevant.

2. Lin makes Enokida promise not to tell Banba he’s leaving Hakata, which says a lot about what Lin really thinks of his “roommate”…but that doesn’t mean Lin can’t tell anyone else. So he does! He informs the entire crew Lin is thinking of abandoning the city, and they all arrive with various little parting gifts. It’s sweet because not one of them tries to guilt Lin into staying, they just show up long enough to point out that they care about him. It makes things touching without being heavy handed. Of course, there’s one person who gets left out..

3. We don’t have much time for Being Saito is Suffering this week. He pops up to see Lin with the intent of saying hi, and Lin immediately assaults him, wondering what gift he has.  However, Enokida actually forgot to bring Saito into the conversation at all, so Saito mistakes it for extortion. I’d say this will be the last time we see this, but I bet the guy manages to take one final L at the last episode.

4. Fei Lan comes up with a pretty smart plan to stop the entire fight between Sheung Wan and Kakyu. A powerful group in China paid him to kill a high rank Sheung Wan member (the case we saw a couple episodes ago), and Fei Lan just happened to keep that member’s signifying ring. Believing the Kakyu Association had friends in high places, Sheung Wan agrees to a ceasefire between the two organizations…with only one caveat. For things to truly be forgiven, the groups would trade the hitmen they used to inflict so much death to the opposite group.

Actions like that could only result in a grisly fate. But in Fei Lan’s case, he’s too smart to get caught. He notices the sleeping agent in his drink and takes the opportunity to inject Kakyu’s leader with a deadly virus that kills people within a week before sneaking off.

…But since Shunsuke’s an idiot, he gets knocked out by his handler and brought to Sheung Wan. There’s a brief moment here where you wonder if Naoya is just an evil prick taking advantage of Shunsuke, but as it turns out? There was no reason to worry; he’d intended to take the money from selling Shunsuke and then helping his friend escape! Of course, that plan goes a bit south and Naoya has to kill all the Sheung Wan muscle single handedly. He’s surprisingly talented with a gun, even though he acts like he isn’t, which leads me to wonder if Naoya is a former hitman who just quit because working as support is safer.

5. Things come down to Fei Lan meeting up with Lin. This is the only problem I have with the episode–Fei Lan chooses to approach this in such a stupid way it’s a wonder the two characters were able to meet at all. He gets identities from anyone who writes their kanji the same way Lin writes his, and gruesomely murders them all.  It’s supposed to send a message, but Lin only finds out because of his connections to Enokida–who’s connected to the cops, who tips them both off.  If Lin had just been some psycho who couldn’t make friends, he would never have known.

Still, it leads to their showdown at the end, where Fei Lan offers Lin a chance to join him again. This does create the best moment in the episode though. Despite nearly getting murdered by him, Fei Lan is willing to “trust” Lin enough to work together, presumably because he realizes betrayal is just the name of the game in a business like theirs. At the same time, Lin has been trying his best to trust the people who’ve literally done nothing to hurt him this entire series.  It’s a powerful dichotomy, made all the stronger as Lin finally owns up to his desire to remain in Hakata with his friends. Too bad Fei Lan wants to kill them all to make him come along nicely.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is available on Hulu.

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.