HakataAnime

  • Genre: Action, Crime, comedy, drama
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Satelight

 

Still wondering where to book your next vacation? Look no further than Hakata Japan! Come enjoy a vivacious night life full of excitement. Meet the colourful locals, warm and friendly folks as well as master craftsmen the likes of which we so rarely get to see these days. While you’re here you should catch a baseball game, the amateur teams will make you wonder why they aren’t in the big leagues yet. Or maybe you could visit one of the many host clubs where the lovely personal is just dying to meet your every need. Want some entertainment on a dime, you can’t beat the prices of the Hakata net cafes. Of course if you come by in the summer time, you’re not going to want to miss the Hakata Gion Yamakasa. A cool and thrilling time is waiting for you. And of course, don’t leave without trying Hakata’s premier specialty: mouth watering tonkotsu ramen.

For some reason the cover art of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens made me decide that it was going to be like Durarara! Based on this highly scientific reasoning, I figures, since I really like Durarara!, obviously I would also like Ramens.  It just makes perfect sense. Do you guys also chose your anime entirely on the cover art, or even worse, the Crunchyroll featured screen capture? How is that working out for you?

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glad to hear it!

This is one of those shows with a frustrating production. Well not frustrating to watch, just frustrating to describe. It’s good. Like very good. The designs are fun and personal. Easy to tell apart from each other and striking enough to be instantly recognizable in a crowd. The animation is fantastic and the action packed storyline makes good use of it. Of course there’s an art quality tradeoff when it comes to more movement intensive scenes but you’ll likely not notice as it keeps the adrenaline pumping and really gets you in the moment. Does it look unique? Not at all. It looks great though.

Voice acting and sound design are also good. Also like very good. Perfectly cast, great chemistry. Background noises are well chosen and the moody soundtrack enhances the atmosphere beautiful. Everything works in perfect harmony. So much so that I really couldn’t pick anything out to hold up as a shining example. Once in a while an anime is just plain well made. That’s a good thing. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is a well made show, that might not sound all that exciting but…actually we’ll talk about it.

I do however want to mention one non narrative element that captured my attention. The ED. Now this ED is pretty good, I wouldn’t necessarily have put it in a top 10 list or anything, but what did catch my eye is that it felt like a spiritual successor to Tank! Of course it’s no Tank!, I mean very few things are, but you see what I mean right? The color blocking. The establishing character scenes. The jazzy tune. This was clearly a choice made for a very specific reason.

I had a great lunch with Mel while still watching this show and she mentionned that it reminded her of Cowboy Bebop. I got super excited and talked about how the ED and she brought it a step further saying that the entire narrative was not unlike a modern take on Bebop set on Earth. I have to give Mel full credit, she came up with this and dayum, girlfriend’s so right!

For those of you who haven’t seen Bebop or don’t remember it, don’t worry, the two shows aren’t actually connected, they simply share a lot of common elements. One of the first things I noticed, aside from “great opening scene”, is that Ramens is a violent series. And not cartoon violence either. Gritty, consequential, soundtrack includes the gurgling noises made by a man that just had his throat cut open type of violence. I call it, Tarantino style casual ultra violence.

Even though the actions on screen are quite brutal, and it is to be expected when the story follows a group of mercenary hitmen, they are presented in a generally light manner of fact type of way. These people are doing their jobs. There’s no need to make a big hoopla about it. Although it does straddle a fine line, to me, it never seemed to celebrate or glorify violence. There’s a lot of talk of posturing and being cool but it was never suggested that beating up someone is what makes you cool in any way. For the most part. Let’s face it, some of those fight scenes were shot so lovingly they felt intimate but that’s somewhat par for the course with the medium.

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I may need to rethink this review

I just realized, I haven’t talked about the story at all. I’m not going to. Look there’s a few crime drama cliches…more than a few. Brought together with some buddy comedy antics. The plot is sinewy, occasionally bordering on contrived but never takes itself seriously enough for it to become a problem. I would describe it as a tangled web. I mean the show continuously throws spiders at you in case you somehow missed it.

What saves it from being hackneyed is that the pacing is fantastic and the choice of plot developments matches perfectly the characters’. As such, we get specific character arcs exactly when they are the most likely to make a strong impact with the audience. Even though the actual narrative is more interesting than unexpected, the story construction is impeccable and completely makes up for lack of originality.

My biggest pet peeve is that we get introduced to so many great characters that some only get a few minutes of screen time and you are left wanting so much more. However, they are all written in a way as to feel like complete, 3 dimensional people who just happen to wander into the storyline for a few seconds, rather than plot elements. This is something I absolutely adore about large ensemble shows. It’s very difficult to pull off.

I debated whether I should mention this at all. I figured I would throw it in because it is something that struck me as I decided to write this review. One of the main characters is a corssdresser. It’s obvious of course and mentioned once or twice but generally speaking, no one cares. No one asks why he dresses that way or makes assumptions about his identity or orientation. It’s just a personality trait like any other. In fact, it’s so readily accepted that by the end of the second episode, I stopped noticing it myself. It just didn’t seem unusual at all. Hence why I wasn’t sure I should mention it.

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honestly dude, what are you wearing?

I did to try and illustrate for you one special thing that brought this show from good to great for me. It’s so inclusive. Gender, orientation, race and calss are all acknowledged, the differences are made explicit but are also treated as inconsequential. In Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, it doesn’t matter what you are, what matters is what you do. You’re actions are what make you who you are.

Every wanted to watch a super violent crime show about overcoming prejudice? The answer is yes!

Favorite character: Saitoh (this is one of the characters I want to know more about) ; second is Enokida (he reminds me of Alois Trancy…)

What this anime taught me: Bringing a knife to a gunfight is fatally stupid, unless you win, then it’s just cool…

Hey you know what rhymes with drunk? Everything…

Suggested drink: Negroni

  • Every time Lin gets mad – take a sip
    • if it’s at Banba – raise your glass
  • Every time Enokida seems overpowered – take a sip
  • Every time there’s ramen – get a snack
  • Every time Banba is inapropriatly relaxed in what should be a really stressful situation – stretch
  • Every time a new character has some type of previous connection to the story – take a sip
  • Every time we see latterns – take a sip
  • Every time a scene takes place at dusk – take a sip
    • if we see the sunset – take another
  • Every time there’s a murder – take a breath
  • Every time Lin calls someone a pervert – roll your eyes
  • Every time there’s any baseball reference – limber up
  • Every time we see a bridge – get some water
  • Every time anyone is drunk – join them
  • Every time anyone says “cool” – cheers
  • Every time we see little Lin – brace yourself

Hakata-Tonkotsu-Ramens-lin-banba (1)

29 thoughts on “Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens – Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight”

    1. You obviously never noticed before but Im prone to typos. I made a few posts about it apologizing to my readers. I really should proofread more.

  1. It’s been a while since I saw this series, and it was great to be reminded of it.

    Also it was nice to learn I wasn’t just seeing things — like the similarities between Durarara and Cowboy Bebop — when I wrote about this series.

  2. I dropped this one fairly quickly and can’t remember why. I remember reading about it every now and then and never feeling like going back to it, and this post also makes me comfortable ignoring the show. I probably won’t go back to it.

  3. Do the characters in this show speak in their local accent or standard Japanese?

    Hopefully the former… It must sound silly, but sampling the music of a different accent is the kind of stuff I take joy in!

    1. I want to say there are accents – but I’d have to go back and check. Seems like the type of detail that would be included given the rest of the production

  4. Like Cowboy Bebop?? YES, PLEASE!! Pretty much one of my favourite anime of all time.
    Voice acting is SO IMPORTANT TO ME!! I can honestly get passed subpar animation… I mean, I’ve been watching anime since the 80s…so, pretty sure I’ll live if it’s not super clean and sleek looking, but voice acting is something that I CAN’T get passed.

  5. I don’t know what you are saying judging anime on the cover has always worked for me hahahaha ha ha…. ha…
    I also found this to be an enjoyable anime. I did get the Durara vibe from it with the music and like you I really wished that they had the time to give to the amazing characters in this anime. It is so funny that some anime get 25 episodes and they all drag where this one could have use 12 more so we could have spent more time with these awesome characters.

    1. It’s tough to juggle such a big croud in so few episodes – I guess I need to buy the manga… wait you don’t think that could have been the point all along ….

  6. This was such a frustrating watch because it did so many things great (especially as you mentioned completely normalising that one of it’s male characters likes to dress in women’s clothing) but I felt like it was far too light-hearted for its subject matter, I didn’t expect it be dour or anything but I feel like blondie got over his sister being raped and murdered way too quickly at least in the space of the episode it happened in. I think that (and the fact it happened early on the series) put me in a bad mood for the rest of it. I didn’t hate it, overall I had more positives with the show than negatives but I think it could have been a lot better.

    1. I can see that. It didn’t bother me mind you. I figured someone with Lee’s past would be rather hardened and I generally don’t like drawn out drama but it can make the emotional connection feel more tenious.

      1. I think it was more the fact that I was attached to the sister character (and assumed she’d make it out okay) and so when she didn’t and he didn’t mourn as long as I was I felt like the show had failed (at least in that respect).

          1. Eh, it’s okay, I got over it by the end. I’ve probably got to stop treating every new anime I watch like it has to live up to impossible moral standards I have in my head and just ~go with it~.

            1. I just re-read my review of the anime and I have to agree with Cactus Matt. I really loved this anime and had a lot of fun with it, but there just never was any real tension or sense of danger, at least no where near like what it felt there should be given the situations the characters were in. Still, the show was great fun and I loved the characters so maybe I should be happy they never really faced too much in the way of injury or potential death.

            2. I kind of get that and I did love it. But even with its comedic moments, it just felt like some of those darker moments could have stuck out a little more if they’d had a little weight behind them. Taking this from something fun to watch with little staying power to something that left a real impact.

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