Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens follows in the same vain as titles like Black Lagoon and Jormungand in that it offers a gritty look into the world of crime, with a solid mix of black comedy and dark drama exploring characters with morally questionable professions. The series focuses on a crossdressing assassin named Lin Xianming who partners up with a detective named Zenji Banba to dispatch rival assassins and crime syndicates within the city of Hakata.
Before I dabble into this anime's more serious material, I should bring up the fun comical timing this series offers up. The title of the series in question is actually the name of the baseball team that Banba and his companions are part of for recreation on the side when not caught up in their criminal activities and adding to that angle, episodes of the series are named after baseball terminology and some action scenes have fun with the baseball motif as Banba usually partakes in baseball-inspired attacks and tactics. Many of the characters have their eccentric character quirks that clash with the violent professions they take up in Fukuoka, but this actually makes for a good balance to the mentioned darker elements of Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens.
And like Jormungand and Black Lagoon, Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens isn't afraid to show just how brutal and merciless the criminal underworld of Hakata can be. Hitmen, assassins, and torturers are shown to be brutally violent when performing their work and several major characters are shown to be negatively effected by their experiences within the criminal underworld. Lin's character story drives much of the show's run as the series explores his rather tragic beginnings of being forcibly raised as an assassin and learning to gradually trust Banba and his companions throughout the remainder of the series, offering the strongest character development of any character within the series. One prominent character within Lin's backstory has more relevance in the last story arc of the series and serves as a rather effective contrast to Lin as to the different experiences they had following their assassin training.
As far as other characters go within Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens, they're a bit of a mixed bag. Some of Banba's companions have their backstories explored in the middle of the series and some hints of their pasts are brought up. But these elements just exist to flesh out the characters and criminal organizations within Hakata, without offering any development to them and other characters within Banba's group are largely one-note throughout the series. Also, the series is largely lacking in major female characters as the few that do have roles are either brief or largely stay in the background and some are used as nameless victims to drive how violent and depraved some of the male criminals in Hakata are.
As mentioned, I wouldn't recommend this series to younger or sensitive audiences as it is often brutally violent in showcasing the killing and torture committed by characters and the clash of black comedy and dark drama found with the actions of its criminal characters won't be for everyone. But if you enjoyed the gritty romps offered up from Black Lagoon and Jormungand, Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens offers similar effective mixing of black comedy and dark drama in exploring its criminal underworld.
Rating: 8 of 10
Someday I’ll be gone To somewhere that we belong And God has never played his role 'Cause I’m the one who saves my soul It’s a perfect world we’re longing for
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