The final episode of Hakata is here. Can it hit a grand slam and bring this series home?
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Feilang and Ling are facing each other in their final showdown, with Feilang having previously threatened to kill everyone Ling loves so that he’ll join with him and be a professional assassin again. With Ling holding firm on his commitment to his friends, Feilang decides he’s going to be the friendship out of him. Ling can’t keep up with Feilang’s ruthless strength and jumps out the window in a quick escape. He injures his foot in the process but manages to get away.
Ling hides underneath an overpass and decides to call Banba for help, only to find that he was waiting for him there already. Banba used a tracking device Enokida placed on Ling’s shoulder to find him, of course. Their happy reunion is interrupted, however, when a shot rings out and Banba finds himself slugged through the back. Its Feilang, again, and this time he’s got goons. He knocks out Ling and kidnaps the both of them to places unknown. Meanwhile, Enokida and the other members of the Tonkotsu Ramens crew go to the old man at the ramen cart, requesting the assistance of a mysterious assassin named Gigi, presumably to help find Banba and Ling.
The two later awakens in a prison cell, and Ling takes the moment of peace to explain who Feilang is to him and why he has such a problem trusting people. Banba reciprocates Ling’s trust issues and reveals that he’s been betrayed in the past, too. He goes on to tell Ling how much he trusts him, and how important it is to trust the people you care about. After their moment of friendship has passed, the two get to work trying to figure out their escape. They’re interrupted by Feilang, however, who had been recording Ling and Banba’s conversation. Feilang reveals his true plan for keeping them here, opening up a cabinet of deadly weapons. Just like in the past, he wants Banba and Ling to fight to the death. The two try to deceive Feilang by pretending to fight each other, but Feilang sees right through their deception and tells them if they don’t fight he’s going to kill everyone Ling knows, starting with Banba. With a crossbow pointed at his head, Banba gives Ling a baseball signal to indicate a plan, and in an instant, the plan is brought to form. Feilang fires his crossbow, but Banba deflects the arrow with a baseball bat into the chest of one of Feilang’s goons. Ling uses the opening to pop some shots into the other goon, leaving Feilang stunned in surprise. Just then, Banba tackles Ling to the ground, and an explosion demolishes one of the walls of their cell.
We then cut back to thirty minutes earlier, where we see Jirou and Misaki taking center stage in freeing Banba and Ling. By having Misaki pretend to need to use the bathroom, they covertly get her inside the compound the two are being held at, where she delivers an RC car to infiltrate the compound. While Enokida commands the operation from his van, their plastic surgeon friend operates the RC car remotely. Using another spider communicator hidden in Banba’s ear, the crew makes contact with Banba, who covertly communicates with them where they are. Soon, the RC car bomb is in place, and we arrive at the present once more, with Banba and Ling escaping their cell in the explosion.
Ling and Banba are stopped by a wounded guard, but he is quickly gunned down by a trenchcoated man with a Tommy gun. This is none other than the elusive “Gigi”, the old man who runs the ramen cart, who’s returned for a one-time comeback appearance to save Banba. Ling tells Banba he needs to go off and deal with Feilang himself, while Banba dons his Niwaka Samurai mask and goes to help Gigi deal with the Kakyu Association goons. Who should rear his ugly head but Shunsuke, who’s looking to take Feilang’s head for himself. Banba informs Shunsuke that Ling is the one taking care of Feilang, and that he can’t allow him to interfere. It seems like the two are gonna go toe-to-toe, but Shunsuke submits and decides its not worth it, as long as Banba gives him a good fight later.
Ling follows the bloody trail left by Feilang’s wound and finally finds the red-haired assassin whistling in an alley. The two exchange their final words to each other; Feilang tries one last time to convince Ling to join him, but Ling has made up his mind. He’s fallen for the life here; a simple life of good friends, ramen for breakfast, and baseball. He aims to stay in this peaceful world, and he’ll fight to keep it that way. Feilang forces him to do just that, lunging at him with a knife, aiming to kill. Ling counters and slashes Feilang across the chest, knocking him prone and helpless. Ling stands over him and sets himself to do what he should have done so long ago. With a state of saintly calm, he plunges his knife into Feilang’s chest and ends their twisted past once and for all.
The sun rises over Hakata, and Ling sees his friend Banba, smiling in his trademark fashion. With the dawn of a new day to greet them, Banba, Ling and all their unlikely friends meet to play baseball, a celebration of their time together on Earth. Peace reigns once more in Hakata, the city of assassins.
Well, the final episode of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is upon us, and, after all, is said and done, its a pretty solid finale. Ling’s story with Feilang is easily the most visceral and powerful story of the Hakata anime, and it’s a fitting place to end the series. Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but feel as if this arc failed to really elevate to something greater than what the show had provided us with so far. It’s got all the bread and butter elements of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens: an elaborate plan, eccentric characters, and some tasty violence, but this is the same sort of thing we’ve had in basically every other arc of this show. Furthermore, the same problems I’ve noted this show having in the past, mainly lack of tension and a failure to properly characterize, do detract from what should be the grand prestige of this anime. There’s more to say, which will come in the form of a season review from me next week, but for now, I’ll settle on giving this episode the rank of “Not half bad.”