「はなまるスープ顛末記」 (Hanamaru Suupu Tenmatsuki)
“The Hanamaru Soup Incident”
This week’s case: a mysterious man with sunglasses who always takes one bite out of his ramen then leaves. Doesn’t sound like much, but Min accepts the challenge of creating a dish that he will be willing to finish, forcing poor Narumi to pull all-nighters to work on the soup. Later he and the other NEETS find out about how Min’s sarashi has been stolen on several different occasions . With a probable pervert stalker and a man who randomly appears and disappears on their hands, they pay Alice a visit where Min deftly one-ups the detective’s high and mighty attitude, bring her to tears.
The mysterious dude with sunglasses was an obvious suspect — so obvious that it would be strange if he really was the criminal. No detective mystery is that simple, and indeed the situations turns out to be two separate cases. Narumi manages to catch the thief with a well-placed stun gernade to the head, and he confesses that he’s actually a fashion designer for women’s underwear who is striving for ultimate perfection in lingerie. He is obsessed with Min alright, but not quite in the way that was expected; the guy just couldn’t stand seeing Min without a proper bra.
The real meat of the mystery is Min’s father, who has apparently returned as a phantom to give her the secret ramen recipe that she has been trying to imitate all along. All in all in the end, Min gets a little character development and some closure with her father. I found it more enjoyable than the previous Yakuza case, perhaps because the supernatural elements in this one threw me for a loop, and I didn’t quite follow Alice’s explanation until the very end. Alice doesn’t really reveal her thought process as she pieces the case together, so less-than-genius brains have difficulty following along as the mystery unravels. I was slightly disappointed that the two mysteries were pretty much completely unrelated to each other, making the flow of the story feel rather disconnected. The BGM during the climax of the story was great though and suited the mood, but otherwise the episode on the whole felt rather rushed, and this story really needed more than 20 minutes to be properly fleshed out. I didn’t think it was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t very memorable.