Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles -- A Parable of Obsession

Ramen may not be the noblest of noodle soups, as I'm never shy about opining, but I have to admit it's got a lore you can't ignore -- and I am not immune. I've got a duly purchased copy of the landmark movie Tampopo, several ramen-themed T-shirts including four from Uniqlo's recent line, and I recently subscribed to Crunchyroll for long enough to keep up with an anime series about ramen love.

The series in question, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (Rāmen Daisuki Koizumi-san) is about a mysterious and beautiful transfer student at a Tokyo high school who attracts the attention of her peers, especially other girls (boys apparently feel intimidated by her). Koizumi-san (her given name is never revealed) is very distant, one might even think autistic, and shuns all social contacts except in the context of eating ramen. She rebuffs all solicitations of friendship or companionship, though when the rquest is to follow her into the ramen shop she is headed to at the moment, she responds with "I don't care" or "Do what you like."  Once seated at a ramen bar, however, she will sort of open up, robotically spouting her vast knowledge of ramen styles, ramen ingredients, and ramen shops.

The main problem with the series is that there is no real plot.  There is a glimmer of hope for one, halfway through the series when the boyish Yuu, who has a mad girl crush on Ms. Koizumi, finds her fainted on the street from hunger while waiting for a ramen shop to open. Yuu carries Koizumi-san to her apartment and revives her by cooking a variety of ramen-like soups of her own creation for her. Ms. Koiozumi expresses her admiration for Yuu's creativity, and we hope for a romance to blossom, but no such luck. Once her ramen withdrawal pains are gone, she becomes the ice queen once again.

What you will find in this series is what amonts to an animated tutorial on the state of ramen in Japan today, tailored to novice and intermediate ramen-heads alike.  How about some euglena ramen? Or ramen that has a blizzard of fat back shaved into it?

 You can now watch the entire series for free on Crunchyroll, There are three segments to each half-hour episode, so you may find as many as three different ramen styles covered in a single episode.  The list of episodes will give you an idea of what you are in for:

  • Episode 1 – Garlic With Extra Vegetables / Maayu / Rich 
  • Episode 2 – Hokkyoku / K-K-K-K-Koizumi-san 
  • Episode 3 – Saimin / Flavor Concentration Counter / Instant Noodles 
  • Episode 4 – Western Restaurant / Red or White / Convenience Store 
  • Episode 5 – Tomato Ramen / Euglena / Huge Line 
  • Episode 6 – Morning Ramen / Hiyashi / Museum 
  • Episode 7 – Nationwide 
  • Episode 8 – Local Instant Noodles / Iekei 
  • Episode 9 – Mountain / Pork Guy / Back Fat 
  • Episode 10 – Ramen With Unknown Flavor / Conveyor Belt Ramen / Accepting Challenge 
  • Episode 11 – Tasty Ramen / Osaka 
  • Episode 12 – Nagoya / Reunion 

I once read of a (possibly apocryphal) Japanese proverb thst reads "People suffering from the same disease have much to talk about."  Whoever penned that may have had rameniacs in mind.