Ramen Heads Review

Ramen Heads Poster #1

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, there are only two things that come to mind: Sushi and ramen. Whereas one is more classy, the other is more unrefined. That’s what makes ramen is so great. It feels like home while sushi feels more like a fancy night out type of meal. But when it comes to food documentaries, ramen has yet to get a film that defines what it is. Does Ramen Heads become the Jiro Dreams of Sushi of the ramen world?

Unfortunately, no. Don’t get me wrong, Ramen Heads is informative but the film lacks the necessary means to make this a great documentary. In other words, it lacks a narrative, it’s all over the place, and it’s poorly paced.

Ramen Heads follows the “Ramen King” Osamu Tomita as he opens up his kitchen to share recipes and trade secrets.

Ramen Heads - Osamu Tomita

There will be those who will go into Ramen Heads thinking that the film will be like a typical documentary. Those people would be wrong because this isn’t your typical documentary. First, Ramen Heads is not a film that focuses on all of the well-known ramen chefs in Japan. For the most part, the documentary focuses on Osamu Tomita, the owner of the famous Tomita ramen shop in Matsudo, Chiba, Japan. Unlike the stellar Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it doesn’t always focus on him. At some points during the film, it goes on a tangent and shows us the other well-known ramen chefs in Japan. However, the film only glances over them instead of diving deep into what makes them tick.

Ultimately, that’s the biggest problem with the film. It lacks the narrative and themes to have audiences stay invested in the film. The film simply goes all over the place and has no sense of pacing. For example, director Koki Shigeno loves to use slow motion shots during the cooking process. This tactic slows the film to an absolute crawl because it just keeps on going. Oh, and the music that plays during these scenes is extremely dramatic too. The only sense of narrative comes at the very end when Tomita is planning his shop’s 10th anniversary.

We get that he’s trying to make everything look savory but it’s not needed. If you’re watching a film about ramen then chances are you’re a ramen lover. Thus, all you really need to show is the ramen bowl itself. In addition, there are several awkward scenes where Shigeno is filming the patrons waiting outside of Tomita’s. These scenes go on and on and after a while, you feel awkward because you just feel as if you’re spying on them.

Another reason why this isn’t your typical documentary is that the interviews aren’t very insightful. They say that eating and making ramen can be a bit of a religious experience. The ramen chefs in the film speak as if they’re preachers. In reality, they really don’t talk about anything that’s noteworthy. Not to mention, the narrator is super bland, monotonous, and serious throughout the entire film.

Ramen Heads

Be that as it may, the film will definitely do its job of giving you ramen cravings. There are quite a number of ramen shots in the film with each one looking better than the other. Additionally, you’ll also learn a thing or two about the life of a ramen chef. As a matter of fact, it might also give you a proper push to try and make your own ramen. Ramen Heads delves quite a bit into the process of making ramen.

Overall, Ramen Heads is an informational documentary about ramen. Unfortunately, you may not get the type of information that you want. The film goes all over the place and never gets a narrative thread that connects everything together. Nevertheless, if you’re ever looking for a film that triggers a ramen craving then this is the film for you.

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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