|“||How would you kill someone?||”|
"1st Up to Bat" is the first chapter in volume 1 of the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens manga.
In Tokyo, Kazuki Saitoh has managed to land himself a job interview. He thinks the interview is going well until he and his fellow interviewees are asked a question none of them expected – "How would you kill someone?"
While the others maintain that they would never kill anyone because it is against the law, Saitoh piques the interviewer's interest by telling him the story of when he almost killed someone by striking a batter in the head with a pitch during a high school baseball game. He goes on to explain that he has neither the courage nor the skill to kill someone, so he would hire someone else to do it.
Several weeks later, Saitoh finds himself in a position he had never expected - a killer for Murder, Inc. Despite undergoing assassination training and working for them for half a year, he is unable to draw a knife on his first target and carry out his first job.
Saitoh is informed by his superior that he will be transferring to the company's Fukuoka branch the next day and warned to produce results. Already uneasy at the idea of being transferred to Fukuoka, where 3% of the population are said to be killers, Saitoh becomes even more nervous when his superior warns him about the killer of killers who operates there.
In Hakata, Xianming Lin arrives at the apartment of a man named Takashi. Lin convinces Takashi's girlfriend to let him in and swiftly kills her before introducing himself to Takashi as a killer sent by the Kakyuu Association. Takashi desperately offers to give back what he has left of the money he stole from the Kakyuu Group, but this does not deter Lin, whose paycheck depends on him finishing the job.