"1st up to Bat" (第1打席) is the first chapter in Volume 01 of the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens manga.
After finally landing a job interview, Saitoh finds himself and his fellow interviewees being asked a question none of them expected – “How would you kill someone?”
While the others maintain 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 accidentally pitching a ball at the batter’s head during a baseball match in High School. He goes on to explain that he has neither the courage nor skill to kill anyone, so he would just hire someone else to do it.
This eventually leads Saitoh into getting a job he had never expected - a killer for Murder, Inc. Though despite undergoing training and working with them for half a year, he is unable to carry out his first job since he could barely bring himself to draw his weapon before running away.
With this, Saitoh is informed by his superior that he will be transferring to the Fukuoka Branch the next day. He also goes on to warn him that if he does not produce any results even after transferring, he will be punished by having his head chopped off. And having already become uneasy at the idea of being transferred to Fukuoka, where 3% of the population are said to be killers, he becomes even more nervous when his superior warns him about the killer-killer who operates there. This is a man who is said to be a killer who specifically targets other killers. Saitoh finds himself wondering how he even ended up working for such a company.
In the meantime, Xianming Lin arrives at the apartment of a man named Takashi, whose lover ends up answering the door. Despite initially denying she knows Takashi, Lin manages to convince her to let him in by claiming he is Takashi’s lover and that he wants break up with him for cheating. Having made his way inside, Lin swiftly kills her before confronting Takashi, who realises that Lin is a killer who has been sent by an organisation called the Kakyuu Group. It is revealed that Takashi had stolen money from his workplace, a club named Miroir, which is affiliated with the Kakyuu Group. Takashi desperately offers to give back the 4 million yen he has left, but this does not deter Lin, who finishes his job by slitting Takashi’s throat.