Rakugo is an act of storytelling by a person in front of mass crowd, taking the role of multiple characters of the story. Most stories tends to be comedic, but it also covers tragic tales and drama. Rakugo is an age old traditional Japanese art of storytelling with which I wasn’t familiar with that much to be entirely honest. And when I read the premise of this show, which solely dedicates to Rakugo, I wasn’t that much interested in the first place. But still, the title of the show intrigued me, so I went on with it. Lets just say it was a good experience. A calm, soothing mature experience that revolved around the drama of life. Today’s review, one of the underrated shows of 2016’s, “Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū”.
The show takes place in the Japanese Showa period (1926–1989) where media wasn’t as developed as today’s and Rakugo was one of the kings of entertainment. People from around the town gathered before the stages to see various Rakugo stars perform their charm. One of the Rakugo master from the story is Yakima Yuurakutei who gets a surprise visit from a prisoner from the state prison, stating that he wants to be Yakima’s apprentice, learn and perform Rakugo. This persuasive act of the prisoner reminds him of his age old friend Sukeroku (who was as stubborn as the new guy is.) Soon, the story drags the viewers back to fifty years, as the rest of the show tells a tale of a flashback memory, which is equally interesting, tragic and dramatic.
The show features five main characters, but the leading characters of the show drags down to only two; Yakima and Sukeroku. The two characters are complete opposite of each other, while Sukeroku is funny, jolly and always looking for quick money whenever he can, Yakima is grumpy, moody and patient. The show starts their tale from the day these characters first met, and slowly continues to tell the story of their lifetime. As I was watching the show, I said to myself, no way these two can be friends. But to my utter surprise, the show pulls of this hard task and slowly develops the characters where the friendship become real strong as if the characters are like brothers. The characters are what pulls this show and makes the anime interesting. In fear of becoming monotonous, the story also featured an important side character, Miyokichi, who has significant effect in the long run of the show.
This is a tale of talent, tradition, envy, betrayal, love and most of all, the Japanese art of storytelling in middle age. The story starts with giving you a hint of what happens in the future, and drags you to the past. It then shows you how the characters meet their ultimate fate, which you knew from the first episode. This is an art that was not new, but was interesting nevertheless.
The show’s ost’s are heavily traditional, and I think some are even custom made with actual instruments, which is very rare in the industry. The show’s opening is pretty gothic not gonna lie; Gothic, but good. Reminded me of Tatami’s ed. The ed of the show is made of trumpet solo, again, feels like custom made with the use of actual instruments. If that is what they did, then props to the show.
The art for this show is intentionally made with light pallets, and considering it is a pure drama show, the pallet fits perfectly. But to be entirely honest, it’s as mediocre as it can get. The art wasn’t the best of this season, wasn’t the worst either. I liked the portrayal of the characters and how their looks fit with their personality, that was something.
The voice acting of this show was top notch, considering the voice actors literally had to perform Rakugo in the studio; I can only say, well done. The voice acting fit the characters properly, made everyone’s personality unique. Overall, my verdict for the voice acting is, they really did a good job with it.
As I said, I had no idea what Rakugo was, but the show introduced me to Rakugo. And to my utter surprise, I enjoyed that. I enjoyed most of the Rakugo’s the characters performed in the show. And considering they also told a standalone story of two friends simultaneous journey, that explored aspects of life such as talent, love, hatred, envy, misery, and friendship, Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū earns a solid
With a recommendation to stream it whenever possible. The show is available in Crunchyroll for streaming, and the show is getting a second season adaptation. So, if you want to visit this work of art, this might be the best time to explore, before that release of second season. Thank you all for your patience. I will see you guys on my next review.