Anime Review: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Are you a fan of performing arts? What about an anime fan? Then this might just be the anime for you; an intriguing blend of drama, comedy and outright strangeness. Join Timlah as we look through this little hidden gem.
Whenever I look through anime on Crunchyroll, I base my choice of anime on a few criteria. Does it look a bit different than other anime? Is the premise at least somewhat intriguing? Does the anime already have some good reviews? Generally, if it meets these criteria, I will watch it. When I saw this had a majority of 5 star reviews and it was a very unique plot for an anime, I decided it was time to check this one out and see just how good it was.
The story of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju follows a young, foolish ex-criminal, Yotaro. During his time in jail, they visited and given a performance by the great artist, Yakumo. During his visit, he performed an expert show of Rakugo, an ancient style of performance from Japan. As one of the few people around who wanted to keep the art alive, Yakumo aims to keep the spirit of Rakugo alive. Yotaro sees this and decides that he really enjoys the looks of Rakugo and wants to stop being a criminal and become the ‘Great Artists’ apprentice. On his release from jail, a year after Yamuko visited the jail, Yotaro seeks out and threatens to stalk the master of Rakugo unless he can become his apprentice. Somewhat reluctant, yet also somewhat amused, Yamuko takes Yotaro under his wing.
Upon meeting Konatsu, a headstrong girl who lives with Yakumo, Yotaro learns that he’s not the only one who appreciates the teachers art. Konatsu is the daughter to another great Rakugo artist and has performed his act many times over. During the story, Yotaro goes on to do his own performances of Rakugo and confronts his past, as well as preparing himself for his future. It’s a tale of passion, intrigue and interest.
One thing that drew me to the anime was the bizarre story. Normally, an anime is a fantasy, or it’s something rather outlandish. This feels like it could be a real story, even with the bizarre meeting circumstances between Yotaro and Yakumo. It’s not a typical slice of life, either, which generally has some form of silliness or something that’s overly exaggerated. This doesn’t feel like it – In fact, the whole story is utterly adorable and believable. This is why I was so drawn to it – The story sounded a little bit strange, but it wasn’t that strange when I started to watch it. But the art is another reason why I picked this as my anime of the week.
The artwork is a little bit weird. I looked through some screen shots and I noticed the really bizarre mouth of Yotaro. I first didn’t think I was going to like it, but the more I watched how Yotaro interacted with the world, the more I thought it fit the series. Taking away from the goofy mouth syndrome, the rest of the artwork is utterly beautiful. It’s nicely animated, if a little basic, but the artwork is utterly stunning. It’s not like this is an action filled anime, anyway.
One last point about this series, each episode is between 45-50 minutes in length. A little different to what I’m used to from an anime, but it means you get a lot of context in every episode. I’d seriously recommend at least giving the first episode a blast; this can be viewed for free on Crunchyroll or you can catch up with each episode sooner if you have yourself a Crunchyroll premium account. It seems like this is going to be a great series, so hopefully this has given you a nice taster.
I’m quite keen on this, so I’ll probably go off and watch some more of this now. Now to pass the stage to you: What do you think about the slice of life genre? Do you think this is a good fit for the genre, or do you think it needs vastly over-the-top characters? What do you think about the art of Rakugo? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. As always, thanks for reading!