Rakugo (or sit-down comedy), as another Japanese traditional culture such as Noh or Kabuki, is not really known among casual people. Without a deep knowledge of  Japanese language and culture, it’s hard to find someone who can instantly like rakugo easily by just seeing a youtube video of it. At least until Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu comes. It’s rare to find a show that is not just amusing, but also enrich our knowledge like this anime!

The first episode, lasts 48 minutes, is a prolog for the next episodes: how Yotarou (Seki Tomokazu) who was a convicted criminal, became a crazy lover of rakugo and found that rakugo saved him from his old world of crime. Soon after released from prison, he went to Yakumo Yuurakutei’s (Kouichi Yamadera) house, a famous rakugo storyteller who had once held a performance in Yotarou’s prison. A strong will from Yotarou changed the mind of Yakumo, who was known for his refusal to accept any apprentices.

Yakumo in his old age, Yotarou, and Konatsu, Sukeroku’s daughter.

Youtaro, who was persuaded to come back to the world of crime by his boss, proved himself by performing in a local theatre and made the viewers amused, including his boss who laughed in the middle of the show.  But Yotarou’s negligence who fell slept in a national rakugo show during his master’s appearance made him evicted by Yakumo. After a deep begging, Yakumo then accepted Yotarou again and told his childhood story with Sukeroku (Akira Ishida), which started before World War II.

Yakumo initially didn’t intend to learn rakugo. At the first day when he was adopted to the house of rakugo storyteller, Yakumo suddenly being approached by Sukeroku. With a very different storytellinf style, Yakumo felt inferior toward Sukeroku, who didn’t need to went to school, had mastered rakugo and even had been brought by his foster father to the battlefield to made the soldiers amused. Yakumo, who had lost his ability to walk normally and only had an average rakugo  skill had once being lost his spirit; he tried to threw rakugo from his life only to back and read it again.

Sukeroku and Yakumo in their first encounter

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu becomes so unique because of its intrigue premise that is interesting: how the interaction of love-and-hate between Yakumo and Sukeroku (without sexual feeling) is showed? How about their love for rakugo, that nowadays is almost forgotten, is reflected with many different ways? And what is more interesting, is that how this anime can brings rakugo that seems boring into something that can strengthen the story.

This series is rich with rakugo stories that is told almost completely. In the first episode, Yotarou told the story of a thief who didn’t accept his position being manipulated by the house owner to escaped from the debt collector. Then, Yakumo brought a story of wanderer and woman, and in the next episode, young Yakumo told a word-joke story while Sukeroku told a story about a soba lover.

Sit-down comedy: Sukeroku told rakugo and made watchers laughed

Just like stand up comedy that becomes fun or boring based on the speakers, the ability of voice actors and actresses behind the main characters are playing an important role to enliven rakugo in this anime. The ability of the three main characters to tell rakugo becomes the main focus to strengthen rakugo, where the rakugo-telling part itself is the main part of this series.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu becomes very interesting because it can combines rakugo to be the main part of this series. Many comments from Reddit users, for example, said that this was one of the best anime he ever seen in his lifetime. Another user said that 48 minutes in the first episode was not boring at all, even he said that the next episode is “just like running for 10 minutes only.”  There is also someone who compared this anime with Joshiraku (that feels “empty” compared with this anime). Even another user claimed that this anime was recommended by Housei Tsukitei (famous player in Gaki no Tsukai series) for those who wanted to deepen his knowledge for rakugo.  

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu may don’t have something like Mai’s boobs, not animated by Kyoto Animation, or not getting such hype like Boku dake ga Inai Machi, but for those who are searching an anime that has an interesting storyline and also getting some new knowledge (that is becoming rare while nowadays, anime adapted from light novels is growing fast), this anime is really recommended to be watched by everyone. Give this anime a moment and hype that it desperately need, please!

The Indonesian Anime Times | Original text written by Kevin Wilyan, translated by M Razif Dwi Kurniawan

Source Material Manga by Haruko Kumota
Casts Tomokazu Seki as Yotaru
Akira Ishida as Kikuhiko (Yakumo 8th generation)
Chafurin as Bansai Tsuburaya
Hiroshi Yanaka as Yūrakutei (Yakumo 7th generation)
Kappei Yamaguchi as Amaken
Koji Yusa as Mangetsu Tsuburaya
Kouichi Yamadera as Sukeroku
Megumi Hayashibara as Miyokichi
Shigeru Ushiyama as Matsuda
Shinpei Hayashiya as Master Nekosuke
Shou Sudou as Ani-san
Yasuyuki Kase as Yakuza Boss
Yu Kobayashi as Konatsu
Director Mamoru Hatakeyama (Sankarea)
Scenario Jun Kumagai (Hamatora, Galilei Donna)
Character Design Mieko Hosoi (Aiura, Aoi Bungaku Series)
Music Kana Shibue
Opening Theme Usurahi Shinjuu by Megumi Hayashibara
Ending Theme tba
Studio DEEN
Official website http://rakugo-shinju-anime.jp/
Twitter https://twitter.com/rakugoshinju
Broadcast date 8 January 2016, 1725 GMT / 9 January 0025 WIT / 0225 JST

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