Rakugo--the ultimate form of storytelling, where everything in a story is expressed with just your body and words. Shinta and his daughter Akane have been seduced by this wonderful form of classical entertainment. Having observed her father strive to pass the shin'uchi rakugo test, Akane will take her own steps into this unique world!
Source: MANGA Plus
I came across this manga while I was watching the Sugiman Awards 2022 where Akanebanashi won 3rd place. As I got deeper into the story I became excited for the different twists the author had for the rakugo stories, as I thoroughly enjoyed Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Like Shouwa Rakugo, Akanebanashi utilizes multiple characters' individual styles in order to enjoy rakugo from a different perspective than the last, and the backgrounds accentuate how they convey their stories. I believe that this is one of the key strengths of this manga, and that strength is what keeps readers glued to the series and leaves them wanting for more. Akanebanashi has a lot of potential engagement from Japanese audience especially due to the cultural significance of rakugo in Japanese culture, and a well-executed anime adaptation will catapult its fame and quite possibly influence to get people interested in entering the rakugo scene.
I can't pin down precisely why this manga has resonated with me, but I have personally found it to be an entertaining and engaging read. It could be as simple as the fact that rakugo isn't something which I know a whole lot about, so learning more about it is interesting to me. Or it could be that the characters are fun and draw me into their worlds. And I know I like the artwork. I'm not sure if it's quite deserving of a 10/10, but it's very good. I think the backgrounds are very well done and the facial expressions are very emotive. I appreciate the texture created from a lot of the shading being done with drawn-out lines instead of screentones. I like the way that, even though Akane is skilled at portraying multiple personas and other things, there are still areas of the art of rakugo which fe needs to train in. I think the longevity of this series will depend on how many lessons the author has in mind for Akane to learn and how well the author continues to portray the act of entertaining an audience in manga format (which isn't necessarily the easiest thing to portray). I also think an important part of this series will be how well the author is able to portray the various performers' unique interpretations of the classic stories and how they adapt the default ideas to match their style. I would also like to see, perhaps, even more emphasis on the ways which Akane and other performers improvise and make adjustments in response to audience engagement, 'cause that's what makes the performances truly active and, by extension, is what makes seeing the performances interesting to me as a reader. The author's already been doing this, so I just hope that it continues to be a focal point of the way the story's told. I do wish that Akane's motives weren't as retributive in nature or based on the corny idea of "I want to prove that my father's way was right!" but I understand that the author needed to add some sort of long-term, antagonistic-type stakes for the manga to be more immediately engaging to readers and Shounen manga is kinda corny in general so it's not really that big of a deal. I'm also not entirely sure how I feel about the somewhat competitive undertones in some parts of this manga. On the one hand, a drive to improve oneself is a great thing and that type of drive can sometimes be motivated by a competitive spirit. But on the other hand, art is one of those things where one artist having fans doesn't make it so there are less fans to go around for other people. And often, it'll even be the opposite--where being a fan of one artist can lead to people learning about other artists and becoming fans of them too. In other words, unlike sports or games, there isn't really such a thing as "winning" rakugo. And I appreciate that this "everyone can win" attitude seems to be somewhat held by Ryuji and some of the other people, as seen in the fact that they are willing to let Akane perform during their shows. [Reviewed at chapter 12]
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