These slice-of-life stories resonate with modern readers thanks to their comedic elements and familiarity with human idiosyncrasies. In one, a father finds his son too bookish and arranges for two workers to take the young man to a brothel on the pretext of visiting a new shrine. In another particularly beloved rakugo tale, a married man falls in love with a prostitute. When his wife finds out, she is enraged and sets a curse on the other woman. The prostitute responds by cursing the wife, and the two escalate in a spiral of voodoo doll cursing. Soon both are dead, but even death can’t extinguish their jealousy.
Source: Drawn & Quarterly
This collection of stories draws from the traditional practice of rakugo. The ancient verbal story-telling tradition typically involves a long, complex narrative that seems serious throughout only to end with an often cheesy comic punchline. That's basically what you have here in these eight stories from gekiga godfather Tatsumi Yoshihiro, two dozen pages of build-up to get to a payoff that seems like it belong in a 4-koma. Therein lies the problem. The visual style is pure gekiga classic (obviously, given the author/illustrator) but it doesn't bring with it any of the gekiga narrative heft. Trying to find a visual medium to represent rakugo is a laudible goal, but it probably should have been left in the hands of someone with more comic credentials. In the end, I found it a struggle to read through these shorts in a single sitting. As a big fan of Pushman and Abandon the Old in Tokyo, I was pretty disappointed by this line in in an otherwise flawless oeuvre. It's probably better to approach this collection as an experimental manga, more significant for what it tried to do than what it actually accomplished.
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