Former Yakuza member Yotarou is fresh out of prison and looking to keep his nose clean. In order to stay out of trouble, he aspires to the stage of Rakugo, a traditional Japanese form of comedic storytelling. Inspired by a man he saw perform while incarcerated, he seeks out the man to mentor him, forcing the unwilling, but distinguished Yakumo Yuurakutei to take on his first apprentice.
This show was something that a lot of people probably passed up. It sounded boring, but it proved to be comedy gold as well as having a beautiful character-driven story. If you want to uncover more hidden gems, then these anime recommendations should do the trick.
For Fans of Dedication to a Craft
The Great Passage
Araki is a veteran editor of Genbu Publishing’s dictionary division and planning on retiring. However, before he does, he seeks to find a replacement to complete his last project – a dictionary called the Great Passage. He has since failed, until he meets Mitsuya Majime, a worker in the sales division with poor social skills.
Dictionaries and Rakugo – neither seems like great premises for anime plots, but neither are what carry either of these shows. Instead, it is the characters of these stories that make you laugh and feel. You not only learn about each of these rather obscure jobs, but you see them brought to life by passionate characters.
Kurogu had a love of kabuki instilled in him from a young age by his grandfather. Now in high school, he seeks to create a kabuki club to bring an appreciation for it to a wider audience. However, hundreds of years of strict tradition are harder than these high schoolers expected to deal with, but Kurogu won’t be deterred.
The major difference between kabuki and rakugo is kabuki is usually a little more serious as an artform. There are many other differences between these two stage acts, but both shows will give you a serious insight into both of them. While Rakugo is the more superior show for everything else it has going for it, Kabuki-bu is your typical school life show at times, but it is a rare anime to give insight into a dying Japanese tradition.
This is the story of girls who talk about random things. On their storytelling, they often end up far away from the topic at hand.
Despite the fact that Joshiraku sets its show up as a show about rakugo, it is not. Actually, technically it is. Rakugo is intricate and often comedic storytelling, and…that is exactly what this show does. It hides under the fact that it is a show about cute girls talking about random things, but the dialogue they are doing is not so different from a rakugo show. It is kind of genius, but lacks the characters and intricate look into rakugo that Shouwa has, but it is still a fun watch in its own right.
For Fans of Brotherhood Themes
In 1955 Japan, delinquency is on the rise. For Mario Minakami and six other teenagers, they are not alone when they are sent to Shounan Special Reform School on criminal charges. Once in their cell, they meet the older inmate Rokurouta Sakuragi, a former boxer, who teaches them how to survive in their new harsh prison environment.
Rakugo spans a series of several years while Rainbow takes place in a relatively narrow window of time. While Rakugo is more comedic and Rainbow is a bit darker, both of these historical shows show a relatively little seen era of Japanese history. However, the true similarity between the two is the common theme of brotherhood that forms between the characters in each series.
Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowel grew up on the streets together and both turned to crime in order to get by. However, when their activities are noticed by the eyes of the expansive Millennion mafia syndicate, the pair find themselves brought under their wings and rising through the ranks. Things go well until one fateful day that changes it all. Years later, Brandon Heat is brought back from the dead to fight Millennion and its new leader, Harry MacDowel.
In all honesty, only the first half of Gungrave, the flashback to the characters past, is similar to Rakugo. It shows how struggle and hardship can bond people together. The second half of Gungrave becomes a more guns-blazin’ revenge story, but the brotherhood in the first half is extremely similar to Rakugo, though less comedic.
Maya seemed destined to toil in her family restaurant with her bitter and unstable mother. Ayumi has always had success guaranteed to her by her famous parents’ connections, but yearns to prove her own talent. Their paths collide when they decide to vie for the same part in a play. For one to succeed, the other must fall.
At a glance, the similarities here are obvious. Both shows are about stage actors, but what really ties them together is the competiveness and jealousy that goes along with competing for the spotlight. In both shows you have two characters with very different backgrounds interacting and ultimately competing with each other.
For Fans of Historical Dramas
Set in 1964, the first year that Tokyo hosted the Olympics after World War II, this is the story of the Yamazaki family and their drama during that eventful year.
Both titles make it clear these are set in the same time period – the Shouwa era. However, this area spans a broad amount of time. Rakugo shows how traditions are passed down within the time while Monogatari focuses on one year and one family. Both shows, however, give a good look at post-war life and give deep insight into the era despite the different premises.
During the Warring States era, one vassal of Oda Nobunaga learned of the art of tea ceremony from Oda himself and the legendary tea master Sen no Soueki. This vassal, Furuta Sasuke, seeks to lead a fortuitous life and now walks the path of the Hyouge Mono.
Although set in different time periods and these two shows are tied together by characters passionate about these ancient Japanese art forms. In each show, there are characters that seek to master their crafts, and you follow them on that journey. Both shows also have distinctly unique ways of making the audience excited over rakugo or tea ceremony, both of which seem innately boring.
Utakoi is a liberal compilation and adaption of the Hyakuninisshu anthology, a collection of poems from Japan’s Heien period from multiple different authors. As romance poems, intrigue, love, and drama are abound in these short stories.
Utakoi tells stories much older than the ones told in Rakugo, but they are both historical dramas that have a way of making you fall in love with the characters. Not only this, but the poems it depicts are not entirely different from the intricate tales told on the rakugo stage.
Do you have any more anime recommendations for Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu? Let us know in the comments section below.