Winter 2016 Anime in review: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (Part 4, possible spoilers ahead)

There are many words to describe this show, but if I had to use one it would Adult.  Even though this anime series may follow clichés, its executed in a very adult manner.  The characters all talk like adults with not much angst between them, they are developed as adults with real issues that you almost feel like these are real people.  This is such a rare thing now days because most anime series are aimed at teenagers.  This show won’t gain a huge audience, ironically like the art form they are portraying in the series, but it’s here and I am glad that it exists.  Maybe I will shine more light on it.

As one can tell by the title, Rakugo is the art form that the show is focused on like a center piece.  Characters develop and change based on how they currently feel and how they attract audiences with their skill in it.  This makes a lot of sense, because this is what they are devoting their life to do and there is no way that one can always have one feeling on their chosen profession throughout.  Anybody who has ever had a hobby would feel the same way.  The genius thing that Showa Genroku does is use this story telling art form to tell you where their lives are at that moment or what they are thinking about.  These segments naturally fit into the story the same way songs in a musical do.  It works because the series is directed incredibly well and the voice acting is just spot on.

This series is produced by Studio Deen.  This is a production company that has a pretty bad reputation in the anime industry.  They have lack luster animation quality, but are really solid with still frames.  Since there isn’t a lot of movement in this series, but every still frame is gold.  They are well colored, well textured, and almost make you feel like you are living in the city that they provide.   Of course, it’s not just the backgrounds and still frames that make this show work, it’s the direction behind all of them.  When character is performing Rakugo and they use different voices for personalities, the camera moves like how it does for Gollum in Lord of the Rings.  Also, each shot is framed to show emotion in some way shape or form.  I am not sure if I describe how, but it works.

This show is really like a stage play.  It time jumps and characters act like they are in a stage play, but it is probably the most voice actor centric anime I’ve seen too.  For long stretches of time, each voice actor spends a lot of the microphone to share stories.  With nothing but themselves at the mic, they have to keep the audience interested and engaged by themselves and they do.  I feel like they had to choose the best voice actors to do the job, and they somehow managed to do that.  This show is a miracle for that and a lot of other reasons.  You may notice that I don’t have a lot of criticism for this show and you would be right.  This anime is just really, really good.

I am glad that this is the series to close out the season, because after a lot of questionable things, it left the season off on a high note.  I look forward to the second season, if that announcement wasn’t an April Fool’s Day thing.  This isn’t only the first half of a two-part play with a very long intermission and it deserves to be finished.



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